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Ready for my first BeautyCon!

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

I’m a YouTube OG. I was around when the beauty crew on the video-sharing platform was simply a community of people who loved makeup and had access to a basic webcam. We were raw and unfiltered — but little did we know (over seven years ago) that sharing our latest purchases and creating how-to videos would turn into a business, and our influence would reach millions. YouTube took beauty-lovers with a following and created stars users could relate to and trust . Today conventions like BeautyCon NYC give fans unprecedented access to their virtual BFFs and a chance to see if the hair and makeup that looks so good in videos is just as breathtaking IRL.

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While I am no stranger to beauty events, this year was my first time attending BeautyCon. I knew that there would be panels, meetups and slew of booths to shop at — but I will admit, I was still a little bit nervous about what I was getting myself into. The convention took place at New York City’s Pier 36, a fairly large venue, and the event was completely sold out. Not only did I expected a large crowd — huge stars like Bethany Mota and Angel Merino were slated to be there — but a young one at that, which is typical at YouTube-related events (hence, the Parents’ Lounge that was set up, complete with an open bar).

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With Ourfa Zinali and fellow Vivala founding creator, Stephanie Flor.

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised: There was a great mix of people of all ages and backgrounds, the convention’s grounds were large enough to host everyone without feeling crowded, and I even ran into some fellow OG YouTube beauty gurus. The only moment when I briefly feared for my life was when I heard a young girl shriek and rush toward Frankie J. Grande, a social media influencer with a couple of Broadway and TV shows like America’s Best Dance Crew under his belt, and what followed was something along the lines of “when selfies attack!” In the blink of an eye he was surrounded by a small mob of fans, phones in hand, ready to snap a picture with the star. It was amusing and terrifying, and it all happened so fast that I didn’t have a chance to whip my own phone out to capture the crazy moment of the day.

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A bird's eye view of the crowd.

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

The highlight of BeautyCon NYC was the celebration of individual beauty. Everywhere you turned there was someone you could identify with and chat about the makeup you were wearing and who you were there to see. I met Mr. Kate who has a line of temporary tattoos called BeautyMarks and one of the hand-drawn sets in the collection celebrates freckles by turning them into a fun metallic accessory. It was also great to see a booth for a company like Glossier — which was founded by Into the GlossEmily Weiss. She was in attendance, chatting and demo-ing the line’s new brow product on guests — and spreading the message that it's all about being confident in your skin with products that enhance your beauty without covering it all up.

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The “Uniquely You” panel.

photo: Cindy Diaz, Vivala

The theme of individual beauty was capped off with the “Uniquely You” panel that drove home the importance of being yourself and how liberating that can be. Beauty guru Taren Guy said it best when responding to what being “uniquely you” meant to her: “I always say, “Ownership of self.” Once you own yourself no one else can use those things that you lack confidence in against you. So ownership of self — that is me, that is what I consider “uniquely me.” No one else can be me. So I’m proud of that.” Being who you are is perfect and you’ll always find more than one reason to embrace it at an event like this.

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