Ulta plants roots in Herald Square while Sephora lays claim on the clean beauty business.
Since debuting its “Clean at Sephora” badge back in 2018, Sephora has helped pave the way into making clean beauty the standard. Most recently, the makeup mecca added five buzzy brands to its clean color cosmetics lineup: Westman Atelier, Merit, Saie, LYS, and Freck. As such, Sephora now carries a total of 80 clean brands spanning makeup, skin care, and hair care, some of which are being promoted in a March campaign dedicated to the cause alongside existing clean color cosmetics leaders like Ilia and Kosas. The campaign will be showcased in store windows, on the Sephora homepage, on a dedicated landing page, in email and paid social posts, plus organic social and video media.
The move highlights a massive shift in the way consumers view makeup. While clean skincare has become fairly accepted and validated in the beauty world, clean makeup faces a rougher road. Striking the balance between clean formulations and pigmented products can mean the difference between buying or passing from the consumer point of view. Now, brands like Ilia, Kosas, Lawless, Tower 28, and more have demonstrated that makeup can be clean, yet still effective. Not only have new clean makeup brands been making the rounds at Sephora, existing brands like Milk Makeup have actually been reformulating products to fit the new clean norm.
Despite the pandemic driving makeup sales down, the market is still very much alive. For many makeup consumers, the category is more than just part of a long-forgotten morning routine, it’s a passion, as can be observed on social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and even Sephora’s own community. Emphasizing “Clean by Sephora” makeup could tap a new hybrid audience of consumers who are interested in both clean products and color cosmetics. Sephora also hopes to make a splash on the physical front with plans to open over 60 stores in the US this year, alongside 200 shop-in-shops in Kohl’s, all with buy-online-pickup-in-store services at the ready. But it’s not the only name hoping to quell the cravings of makeup fans. Ulta, which secured second place in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty, just opened its own flagship in the center of New York City, complete with all the digital details of beauty frontrunner Sephora.