In the thick of the pandemic, many beauty lovers turned to online retailers for their usual product fix.

Since the pandemic began, shopping for beauty in person has changed drastically. No more testers. No more swatches. It can feel useless to shop in-store, as a large part of the appeal is touching and trying the products before purchasing them.

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But as vaccinations increase and people begin to return to their pre-pandemic activities, shoppers are returning en masse to physical retail spaces, especially beauty retail spaces. As a result, big-box retailers are doubling down on their own beauty departments, investing in more brands, more space, and more employees in the beauty section of their stores.

So, are Target, Kohl’s, and Walmart the newest beauty frontrunners? Very Good Light decided to investigate these new beauty retail collaborations. Read on for the scoop on the latest.

Target & Ulta

Target is teaming up with Ulta and introducing a new Ulta shop-in-shop section in over 100 Target stores this month, with plans to expand the concept to 800 stores nationwide in the next few years. The areas, named Ulta Beauty at Target, will be about 1,000 square feet within each store.

Over 50 brands, spanning across skincare, makeup, and haircare, will be featured within the sections including brands such as The Ordinary, MAC, Sunday Riley, Juvia’s Place, Too Faced, and Pattern Beauty. The brands will be a combination of classic best-sellers and Ulta-exclusives.

Shoppers will be able to earn both Target Circle and Ultamate rewards on items they purchase from the section. Ulta products will conveniently be available through all the ways you can purchase other Target products, including online, drive-up, and grocery delivery.

Kohl’s & Sephora

For years, Sephora has maintained multiple retail presences, having both their own brick and mortar stores and smaller shops within the department store J.C. Penny. In 2020, the beauty retailer announced that they were removing their mini-stores from J.C. Penny and ending the years-long partnership between the two companies. Nine months ago, the retailers unveiled their newest collaborator: Kohl’s.

They plan to open over 70 Sephora store-in-stores this month. Sephora will be in 400 Kohl’s stores by the end of the year and are planning for at least 850 stores before 2023. The sections will be around 2,500 square feet and conveniently located in the front of the store.

By partnering with Kohl’s, Sephora is accessing a previously underserved group: small towns and the midwest. Sephoras are frequently concentrated in major cities and suburbs but do not always extend further than that. Ulta is more likely to be in smaller areas or at least close enough to smaller areas that are still accessible. Sephora’s new collaboration is allowing them to compete with their rivals in a new way.

The sections will have over 8,500 fragrance, haircare, makeup, and skincare products from 125 brands, including Fenty Beauty, Ilia, Kosas, Olaplex, Tatcha, and Charlotte Tilbury. It will be staffed by Sephora-trained beauty advisors who are available to help customers with product decisions. The products will also be available to purchase on Kohl’s website.


Unlike Target and Kohl’s, Walmart is trying to become a major player by centering individual brands rather than whole retailers in its new business strategy. Generally, Walmart is associated with the typical drugstore brands, but the company is trying to elevate its available products.

The retailer is working to expand its exclusive beauty offerings and is investing in new brands for both their in-store and online beauty selection, including Carter Beauty, UOMA by Sharon C., Flower by Drew Barrymore, Bubble, C’est Moi, and Joyce Bonelli Cosmétiques. Many of their new brands vary in price point and are celebrity and social media-focused.

The corporation is attempting to court the newest generation of beauty consumers: Gen Z. According to Walmart’s Merchandising VP of Omnichannel Beauty, Musab Balbale, the department is worried about increasing its focus on digital media and storytelling. Recently, they hosted a live beauty shopping event on TikTok, bringing their products to a wider, younger audience. Walmart may be on its way to becoming a beauty destination.


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