Monday, November 28, 2011

Makeup Tip: The Trick to the Au Naturale Brow

One thing I always believe is you don't have to buy a how-to book to learn how to apply makeup. In our (in this case) blessed age of technology, there are too many YouTube tutorials and beauty blogs and magazine articles out there dishing out advice to those unfamiliar in this territory. My venture into painting faces began from watching YouTube tutorials, then beauty blogs, then examining editorials, which I still do. Now that I'm much more at ease at makeup counters, I either ask the artists at hand for tips or observe the techniques they use on me and emulate it when I wield the brush on myself.  

I thought I might start sharing some of these nuggets of wisdom, whether borrowed from makeup artists or acquired through "eureka" moments of my own. 

This first tip is "taken" from Dustin. I noticed him doing it when he was making me up to look like a doll. Prior to the makeover, I had already drawn in my eyebrows using Shu Uemura's retractable eyebrow liner (for those new to the site, I've written a fairly comprehensive eyebrow shading tutorial that I'm shamelessly proud of) but the downside to using that formula is my brows can look a little harsh if not combed through correctly after. I suppose it was one of those days when I met him, because he took the flat Le Métier de Beauté eye shadow brush and dipped it lightly into a dark brown shade, then ran the brush through my brows to blend it out. I thought my brows looked fine before, but this step made me realize how important evenness of shading is to a natural-looking brow.

You don't need that specific brush to do the blending. However, I would recommend using a flat, tapered brush that isn't stiff - think brushes like Chanel #2 and not those of the MAC #217/#239 variety - so that the area covered by the brush wouldn't exceed the thickness of your brows, or that the brush wouldn't move the pigment. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beauty Bloggers Charity Auction

I am proud to announce that Messy Wands is part of the second annual charity auction! I am the last blogger in the world to be announcing my participation as the others have already blogged about this weeks in advance. Let my late posting be your absolute last reminder that it will go live tomorrow, November 28 and last through December 12. 

For those who aren't familiar with the auction, O Queen of Swatching Karla Sugar organized the same event last year, where she gathered beauty companies and bloggers to donate some (oft rare and discontinued) items to this charity event, where the proceeds will completely benefit Doctors Without Borders. Some of this year's treasures include two of Chanel's discontinued polishes, the limited edition Karla Sugar lip gloss by Le Métier de Beauté, the eternally sought after MAC Stereo Rose and Marine Life (!), the discontinued Rescue Beauty Lounge Recycle, and the entire Le Métier de Beauté Peau Vierge skincare line (!!!).

My own contribution is Le Métier de Beauté Modernist Merlot, created exclusively for Neiman Marcus Fashion Island to celebrate Fashion's Night Out. While I was not able to review it, Best Things in Beauty and Raeview have both done fabulous write-ups with great pictures and swatches, so I encourage you to head over and see if Modernist Merlot tickles your fancy.

In light of the recent Come One, Come All fiasco, where three of the colors are exact duplicates from recent kaleidoscopes (I don't know if we will ever have time to discuss this, though I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments), I made sure to compare Modernist Merlot to every single kaleidoscope I owned. I am currently in the process of asking Karla to make a correction to my listing. The third shade of Modernist Merlot is the same as the one in Silk Road. The other three shades are original.

That said, the complete effect of layering Modernist Merlot from top to bottom produces an entirely different look compared to Silk Road and the fourteen other kaleidoscopes I own (unlike what you get with Come One, Come all). It is a worthy palette for a worthy cause, and I hope you will add my humble contribution to your list of bids.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Obligatory Black Friday Sales Post

I know you're inundated with the millions of sales coming up this weekend. If you're interested in taking part, I found Temptalia's list to be the most comprehensive. Here are the ones I have taken/will be taking advantage of:

YSL: 20 percent off now through 11/26 with code CYBER. If you wait till Cyber Monday, 20 percent off with code MONDAY with free gift when you spend over $100. Free shipping on all orders.

Shu Uemura: 20 percent off with code WISH2011 now through 11/29. Free shipping on orders over $50.

