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the joy project

We conducted a first-of-its-kind study to help us all #joyforward together

The Joy Project

Here’s what we learned

According to our research: Joy is a cornerstone of our wellbeing. It’s not a luxury, it's a necessity.

At Ulta Beauty, our mission has always been to help beauty enthusiasts feel like their best selves. And a big part of that is experiencing joy. You deserve it. You are wired to feel it. Without it, none of us can reach our true potential.

Year after year, our associates have observed something that majorly blocks our guests’ path to joy: The inner critic. That nagging voice that says ‘"I'm not good enough.” That prevents you from living your best life—whether that means wearing bold lipstick, applying for a job or just trying something new. We at Ulta Beauty are determined to help change that, which is how The Joy Project emerged. But before we could meaningfully impact anyone’s relationship with joy, we needed to learn more about it. So, we conducted a first-of-its-kind study.

To unpack "joy" and the obstacles that prevent us from experiencing it, we partnered with leading global research company YouGov. Across the board, regardless of age or background, everyone agreed on this: Joy is a cornerstone of wellbeing. It’s not a luxury, it's a necessity.

  • 94% of people believe that “feeling joy is essential for the wellbeing of every individual.”
  • 95% of people believe that “joy should be accessible and attainable to all.”
  • 93% of people believe that they “deserve to experience joy and happiness in life.”

Yet despite knowing the importance of joy, many are experiencing a joy deficit. Only one in three of those surveyed report feeling joy in their daily life. And almost half wish to experience higher levels of joy than what they typically encounter. So, what’s the block?

We uncovered a wide range of barriers—from personal struggles to societal challenges. More than half of those surveyed feel they lack the tools and resources to recover from challenges and maintain joy. (This number rises for Gen Z.) And 64% of those surveyed report having some trouble prioritizing activities that bring them joy and pleasure. But the primary obstacle hindering the path to joy was very clear: The inner critic.

  • 73% of respondents admitted to encountering negative self-talk in their daily lives.
  • 91% of those who experienced it acknowledged that it’s standing in their way of joy.
  • And the #1 self-critique? Negative comments about appearance or body image.

But our research uncovered some hopeful—and yes, joyful—insights too!

  • 77% of people agree that maintaining a beauty or wellness routine helps them feel more joyful on a day-to-day basis.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 say that surrounding themselves with joyful people helps them feel joyful, too.
  • 58% report that embracing and celebrating their authentic self has led to a higher level of joy.

Let’s harness that—and amplify it! We’re embarking on a mission to bring more joy into your life than ever before. Along with our partner, best-selling author, motivational speaker and award-winning podcast host Mel Robbins, we’re ready to inspire meaningful, game-changing shifts that truly unleash joy and shut down that inner critic for good. Please join us here, on our social channels and in our Ulta Beauty stores, as we #joyforward together. This is only the beginning. The possibilities? They’re beautiful. And filled with joy.