A few weeks back I spent my weekend at the American Beauty Show hosted by the International Esthetics Cosmetic & Spa Conference and Chicago Cosmetologists. I attended the show last year as part of my esthetics schooling but this year I went half for my license and half for my job. It was hard to ignore the differences between the two years of this conference. I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the show here to reflect the fast changing culture of the beauty industry.
The American Beauty Show is a private show only open for licensed beauty professionals and those with beauty industry affiliation. The purpose behind this conference is to provide Midwest Cosmetologists/Estheticians/Nail Technicians with access to continuing education hours, brand trainings, demonstrations and discounted bulk product purchases. For those who need continuing education (CEU) hours conferences like ABS can help knock out all of your hours in one weekend. Additionally, in Illinois beauty professionals are required to attend a 1 hour domestic violence awareness training in order to renew their license, which was offered for free at the show this year.
I attended a brand training class from Refectocil on eyelash lift & tint, took dubious notes on my iPhone and purchased a practice kit. Afterwards I met up with my boss to walk the floor show and check out the products & brands being featured this year. This is when I first noticed all of the differences in this year’s show. ABS is split into 2 sections – Hair/Nails and Skin. The Hair/Nails section was a bit smaller then last year with far less major brands and no new product launches. We found the same differences on the skincare side of the show. This lead me to preach my idea to everyone that I spoke with that this show has dramatically changed due to the effects of social media.
In the age of Instagram big brands don’t really need these shows to market new product launches to beauty professionals. Aiding to my theory, the requirement of social media for licensed beauty professional is so necessary that it’s literally taught in beauty school curriculums. I don’t know a single hair colorist or esthetician that doesn’t feature treatments, educate and book appointments through their IG, it’s vital for clientele.
With this being said, beauty professionals are still going to get their beauty industry news from social media platforms like Instagram but shows like ABS are invaluable networking events. As an introvert I rarely talk to people at shows like this unless I’m speaking with a brand rep or whoever I’m attending the show with. I strongly believe that the brand/product presence at this show has turned more into bargain shopping than brand/product education, beauty industry shows are vital for networking. Everyone I spoke with about my social media theory at the show agreed that ABS felt smaller and had no exciting reveals – and yet there I was talking with another beauty professional about our industry.
Industry shows like ABS/IECSC aren’t the place to learn about exciting innovations or ideas but rather inspiration and trend forecasting. Dip/powder manicures fully consumed the nail products section. Temporary hair color, barber product extensions, CBD, floral oils and natural/organic products were found at nearly every booth in the hair section. Finally, CBD and natural/organic were all the rage in the skincare area.
As of now I don’t plan on attending more than 1 day of ABS next year. I have no doubt that beauty industry shows like ABS will be around for a while, but this year brought to my attention the importance of determining the value received from a conference/industry show. Discounted products, brand education and networking are all tools that beauty professionals need access to, but isn’t it possible to get this all from social media platforms? More importantly, what should us licensed beauty professionals be seeking from attending industry shows? I’d love to hear any thoughts below!