You have been counting down the weeks until the International Salon and Spa Expo in Long Beach, CA for months, but now that the show is nearing you are starting to panic.  With over 40,000 attendees,  it is easy to get overwhelmed… Fear not, our hair loving friends… The Hair Nerds are here with tips to help you navigate all 3 days of ISSE Long Beach like a pro.


Go ALL 3 days

If at all possible, buy a 3 day ticket.  It gives you the most bang for your buck and helps ward off “tradeshow meltdown”.

Tradeshow Meltdown-  A term used to describe the erratic behavior of a stylist who has become so frenzied trying to fit in every class, stage show and product demo… they have temporarily lost their mind.

Wristbands for the thousands of beauty professionals attending ISSE Long Beach

Tip** Utilize Saturday to do the majority of your shopping and you will be free to take all the classes your little heart desires.



Before you land in Long Beach and exit the airport,  you need to decide what you are looking to achieve at this show.  Are you looking to take on an additional retail line at your salon?  Is meeting Nick Arrojo on your bucket list.. do you plan on sneaking into Faatemah Ampey’s hotel room? (obsessed much? maybe… don’t judge!)  Perhaps, you are a recently licensed stylist and you are just looking for some advanced education.

Whatever the reason, you must first clearly define your goals in order to achieve them, right? Life 101.

Education, Education, Education

We spend HOURS creating intricate schedules to accommodate all of the classes we want to fit in.


  • Go online to the ProBeauty site and log in to your registration to find classes and build your own itinerary. It is easier to get to all the education when you have times and room numbers printed out.
  • Figure out the classes you will die if you don’t see, first. Then you can fill in the rest of your day.
  • Be sure and give yourself a small window between classes. This will give you the chance to chat up the artist at the end of the session and still get a prime seat in the next class.

We take our show schedules very seriously! You can find the classes The Hair Nerds plan to attend here.


Networking/ Stalking

Face your fears and approach celebrity stylists.   I can’t think of a time that I talked to a stylist and they blew me off.  It doesn’t happen.  So put on your big girl/boy pants and walk up to them and ask those burning questions.

The Hair Nerds will be in hardcore stalking mode seeking out our very favorite stylists at the show.

Follow the #NerdStalking hashtag on twitter to get the latest on who we are harassing.

This is your opportunity to meet all of your favorite educators and brand representatives in one place.  Or you can live with regret for the rest of your life… totally up to you!



Shop til’ You Drop

The tradeshow floor is like Toys R’ Us  for Hair Nerds.   Bring your credit cards and secret stash of cash ( we know about the tips you have been hiding) because you are going to want to buy everything!  If need be, take out a 2nd mortgage, raid your retirement fund, whatever it takes! (kidding…kinda)

Busy day at ISSE Long Beach 2012



  • Take an extra empty bag with you to store all your purchases on your return flight or drive.
  • Ask distributors if they will ship directly to your home/ salon.

This is helpful in 2 ways: 1. You won’t need to pay overweight or extra bag fees on the plane. 2. No one ever has to know just how much you bought.


Ok, you are ready for the show…  You have logged onto the website and picked your classes,  you have a game plan for each day and enough cash to buy a small island.  That is it, right? WRONG.

If you fail to adequately plan the actual trip portion of this adventure,  you will find yourself staying in a Disney themed resort with crying kids and fighting traffic/ parking every morning.

Where are you staying?

We always stay within a couple of blocks of the Long Beach Convention Center.  It is easiest to walk and not battle the parking structures.   Several hotels offer special ISSE rates.  Typically,  the Hyatt, Westin and Renaissance  fill up quickly.   Don’t forget to look at other local hotels, many are less than half a mile from the show site and offer great deals.

When selecting a location we always look at amenities that matter to us like on-site gym, restaurant, Wifi, complimentary breakfast, etc.

Tip** Examine the cost vs. amenities ratio. Sometimes it makes more sense to get a room with a higher rate if they include shuttles, breakfast, wifi and other extras you will have to pay for at a less expensive hotel.


