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."