Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Makeup Mothership: IMATS Toronto 2015!

Hi, everyone! If there's one annual tradition that fuels my inner makeup geek the most, it's the International Makeup Artist Trade Show, or IMATS. It's an epic makeup conference that offers amazing shopping deals, hard-to-find niche makeup brands, talks and demonstrations, and a huge punch of creativity. As someone who is incredibly interested in the artistry side of makeup (I'm not just a professional shopper!), IMATS fascinates me on many levels. Last year was my first trip to IMATS and I was beyond eager to attend this year. As is seemingly tradition, I had a terrible cold when I was there (still hacking up a lung, ugh), but I pushed through and made the very best of it! 

IMATS Toronto took place this past weekend, September 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It filled up a spacious hall consisting of vendors, stages, and makeup chairs (plus a highly overpriced cafe, but I'll refrain from complaining about my $8 muffin too much). 

As my blogger status granted me a press pass this year (I'll never get over how exciting that is), I arrived at the centre early hoping for advanced admission. Unfortunately, they were being sticklers this year and held firm at their 9am doors open time. Luckily, a large group of fellow beauty bloggers had the same idea as me, so we hung out in anticipation together!

IMATS Hall before opening
Waiting (im)pateiently with Julie, Chelle, Zoe, and Nicole!
Proudly touting my press pass :)

When 9am struck, the media group (us bloggers included!) were the very first they sent to the doors. It was quite thrilling to get first crack at the makeup booths! I had a highlighted and labelled floor map of the vendors (did I mention I was a beauty nerd?) and my first stops were Frends Beauty and Nigel Beauty Emporium, as they feature harder-to-find brands at good prices and tend to run out of product early. While I was tempted by the Viseart palettes at Frends, it was the amazing Too Faced offers at Nigel that won me over. More on that in my next post where I review my haul!

After those first two stops, I gradually made it through the other vendors on my list. I am usually most excited to peek at the hard-core professional makeup artist brands like Kryolan:

... affordable, impossible to find in Toronto brands like Sleek:  

... and professional makeup brush brands like the uber luxurious Hakuhodo:

I was also eager to check out a few favourite brands that were new to the show this year, specifically BeneFit (who was offering an impressive 35% off, I just didn't need anything from them at the moment), Inglot (whose 10% discount didn't really entice me), and NYX (whose small, overly-crowded booth ended up being a turn-off). Still love these brands, just wasn't motivated to pounce this time around. I also stopped by Blur Makeup Room, a Toronto-based makeup artist supply store that I discovered at IMATS last year, whose selection of O.C.C. Lip Tars did indeed draw me in!

In addition to the shopping, IMATS features an incredible range of special effects makeup demonstrations, from ghoulish busts to ultra colourful body paint.  Here are some of my favourites from the day: 

Colourful shading at Mehron Cosmetics
Some incredibly life-like (death-like?) makeup busts

A glamorous, avante-garde makeup in progress at the MUFE Academy 
Colourful and smiling at Jordane Cosmetics
Rosy and pink at MAC Pro (lots of ladies- and gents- were fixated on this one ;)
Creating an Egyptian princess at Kryolan

After a few frenetic hours in the morning, all of us Canadian Beauty Blogger gals met up at the IMATS backdrop for some photo ops. Here I am with my IMATS power pose, followed by a shot of the 13 of us (a beauty baker's dozen!) who attended Saturday morning.  

After the photos, we snuck out into downtown Toronto for a lunch break. We walked up to the Elephant and Castle at King and Simcoe for some refueling food and drink. I opted for my favourite comfort food of mac and cheese, which was made extra zesty with the addition of jalapenos!  We were joined there by even more local beauty bloggers, which was an extra treat!

I was going to head back home after lunch, as my cough was really flaring up (apologies to all my beauty buddies who endured my hacking all day), but when Julie and Kaitlyn told me they were returning to see a talk from Gwen Stefani's makeup artist, I knew I could spare a couple more hours :)

The demonstration was actually the keynote talk of the day and was conducted by MAC Cosmetics' Director of Makeup Artistry Gregory Arlt. Arlt works with such high profile celebrities as Cher, Dita von Teese, and Katy Perry and is currently Gwen Stefani's makeup artist for The Voice. The talk was entitled "Unfiltered Beauty" and focused on how to create a fresh, undetectable makeup that looks just as flawless and natural in public as it does on the red carpet or on one's Instagram feed. He spoke about his goal of making clients look like "an A+ version of themselves" (rather than the overdone makeup looks that seem to be invading social media of late) and insisted that "perfect" makeup doesn't have to look artificial. 

Not only was Gregory funny, positive, and engaging, he provided some incredible, totally achievable, pro tips (that I have etched into my brain forever) and reminded me of some classic MAC products that have been lurking on my wishlist for over a decade. 

Of the tricks he shared, my favorites were to 1) mix foundation with a bit of facial oil for an ultra natural glow without sacrificing coverage, 2) always match foundation to the colour of one's neck and body (especially on the red carpet, weddings, and any day when skin will be showing) to avoid the nasty "floating head" look, 3) always apply eye shadow with eyes open, as this is how others will be viewing your makeup 90% of the time, and 4) apply bottom mascara first, as to avoid your top lash mascara smudging when looking up to coat your bottom lashes. All so handy! 