The Hair Nerds like to eat a healthy, filling complimentary breakfast. ( Hello?! We want to save our money for products and cocktails!)  During the show, we are usually dashing from class to class and don’t want to waste precious show time on a sit down lunch.  You will need that breakfast to keep you going!

Tip** Throw a couple of easy snacks in your bag to munch on between classes. We rarely have time for a proper meal at the show and no one wants to wait in line for 30 minutes to grab a sandwich. So pack a granola bar, trail mix, apple, anything and you will thank us.

What to Wear?

This is always the first question I get from people.  The answer really depends on your style and one answer will never work for everyone.  We suggest “Salon Professional”.  There is no need to trot out your high school prom dress (although, we wish you would!).


Try to remember you will be walking around and moving about quite a bit.   We strive to wear something that is comfortable, but not yoga class comfortable. Don’t forget this is the year you are going to be brave and introduce yourself to industry leaders so you will want to look polished.

More than anything I always suggest wearing something you feel really confident in.  Don’t choose an outfit because you think it is what people will expect you to wear if you are going to feel self-conscious in it all day.


  • Sky High stilettos are gorgeous but will you be able to grin and work through the pain the ENTIRE day? If the answer is no, opt for a simple ballet flat. Save those amazing heels for the After Party.
  • Can’t imagine not wearing heels to the show, but still not certain you will be able to walk the next day? Slip a pair of ballet flats in your purse as a back up. Don’t forget to check the LOCAL weather.
  • No need to pack your parka and snow boots. This show is held in sunny southern California and January is a beautiful 60 degrees!

What to take/ pack?

We could write an entire post on this, Oh Wait.. We DID.


Do not under any circumstances leave home without:

Government Issued Photo ID

Industry Credentials

Business Cards

Your ISSE ticket

Your Education Itinerary

IPAD/Tablet/ Laptop (If you have one of these things)-  we recommend your technology because you will want to take pictures/ video/ notes, etc.


HAIR NERD Entertainment

Beauty Bus Foundation Cocktail Hour


Sevilla Night Club - Home


Just steps from the Long Beach Convention Center, the Beauty Bus Foundation Happy Hour will take place at Sevilla Café and Nightclub (140 Pine Ave., at the corner of Pine and Broadway). In addition to learning about the Beauty Bus Foundation, attendees will get to mix and mingle, while enjoying tapas and cocktails and special demos of the new InStyler® Professional IQ by top industry educators. Five lucky attendees will be walking away with a FREE InStyler® Professional IQ .

So here is the deal.. Dean Banowetz who we are unnaturally obsessed with will be making a special appearance. Couple the fact that Beauty Bus is one of our very favorite charitable organizations with the lure of a fancy #HairBear and the temptation is just too much for us. We will definitely be in attendance!

Let them know you’re coming at with name/city/specialty

“Our foundation is dependent on the talents of hairdressers, nail technicians, estheticians, and professional makeup artists to perform their services at In-Home Visits and Pop-Up Salons in the surrounding Southern California counties. We see ISSE as an opportunity to introduce the Professional Beauty Community to what we do and how their talents can make such an enormous impact on those in need,” says Alicia Liotta, Founder, Beauty Bus Foundation.

Hairbrained Meetup

We love hairbrained… like a lot.  It is a place we belong, a home for Hair Nerds if you will.  If you aren’t a member of the site, get on that immediately!  No self-respecting Hair Nerd misses an opportunity to drink and socialize with industry legends.   #HBMeetUP


hb meetup isse long beach


There has been plenty of discussion about this event in the forums.  Just imagine one bar filled with all the people you have been secretly (or in our case not so secretly) stalking for the last 12 months.  We like to strategically position ourselves near the exits.  You aren’t getting in or out of this party without a little Hair Nerd Harassment!



Stay in the loop

Don’t be left out in the information cold!  Use that smartphone for more than just playing ‘Words With Friends’ and follow these hashtags on twitter:

#NerdStalking    #ISSE2013   #HairNerds

New to twitter?  Be sure and follow @TheHairNerds and @ProBeautyAssoc

Facebook Fanatic?  The Hair Nerds  & PBA_ISSE


The countdown is on!  We will see you in Long Beach… Get Ready!!