BeautyCon In Dallas Was Cool, but It's Got Some Growing Up To Do
Last year, I attended my very first ComicCon, and I was skeptical. I wasn't into anime or most other aspects of nerd culture, but I ultimately ended up having a really good time and embracing my own inner nerdiness. Still, I wasn't sold on the idea of "cons" until I heard about BeautyCon, a convention that celebrates the weird intersection of beauty and social media. I like beauty, I like social media, so I should be totally in to BeautyCon, right?
I don't know what I expected, but it certainly wasn't what I got when I walked into the Automotive Building at Fair Park on Saturday morning. I got there at around 11:30, two hours after the doors first opened. At first, I didn't even see any booths, just a line of girls forming in front of a mechanical bull. I then realized that I couldn't see any of the vendors because the lines in front of them completely dwarfed their small setups. I knew that the event had sold out earlier in the day, but I wasn't anticipating Black Friday-style lines at each and every stop.
The vendors there were some of the best in beauty -- NYX Cosmetics, a cult makeup line that has recently gained incredible popularity, was a sponsor of the event. Tarte Cosmetics was also there, as was BirchBox, a wildly popular beauty box subscription service. A booth applying glitter tattoos to the lips of 13-year-old girls and drag queens alike had a line that snaked around the building. In fact, all of the vendors had lines that meant at least a 30-minute wait before even getting a glimpse of the goodies, which probably had something to do with the lack of vendors there. At ComicCon, sellers of all types of crap were crammed into every corner you could find. At BeautyCon, the booths were much more sparse.
None of BeautyCon's long-ass lines eclipsed the one formed for the build-your-own BirchBox station. For $10, you could fill your own box with personally-picked samples, a totally intriguing concept for those of us who look forward to those little mystery boxes of goodies every month. I never attempted to brave the line, but a group of friends that I talked to in (yet another) line said that they'd waited over 30 minutes just to get the empty BirchBox, then another 30 to get to the product. Still, they gleefully compared their scores, seemingly feeling pretty good about their incredibly long wait.
When I finally got to the front of the line for NYX Cosmetics, there was a Hunger-Games-at-the-cornucopia style dash for the remaining product in their display. The lipsticks and eyeliners and shadows weren't free, but people were still eagerly snatching up what remained for purchase. I grabbed my own fistful of lipsticks -- probably cleaning out the last of the selection -- and tried to figure out where the check-out line was. After being directed back into an even longer line to pay for my finds, I wondered what exactly stopped me from just dropping them into my purse and dashing out the door. I didn't do it, mainly because I was trying to get the three-pack of free lip glosses that NYX was giving away if you snapped a selfie at their booth.
I attempted the Tarte line, where cosmetics were 50 percent off, but after 45 minutes of waiting I gave up and went in search of food. The lines were equally long there, so I ended up wandering back to where the panels were being held, and watched at least a hundred people, many of whom were tweenagers, learn about how to build their online brand from makeup artists that had amassed hundreds of thousands of YouTube followers. The only thought my curmudgeonly brain could muster was wondering what the world would be like if they poured that kind of energy into figuring out how to cure cancer or something.
The other half of BeautyCon is focused on social media, and thus the panels. Several YouTube stars were in attendance, none of whose names I recognized. It was at this point that I should probably just get my afghan and head back to the nursing home. When I was on my way back to do that, I was pushed out of the walkway by a security guard. GiGi Gorgeous, a makeup artist and YouTube celeb was coming through, with a gaggle of cell phone wielding, screaming teenagers behind her. It was like Beatlemania, but for people who teach you how to put on lip liner.
At the end of my three-hour stay at BeautyCon, it felt almost just like being at ComicCon the year before. Makeup nerds are still nerds, and standing in line is just kind of the deal when you're going to a once-a-year type of event. Judging by the sheer number of people at BeautyCon, it's likely that it will becoming back to Dallas for years to come. Still, there were plenty of people who looked at the long lines and lack of vendors as poor planning and mismanagement. Hopefully, before BeautyCon makes it back to our city next year, they'll have worked out all the kinks and be able to provide a more dynamic, beauty-focused experience.
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