The beauty industry has always been big business. But as the U.S. navigates COVID-19, comfort levels with shopping in-store for beauty products has evolved. CivicScience asked more than 4,000 U.S women about their experiences with three popular beauty brands.

As the data show, Bath & Body works has the highest favorability amongst respondents, with 50% approving of the brand. Ulta and Sephora favorability comes in at 37% and 27%, respectively.

In-Store Comfort  

That said, favorability and comfort shopping in-store are two separate questions. As the data show, Bath and Body Works favorables are relatively split when it comes to how soon they’d be ready to shop in-store. Thirty-six percent of Bath & Body Works favorables are ready to return to an in-store shopping experience immediately.

When it comes to Ulta, American women are also divided. Thirty-seven percent of those who are favorable and 29% of those unfavorable to the brand, respectively, are ready to return to in-store shopping now. The comfort returning numbers look similar to Bath & Body Works shoppers.

When comparing these three retailers, it appears Sephora shoppers are a little less keen on an imminent return than the other stores’ shoppers.

Comfort with New Beauty Brands 

Both Ulta and Sephora offer consumers the opportunity to try a variety of different beauty brands, while shopping in one convenient location. As the data show, Ulta and Sephora favorables are just as likely to be comfortable with trying new beauty brands as a result of COVID-19. Ulta favorables are slightly more likely to say they are less comfortable with the concept, though.

Comfort with Makeup Consultation 

For many women, trying a new beauty brand often involves a makeup consultation. As the data show, Ulta favorables are slightly more likely to be less comfortable with the thought of this part of the in-store beauty experience, as a result of the pandemic. All in all, both stores’ shoppers are leery.


Beauty Sample Comfort 

While having a beauty advisor give you a consultation may not be the most popular option in the light of COVID-19, receiving beauty samples is far less triggering. 

Sephora favorables are only slightly more likely than their Ulta counterparts to be more comfortable with receiving beauty samples. They are both equally just as comfortable with receiving samples in light of COVID-19, though.

In the world of COVID-19, all is not lost for Ulta and Sephora. In fact, these beauty retailers –especially Ulta–could see continued, if not heightened, interest from consumers, as a result of the wide range of beauty brands that they carry. However, the in-store experience will likely be very different for the time being. Makeup counter consultations, while maintaining some interest, may not be the focus they once were.