Since moving to London, I’ve been to two beauty festivals. I attended “Superdrug Presents” in Shoreditch, London, last month, and the “Glamour Beauty Festival” over the weekend. Now I’m spilling the tea for my readers.
Superdrug Presents was overall a really good experience. While there were queues for pretty much everything, there were plenty of different stalls and games so everyone could spread out and the queues moved well.
Superdrug themselves were offering free gel nail treatments, which I was impressed by but unfortunately I couldn’t partake in as I’m a student nurse and we aren’t allowed any nail varnish. Superdrug also offered brow threading, and a piercing service – the same as they offer in most of the stores. I didn’t get my brows threaded as I find it irritates my skin more than waxing, but it was nice to see multiple treatments offered for free. I didn’t see any piercings taking place, so I’m not sure if they were actually performing them during the time slot I was there.
There were loads of different brands, from Nivea to NYX, giving demonstrations, running competitions, and handing out extra freebies. It was great to interact with these brands, and I even got a lovely hand massage from Palmer’s. I also played a game with NYX, where you had to find a glittery ball in a ball pit. I’m sure I looked like a complete idiot, but it was so much fun and I managed to find the ball before the time ran out so I won a prize.
There were plenty of brands doing product demos and handing out samples on top of what we were to get in our goodie bags so there was loads to see and do. There was even a lovely nurse who was handing out information about the charity CoppaFeel and how to check your breasts regularly!
I planned on eating at the event as my slot crossed over dinner time. There was only one food vendor, which was lovely, however it was disappointing that there wasn’t more choice.
The goodie bag from Superdrug was incredible, it was absolutely jam packed and it had a great range of products; there was everything from hair glitter and eyelashes to tampons and condoms. Between the goodie bag, the samples handed out by brands, and the glitter set I won from playing a game with NYX, I felt the tickets were fantastic value for money. There were plenty of scenes set up specifically to take photos, but unfortunately I was on my own and having a bad day in terms of anxiety so I didn’t ask anyone to take photos of me.
The next beauty festival I attended was run by Glamour in association with Boots. Glamour normally run a beauty festival twice a year – one in London around March, and the other in Manchester around November. I travelled up to Manchester even though I lived in London, as it meant I could combine the festival with a trip to see my best friend.
I had really high expectations for the event thanks to the social media promotion, my experience of Superdrug Presents – which was a smaller event-, and the tagline “the beauty event of the year”.
I arrived in Manchester with a suitcase and I was very glad to see a cloakroom when I arrived. There was a very long queue to enter the event itself, and I felt it could have been better organised. Eventually I got to the front of the queue, a good few minutes after my time slot began, and I entered the main hall.
I immediately noticed an area where the lovely people from Neil’s Yard Remedies were giving hand massages, so I made a beeline towards them. Let’s face it, a hand and arm massage is every nursing student’s dream! The massage was superb and really relaxing, plus I was given a sample pot of Neil’s Yard Remedies cult favourite “one pot wonder” wild rose beauty balm.
Next I took a walk around the hall. Every stall and area seemed to have a huge queue, particularly the central section which had multiple brands that are stocked in Boots all together. I decided to go and collect my goodie bag at that stage, as the queue for that had died down, and then headed for the Caudalie section.
Caudalie were offering a skin type analysis, which included taking photos of different areas of your face and a computer analysis of issues like oil buildup and imperfections. The analysis was really professional and the lady who was with me talked through my skincare routine and some small switches that could be made to help with my particular skin needs. She then offered me a discount on the products she had talked about, and I was dismayed when she became rather cold when I declined, having explained I’m a student and couldn’t afford to buy them right there and then.
I headed for the Boots section after that, and decided to go to the Clinique stall, where they were also talking about tailored skin care. Again the lady serving me tried to persuade me to buy products, however she was nicer when I declined. Fenty Beauty was there however there didn’t seem to be anything happening in their section, instead it was simply a showcase of products you could buy, much like you would find in any Boots store.
I tried to queue up for E.L.F. beauty next, as they were offering a foundation matching service and a goodie bag with several of their products, but I had to give up after 15 minutes of the long line not moving. I decided to find the cafe we had been promised to sit down for a few minutes, but discovered that the cafe was tiny and was already so over-packed that people were sitting on the floor.
Instead I headed towards the Pixi Beauty area, where I joined the queue for a facial. Are you seeing a trend here? The queues were ridiculously long, and I felt Glamour could have staggered time slots further to make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone. I eventually reached the front of the queue and got my facial, which was fantastic! There were several facials to choose from, and I went for the Vitamin C one as I find my skin is often dull and in need of some TLC. I left the Pixi area positively glowing.
There were multiple stalls doing hair and makeup, however the queues were so long that I was quite disheartened. I collected my Boots goodie bag, and then snapped some photos for my Instagram. There were a few photos opportunities set up, two main ones from Glamour themselves, and then several from various brands. Again I didn’t have anyone to take photos for me so I didn’t get any, but other people really seemed to enjoy the photos ops.
After walking around the hall again and seeing that the majority of queues weren’t moving at all, I decided to just call it quits and head into central Manchester to meet my friend. I didn’t check my goodie bag until later, which turned out to be a huge mistake.
I saw other Beauty Festival attendees posting photos of their goodie bag contents on the Glamour Beauty group, and I had already seen lists of what to expect from Glamour themselves so I had high hopes. When I got home on the Sunday night I emptied my goodie bag and was crushed to see several items missing. I checked the Glamour Beauty group to see several people had posted about the same issue, however no-one seemed to be missing as many items as I was. I also noticed that I had received two hair products from different brands that were designed for people with blonde hair, however I’m a brunette, and others with light hair had received items for dark hair. It didn’t make sense to me to have tailored items in goodie bags handed out completely at random.
Glamour’s only response on the page was to explain that items were subject to change, they seemed to think people were complaining because they had fewer items than the majority of bags, not that items had been swapped out last minute. Don’t get me wrong. the goodie bag was still good – I particularly loved the mini Huda lip kit -, but I was upset that some customers had done much better than others.
Glamour eventually posted an email address to the page due to the volume of complaints. I immediately emailed them, but it has now been over a week and I have had no reply. In fact, I have only come across one woman who has had a reply, and Glamour had the audacity to explain that items are subject to change; they ignored the woman’s issues completely. Glamour then deleted many posts in the beauty group to “avoid spreading negativity” about the event.
I’m really annoyed at Glamour’s response (or in my case, lack of response), and I felt that the event could have been much better organised. The festival was held in the Manchester Convention Centre, which is a huge space, but I felt Glamour really didn’t make use of the space. The Boots section was far too crammed in and as a result queues were merging in to one another and there was general confusion. I also felt that they let far too many people in, and the queues were tough. I would have been happy if they had shorter time slots that were staggered throughout the day rather than a morning and an afternoon time slot.
Overall, I think I would attend Superdrug Presents again as it was a great experience and I loved the positive interactions with brands who weren’t just trying to force a sale. Glamour Beauty has made me very weary of attending other large beauty festivals, and their handling of genuine concerns and complaints has been a complete disaster.
I’ll keep you updated if Glamour ever reply to my emails.
Until next time,