The Future of Beauty in Three Frantic Days

Every year, Americans spend billions of dollars on shampoos and body scrubs and nail polishes. And for three days each March, it seems as if every last bit of it is crammed into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for the International Beauty Show.

Here, under thousands of rooftop glass panels, members of the trade can find everything from cutting-edge laser skin care to plain old haircutting shears. The show is limited to professionals — attendees must provide state licenses or some other proof of their qualifications to get in — and there were more than 500 exhibitors at this year’s event, which was held this past Sunday through Tuesday. The atmosphere is equal parts Old World bazaar and Las Vegas Strip.

For example, Amika, a Brooklyn-based hair-care company, had tricked out its booth in bright, paisley-swirled colors and installed a sleek stage, where a D.J. and styling demonstrations drew crowds. Amika swag bags seemed to be all over the convention center floor, as were bags with the logo of Bella Lash, a beauty company focused on eyelash care.

Lash extensions seemed to be very much on-trend this year. Another company, Infinity Lash, displayed tiny strips of volume lashes, classic flat lashes, and “just normal flat lashes.” Kelly Price, who was working the Infinity booth, predicted the “Kim K lash” would be popular in 2018. She described the style as a “more sporadic look, not so uniform.” A few feet away on an elevated platform, a volunteer lay supine as a demonstrator, wearing stilettos and a wireless microphone, applied individual hairs — one by one — to the volunteer’s lash line with the patience and dexterity of a brain surgeon.

Eyelash care was part of the calmer, spa side of the expo, reached by a short hallway separating it from the rowdier hairdressing/cosmetics/nail care “village.” The spa aisles were still packed, however, with browsers checking out jelly masks smeared across mannequin faces and sipping tiny cups of “detoxifying” waters.

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