Have you been to one of these? They are not for the introverted or enochlophobic for sure going by themselves. They are for the professionals that are looking to become better at their career and make some damn bank.


Shows are still worth going to ultimately. If you want to learn some new things, get better at what you do now professionally, and score some deals. Just go in prepared and plan ahead as to what show has what you want for your nail tech skill and quality development. I’ve learned a lot over this past year regarding beauty shows, so this post could be a useful one for fellow techs that haven’t been to one yet and is considering going.


A Beauty Show is a lot like this, but with 100,000 People…Complete with Squawks of “Girrrrl” “Girrrrrl GIRL LOOK AT THIS STAMPER!”:


  1. They’re loud and crowded. Seriously, bring earplugs or you’ll have a migraine for days. The hair section is the worst; imagine every psycho crack hooker from your city’s worst area wearing every bedazzled thing out of their closet all at once combined with a WalMart Black Friday sale at opening time. The Spa section seems to have the most normal/professional type personality people, and the nail people, while not psychotic,  could really stand to lose a lot of weight (I think because we have to sit so much for work). I would rather be overweight than look like I’m strung out on cocaine though. Holy hell.
  2. Often shows are chock full of flea market grade products/get rich quick con-artist companies waiting for an impulse buyer or a easily fooled customer. I saw a makeup remover cloth that sold for $20 because they hired a male underwear model to stand there and get marked on with makeup, only to have it wiped off with the cloth. WTF. I was totally entertained, and totally did not buy the product. Flea market level vendor.
  3. The furniture sold there are often sold with a jacked up price to make you think you’re getting a deal, and many do not even deliver their product. Many a lawsuit have occurred over this. Buyer beware.
  4. Specialty shows (i.e. only hair or nails or skin) are not always better to go to than an overall beauty show. One of the specialty “nail only” shows I found out is three hours driving through mountains from the airport… And the show was the size of two average living rooms put together. Not worth spending all that travel money on, unless you’re going there to party with people you’ve known in the industry for years.


  1. They are the most convenient places to get access to speaking with and learning from industry juggernauts such as Young Nail’s Greg Salo and This Ugly Beauty Business’ Tina Alberino. Many competition nail show winners demo items for you, and there are classes ranging from how to use certain products, managing your salon, becoming visible with social media, handling customers, doing your taxes, becoming a higher quality and faster product applicator, and so on. This is where you can best become product certified in a short amount of time invested compared to a three day workshop.
  2. If you already have priced out products you need to stock up on on a shopping list, you can get products for 20% less than online, and get to try it out first.
  3. You can buy trial kits, bulk orders, or individual sized orders.
  4. You get to see a lot of inspirational nail work (even if it inspires you to never, ever do that kind of nail work).
  5. The people watching factor is PHENOMENAL. I never realized how little I knew about the industry, and how far ahead I am of competitors in the industry at the same time.
  6. If you have specific questions that cannot be answered via email by a product manufacturer, there will be product experts manning the booth at all the major brands you can think to come across to help you.
  7. No credit? No problem. Cash is king at beauty shows. You can get further discount bargaining power by having cash.
  8. Free samples of all kinds of stuff, even if you are not a full cosmologist. I’ve gotten hair serums, shampoos, lotions, stationary, brushes, ect.


So now that we’ve talked about the bad and the good, we can get our handy Pinterest type checklist of what to bring/do/don’t do in order to facilitate a really good show experience for yourself.

Dar’s 15 Item List of Do’s and Don’t for Beauty Show Attendance Success:

  1. Make a Spreadsheet of all Things You Might Want/Need in Your Salon. List it like equipment, supplies, tools, brands, best prices (plus shipping) you have found online so far for them, how much you plan to buy. Then compress it into one or two pages to have on hand with you. Make a budget envelope with your cash in it for that stuff. So you’ll know if you’re really getting a deal or not. Buy what you need the first show floor day, buy ‘what look like fun to try out’ the last day. There’s limited inventory, so although you might get a better deal on the last day, more than likely the big name stuff will be sold out and you’ll be SOL.
  2. Once it’s Available, Look at the Vendors that will be Coming to Your Show. Make a list of the ones you are interested in knowing more about (product questions, classes, ect.) Email them all the product questions you can to have all that info already so that you don’t waste the booth attendees time. They are there to sell all the stuff they unpacked so they have as little much stuff to take back with them as possible, not hold your hand about questions you could have emailed them about. Think of the show floor as like old time Wall Street. Everyone’s wheeling and dealing at the product booths, screaming and waving things to get their items hawker-ed off. You will either be just as busy as them, or go take a seat;  because nobody has time for that. Make notes on the map too where the vendors are to better manage your time. Get your business done and then have fun gawking.
  3. Once the Classes Schedules Come Out, put them into your Google Calendar, Paper Day Planner, on Your Hand, Whatever You Do. Workshops make you pay fees and have limited seating, but most classes are included with admission. Plan out what times you’ll shop, when you’ll have a class, and stick to it. There are usually no clocks at a show to keep you on track and at any given moment you’ll find something to distract you long enough to be late to a class, which means you’ll be standing for that entire hour long class. Classes are the main reasons pros go to shows. Utilize that.
  4. Draw out your Budgeted Amount for the Show in Advance (because the show’s venue ATM will rob you). The wifi at shows are generally terrible, which makes using Square type readers a hassle. When you buy your stuff, keep your written/printed receipts (make sure the items are written out as descriptive, not “ITEM #2559844523” when you get home you’ll be like (or your accountant will be like) wtf was this receipt for?!? Remember, you can’t have it as an expense of business if no one can tell what ITEM #2559844523 was! The government sure as hell isn’t going to bother looking that up so you get that deducted from your taxes. That’s your job to do.
  5. Pack Food to Bring with You. Show food is HORRIBLE. Forget it if you have any food sensitivities either, those hot dog carts and soggy nachos don’t care if you’re a vegan. Bring a lunch, some snacks, and a drink if soda doesn’t cut it for you. I just buy a cup of ice, or I shut up and pay to play like a good soldier because I overslept and didn’t bring my lunch lol.
  6. Dress Professional-Casual. You want to network yourself some connections in the industry? Juicy loungewear is NOT going to help you attain that. Neither is showing up in a business suit with a set of 7 inch long acrylic 3D dolphins and stiletto heels. Wear deodorant, a respectable outfit, and your best “I can wear these for 18 hours and still walk the next day” shoes/inserts. For me it’s a pair of black airwalk sketchers. For outfits I usually go for outfits I assemble from http://www.puttingmetogether.com. A indoor wear jacket I can take off (denim, a blazer, a cardigan, ect.) stylish top, necklace, bottoms that don’t restrict my movement, and my all black sketchers.
  7. Bring Earplugs Between the base coming from every single booth of the hair section all happening at one and out of sync because they’re all playing different songs, the constant drone of the crowds, the hype people bellowing out how their serum is going to “ROCK YOUR HAIR WORLD OH YAAASSSSSSS” before a competition starts…you’ll want to wish you were deaf, at least for an hour. Bell shaped earplugs allow you to hear conversation near you while muffling all the horrid chaos around you.
  8. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING YOU CANNOT CARRY OUT OF THERE THAT DAY.  The show doesn’t quality check the companies that pay the fee to set up shop there. It’s why you’ll see three or four flea market level vendors at beauty shows. The show just wants the big names and then the rest can be filled up with rabble. They don’t care if your furniture is never delivered to you and that having no furniture drove you to the poorhouse. You will be royally F’d. Don’t do it.
  9. Bring a Rolling Suitcase with You  Those bags of purchases, papers, and samples get heavy really quick. A four wheel suitcase is much more agile than a two wheel. I bring my international case (can hold over 50 pounds) with me. For catalogs/promotional information/leaflets/ ect I also bring a box that is legal paper size, but has a top that folds into it so the top doesn’t fly off inside the suitcase, like a FedEx type flatbox. I also bring a couple gallon size zip bags to put little papers or samples of stuff in so my other things don’t get wet from something leaking. At lunch I will eat and then sort through the morning’s cache of beauty loot so I don’t open a tornado when I get back to my hotel. It’s constructive time spent off my feet before going back into the show melee.
  10. A Pack of Pens and Big Notebook To write notes, contacts, email addresses, whatever. Put it in the front pocket of your rolling suitcase.
  11. Utilize Uber/Lyft with Other Show Attendees if You are Able. Show parking prices are outrageous, parking is a total nightmare. It’s really nice to just punch it into your app and have someone take you back to your hotel. One less thing to worry about.
  12. If You do Park, GO EARLY. Take Pictures with Your Phone of Where You’re Parked (Like lot F row 15 signs). After hours of having your brain flooded with info and insanity mob noises, you won’t remember where you’ve parked. My first show I did an extra hour of walking because I was in the wrong concourse 🙁
  13. For Your Classes, Write Your Questions for the Instructor at Home Before Going to the Show. You’ll forget what you wanted to ask once you’re in the class and get flooded with all sorts of information.
  14. Snap Pictures of Everything that Makes You Think WOW, Good or Bad. It will inspire you do practice more, or remind you that you have come a long way since beauty school. Both are good.
  15. When You Get to Your Hotel, Take Out Your Loot and Ogle your Items! Relish in your hard earned wheeling and dealing while having a nightcap or settling in for the evening. You’ve earned it!

Do you have any tips for new nail techs about attending beauty shows? Let me know in the comments below. I’m bound to have forgotten something.