IMATS London 2012: Review and Photos

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 7 - 2012

This was my 3rd year attending the International Makeup Artist Trade Show in London and it’s changed a lot over such a short period of time. The organisers have taken on board criticisms from shows past and worked hard to improve. The venue is now bigger since moving to the Great Hall at Alexandra Palace and consequently affords a lot more space when moving around.

I arrived at 8.30am on the Saturday morning, having dragged my under-eye bags from my (now practically traditional) el-cheapo Travelodge in Moorgate – the wind was biting my arse all the way from the bus stop to the front doors but thankfully it was toasty enough inside.  Unbeknown to me at the time, I was sitting opposite the lovely Iris from RougeDeluxe on my way up from Wood Green station on the W3 bus. When she told me she thought we’d been sharing the same bus, my natural reaction was to genuinely pray to the gods of self-image that I hadn’t been picking my nose/teeth/spots all the way up the hill.

Such an early start was obviously for the best as the hall began to fill quickly.  Along with IMATS veterans: Leanne, Kim, and Laura we headed for the Crown Brush stand – always well stocked and packed once the crowds move in.  I umm-ed and ahh-ed for about five minutes before deciding that although I was loving some of the brushes… I just didn’t need another MAC 217 dupe you know?  And I headed off to my favourite IMATS haunt, the MUFE stand.  This year, it was bigger than ever… in-fact, I wrongly assumed that – as it was so well-stocked – it must have been being operated by MUFE themselves – but my till receipt shows that Guru Makeup Emporium were still behind the brand’s major appearance on the day.  PAM also held a (smaller) MUFE pitch and for once, offered the same 35% discount as their competitors at Guru.

I always happily admit that I’m there for the shopping.  I’m not a MUA and have no desire to be one… I don’t wear false lashes, have no need for disposables or giant cases and as far as I’m concerned, latex and glitter is a combination best kept behind closed doors ifyouknowwhatimean.  This ultimately always means that the show will hold a limited interest to me (and quite rightly so, what with it being a TRADE show afterall).  I felt that this year, despite brands like Inglot and Sleek being in situ (which they weren’t two years ago) – it felt somehow less relevant to me than previously.  I was also disappointed not to see discounts from brands like Hakuhodo or Embryolisse.

I would have loved to see more of the U.S. brands represented either via their U.K. distributors or by themselves.  Brands like Sigma, Yaby, Ardell, Sugarpill, Stars Makeup Haven, Unii, honestly my list could go on…  I think there would be huge demand to see more and now that the show has moved into a larger venue – there’s certainly the floorspace to allow it.  Huge props to brands like OCC and Eve Pearl for making the trip over year after year and putting on a grand display, it was great to see their stands well-attended as a consequence.

The body painting and artistry displays from the students were, as always, wonderful – though the ‘makeup museum’ looked a little barer than previous years and some of the exhibits were repetitions from previous shows.  I didn’t attend any of the keynote speaker’s talks or demonstrations simply because my timings didn’t allow it, although I have heard on the grapevine that the Embryolisse one was a hard-selling cringefest!  Some of the exhibitors also need to invest in bigger pitches.  Illamasqua were the worst culprits… occupying a ridiculously small footprint, combined with impressive discounts equals a recipe for a horribly frustrating shopping experience.

As the fortunate recipient of a press pass, it didn’t cost me a penny to attend but had I spent £40 for advance tickets or £60 at the door, I can’t honestly say that those (not insignificant) prices wouldn’t have given me greater frustrations at some of the issues I mentioned above.  Organisationally, the show seems to improve year upon year, with queues moving faster and plenty of staff on hand to point attendees in the right direction.  Refreshment facilities were plentiful, though the single ATM again displayed a queue of epic proportions.

I’ll show my (modest) haul very soon but thought I’d jot down some of my thoughts on the IMATS experience while it was still fresh.  I’m always a little torn on my trip to the annual extravaganza but this year really demonstrated the serious potential for more exhibitors now that the Make-Up Artist magazine produced show have ironed out those initial kinks with the venue space and slow-moving queues that plagued the shows of yesteryear.

