Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Love: Have It Sweet

I used to be a huge Etsy junkie. I bought everything from clothing to jewelry to soap to hair wreaths till I reached the ends of my bank account and I finally told myself I had to stop checking the site or I would starve on the streets. Amazingly, I've been quite successful.

My only relapse was this past summer when I had a sudden candy craving, and I knew I had to get my fix from Have It Sweet. Have It Sweet was founded in 2008 by a couple who make all sorts of confections. They started out with caramels, but have since expanded their range to include marshmallows and nougats. They also feature seasonal items, like these Marshmallow Ghosts perfect for the upcoming Halloween.

Now, I would never say no to candy, but I don't like eating anything too sweet, so my all-time favorite Have It Sweet confection is their Belgian Dark Chocolate caramels. The dark chocolate neatly balances out the otherwise (in my opinion) too sweet caramel and swirls like a heavenly cloud in your mouth. Their classic is the Fleur De Sel caramels, which I do like too.

I've done 5-6 orders with them throughout the years, and more often than not need some sort of customization to my order. Beth (one of the founders) usually responds to my message within a day and has never turned down any of my requests. When I get the box, the candy would be neatly and securely wrapped, with a handwritten note of thanks and generous samples included. 

So if you're in the mood for candy, I urge you to give Have It Sweet a try. Be prepared to feel a little bad (or really good?), because chances are you will gobble up everything you ordered before anyone else even found out you had a package.

Update: I just found out that Have It Sweet has a blog and they are currently offering free shipping! I would love to order enough to feed a large army if only I wouldn't be out of the country in less than two weeks (I'm holding on to my last three pieces of caramels as I type this. Oh no). You lucky ones should enjoy in my stead!

Also, for product updates and general happiness, follow @HaveItSweet on Twitter.

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I have a fantastic week planned for Messy Wands! Here's a sneak peek:

Le Metier de Beaute Les Artistes Swatches, Photos, Review

Yesterday's post almost drove me crazy because I had bare lips in every picture - my cracking, peeling, tri-toned lips. The good of that is now I can show you how Le Metier de Beaute Les Artistes ($95) remedies that.

Les Artistes is part of Le Metier de Beaute's Fall 2010 collection. It is a four-pan lip kaleidoscope that utilizes the same layering technique as their eye kaleidoscopes, but instead of beginning from the top, you start from the bottom and work your way up. 

Les Artistes

Swatched bottom to top

Les Artistes on lips

Les Artistes is a high shine palette. Every layer imparts just a little color on the lips and proceeds to give you multi-dimensional shine. If you look closely at the lip swatch, you can see flecks of all four colors peeking out from different parts of the lips. Les Artistes does not have lip plumping properties, but see how full my lips look after application!

One thing I like to point out about Les Artistes is texturally, the four colors aren't the same. The bottom two feel thinner, feature some tackiness, and are more pigmented compared the top two layers, which feel less sticky, milkier and sheerer. Le Metier de Beaute lip kaleidoscopes have a strong (burnt?) vanilla smell, similar to their lip cremes. The average weartime I get from their lighter-hued lip kaleidoscopes is 4-5 hours.

I had a little fun with my sartorial choices yesterday. I found this dress at Free People and had to have it. When I was a wee little girl one of the things I wanted was a fairy dress (I had ones with laces and frills, by all accounts my princess fantasies were fulfilled, but the fairy ones...). I wanted to flutter as I walked, but I couldn't find one and forgot about it. Years later, when The Fellowship of The Ring first hit theaters, Cate Blanchett/Galadriel comes into view wearing the exact incarnation of my dream dress and since then that desire resurrected. This isn't the maxi glory of my dreams, but the fluttering comes pretty close!

As mentioned yesterday, Le Metier de Beaute recently launched a facebook app that tracks down kaleidoscopes of yore. If Les Artistes piques your interest, you're in luck!

Le Metier de Beaute Violaceous Splendor Swatches, Photos, Review

While my trip back to Beantown was harrowing, little treasures like 1) finding the Le Metier de Beaute counter (I never knew we had one?!) and 2) finding out said counter still had the Spring 2009 Violaceous Splendor Eye Kaleidoscope, made it so worth the day-after fatigue.

Le Metier de Beaute Violaceous Splendor ($95) is at first glance, an intimidating little plaything. It looks more like colors picked out from a 4-year-old's crayola box than what women would like to daintily apply to the eyes. But I'm used to extraordinary color combinations from the brand, and I knew it would turn out great as long as I let it work its magic. 

Note: For those who aren't familiar with the Le Metier de Beaute couches de couleurs application, might I suggest first taking a look at my Penelope tutorial?

Violaceous Splendor

Violaceous Splendor

Violaceous Splendor swatched

Here's how I look with only foundation and shaded brows

Champagne pencil as base

First shade

Second shade

Third shade

Fourth shade on top of liquid liner and along the crease

All four shades on the bottom lashline

The great thing about Violaceous Splendor is the second shade can double up as a natural flush kinda blush.

