The perfect black liquid cat eye. A precise, red-penciled pucker. When it comes to makeup application, it's all about the lines. But there were lines of a different sort at BeautyCon L.A. this past weekend, and they never seemed to end. The premier cosmetics industry event was packed, but there was a notable lack of energy and joy by the time I arrived near the middle of the event on Saturday, and it bummed me out.
I shouldn't have felt that way, because I love makeup. I love playing with color (bright lips/pale eyes, nude lips/smoky eyes) and textures (matte versus glossy, glittery versus shimmery) and trying new styles and new products. I've rarely met a goodie bag I didn't like, but at BeautyCon the thirst for swag is sort of what it's all about. Walking in, seeing young gals in fake eyelashes and hair extensions under the bright lights, hoarding bags as if their lives depended on it and standing in Iine looking desperate for more while snapping selfie after selfie — well, it wasn't always pretty.
It was very amusement park–like, and not in a good way. More like when you go to Disneyland and you have to wait two hours for a 3-minute ride, continually walking past the same faces and annoying kids over and over again as the line snakes back and around. Similar to theme parks, BeautyCon offers a VIP “front of the line” pass, and I guess that was worth it for some (the freebies, by the way, were all sample sizes, but the bags they came in were cute). A regular pass costs about $50 while the various VIP pass options can add up to hundreds of dollars.
I was told that my media wristband allowed me into most brands' “activations” along with the VIP people but I attempted to use that privilege only a few times. Urban Decay, one of the edgier brands, and one I'm a longtime fan of, had a cool setup, all purple and black, with a car prop and photo booth. I'm excited to try their latest product, Quickie Fix, designed to “hydra-charge” your complexion and prep it for makeup, mainly because of the marketing copy: “Don't let evidence of your late-night escapades show all over your pretty face!” Yeah, I need this one.
Amore Pacific also had a fun setup in which you walked through a maze of sorts with a passport that got stamped in each section representing one of its products. At the end of the journey you got a bag with samples of everything. Apparently the Korean-based company is super popular at Sephora (according to the very nice girls working the booth), but I had never heard of it. Now I have and so have you, which is the point of this event.
Of course I had heard of Kylie Cosmetics and Lime Crime. These were two of the most crowded booths at BeautyCon, which meant the people who worked them didn't have to be nice. At Kylie, it was chaos. The booth featured a food truck painted all black with girls ringing up the products displayed on shelves surrounding it. As mothers and tween daughters argued about age-appropriate eye shadow, I asked a rep if products were discounted (they usually are at these things). “No! Not at all!” she answered with a smirk as if it was a dumb question. Maybe it was.
At Lime Crime, things were even more sour. Its cherry-covered booth was super adorable and there were females fluttering all over it. I attempted to use my media pass to get inside to take pics, but a rep denied me access, stating rather rudely that they were too busy and to come back tomorrow. Funny thing was I remembered this same woman reprimanding girls at the last makeup event I attended, the International Makeup Artists Trade Show (IMATS), for entering the Lime Crime booth the wrong way. This company makes really whimsical and fun products but the vibe at their booths is anything but. Maybe they need to lay out things better to accommodate their crowds. And I know working conventions can be grueling (I've done it) but for the events open to the public, employees need to hide their bad moods and put on a fake smile. They are selling face, after all!
Speaking of the IMATS, the competing makeup event (held at the Pasadena Convention Center) is more fun because it includes special effects makeup artists and more demos onstage and inside the booths. BeautyCon does get bigger names, though. On Saturday, Drew Barrymore was there to promote her new brand, Flower Beauty, and we saw Jessica Simpson and former Kardashian makeup artist Joyce Bonelli onstage, chatting about fake lashes and showing how to layer them for that un-natural drag queen look (I mean, I think that's what they were going for). On Sunday, Kim Kardashian West herself spoke about her new brand, KKW. You can read about that endeavor and much more here.