Frankly, there remains to be nothing else quite like the IMATS in the UK.

15 Responses to “IMATS London 2012: Review and Photos”

  1. I think you’re spot on about more international brands. I was disappointed not to see Yaby knowing the brand was there last year. I was also very disappointed about no discounts with Embroylisse and Hakuhodo as I’d designs on buying both. I’m going to throw myself on the floor once more about MUFE. 35% off?! I wished I hadn’t been so easily defeated getting to the displays. If I do go next year, I’m going to have to seriously up my shopping game 😉

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  2. Just looking at your pictures is a very overwhelming experience! I probably would have broken down if I were there haha. Can’t wait to see your haul. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful experience with us Charlotte!

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  3. Saturday, like you I was pleased to see so many of the kinks had been ironed out. There wasn’t a queue in site when I arrived just before 9 and the space in side was brilliant. I missed Yaby too; need to check out who else was missing. Sugarpill at IMATS would be awesome.

    Then of course, on Sunday I wasn’t so convinced about the lack of kinks. A conference centre like Alexandra Palace needs decently maintained, accessible car parking. The excuse that they didn’t realise the snow would be that bad just isn’t good enough, when people have paid £40 to get in. If they’d at least put out warnings that the car parks were out of operation on IMATS website or on Twitter. Going through my pics has been quite hard because I see now how much I meant to go back to. Sadly being sent to look for a car park in the town and then finding my way back up there just proved too much at the time and exhaustion set in. You know it’s bad when even the lure of an appointment with a fabulous French makeup artist can’t make you go on.

    Sorry IMATS still work to be done. x

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  4. Leanne says:

    I absolutely agree about the international brands – I was hoping to get enough Yaby shadows to fill up the little gaps in my Z palette :( I thoroughly enjoyed myself this year but your criticisms were spot on. I kinda felt that, even though it was obviously *bigger* than its been in previous years thanks to being in the Great Hall, it *seemed* smaller because of the huge amount of empty floorspace. I’m not talking about in between the booths, that was a godsend, but rather all the space around the edges that spoke to how much MORE could have been there. Fingers crossed for an even bigger and better show next year!
    Thanks for the linkage milf face :) x

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  5. Laura says:

    Thanks for the mention! It was great to see you again!
    I would also like to see more brands next year, Sigma would have made an absolute killing. Some nail brands would be interesting? I know it’s supposed to be makeup but there was a jewellery stand??

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  6. luxiehoney says:

    I really want to go to IMATS, especially for the MUFE but it does look like there were some issues, and maybe some different brands were needed. Still, looking forward to your haul! :) xxx

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this. I have been planning all year to go to IMATS in NYC with a friend, but it is looking less likely that I will be able to go. So I’ll just have to content myself with reading about everyone else’s experiences. I look forward to seeing what you bought.

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  8. Vanessa says:


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  9. Iris says:

    Hey there,
    You looked glowing and cheerful on the bus! I was in a most unglamorous beanie with my dorky glasses and hardly any makeup. I was actually expecting a much larger scale show, although it was good that the venue was so large that it never felt too congested or claustrophobic. It was nice to see many brands that I’ve never encountered before though, but as you said, it would have been much better if brands like Hakuhodo had offered some discounts. The ticket was expensive, but for a once-a-year experience, I think it was still worth it overall.

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  10. amelia liana says:

    Great photos! shame I missed you there! Check out my photo diary from the imats here on my blog!

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  11. Best review I’ve seen of IMATS, thank you x x

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  12. Sarah (CityGirlsFashionBox) says:

    Cant wait to see your haulage! I’m mad jealous, you got some fabulous snaps my love! Next year (when i have a fo real jobz) i can go on Sunday and we can fill trolleys, yah? good, deal xxxx

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  13. Sarah (CityGirlsFashionBox) says:

    * saturday even pshhh

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  14. michelle says:


    I only recently heard about IMATS and was wondering does it justify the £40 entrance tkt. Like is the make up discounted or what is the appeal.


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