Second shade on cheeks

Violaceous Splendor is by no means a kaleidoscope you can wear to work. But on days where you need an extra boost of color in your life, it's dazzling. For those who have been hesitant about it because of the purple!pink!orange! As you can see, the black (who knew?) tames it down a few notches and transforms it into an interesting smokey eye.

In case you didn't already know, Le Metier de Beaute recently launched a facebook app that tracks down kaleidoscopes of yore. If you're interested, Violaceous Splendor is still available!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tutorial: Eyebrow Shading

I decided to do this one early in the game because I will probably say this over and over again in the months to come: your eyebrows are the most important feature on your face. If you only have five minutes in the morning and you can only do one feature, I say do your eyebrows (unless you already have naturally perfect eyebrows, then I pat you on the back and congratulate you for your fortune).

Much like how I lack a nose bridge, I grew up without eyebrows. I remember my first facial appointment where the aesthetician asked if I wanted my eyebrows tweezed. I didn't know what "tweeze" meant, but my mother was in the vicinity and she told her no, because I already had so little. With their penchants to over-tweeze, what if my brows disappeared entirely?

I do not exaggerate when I say it took me over two years to be satisfied with how I drew my eyebrows. When I first started, I didn't own an eyebrow pencil, so I used a brown eyeliner thinking it should work the same. I followed the natural shape of my eyebrows (keep in mind, they weren't tweezed as they are now) and smudged it a little. It looked like two dark, bent lines - no arch, no definition. I still cringe at the memory. Needless to say, no photos of that era survived.

Throughout the years I've met people who mercifully set my eyebrows straight. A friend in an a capella group, a sales assistant at a Shu Uemura counter, a Benefit brow consultant, countless hours scrutinizing images of models and staring at people on the street sporting perfect brows. I remember one non-fiction writing class where the bulk of my semester was spent wondering if the girl sitting across from me filled in her brows, because they looked so full and defined to perfection. 

Now that I am comfortable with my brows, it's time to give back. I hope this tutorial proves to be of help to any lost eyebrow soul (like I once was) out there.

I've never posted a picture of me without eyebrows. Here's how I look sans shading:

Products Used:
  • MAC 266 brush, Guerlain Terre Indigo, MAC 264 spoolie

You can choose a variety of products to shade in your brows. In my experience, I draw my brows the quickest when using a brow pencil, but it imparts a darker line that could end up looking unnatural. Using eye shadow might take up more time, but the finish far better mimics a natural brow. For this tutorial, I will be using the latter. 

Tip: when choosing a brow shade, make sure it is at least one shade lighter than your hair.

I use the dark brown shade in the Guerlain Terre Indigo palette

This next tip is courtesy of Joey at the Armani counter of Bloomingdale's 59th/Lexington. Lay the brush flat when picking up the color like so, and do it on both sides of the brush. That way you'll be able to maintain the shape of your brush and keep it from splaying. 

Once you get the color, shade your brows in using the method below! You can always refer to it along the way to make sure you're on track.

To find out where your eyebrows are supposed to begin, position a stick (I used my spoolie in these pictures) by your nose and align it to the inner corner of your eye. 

Where it should begin

For the arch, position it like below, and align it to the center of your eye. 


To find out where it ends, place the stick once again by your nose and align it to the outer corner of your eye.

Where it should end

After you're done shading, use the spoolie to gently comb through the hairs. Remember to follow the natural direction your hairs grow in (generally, upward at the front, downward along the tail).

Et voila!

A well-groomed, well-filled brow frames the face. Here's a pictorial comparison:

I definitely look brighter and much less disheveled on the right. 

There are a few rules I personally go by (which does not apply when going for a special look): 
  1. Never overshade
  2. Do not square off the front
  3. Do not over-extend the ends
  4. Always use a spoolie after.
  5. No sharp angles
And of course, here's a couple of pictures to show you how that would look:

My Shu Uemura salesperson used to berate me for over-extending my eyebrows. She said if your brows ended at a lower point from where it began, it will make you look down/morose. Compare the above to this:

This wouldn't be a tutorial if I didn't end with a made up face, so:

I used the rose shade from NARS Grand Palais Duo on my cheeks

Le Metier de Beaute Monaco topped with Creme de la Creme on the lips

With that, I conclude this week's tutorial.  Enjoy your weekends, everyone! xo

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cle de Peau Eye Color Quad in Kyanite Swatches, Photos, Review

Aaaand I'm back! Let's just say taking a one-day trip to Boston and coming back to NYC the next day and then going straight to work isn't the breeziest walk in the park. I woke up after a nine-hour deep sleep feeling like my back didn't even touch the bed. I must be getting old.

On to my Serious Blogging Duties. The good thing about my whirlwind (ha!) trip is I thought about a whole category of items to blog about. In the next couple of months I will be doing a fair amount of traveling, so why not start rooting around the stash for suitable items to go into that teeny little makeup bag? (I use a tiny one on purpose. Obviously if given a choice I would lug my entire vanity, but that would prove to be heavier than my shoe collection.)

One of my travel makeup stalwarts is the Cle de Peau Eye Color Quad in Kyanite ($55). It is literally the only palette in my drawer with a used sponge brush, which should serve as a measure of what a serious travel buddy this is. 

