IMATS-LA (International Makeup Artistry Trade Show) – Verdict

IMATS, Los Angeles just wrapped up its amazing three-day event last weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Five Makeup Olympic Sports were key: weight-shifting, target-shooting, sprinting, rubbernecking and weight-lifting.

Let the games begin!


Lots of switching from one foot to the other while in long lines, such as the one getting in to the show.  Impatience to enter the makeup mecca turned to pleasure for me by talking with two very-nice pro artists who came from San Francisco for the show.  Time flew by.

Once inside, some vendors had lines of cosmetics enthusiasts serpentined around the vendors’ hall.  For Morphe Brushes, there was a three-to-four-hour wait Saturday morning, complete with security to prevent line-jumpers.  By mid-afternoon, queues had shortened significantly or were non-existent, although Morphe still required a half-hour before my stroking of brush bristles could begin.  Good quality, great bang for the buck and their nice, new vegan brushes made the step-and-wait worthwhile, as did the kind, helpful staff.

Nice chatting in line with sweet make-up artists from Oregon about their favorite buys of the day (36 sets of Miss Adoro false eyelashes, 100% human hair).  When conversation lagged briefly, I noticed adorably-ubiquitous hands with tested lip color, eye shadow and foundation stripes on them, like cosmetic ribbons of valor.

Thank you, padded Michael Kors loafers, for keeping my feet aches to a minimum.


With a one-day pass, time went by very fast, so I had to prioritize.  Classes were the most important to me.  Some overlapped or were held at the same time, so choosing which ones to attend wasn’t easy.  I did dash out of a couple of demo’s that weren’t useful to try others that were.

Second on my list was feeling makeup brushes to see which ones I’d add to my collection.  This would take time.  I bypassed all department store brands (ones I own now) and went for those I had read about, but never felt (or wanted to feel again to rate their current quality): Sigma, Bdellium, Morphe, Hakuhodo, Ve Neill, and Royal & Langnickel.  I’d brake for any brush I’d see along my travels as well.

By far, the stand-out brushes were from the Japanese line, Hakuhodo.  Most of my spending money went to buying four of these exquisite, super-soft, handmade brushes (I briefly considered pulling a bank heist to get a full set of them).  They are amazingly gentle to the touch – something essential for aging skin that shouldn’t be stabbed with sharp, sloppily-bundled hair, synthetic or otherwise.  One can easily develop a fetish just sweeping the product-less brushes across one’s cheek, back and forth, because of how luxurious they feel.  To maintain my investment, I bought their brush-cleaning soap as well.  Such a treat to make these purchases and well worth the money.


There were quite a few free lectures/demo’s in separate rooms throughout the day.  While I’d be quizzing vendor reps on product pigment or getting a quick concealer application done on my eyes, I’d have to leave mid-sentence (or with only one eye concealed) and run to hear a speaker.  I was shocked to see how few people went to listen to these experts and watch their incredible demo’s, but getting up to 40% off retail on many products can be hard to resist.

The three standout speakers worth the sprint were 1) business-savvy, five-time Emmy award winner, Eve Pearl, 2) clever, gifted and hilarious M.A.C. Director of Makeup Artistry, Gregory Arlt, and 3) informative creator of Senna Brows, Eugenia Weston (the only packed classroom I saw).  Separate blog posts will be coming shortly on all three of these pro’s, who had amazing tips and perspectives.

The end of the trade show came fast, so I raced to purchase two different, very-large, sturdy, clear makeup totes, which I had previously scoped out.  Gotta see what products I have at a glance.


Because I had to be strategic about going to practical classes and sampling/buying products, I regrettably skipped all of the body paint/prosthetics demo’s and lectures.  Fortunately, many of the head-to-toe, breathtaking fantasy transformations done on models by makeup schools and industry pro’s would walk through the vendors’ hall.  Dazzling artistry brought on a head-swivel and gape from me every time.

Also worth noting was the great makeup attendees wore.  People had on everything from hard-core glitter visages to gorgeous, airbrushed looks to creating Comic-Con-worthy characters in full costume.  All were strutting their stuff.  How some women (and men) wore sky-high heels all day took real dedication.


Unplanned stops that made my big tote bag heavier included French skin care brand, Embryolisse, a favorite of backstage makeup pro’s.  After testing some products, I purchased their “Lait-Creme Concentre” primer/moisturizer/makeup remover (how it does all three is a mystery) and the wonderfully-slippery “Secret du Maquilleurs Eclat Du Regard” radiant eye balm.  There was very little in the way of skin care products at the show, which was a bit surprising.I also made drive-by buys of a lovely day-to-evening eyeshadow palette from Stila called “In The Light,” some very-pretty Bodyography lipsticks (I wish I bought more of those), an adorable lash holder that looks like an old-fashioned powder compact, and a metal color-mixing palette and mixing tool.  Freebies and flyers also made my bag groan at the seams.

My shoulder bag was bogged down with supplies like a video camera, a couple of notebooks, an untouched banana, a barely-eaten Kind bar, a big bottle of Smart Water, hand cream, hand sanitizer, and makeup (to a makeup show…I know).  Along with my tote bag of purchases, these satchels made their weight quite apparent over both of my shoulders by the time cosmetics tables were covered with tarps at the end of the day.

SIDEBAR: IMATS is coming to NYC April 10-12, 2015 and to London July 10-12, 2015 .  Check their website for more cities and information:

LESSONS LEARNED: I was lucky enough to get a ticket for one of the two sold-out days open to the public.  Next year, I’ll go for two days to give myself plenty of time for classes, all vendors, demo’s, product dabbling, Tweeting and Instagram-ing.  I’ll also streamline my shoulder bag contents.  And I’ll eat more.

JUDGE BEAUTY VERDICT of IMATS-LA:  5 out of 5 gavels.