Best thing about online shopping - no lines!

Le Métier de Beauté Antiquité Poupée Inspiration

It is less than a week a day till we get our hands on Dustin's Antiquité Poupée Kaleidoscope eye kit for Le Metiér de Beauté, so here's a short inspiration feature to whet your appetites and a last reminder to get your orders in. No guarantees any stock will be left after its debut!

Dustin's inspiration for Antiquité Poupée is its namesake, an antique doll you might find while rummaging through vintage stores or your grandmother's attic in search of the elusive beauty of yore. Sometimes I wonder how it would be like to be of a time where mass production is a rarity, where everything would be hand-crafted and delicate and exquisite.

A shameful confession: When Dustin first sent me this, I was reminded of those American Girl dolls that we both absolutely loathe. Needless to say the doll above, adorned in luxurious silks, cannot be compared to those plastic monstrosities (I hereby apologize if you actually like said American Girl dolls. They just remind me too much of Chucky).

Here's a shot of Dustin touching up the model's eyeliner. For those who haven't had the fortune to get a makeover from him, um, this is how it looks.

Once again, Le Métier de Beauté Antiquité Poupée will retail for $95 and will be exclusively available at Bergdorf Goodman. I just got wind that the kaleidoscope is enjoying an early release and will arrive just in time for Black Friday! The number you need to call is 212-872-8612 to get your own. Thank goodness I'm in New York for Thanksgiving because I'll be getting mine hot off the shipping box.

Nail Sociology and A Happy Holiday To You!

My sister sent me some pictures a few days ago with a note letting me know that she, my mother, and my baby sister all went for a mani/pedi together in preparation for a cousin’s wedding. I always take these happy updates with a tinge of sadness. While I love knowing what the family is up to back home, the unfortunate side effect is the acute pangs of homesickness that accompanies each photo she sends.

Nevertheless, I derived considerable enjoyment from these photos for three reasons: 1) my mother doesn’t pamper herself often enough, 2) that picture of my baby sis? Priceless. (Nevermind that I think 9-year-olds shouldn’t be getting manicures), and 3) their choices. They strike me as so age-appropriate it’s stereotypical, and I chuckled over this little bit of beauty socialization.

Here are their manicures:

Maroon toes for mum and metallic purple toes for sis

Peach gel mani for mum

Holographic beige mani for sis

Pastel purple sheer base with chunky heart-shaped pieces

Said priceless photo

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful time stuffing yourselves with turkey (pun?). I expect to hear stories about the wonderful food you had and inevitable food comas you’ll be getting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rescue Beauty Lounge: An Introduction, 360 and Anne

I consider this super time-sensitive information so I'm taking a not-so-quick break off my reading to post this!

I haven't blogged about Rescue Beauty Lounge before, but let it officially be known that it is my favorite nail polish brand. Within my modest nail polish collection Rescue Beauty Lounge trumps all other brands in terms of the sheer number that I own. I've also had the pleasure to visit the physical salon before it closed down and it is where I received the best and cleanest mani/pedi of my life. The experience set such a high standard in me for how nail salons should be that since then I haven't been tempted to visit any other. I'm afraid I've become something of a nail salon snob.

I've also had the pleasure to meet RBL founder Ji Baek, who is so incredibly stylish (she looked like an elegant phoenix the day I met her) and nice in person. It was great to put a face to the name and stellar personalized customer service I receive from the company. I also stalk the Rescue Beauty Facebook page quite frequently and actually remember the conversation where RBL fans first coined the term "ReBeL" to describe the most ardent of followers. 

So why is this time-sensitive? For those who aren't familiar with the brand, the Rescue Beauty Lounge color collection only consists of about four to five "core" colors, while everything else is limited edition. Once it sells out, it will be gone forever unless voted back during Bring it Back events. RBL has one of the best and most consistent nail polish formulas in the industry and many of the colors Ji doles out are truly unique (unfortunately, currently many of "the best" are already sold out). 