For the majority of the presentation, Gregory demonstrated a makeup look from scratch on the lovely model above and below. He created luminous skin with the help of MAC's Prep + Prime Essential Oils, Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation, Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder mixed with Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, and a combination of Dame and Well Dressed blushes. He also added a touch of Motif eye shadow on the inner edges of the apples of the cheeks for some extra glow. On the eyes, he used Omega eye shadow for the brows, a mix of Shroom and Naked Lunch on the lids, Wedge eye shadow to shade the eyes and nose, Extended Play mascara, and Fluidline to create a subtle cat eye. For a modern, feminine lip, he used Lip Pencil in Rosy Rim layered with Dazzleglass in Baby Sparks mixed with Lustreglass in Love Nectar

Near the end of the talk, he brought out a second model and demonstrated how the "unfiltered" natural beauty look might translate to someone with a deeper skin tone. He added Margin blush to the apples of her cheeks with was a beautiful finishing touch. Also reminded me of how long I've wanted that shade- it's gorgeous! 

After the talk, I immediately shimmied over to the MAC Pro booth, who was offering a 20% discount and was noticeably less crowded than it had been late morning. They didn't have all of the items I was hoping for, but I walked away with a couple lovely products.

By this point, it was after 3pm and I decided it was finally time to give my cold-ridden body a rest. When I left the event mid-afternoon, the hall was still hustling and bustling. No rest for the beauty obsessed! 

Phewf! Just writing this post has tired me out again (cheers to you if you'd made it through!), but in the best kind of way. I'm so happy that I mustered my energy and made a pretty full day of IMATS on Saturday. It is such a fun, engaging, unique experience and I learned so much! 

I was also happy to bring home some amazing goodies that I scored for some impressive prices. I'll have a full haul post up in a couple days, but here's a sneak peek:

... and, as always, the icing on the cake was getting to spend time with my beauty blogger buddies. You gals make events like these extra special!

Have you ever attended IMATS? Does a conference like this pique your interest?

Have a fantastic week!


  1. This looks like such a fun day, and your haul is amazing! I'd love to go to an event like this one day :) x

  2. I wish I could have hung out with you guys!! I'm pretty sure I'm one of those tiny blogs in the MUFE booth from your balcony shot. haha Rachelle was saying she and Julie were calling my name from up there hahahahaha if only I had heard...

    YOUR MAKEUP LOOKS BEAUTIFUL! What lippie and blush do you have on? I'm so jealous of your purchase! I didn't get to shop and was a bit sad, I would have loved some Benefit and Sleek items!

  3. Looks like you had a lovely time!! So many great brands there. Can't wait to see you haul post!

    xo Kat @ Katness

  4. i've never had the chance but sounds like so much fun!!

  5. Ahhh, this looks amazing. I'm from Toronto but I go to school out of province so I haven't had a chance to go to IMATS yet! I'm jealous of your experience and your haul - all of it looks utterly fantastic.

  6. Great haul Jen and it was nice bumping into you! Good that you went straight for the Too Faced palette - I had been hem and hawing about it!

    Stephanie |

  7. Oh wow! This would have been an amazing day!
    The Beauty Bloss

  8. Looks like a wonderful time!! I absolutely love those two natural looks; I have such a thing against all the overdone Instagram and youtube faces!! The Kardashians have a lot to answer for....some people are looking undead these days :-O.

  9. This looks ridiculously exciting! Looks like you had an amazing time!

  10. Man, all these IMATS posts are making me wish I had made the trip back to Toronto for this!

  11. omg so many lovelies (both makeup and CBB)! Thanks for getting this out so quickly - it was so fun to live vicariously through you, my wallet thanks you!

  12. This is a really lovely post - I love the detail and all your photos, it's so cute!

    Lovely products you picked up too, great for creating some beautiful looks with and all the tips you got are great! :) I love events like this as you get to meet so many wonderful people!

    Layla xx

  13. Man you guys are on fire getting these posts up! Loved your recap. :)

  14. It looks like you had such a great time there and these goodies look great :) xx

  15. great recap! I have always wanted to attend. Maybe someday soon! =)

  16. Awww, what a great event and I received the email but obviously didn't go since I'm living on Vancouver Island. I'm hoping I get to attend Vancouver IMATS!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  17. I cannot thank you enough for your lovely coverage of my Master Class! I wish I'd had a chance to talk to you....looks like you had a blast! Hope to meet sometimes. x Gregory

  18. (Holy crap, $8 for a muffin??? INSANE) Being part of the media for this event sounds amazing. DIBS ON ENTRANCE? YAS PLS.
    I didn't know Sleek was there! Actually pretty exciting, considering how difficult it is to get hold of over here. The Egyptian Princess work is pretty cool, and hooray for CBB squad and mac and cheese!


All of your lovely comments make my day! Thanks for taking the time to share your musings, ideas, and opinions. Feel free to leave a link to your blog- I'd be happy to check it out :)