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Beauty Wars: Ulta vs. Sephora

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cosmetics and beauty chain Ulta is creeping up on its slightly more posh competition, Sephora, having opened 65 new stores in 2009, which has news outlets as far-reaching as The New York Times asking: What side are you on?

    Not since tech titans Apple and Microsoft went head-to-head for a polarizing, world-dominating gadget war has a debate been so big. New Yorkers are likely more familiar with, and perhaps already in love with, Sephora, the revolutionary beauty emporium with a top selection of makeup, haircare and fragrances.  However, with 331 stores nationwide, there's now another challenger in the ring -- Ulta -- where customers can stop in for an increasing selection of high-end beauty brands, as well as (and here's the draw) drug store goodies at bargain prices. 

    Now, Ulta has the huge temptation of one-stop-shopping on its side -- particularly considering both its rapid expansion, budget inventory, and in-house salons at every location. That's hugely significant for most people.

    However, we'd like to ally ourselves with Team Sephora. Here's why: New Yorkers are not only used to the concept of a specialty store, but we actually relish the specificity of tightly curated goods presented just for them.  A trip to Sephora -- following a stop at the place with the best bread, the specialty boot shop and Steven Alan - is quite a treat, and we all know we're an island that goes the distance for the treats, no matter how illogical it may seem to the rest of the country.   

    None of this is to say we're not turning our noses up at the bargain brands. Oh no: We couldn't live without Maybelline Great Lash - we just wouldn't mind walking an extra block to get it.