A newbie's guide to IMATS

Saturday, January 04, 2014

So are you going to the the International Makeup Artists Trade Show (IMATS) and it'll be your first time to IMATS or any trade show? Excited? Nervous? Not sure what to expect, what to take or what do to? Well let me share with you some of tips from having gone to IMATS LA. We were all new to IMATS at one point and the experience for a newbie can be overwhelming to say the least so hopefully my guide can prepare you on what to expect at IMATS.


Tickets are sold in advance at Make-Up Artists Magazine. It's very important that if you're not a Make-Up Artist Pro Gold Card holder to purchase your tickets as soon as the tickets are on sale. IMATS LA is the most popular of all IMATS and tickets have been selling out earlier and earlier each year. IMATS LA 2012 tickets sold out a few days before IMATS while 2013 tickets sold out a couple of weeks in advance. Tickets for IMATS LA 2014 sold out about a month in advance and I expect future IMATS LA tickets to sell out by early December.

Most people from outside the area that IMATS is taking place may be traveling from across country or even from a foreign country. I would recommend booking a hotel close to the venue for a variety of reasons but mainly due to the fact that parking at these venues can be difficult to find and/or expensive. Also, many hotels will work with IMATS to provide rooms at a discount so check IMATS' site for hotel booking details.

If you've purchased your tickets in advance then you don't need to worry about standing in a long, crowded line just to get in. Now if you didn't purchase tickets in advance then you might be standing in that long line for nothing because tickets could be sold out.

At IMATS LA 2012 the Saturday wait time just to get in was between 45 minutes to an hour depending on the time while at IMATS LA 2013 the wait was between an hour to an hour and a half on Saturday.

Saturday is the busiest day at IMATS LA so get their early. If you have a pro card, press pass or blogger pass make sure to pick up your pass the day before so you can bypass the lines altogether. For pro card holders don't forget that Friday is Pro Only day which is the least crowded time to shop AND you get first dibs at exclusives sold by different vendors.

Note: IMATS LA 2014 sold out of tickets by January 1, 2014.

Show times:
Friday, Jan. 18 (Pro Card holders only) 2-6 p.m.
Saturday, (General admission) 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, (General admission) 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


I can't stress enough to wear COMFORTABLE clothes and shoes. Every year I see girls running around in high heels and by the end of the day they're sitting outside with their shoes off complaining how their feet hurt. Lines are going to be long and you're probably going to be on your feet for countless hours so I would advise comfortable, close toe shoes because you'll probably get your feet stepped on especially around the more popular booths.


Each venue is different and each year the venue layout changes. IMATS LA is probably the largest of all the IMATS shows and it's crowded. There is a mobile app with a layout of the show floor which is useful but sometimes it does contain wrong information and hours for the speaking events and lectures so be mindful of the times other events are taking place.


The fun part about IMATS - the SHOPPING! Vendors at IMATS typically have some fantastic discounts ranging from 20% going up to 50% with a few sometimes having even deeper discounts. Sunday is the best time to haggle with vendors especially vendors from outside the venue's region as most don't want to pack stuff up to take back with them. There are a few things you need to know about shopping at IMATS not only to not waste time but so you don't overspend.
  1. Set a budget! Each IMATS is different with some being smaller than others but regardless of which IMATS you're going to having a budget can help you from over spending. It does all add up so know what you want, where that vendor is at and how much you'll need to have on hand. I would recommend that what ever your budget is carry a bit extra (maybe another $50 or $100 for things you weren't expecting to find).
  2. Know what you're buying! Most vendors will have fantastic discounts but sometimes there will be multiple vendors selling the same thing and at different prices!
  3. If it's a limited edition item not sold online or in stores and  you're eying it then get it because once it's sold out that's it and super popular vendors like Sugarpill, Lime Crime and similar booths only have a handful of limited edition or new products at the show.
  4. Carry a small amount of cash! Not all venues have access to to ATMs and not all vendors have wifi access to take a credit/debit card through Square, Paypal or similar apps. More and more vendors are starting to use Square and Paypal but not all do and sometimes wifi will go down making them unable to charge your card.
  5. Check out new companies! In 2012 I came across a new company called Saucebox Cosmetics and bought a few items and ended up falling in love with her products. In 2013, I became familiar with J.Cat Beauty whom at the time were a six month old company and wanted to work with bloggers.

While IMATS doesn't have a sign outside the venue, like at E3, stating that you're consenting to have your photo taken or that you might be videotaped just note that by going there you're essentially are giving consent because there are going to be countless people taking pictures and videos there.
  • Have extra batteries on hand. There are outlets on the convention floor however these are reserved for vendors and the public is discouraged from using any of the outlets. If you're using your cellphone, tablets or iPad to take photos or video with make sure you have a full charge and close any apps that could drain your battery.
  • Take extra SD cards especially if you're taking photos at a higher resolution. Higher resolutions eat up the space on your SD cards so use the largest one possible for your camera type or carry extra.
  • If you're using a mobile device, tablet or iPad clear off room for your pictures. 
  • When in doubt ask to take pictures. At IMATS LA 2013 I did come across one booth who did not want their products photographed at all.

If you plan on being at IMATS all day and not leave the venue make sure to take a couple of water bottles with you and have a snack on hand. There is a concession stand at IMATS LA however it's possible that not all IMATS have concession stands. Across the street from the Pasadena Convention center are restaurants and even a grocery store so you can leave the venue and get something to eat for less money than inside the convention center.


If you're a blogger then you probably know how important it is to network with not only fellow bloggers but also with company owners or representatives. IMATS is a great place to meet professional makeup artists who work in the industry as well as fellow bloggers and vloggers so here are a few of my tips on networking while at IMATS.
  • Have a network/social card on hand as well as business cards. There are a few differences in the cards and while it's not critical to have both you do want to have at least a networking/social card to exchange with fellow bloggers, MUA and company owners or representatives.
  • Don't be shy to introduce yourself to a company owner or representative. Granted most are going to very busy, especially on Saturday, but if they have the time to chat they will. Company owners and representatives love to talk about their products but you have to catch them at a good time, some will make appointments with you so a month or so before IMATS you should email these companies to see if you can set up a time to talk to them at IMATS. At CPNA many company owners and reps will only talk to you if you have an appointment set.
  • If you have a wi-fi enabled tablet or iPad have your site loaded because showing your site to someone is far easier to do than explaining it to someone. Just keep in mind that IMATS does not provide wi-fi though at CPNA they do.


Remember, there is so much to do at IMATS other than just shopping. Kandee Johnson will be doing a master class (tickets for that are an additional $30) at IMATS LA 2014. I love the events at IMATS and at the 2013 LA show I had the chance to pick the brain of Eryn Mekash, MUA on American Horror Story after the American Horror Story: Asylum panel. I love IMATS not just for the shopping but because of who is there and like I said before so many professional MUAs are really nice and willing to talk to you on a one-to-one basis with many willing to give you tips and tricks. For me, the highlight of going to IMATS is meeting up with them and in 2012 I had the chance to sit and talk to several of SyFy Channel's Face Off contestants and just talk about all kinds of stuff. So remember, HAVE FUN!

Disclaimer: Not affiliated with IMATS or Makeup Artist Magazine. IMATS logo from IMATS.net.


  1. Are you going to be at the show next week? I cant believe its a week from this Friday! I would be thrilled to meet you in person!

    1. Unfortunately not this year. We're moving cross country in six months so every single penny we earn is bookmarked for the move. I'm essentially missing every single IMATS this year but should be going The Makeup Show in Orlando this fall.


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