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Ulta make-up

This viral TikTok shows what Ulta really does with returned beauty products

TextAlex Peters

It’s shockingly wasteful

An Ulta employee has shared a behind the scenes look at how the make-up retailer disposes of returned beauty products and it’s pretty shocking.

Bianca Ann Levinson, an employee at a branch in Wichita Falls, Texas, posted a TikTok video of herself destroying beauty products including scraping unused eyeshadow out of a palette with scissors and snapping a brand new lip liner in half. “This is what we do at Ulta when someone returns something even if it’s not used,” she explains in the video.

Levinson posted the video which has over three million views, she told Buzzfeed, because she wanted to spread awareness about what really happens to these returned products. “I was truly shocked that this is how returns were handled,” she says, adding “I wanted people to realise that when they return things, it’s not always put back on the shelf. They should reconsider before returning items they purchased.”


How returns are handled at the best beauty store ever💕 (I love my Ulta fam) ##ultabeauty ##workdistractions ##fyp ##checkthisout ##foryoupage

♬ original sound - biancaann5

Levinson estimates that about 45 per cent of people who come into the store are returning things. While 30 per cent of the returns are able to be put back on the shelf, the other 70 per cent have to be “damaged out” as the practice of discarding returned products is known in the industry. “We most definitely have over $1,000 worth of returned items per week. One time, I had a customer come in and return more than $300 worth of make-up that had to all be thrown out,” Bianca said.

In follow up TikTok videos, Bianca explains that they have to dispose of the products because brands don’t want their products to be donated and the FDA won’t let them donate products because of contamination concerns and risk of infection. Products have to be destroyed, she says meanwhile, because of dumpster divers who steal them and might go on to sell them. She also reveals that the employees aren’t permitted to take the products and that they get checked every time they leave the store to make sure they aren’t stealing.

Levinson goes on to defend her employers, saying that all other beauty retailers including Sephora, Target, and Walmart do the same thing and that despite Ulta stores being closed during the pandemic she is still being paid unlike other beauty stores who have let their part-time employees go. She also says she has been getting attacked for the videos and advises those people to email Ulta as she has no say in the matter.

So maybe let’s think twice before returning our beauty products.


ANSWERING A FEW QUESTIONS EVERYONE HAS! Thank you for the support and likes! ##ultabeauty ##fyp ##foryoupage ##checkthisout

♬ original sound - biancaann5

To answer a lot of your questions that you have about the makeup video. Also stop hating and being rude I did nothing to you ##ultabeauty ##fyp

♬ original sound - biancaann5

It’s sad I have to make this type of video

♬ original sound - biancaann5

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