So, you’ve never been to IMATS and you’re not too sure what to expect. We were all first-timers at IMATS once, so here’s a few tips to help calm your nerves about attending.
Here’s a video to talk about my trip to IMATS ATLANTA. I have also been to IMATS L.A. and the same recommendations below will apply to both shows!
One of the first things to do – buy your tickets early! I bought my ticket as soon as I heard they were on sale. Tickets are $60 per day. IMATS takes place over a weekend, and typically Saturday will sell out quickly. Sunday General Admission is normally open until a week or so before the show. I choose to visit for only one day of the conference instead of attending both days. If you’re a makeup enthusiast, especially if it’s your first time, you really don’t need more than a day to cover the entire trade show. Plus, when you go for one day, you can really splurge and have fun!
2. Wear something comfortable.
Of course, you’re at a makeup conference and you want to look your best, but keep it comfortable. This doesn’t mean you have to wear sweatpants – just don’t wear high heels! You’re going to spend the entire day walking around with the exception of maybe sitting down to have a quick snack or watch one of the sessions. There’s a good chance you’ll be on your feet for about 8 hours, so dress accordingly.
I don’t recommend heavy jackets – even if it’s a bit chilly outside at first – because you’re going to get stuck carrying it around all day. Once you’re in the conference, you’re surrounded by hundreds of people and you’ll warm up quickly.
Wear a cross-body purse and thank me later. Having to keep throwing your purse up over your shoulder gets really old after about the first hour. With a cross-body, you can easily get into your purse to pay for things quickly. Organize your bag before you go so you’re not digging through to find what you need.
2016 was my first IMATS experience and I had no idea what I was getting into. Luckily, I decided to stop at a Starbucks on the way to the event. I’m not a “morning person” as it is, so I definitely needed a coffee to start the day. Plus, it helped me to avoid a hunger strike right away. There is food available at IMATS, but once you get inside, you don’t want to head to the food station to eat. There’s so many
vendors and booths set up, you won’t want to waste any time eating, so eat before you go
and you’ll at least make it until the afternoon!
4. There will be a line.
Just know before you go – expect lines! Last year, when my uber pulled up to the convention center, the line wrapped completely around the building. Don’t let that scare you into thinking you’re going to wait for hours. Once they open the doors, the line moves quickly and took no longer than 30 minutes to get around the building and inside.
To avoid any technical issues, go ahead and print your ticket before you arrive. This way, you won’t have to worry if your phone decides to crash or they have any issues with your ticket at the door. Just print it! And when you arrive, go ahead and have your ID ready. They will check to make sure your ticket and ID match right when you make it inside.
There is a floor plan on the IMATS website (CLICK HERE for the IMATS LA Floor Plan). Use the floor plan! They will also give you one once you’re checked in at registration, so don’t throw it in the trash! It doesn’t seem like you’d need one to get around, but trust me – you do!
7. Bring cash AND cards.
It’s never fun when you arrive to a booth just to find out their credit machine isn’t working. Sometimes, it’s also easier to hand over cash at a booth and be able to step out of line instead of waiting on the card machine, so go ahead and take cash and card just to be safe!
Good question. There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s so much to do at IMATS other than just shop, so some people can spend as little as $100 on products. There’s sessions, makeup lessons and you could really spend all day just browsing. If you’re going primarily to shop, save up at least a few hundred dollars. I travel to LA from Tennessee, so I like to make it worth my trip. I take at minimum $500 for spending. I like to take a little more if I can manage to save it. It’s easy to blow through money, so it’s really important to set a budget for yourself. Take exactly what you want to spend and don’t spend more.
Some lines, like the Morphe line, can go on for 2+ hours at times. Even though their items are discounted, is it really worth spending 2 hours waiting in line? Probably not.
Also, keep in mind that not all makeup is discounted at the trade show. While the majority of things are discounted, you’ll find a booth here and there who have select items at regular price. So, check out which items you’re looking to purchase and don’t spend time waiting in any lines for a full-priced item. You can just pick those up at your local makeup counter or online later.
10. Don’t have your heart set on any one thing.
I could imagine it being a huge disappointment to have your heart set on a single item to purchase. If you’re going for 1 single item, you need to make sure you have your ticket for Saturday, you arrive early and head straight to the booth you need to visit. For me, it’s too stressful to be on the lookout for anything specific. I have a lot more fun just browsing through all of the booths, talking to vendors and makeup artists and purchasing things as I go.
One of the most difficult things is to avoid buying any new makeup a few weeks before IMATS. Just don’t do it. Odds are, the products you’re wanting will be at IMATS at a discount, so hold off and save your money to spend at the show.
12. Learn something and make a few friends!
Talk to vendors, talk to people who stand in lines with you and sit in at least one session while you’re there. Don’t be afraid to meet people. The vendors and attendees at IMATS are friendly, so even if you attend alone, you’ll be surrounded with other makeup artists, enthusiasts and experts.
Did I leave anything out?
If you have any other tips for IMATS attendees, leave them in the comments section below!