For the uninitiated, The Makeup Show is a trade show for makeup artists and really, anyone who likes makeup. (They aren’t overly picky about who can buy tickets because Stephanie got in last year without being a licensed anything or even enrolled at Beauty U.) It happens every year in New York and California, in giant convention center type places. As Amber over on Beauty Blogging Junkie explains it: “It is to beauty gals what a convention is to Trekkies.”
There are special workshops and demonstrations and halfway decent chocolate croissants, but the real deal is you’re paying $40 to shop. And look at advertisements. Which is cool. I like shopping and when I’m in trade show mode, I have a sort of OCD thing about needing to take every flyer they give me because surely I’m going to need to learn all about the The Arbonne Opportunity or Makeup Mania’s Summer Promotion, in case there’s a quiz later.
Of course, since you paid $40 (and that’s the student rate) to get in, expectations for bargain basement prices are high.
And quickly dashed.
Because while $56 is a great price for a Smashbox eyeshadow palette that usually costs $112… it’s still over $50 for about two inches worth of eye shadow.
We did have a few coups. Stephanie — who has already started booking makeup application gigs doing up local prom-goers — stocked up on some airbrush tanning equipment and a glitter tattoo kit. Meg invested in a great set of makeup brushes. Campbell gets a medley of little shimmery creams.
And even though y’all know I almost never wear makeup, I was smitten with this adorable little six-pack of Naked Cosmetics:
I mean, don’t you just want to eat them with a spoon?
Okay, so this is not a product endorsement, because that would conflict with the official Beauty Schooled Product Policy around here. But I will say that I personally like that these guys are made solely with “100% oxidized mica,” because I find super short ingredient lists comforting in this age of secret fragrance toxins and almost zero chemical safety regulation.
And I also like that Naked products are multifunctional; this set promises that I can use them as eyeshadow, eyeliner, nail polish (mix with clear), lip gloss, bronzer, and temporary hair highlights. But I haven’t gotten around to testing any of that out, so don’t take my word for it ‘kay? That’s just what it says on the back of the box.
Anyway, I pay $20 for the set, which usually retails for $60, which is, obviously, a deal… until you remember that $40 ticket (plus the $26 I spent on Metro North to get there), and then it’s a bit more of a wash.
Which gets us all talking about how expensive all these “professional products” really are. (I use quotes because so many of these brands are also sold in Sephora at this point.) A freelance makeup artist visited Beauty U a few weeks ago and told us that she invested around $500 in her professional foundation palette (which is like a big artist’s palette with about twenty different shades of foundation, so she can mix exactly the right shade for each client) and the same again in all of her eyeshadows. That’s some serious overhead, especially when you figure how often you have to replace makeup, either because you run out or it goes bad. Plus the pressure to keep up with trends (glitter tattoos, anyone?) and have brands customers will recognize and covet and maybe even want to purchase from you at their suggested retail prices.
It reminds me yet again that when you work in the beauty industry, you’re always Also A Client.
Of course, I haven’t done all the math here, and maybe the money you make, especially as a freelance makeup artist, quickly outpaces your product costs. Would love to hear from any makeup artists out there on this; how much do you invest in your makeup kit (all at once or per year or however you track it) and how long does it take you to see a profit?
(And PS. if you went to the Makeup Show, curious to hear what you thought!)