Shopping for prestige beauty and personal care products looks a lot different than it did 50 years ago. Back in the day, getting beauty products meant going into your local department store, where you'd find someone tending the beauty counter.
These days, storefronts like Ulta (ULTA) and Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMHF) beauty store Sephora have revolutionized the practice of personalized service from a quaint little beauty counter. Except now consumers can try samples while browsing a large, luxurious store full of the hottest beauty products on the market.
These big 'ol beauty stores carry everyday drugstore brands like L’Oreal (LRLCY) , but also feature premium brands like Urban Decay, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and more. You can find practically every brand of black eyeliner under the sun all in one place. Meanwhile, other big box and classic department stores have had to find ways to stay competitive in the beauty market.
Kohl's (KSS) struck a partnership deal with Sephora in 2021, hoping to eventually add a Sephora section to the floor plan of every Kohl's location. Target (TGT) also made moves in 2021 to bring Ulta booths to its locations. Both beauty stores are considered go-to destinations for every consumer's beauty and personal care needs. And both companies have made it clear that their products are for everyone who wants to wear them.
Ulta is Receiving Backlash for its Latest Podcast Episode
Ulta is using its platform to host a podcast called "The Beauty Of..." The podcast is hosted by genderfluid hairstylist David Lopez, who teams up with guests to discuss all of the diverse ways we interact with personal beauty. "The Beauty Of..." is fairly new, having launched its inaugural episode in late September.
The show's official second episode focused on the beauty of girlhood with TikTok influencer and trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. Dylan has been recording her journey as a trans woman for more than 100 days, and begins each of her TikTok videos by gleefully telling her audience how many days she's been publicly out of the closet.
Dylan and David talk for nearly an hour about what it means to be a girl and how internalized sexism and transphobia can keep people from embracing their own definition of what is beautiful. She also talks about her dreams of one day starting a family, and how her journey to embrace her identity has saved her life.
Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, a very vocal corner of the internet has responded to the episode by calling for a boycott of Ulta stores. The podcast recording session was also posted on YouTube, and the comments section had to eventually be closed due to hateful comments by anti-trans viewers.
Ulta & Other Beauty Companies Advocate for Representation
Shortly after closing down the comments, Ulta released an official statement about the intentions of the episode and the reason the company believes its important.
"The premise of ‘The Beauty Of …’ is to feature conversations that widen the lens surrounding traditional beauty standards. We believe beauty is for everyone. And while we recognize some conversations we host will challenge perspectives and opinions, we believe constructive dialogue is one important way to move beauty forward. The intersectionality of gender identity is nuanced, something David and Dylan acknowledge themselves within the episode. Regardless of how someone identifies, they deserve our respect."
Ulta isn't the only company moving away from gendered gatekeeping in the beauty industry. Many individual cosmetics companies are gearing advertising away from gender, allowing for more widely accepted use of beauty products for everyone. Estée Lauder was also on the receiving end of transphobic ire when it released an ad for its spring 2022 line featuring a trans woman. Sephora has also featured trans models in its previous promotions.