Now, Ji just released a new batch of BiBs, consisting of some of the most coveted shades in recent RBL history. Mismas, Scrangie, and Orbis Non Sufficit were created in collaboration with three premier nail bloggers and was brought back in one go due to overwhelming support. There's Locavore, which I didn't get because I'm not too huge on multi-colored glitter, and then there's 360 and Anne, which I voted for and was so grateful they came back because they were sold out by the time I joined the party.


I don't know the back story for 360, but I used this shade for my manicure when I visited the Lounge and thus an instant love and longing for this dusty blue-green shade was born. It's a total one-coater (though of course I did two) and like all RBL shades was a dream to apply. They last like you wouldn't believe as well. When I did my nails at the Lounge it took two weeks before they even started to chip. While I don't have the same skills of their technicians, I've done my dishes thrice since application and I barely spot a chip in my manicure. This definitely does not happen with most of my other polishes. 


The dusky olive-green Anne was part of the Tudor collection inspired by four of Henry the VIII's wives. This collection has been in such high demand that Ji has promised to Bring it Back before the end of the year. I already own Catherine H and Jane, and I'm excited to be able to complete my collection of the four queens soon.

My photos don't do Anne justice. In this two-dimensional view I can't seem to capture the warm brassy undertones you'll see when it reflects light. This polish is a delight for the eyes, as it will look different in every lighting situation. Even just looking at the color in the bottle provided me with an inordinate amount of fascination and fun.

The great thing about Ji is she makes sure she has ample quantities of limited edition goods so they won't sell out before the collection reaches the public (email subscribers get first dibs on new releases). That said, some of her products are in such high demand that I heard a couple of these BiBs are already at less than 50 percent inventory.

I recommend a good amount of anxiety at the thought of missing out on RBL's limited edition shades. I've learned from previous mistakes that it is better to trust Ji and order every single piece in her new collections rather than wait, because it's easier to swap or sell the unwanted shade (if any!) than to procure it on a later date (a quick eBay search will show that some of her older colors go up to $50 or higher).

Rescue Beauty Lounge 360 and Anne retail for $18, as do all of her other polishes, and are exclusively available at The company provides free shipping to U.S. orders over $100 and international orders over $200.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giorgio Armani Holiday 2011: Eyes To Kill Intense #19

This final piece rounds up my Giorgio Armani Holiday collection feature. If you're new to this blog, you can access my reviews on the gloss and palettes here and here.

The company offered three new limited edition Eyes To Kill Intense shades for Holiday. #17 is pure silver, #18 is pure gold, and #19 is a blend of both. I chose #19 because... well, if I was only going to pick one, #19 would make me feel like I had all of them. My logic is not sound, but let's carry on!

Eyes To Kill Intense #19

This will be the first of many features on ETK Intense to come. It's widely known as some of the best shadows in the industry. Don't be deceived by the pot (traditionally used to house cream/gel formulas), Eyes To Kill Intenses are highly pigmented powder shadows. The company makes some outrageous claims for this product: "twenty-four hour wear, crease proof, flake proof, waterproof, sweat-proof"; "slides on, stays on, but wipe off in an instant." Most of which are (even more outrageously) true in my experience. I couldn't test out the twenty-four hour wear claim for obvious reasons, but sixteen is enough for me!

L-R: Gloss d'Armani #604, Eyes To Kill Intense #19

Eyes To Kill Intense #19 is a mix of silver and gold. I'm inclined to describe the blended shade as "platinum gold." When applied on the skin, it produces a soft, ethereal sheen.

This is one of those shades that everyone should own because it's just so easy to use. Place it at the inner corners of the eye, use it as a base, dab it on the center of the lid to complete a look, anything! You can pair it with any color in your stash and I bet they'll go swimmingly. Worn alone like above, the shadow works to subtly brighten the eye area.

My peeve with ETK Intense shadows is that they don't seem to work as well when applied with an eye brush. The swatch and application above are done with fingers, which seems to be your best tool when it comes to using these shadows. One would think I would be glad, but I am a fan of the precision my brushes offer me. My finger applications tend to come off sloppy. I'm also not the happiest about it being in pot form, though I don't see how they could change that. Screwing and unscrewing the lid takes up more time than I prefer in the morning, where every second saved is one more better used for another task. Nevertheless, these shadows are of such high quality that I gladly bear with the inconvenience. For the record, #19 is the fifth pot in my growing collection.

