Last weekend, I attended my first ever Gen Beauty San Francisco! Gen Beauty is an event hosted by Ipsy and creator Michelle Phan, to bring together brands, creators and beauty lovers alike for a weekend of fun! The expo is hosted in a variety of large cities throughout the country, L.A., New York, San Francisco, etc. If you are considering attending Gen Beauty in your city, here are some of my take-aways from the event.
I purchased my ticket presale, so for a two-day pass it cost me $80. One cool thing that the event and Ticketfairy offers is an opportunity for cash back on your purchase, but getting others to buy tickets using your code! If you get 2 people to buy tickets, you receive $15 back, and so on for higher increments of attendees.
I do recommend presale tickets if you’re planning to attend both days of the event, as this was the most cost-effective option. As the weeks went on approaching the event, the ticket prices continued to increase. By the week preceding Gen Beauty, they were over $150 for two-day passes.
There is also an option for an “Early Access” and VIP pass, which are a higher price point. I am not sure what additional swag and access VIP gains you, so I can’t speak to the value of those tickets. I do see Early Access being a benefit to you, especially if you’re only attending one day. You would have the opportunity to hit a lot of the booths before the crowd really arrives. If you’re going both days, I don’t think it’s necessary- we’ll get more into that later.
Gift Bag & Freebies
When you arrive at Gen Beauty, you will receive your visitor’s badge. Here you can write your handle or blog name, as well as your real name, which is fun. The badge has a detachable ticket for your gift bag, which you can turn in right away and retrieve. I found it valuable to get the bag before visiting the vendors because there were so many freebies inside, this way you can avoid purchasing duplicates.
The bag is a fairly small tote, about 10” x 15” with a cute Gen Beauty logo and pattern all over it, and a zip top. Upon opening, I was pleasantly surprised to find a full-size Tarte shadow palette at the top. Now, granted, this isn’t the first palette I would choose, (Make Believe in Yourself) it is mainly glitter colors, but it does have a large-size, gorgeous white highlight shade in the center. The names of the colors are also really cute and whimsical. This product retails $30, which is more than a third of the cost of my ticket to the event. I love Tarte products, but they’re hit or miss. (Read my review of their new Clay Stick Foundation here.
The Tarte palette was just the start of my goodie bag. There was also a full-sized Mary-Loumanizer Highlight by The Balm (Retails $24), which is one of my Holy-Grail products. I already have two that hit pan, so I was stoked to get another. Amongst those two, there were other full-sized products I wasn’t totally familiar with. We got a Physician’s Formula eyeshadow palette, a Covergirl Total Tease mascara and an Essence Extreme mascara, A Nudestix set, Kokie nail polish, Moda contour brush, NYX Away We Glow Liquid Highlighter, and much more. I would say the value of the bag alone is worth going to the event with the tickets I had.
I really appreciated the variety of products and categories. There was a nice mix of skincare, color and hair products. It’s always nice to be able to try out something new without spending too much on it, incase you don’t end up being the biggest fan. I also think this event gave a lot o smaller-name and indie brands the chance to gain more exposure and strengthen their following.
When we arrived the first day, there were two long lines outside of the event building. One was for registration; one was to enter the event for those who pre-registered. Again, pre-registration was not necessary, but it might have bought us an additional half hour to an hour before all of the other people entered the event. The doors to regular admission opened at 11am, and we didn’t get there until around 10:15-10:30 which made no difference. Eventually, both sides of the lines combined and merged into one and we just registered and received our tags right when we got in the building.
Day two was far less crowded, and although there was a decent length line outside the building upon arrival, we waited no longer than 20 minutes until 11am and they quickly let everyone into the event. On this day, we already had passes so we just started visiting booths immediately. You only receive your goodie-bag one of the two days, and it seemed like they had plenty to go around the second day- if you wanted to wait to grab it.
Your event name-tag comes on a cute pink lanyard and has a “bingo” map of all of the participating vendors on the back. The vendors cross off their name when you visit the booth, thus earning you your freebie (every stand has more free stuff!) and filling in your board. I think there was some sort of scavenger hunt game or prize for completing your board, AKA hitting every booth, but I was just taking my time and not really trying to go EVERYWHERE.
There was a cool techy feature of a QLess virtual line for some of the bigger vendors. MAC, Covergirl and Luxie were a few of the options, although they filled up quickly. You could pick one to “hold” your place in line, while you visit some of the shorter lines at smaller booths. The line then sends you a text to let you know how many people are ahead of you, and when your spot is ready. This essentially lets you cut the line- think of a Disney Fast Pass.
The lines themselves were not bad- the longest we waited for was NYX-over an hour (which I will explain later) and MAC- around 40 minutes. The cool thing is your friends and other beauty enthusiasts surround you, so there’s never a shortage of conversation topics and makeup to admire! Most smaller booths- think Pixi, Jouer, Trestique, Physician’s Formula, etc. took anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Another tip I have is that day 2 was seriously less crowded, but there were more people at the bigger booths- so try and get those long waits over with first. This will allow you to spend Sunday breezing through tons of remaining vendors.
