A new lawsuit filed in Chicago last week alleges that beauty giant Ulta has been repackaging and reselling used makeup to its unsuspecting customers for years.
Attorney Tom Zimmerman told ABC7, “It is widespread knowledge that this practice has been occurring at Ulta for years.”
Zimmerman represents Meghan Devries, a Chicago woman who works in the beauty industry. She became suspicious about some of the products she purchased from Ulta.
A woman claiming to be a former Ulta employee first brought the allegations to light in early January. Posting under the Twitter handle @fatinamxo, she wrote that whenever a customer returned a product, employees were instructed by Ulta to repackage or reseal the item and put it back on the shelf for sale. This practice, she said, included everything from makeup to hair and skin-care products, fragrances and hairstyling tools.
She said that makeup palettes, for example, were cleaned up so that they looked new and returned to the shelf for reselling, unsanitized.
She then shared screenshots of other Ulta employees making the same claims.
Those tweets were cited in the class action complaint (pdf) Zimmerman filed in Cook County, Ill., last week. The suit also cites the claims of former employees that Ulta has a limit on how many returned items can be thrown away.
“Managers will take used products out of a damaged bin, and if they look good enough to resell, they’ll put them back on the shelves and resell them so they don’t exceed their quota,” Zimmerman told ABC7.
He said that some of the products purchased from an Ulta store on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago seemed to have been previously used, including eye shadows missing a brush and face cleansers that were already open. Those products, he said, could have pathogens on them that remain for weeks.
“There is E. coli and Klebsiella bacteria, which is commonly found in intestine and expelled with fecal matter,” Zimmerman said.
Ulta denies the allegations.
A spokesperson for the company said the following in a statement:
Our policy does not allow the resale of used products. We are aware of the lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend against the allegations. The health and safety of Ulta Beauty guests is a top priority and we strive to consistently deliver an optimal experience every time they shop with us.
In response to a customer who expressed concern about having possibly purchased used cosmetics, the company said on its official Twitter account: “We welcome your note of concern as we take these allegations very seriously. We have a clear policy of not reselling products that are used in any way. We are currently reviewing this further.”
Zimmerman told ABC7 that the goal of his lawsuit is to change the alleged company practice that limits the number of items that can be thrown away, as well as to provide compensation for customers who may have bought used products.