Eyes To Kill Intense #19 retails for $32 and is available at The company is offering 20 percent off and complimentary two-day shipping on purchases above $75 till November 24, so the timing couldn't be better for you to get your Armani goodies. Just enter GAHOLIDAY1 during checkout. I'm a little peeved because I just got my package from them, but one can't have too many of their glosses, or lipsticks, or shadows... oh just give me the entire inventory already.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rouge d'Armani #400

One of my recent assignments was a critical research paper on Memoirs of a Geisha, and after watching the film I had a huge craving to don red lips and apply my makeup using only yachiyo and itabake brushes. While the latter two are quite impossible (though I did put in an order for a yachiyo), the red lip urge was easy to satiate. Since I've been on an Armani kick lately, I picked Rouge d'Armani #400 as my color of choice. 

Rouge d'Armani #400

Rouge d'Armani #400 misled me. I thought it would be more orange based on how it looked in the tube, yet it turned out to be a vivid blue red. A relief, since I've been accumulating far too many orange-reds recently.  

I wouldn't have known this lipstick feathers if not for this closeup. Granted, in the picture above my lips had vestiges of lip balm on before I slapped on the color. On another testing sans balm, I noticed just the tiniest bit of feathering. Note, however, that I could only see it while straining my neck at an angle and holding the mirror two inches away from my face. It is quite impossible for anyone else to spot it.

The company promises "up to eight hours of intense color" with this lipstick. At this point of writing, I've been wearing it for four hours, all of which was spent rigorously snacking on chocolates and drinking orange juice, and the color has not budged one bit! Even the center of the lip is untouched. 

(Six hours in, I ate an apple and found the center of the bottom lip slightly faded. I'm still inclined to believe the eight hour claim. It's a given that lipstick will wear off when you consume food.)

In my experience, Rouge d'Armani lipsticks wear comfortably on the lips. The formula is creamy, so the lipstick has a lot of "slip" when first applied. It will swim around your lips for a minute or two before settling down to the vibrant finish you see above. After which, the lipstick will not budge from your lips. The subtle feathering I spoke about happens from the get-go. It does not worsen throughout wear. The sheen disappears in an hour or two, which alters the finish to a semi-matte. This makes Rouge d'Armanis a great alternative to traditional matte formulas, as they do not sap moisture from my lips. For an immediate matte effect, just apply and blot lightly with a tissue.

Great Red worthy? I think so.

Rouge d'Armani #400 retails for $30. I purchased mine from

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giorgio Armani Holiday 2011: Madre Perla Face and Eye Palette #1 and Eye Palette #2

I frequently go into bouts of beauty coma. Throw enough mediocre makeup at me and I start to feel like there's too much going on. When it actually becomes too much I hide under my table for a bit to weather it out. (I kid. Or do I?)

I was on the verge of seeking shelter under my table when I received my Giorgio Armani Holiday goods in the mail. Then I breathed a sigh of relief. All is right in the world again. The company swayed away from ostentatious display (remember the jacquard palette I didn't like?) and concentrated on the products themselves this time around. The result is a well-curated assortment of items that complement each other. I swept most of the collection clean and now am the proud owner of the Madre Perla Face and Eye Palette #1, Eye Palette #2, along with Gloss d'Armani Plum #604, which I featured earlier this week, and Eyes To Kill Intense #19. 

Madre Perla Face and Eye Palette #1

L-R: All three blended, swatched top to bottom.

I couldn't get the three varieties of gold from the Madre Perla Face and Eye Palette #1 to show up in the picture, probably because the bottom two shades resemble my skintone a little too closely. I'm just glad the blended swatch turned out noticeable. You'll have to trust me when I say this is apparent on my cheeks. I can't for the life of me figure out why I can't capture the very visible gold sheen I get from this palette (again, probably my skintone). But it's there. And the effect is a certain iridescence when applied to the skin. A note to glitter haters, there are super fine glitters accompanying the aforementioned sheen. They're not overabundant - think sparser than what you get from Guerlain Meteorites - but again, they're there. 

