The crowd at the recent Beautycon Los Angeles at the Convention Center came not only to check out beauty products but also to learn about the inner workings of the industry as current and prospective entrepreneurs.
Festival organizers said 15,000 attendees perused about 75 brands that gave away samples and sold beauty products. L'Oréal Paris and Redken were familiar, but other brands, such as Feather & Bone Face Gems, were newbies. (The latter sold out of its dissoluble tablets that turn into a face wash when water is added.)
The one-day event included tutorials on hair and makeup tricks such as waves, contouring and highlighting.
And many came to hear beauty truths from new mom, businesswoman and former runway model Tyra Banks, who took part in a series of panel discussions during the July 9 festival. Discussions touched on inner beauty, advice for budding entrepreneurs and how to stand out on social media.
Of course, it wasn't all a self-love fest. There were moments of fun when the attendees jammed out to pop duo Jack & Jack's live performance, had drinks in the 21-plus lounge or chatted up Banks.
Kate Jackson Sabelhaus, managing editor at L'Oréal's makeup.com website, got her braided hair temporarily dyed a mix of shimmery blue and purple at a tutorial titled, "Rainbow Hair Without the Commitment." She said she came to the festival to meet with attendees interested in beauty and L'Oréal's website and she wanted to stay up to date on new trends.
The trends highlighted at Beautycon represent the changing ways people purchase and view makeup, she said.
People are not loyal to brands the way they used to be, Jackson Sabelhaus said. Instead, it's all about wanting a variety of makeup from different brands.
Also, Jackson Sabelhaus said she noticed fewer women are wearing makeup out of a sense of obligation. Instead, they're wearing it because it's a fun form of self-expression, she said. "You embrace that because you want to," she said.
Makeup artist Kristina Curtis worked at the Nyx Cosmetics makeshift beauty school – complete with glossy black walls and full-size vanities – helping attendees learn new makeup tricks. According to Curtis, one woman said she'd waited in line an hour for the lesson.
The "school" gave away free lipsticks and eye shadow to those attendees as they practiced different daytime and nighttime looks – either on paper or on themselves.
But the festival — like beauty — was about more than what's on the surface, notably how people see themselves and how to navigate a world where pervasive online comments can get under the skin.
The panelists on the #True2U panel stressed to those in the audience looking to promote themselves on social media as beauty bloggers, YouTube personalities and the like that there's often negative feedback in online comment sections.
YouTube personality Brendan Jordan said, "You can post a picture of a cupcake, and people will be like, 'That's disgusting. Take it down.'"
Panelists emphasized that the inevitable negativity shouldn't stop those in the audience from posting what they want — no matter if it means having to take a break from their social media pages for a day or two to recoup from those hateful comments.
Banks also took to the main stage to discuss what she had learned during her career in the beauty industry and to talk about her line, Tyra Beauty, which launched last year.
Chatting with "The Real" host Jeannie Mai, Banks told the crowd she waited to introduce her beauty line because she wanted to make sure she would have total control over it and she wanted to pay for the line herself without having to rely on investors. To that end, she took business courses through Harvard Business School to further her education.
Banks also spoke about the body insecurities she had as a preteen — before she was ever on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. She told the attendees that it's OK to admit that critics hurt their feelings, but a person ultimately has to learn to push away the negativity.
The former runway model said she learned that vulnerability isn't necessarily bad, recalling how she famously wore a bathing suit on her talk show, "Tyra," and profanely dismissed her critics.
Then Banks showed the audience a video clip when she cried on camera, which she said was unplanned because she didn't want to look weak. Ultimately, she let the footage air on TV because it was a real moment — not a scripted one, she said.
And what was the major takeaway? Banks said that it's OK to show your ugly side because sometimes being vulnerable can create a pretty moment.