Current and former Ulta employees have alleged that the brand resells used and returned makeup — and the situation is scaring beauty lovers all over the internet.
Ulta has swiftly responded to the allegations with a firm DENIAL. The retailer says that old, used makeup has NEVER been sold by its stores. Employees, however, tell a different story.
A former Ulta employee created a thread on Twitter about her personal experience working for the beauty brand as a warning for its shoppers.
"So I was a former employee at ULTA and whenever a customer would return a product, we were told by managers to repackage/reseal the item and put it back on the shelf," Fatina wrote on Twitter.
"They would resell EVERYTHING. (makeup, hair care, skincare, fragrance, hair tools, etc.)," she continued in her thread.
The former Ulta employee also shared that she and other employees were allegedly trained on HOW to repackage used makeup palettes.
She also claims to have contacted Ulta's corporate office about the array of used and returned products being resold. According to Fatina, the person she spoke to was only semi-concerned about the situation.
"I contacted corporate and I was surprised to hear her say 'well when it comes to mascaras we definitely want to be hygienic,'" Fatina explained.
"I immediately cut her off and said 'What about lipsticks? And foundation?' They're reselling everything that they can clean up and make 'new' again."
Other Ulta employees from different states began messaging Fatina, confirming they'd had similar experiences with Ulta store managers.
"I remember someone returned ABH brow pomade and it was clearly hella used," a Twitter user wrote to her in a private message. "And they said they're gonna use a blow dryer to make it look smooth and unused...Lmaooo I was like bihhhh wtf."
Fatina blocked out the user's name to protect their identity.
A current Ulta employee also shared with Fatina that she purposely destroys returns just to keep her managers from reselling the used makeup.
"Girl, I work at Ulta too," the person wrote in. "They do the same shit so I would just destroy the makeup once the customer returned it so they had no choice but to damage it."
The stories from other Ulta employees kept rolling in.
"Same at the Ulta I work at... Honestly this is one of many reasons I am over this job...It's disgusting," the alleged employee wrote.
"I literally had to check myself because I found myself 'seeing' if it could be sold knowing it was used. I damage out anything that has been used even if one time. Unfortunately even when we damage it out at the cash wrap it still has to go through management who actually does the damaging and they will literally put it back on the shelf. I hate it! It's inconsiderate/selfish."
An Ulta customer even shared a story about finding a product she believes she returned to Ulta back on shelves for sale on a separate shopping trip.
"Not even a week later I'm looking at the same lippies and the one I returned was on the shelf," she shared online.
Revelist reached out to a former Ulta store manager of operations, who shared that these clean up and resale practices were allegedly required at many Ultas in her city.
Note: The name and Ulta location of the former manager is omitted to protect her identity.
"At the stores in the [omitted] area, we were all trained to repackage and resale any and all returned makeup or damaged makeup in the store," she wrote.
"So if a eyeshadow palette came through that was obviously used (crumbled, swatched, etc...) we have a heat gun we were required to melt it down with to look 'normal' again, let it sit over night, and then repackage it."
"They have the clear stuff that you take off the packages in the store. So you wrap the package and use the heat gun to melt the plastic down this way it doesn't look like it wasn't ever opened."
And about the lipsticks? "...we have alcohol wipes you wipe the applicator down with, then repackage and reseal."
The manager also confirmed to Revelist that this was "the biggest reason" why she left the company.
"It was just nasty to me," she shared.
"Watching customers [buy] stuff we knew was used and these people have who knows what diseases or are sick potentially and putting it on their face. It's really nauseating."
Though this recent Twitter conversation began in January 2018, stories from Ulta employees about used returns finding their way back on shelves have been circulating for some time.
"Some stuff did become testers. Like primers or stuff in a tube," one Reddit user wrote in a thread about what happens to Ulta beauty returns. "But we always [were] cautious. Who knows what people did to that stuff at home."
This account was posted to Reddit one year ago.
Another Ulta cashier shared a similar story on Reddit.
"We would put a damage tag on any obviously used returns and our closing manager would 'damage them out' and we put them in a damaged returns bin in our backroom," the former employee wrote.
"I'm not sure what was done after, if they were tossed in our back dumpster or if they were sent back to corporate. If the returned item wasn't too 'messy' or obviously used/half empty, we were encouraged to put them back on the shelf. Yes, this means mascaras, eyeliners, even lipsticks at times."
Wow. This story was also shared one year prior.
Not ALL Ultas are putting out used products, however. Some Ulta employees have confirmed that their specific locations do follow company policy, and destroy all returned makeup before throwing it out.
While it's clear that Ulta has sent a strong message via official social media channels about these unsanitary rumors, hopefully a full investigation is underway. There are just so many claims that can't be ignored.
Revelist has reached out to Ulta for additional comment, and will update this story as it develops.
A spokesperson for Ulta Beauty gave Revelist the following response about this situation:
"The health and safety of our guests is a top priority for Ulta Beauty and we take these matters very seriously. Ulta Beauty’s practices do not allow the resale of any items that have been opened and/or used. The actions described appear to be inconsistent with our practices and we are currently looking into this matter."