The Beauty Look Book allayed my mediocre swatching skills! She has her Armani Holiday feature up and her swatches are much more distinguished. Go forth and be tempted!

Madre Perla Eye Palette #2

Madre Perla Eye Palette #2 is made of three light (not sheer!) hues - a white gold, taupe, and the palest of pale lilacs. Again, these don't look so impressive when swatched over my hand, but they perform brilliantly when placed on the eyes. 

White gold shade all over, taupe in the outer corners, lilac swept just below the browbone 

I've heard plenty of women who shy away from lilac shades because they're afraid of how it would look on their eyes, but I want to set the record straight. Lilacs are magical brighteners for tired eyes. After all, light purple tones actually work to counteract sallowness in the skin. If you need more convincing, do watch this video by Lisa Eldridge. The makeup guru concurs, calling lilac "a universally flattering pep up shade." In the photo above I probably had only 3-4 hours of sleep the day (and entire week) before. I don't think I look it!

The shadows are a pleasure to work with. Soft but not flaky, smooth, and easy to blend. However, since the shades are so light, I suggest you use a nude base or primer beneath to ensure they'll show up. 

And here is a (half) face shot using all Giorgio Armani Holiday items:

The Madre Perla palettes retail for $59 apiece and should be available at major department stores. The Holiday collection just arrived at and is missing the rosewood gloss I've been waiting for. Sigh.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Stalk: à la peach

I promised I would stop tweet-stalking her but it doesn't mean I can't blog about her. Through an absolutely scintillating conversation with a few beauty bloggers about cameras, lasik surgery, and procrastinating my paper due in 12 hours, I stumbled upon Peach of à la peach and I'm smitten smitten smitten.

I just cannot stop going through her archives, browsing her twitpics (girl's from Japan - go figure that I'm in love), and marveling at her nails and cuticles and application I can't even dream to have.

Here's a few examples. If you recall, Chanel released a limited edition trio of denim-hued nail lacquers for Fashion's Night Out. Bloggers covered this collection to death when it came out, but not one of them managed to sway me to purchase. Until I saw this on her fingers:

Now, I'm thinking of hitting up my Chanel counter to see if they might have any of this left. The chances are infinitesimal, but a girl can dream.

Another done-to-death coverage is the Julep Maven membership program, where for a fee of $19.99 a month Julep will send you a box containing over $40 worth of goodies every month. It sounds like a good deal, but I've never considered joining it. At the risk of sounding like a huge marketing pitch for Peach, I'm... toying with the idea because of her extensive Julep coverage:

She might also be the only person ever to make me want a ballet pink polish so. much.

I've long since crossed the boundary line to stalker zone (seriously I think she's a little afraid of me now), but I whole-heartedly invite you to do so as well. Visit her beautiful site and marvel/agonize!

All images published with permission from Peach and taken from à la peach.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Fix: Chanel Rose Caché, Rose Exubérant, Pirate, and Mat Top Coat

A quick one just to show you the limited edition lacquers released alongside the Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet collection and the effect you get from using the Mat Top Coat.

L-R: Rose Caché, Rose Exubérant, Pirate, Mat Top Coat

I can't wait to try one of these babies on myself!

Rose Caché, Rose Exubérant, Pirate, and the Mat Top Coat retail for $25 each. All are limited edition. Available at major department stores and

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not A Hiatus But You Should Know

A huge gust of wind blew off most of the leaves that was left on those trees today. Winter is coming.

With the advent of (real, not makeup) holidays unfortunately comes the toughest weeks in the semester, and I'm ashamed to admit that I've been spreading myself so thin throughout all my responsibilities that I sometimes forget that my studies should still take top shelf, no matter what else I prefer to be doing. I'm not failing, of course, but I'm getting Asian Fs and that's just... not good.