Food & Meetups
There are food trucks outside of the event, but we didn’t even visit them. It was one of those situations where you feel like you have limited time, and once you would walk all the way out there and eat you would be missing a lot of spots in line, etc. I do recommend to bring snacks and water in your purse, they don’t search bags or anything so I believe it’s allowed. Day one I was super exhausted and dehydrated from being unprepared, so Day 2 I made sure to pack some stuff.
As far as the Youtuber and Beauty Guru meetups go, I didn’t participate in any of them. From what I gathered, you can also pre-register early for the meetup lines, or you have to get a spot there early, as they only allow a certain number of people to participate. At this particular Gen Beauty, we had Manny MUA, Patrick Starr, Kim Thai, Nikita Dragun, Christen Dominique, Jenn Im, Kandee Johnson and Michelle Phan to name a few. There were a few influencers I was not familiar with. Although I did not have any desire to wait in line and meet these people, it was cool to see them in person- makeup fleeky and all. And yeah, you can literally just walk up to the backdrop where they’re doing their meetup and observe/take photos.
On day one, we didn’t really know what to expect so we just dove in line wherever possible. My first impression was a great one, with Milani. They gave us a full-size lipstick while in line, and had a really cool booth setup with makeup artists showing you the featured products. My girl was really cute and had great energy, and I got to try all of their new highlighters and then choose a full-size to take home! They also had a dope setup for photos with your friends or yourself, complete with ringlights and gorgeous backdrops. Go Milani!
Next we decided to enter a virtual line- Luxie, and then wait in line at NYX until our name was called. Big mistake. If I could have skipped one booth at this event, it would have been the NYX one. We literally waited an hour and twenty minutes, which had I known ahead of time never would have done. The staff at NYX didn’t engage with the line at all, it was crowded and hot and taking WAY too long. We couldn’t figure out what was taking so much time- until we got up front.
Right before they let us in, they said they’re closing down half of the artist booths to do a Facebook live, so it would take even longer. I couldn’t hold my tounge, and told the girl – “you do realize you’re going to have awful feedback on social due to this wait, etc.?” and she just kind of brushed me off. Whatever. The thing I really hated was that she seemed to intentionally let a bunch of the Qless before us, most likely because I had spoken out- typical. She then took our photo with a stone-face and deepened the bad taste in our mouth. The artist I was working with was really nice, so whatever- but all you got for this long wait was one of their liquid suede lipsticks, in colors that they clearly have too many on-hand of.
Now here comes the worst part, and the root cause of the ridiculous wait. They first made you take a photo with props when you enter, and immediately post it and hashtag and tag NYX with their caption. (DUH EVERYONE DELETED RIGHT AFTER) and thennnnn you had to take four- FOUR- photos of their flatlays (which were actually cute) and proceed to post those using the carousel feature on Instagram, with their caption, hashtags, etc. This shit was taking FOREVER, especially with some of the less tech-saavvy guests. I don’t see how this was a smart marketing technique, honestly. It was a time consuming, mass-produced and ugly, fake content. We did receive one of their new mult-finish shadow palettes at the end- fine. But they were out of options already, so we were all stuck with the only one they had left, neon. Eye roll.
The better side of booths.
MAC was the second longest wait, but the team at MAC was super engaging, high energy and fun. This made the wait much more tolerable, they had 30% off of all products for purchase, as well as a free full-size lipstick in a formula I hadn’t ever tried. The new roller-wheel eyeliner was there for play and purchase as well, which I am kind of mad I didn’t pick one up because it was really cool. Loving MAC Pro Powell St. team (also my new neighbors at work!).
Tattoo Junkee was a brand I hadn’t ever heard of and I can’t wait to play with their stuff. They have liquid lipsticks that come with a glitter topper (optional) and some really unique and bold colors. I will get back to you with my review on that once I use it! They also had a candy bar which I clearly was obsessed with- give me a friggin Blow Pop any day and I’m happy. I also loved our goodies from Double Dare- full sized face masks and eye patches, a cute backdrop for photos and a nice team. At Trestique, we received a full-sized tinted moisturizer! The artists at Trestique were super nice and informative- I am excited to support this new brand and try more from them.
All in all, I would recommend the Gen Beauty event for any beauty enthusiasts and influencers who are not in the beauty industry. If you are in the industry as a career, and already receive a lot of gratis, etc. it won’t seem as exciting to you. But it was cool to see the brands new products, incentives and those gems on their teams who love what they do. The passion of this industry is so amazing and one of the reasons I gravitated towards my niche. Gen Beauty was super fun! Hope that this was entertaining and informative for you guys.