Cle de Peau Kyanite

Swatched left to right

I urge myself to leave incoherent gushing and spontaneous "omg loves" to my Twitter account, but I was so so close to oozing out all my love for this palette in blubberspeak for this post. The eyeshadows in this quad are so finely milled I gasped the first time I played with it at the counter and had to restrain myself from constantly touching it when I brought it back home. 

In my look above, I used the white gold shade as an all over wash, followed by the silver shade around the inner corners. Then, I swept a little of the blue from the outer corner to about the center of my lid, and deepened my crease with the brown shade.

I hate to dump a cliche on you, but the shadows in Kyanite blend like an absolute dream. This palette is just so smooth. When applied on the eye, it loses some of the sheen you see in the arm swatch. But I prefer it this way since I use Kyanite for my job interview aka "appropriate" makeup. I'll go one step further and call them "grown up" quads. I do feel an extra boost of sophistication and posh when I put these colors on myself. 

The Cle de Peau Eye Color Quads are the only palettes I've ever considered owning the entire collection. Take a look at them here and tell me if you can resist! That picture is a true to color depiction of most of the quads in this line.

The one (and possibly only) downside to these quads are the high price point. Cle de Peau prices the quads at $55 and sells the case separately for $25, so it amounts to $80 for what seems to be very little product. I purchased Kyanite with a case because I knew from the get-go that I will be traveling with it, but I opted out of one when I got Thulite. The quad alone is housed in a sturdy plastic case that serves well enough if it only has to sit at your vanity table. While I think $25 for the case is quite outrageous, it's worth mentioning that the brush that comes in the quad is amazing. I have no qualms leaving behind my full-sized brushes when I know I have that in my bag.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quick Fix: Le Metier de Beaute Lavande Nail Lacquer

I've been wanting to show you this since a week ago, but I usually save my nail posts for days when I have to be brief. (I've been traveling for the past two days and I just got back from work so I'm beat.)

Le Metier de Beaute Lavande ($18) is Bergdorf's signature color. It's a beautiful pale lavender that takes only two coats to reach full opacity. Application is per the LMdB standard. 

I personally think Lavande is a must-have, but I do spend a significant amount of my time at their basement (beauty) level. Lavande is limited edition and will not be reproduced once it sells out. Last I heard there are only around 20 bottles left in stock, so don't wait too long.

I'm hoping to get myself nice and rested tonight so I can get the blog rolling on full speed again. Blogger hasn't been a good friend to me lately since it insists on desaturating all the pictures I'm uploading and I'm all how dare you desaturate a good red lip!! 

While I work on this, I'd love to know your favorite nail polish brands/hues! Can you believe I only have one true red polish?

Quick Fix: Le Metier de Beaute Magic At Dusk Nail Lacquer

Since writing this post, I had a slight change of heart regarding rose hues. Rather than search for that perfect one, why not collect them all instead.

The idea of collecting all of anything is potentially dangerous, of course. I'm already knee-deep in makeup without this new resolution (which now sits snugly by "own the entire Le Metier de Beaute counter"), but what will beauty bloggers be without the sniggering devil on our shoulders?

On to le rose! I snagged the last bottle of Le Metier de Beaute Magic At Dusk Nail Lacquer ($15) from the Bergdorf's counter recently.

Magic At Dusk under direct sunlight

Magic At Dusk under the shade

Absolute swoon.

Magic At Dusk's formula is on the sheerer side. One coat gives you (the nail equivalent of) a light flush; at two coats I could still see the whites of my tips peeking through. Application is top notch as per LMdB usual.

Update: Magic At Dusk is still be available on the Bergdorf Goodman website (it is currently incorrectly labeled as Noble Passion. You will see that the swatch color for Noble Passion is actually Magic At Dusk).

Note: From what I hear, the current Le Metier de Beaute nail lineup will be discontinued after the next season to usher in larger sized bottles. Stock up soon if any of them are your must-haves!

*To clear up any confusion about the pricing of their nail lacquers:
Purchasing from online retailers: The Summer Collection colors are priced at $10, whereas all other nail lacquers from previous collections are priced at $15.
Purchasing in-stores: Based on my experience in Neiman Marcus Boston (and reports from other bloggers), it seems the nail lacquers from previous seasons are now priced at $10.

The above in-store pricing does not apply to Bergdorf Goodman. As a reminder, Bergdorf's carries an exclusive called Lavande, which is priced at $18.

Speaking of rose nails, take a look at British Beauty Blogger's sneak peek to Butter London's A/W 2011 Collection. Needless to say, in my mind I already swiped my card for Toff.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lady Dior Palette

There are girls who swear by their Chanel 2.55s, and while I agree that it's an exquisite bag, I have to say I'll take a Lady Dior any day. When I found out Dior was producing a palette that pays homage to their iconic bag, I decided it shall be my first collector's item. That said, as much as I want to, I will not be swatching this just yet. I couldn't bear ruining any part of the pattern.

The Lady Dior bag in the palette is from the Spring 2011 runway show.

Photo via

The Lady Dior Palette ($90) is exclusive to Saks in extremely limited quantities.