I'm still going to blog, but I just wanted to let you know that things might get a little slow around here. Perhaps more nail polish/Guess What Polish posts, things that require less rigorous testing/photographing, maybe a skincare feature or What's In My Stash type of thing. 

Thank you as always for reading Messy Wands. I've received some very kind comments recently (and throughout my time blogging, actually) and often can't believe that people would be interested to hear what I have to say, much less be so nice to me. You guys are the absolute best. 

Now off to slave like a real student should during her (three weeks worth of) finals!

Dior Holiday 2011: Rouge Dior Nocturne #961

I thought Or Étoilé was the end of Dior Holiday for me, but reading beauty blogs has the (un)fortunate effect of making me buy things I never thought I wanted. A "confirm order" and few days later, Rouge Dior Nocturne falls out of a USPS box into my lap and I thought how could I be so silly and miss this?

You might remember the first time I professed my love for the Rouge Dior formula. To summarize, it's one of the best lipsticks in the market. Creamy, comfortable, stays put. Nocturne #961 is a berry with gold undertone and is as pretty as they come.

Rouge Dior Nocturne retails for $32 and should be available at major department stores and (it's labeled as 961 in the Rouge Dior section). I purchased mine from

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lipstick Bandits Fall Favorites: Gloss d'Armani Plum #604

Since announcing that we were, ahem, out to take over the world, we decided total domination might be a little too jarring for you, so... baby steps! Us bandits are taking over your lips this Fall (or is it winter already?) with some of our favorite lip colors. At this point of writing, I don't know what my fellow bandits have in store but I'm already clutching my pursestrings in fear (if my purse had strings or if I had a purse. My wallet is gigantic). I envision ten new lipsticks in my near future!

I approached this assignment with an ultimatum: If I had to choose only one lipstick this fall, what would I wear? I rummaged through my stash and visited counters and online shopped, and while I bought new glosses and eyeshadows galore I didn't end up with a satisfying lipstick.

I did, however, end up with one lipgloss that I would wear for the entirety of fall, and though I suffer Rae's admonishment (after all, we're supposed to be Lipstick Bandits), I couldn't resist. This gloss and a backup is going with me to whatever desert island she banishes me to!

The lipgloss in question is Gloss d'Armani Plum #604 from the Giorgio Armani Holiday 2011 Collection. I wore it for three days this week. Three days! Please tell me you understand the significance of that statement!

L-R: Gloss d'Armani Plum #604, Eyes To Kill Intense #19

This gloss came to my attention weeks before, when photos of the Armani Holiday collection was making its way through the blogs. I spotted a photo of the gloss and all but frothed in my mouth. Such a different color! I must have it.

Fast forward about a week ago, I purchased my Armani goodies through the phone with the fantastic Kathy Shoreman, whose customer service is legendary in the beauty blogging circuit. The woman has a Twitter account filled with up to date announcements and sneak peeks of new products as soon as they arrive! Anyway, I saw her twitpic of this gloss and called her up to ask about it. Her description was spot on (the words she used were blue grape, if memory serves me) and made me even more excited about it, but honestly I would have ordered this on principle alone. I can't resist a unique item.

While the grape-y goodness might look intimidatingly purple on my hand swatch, the gloss itself is sheer, so it takes on the wearer's lip color. My lips are naturally very pink, so on me the purple pulls pink. Another thing you should know is the Gloss d'Armani formula is such a dream! It is lightweight but lasts up to six hours on me. Do note that the gloss does become slightly tacky as you wear it throughout the day. It doesn't feel sticky icky (I'm sorry. I couldn't resist), but it's there when you smack your lips together.

Gloss d'Armani Plum #604 retails for $28 and should be available at major department stores as well as Unfortunately, they seem to be really slow in updating their website with new collections, so my best advice is to give Kathy Shoreman of Neiman Marcus Tyson's Galleria a call at 571-533-4972. Tell her I sent you!

Before you pick up that phone, you hasty person you, first browse through these delectable temptations from my fellow Lipstick Bandits and save yourself the repeat calls: