Caution: This post contains Startup: A Novel spoilers.

My favorite blogger-turned-YouTuber Lauren Elizabeth is blogging again! I am so happy! Her videos are great, but I prefer written content and photos over YouTube when it comes to fashion, skincare and lifestyle (makeup is a different story).

One of the first posts on her new site outlines her so-called One Book A Month Club, and I was so intrigued that I thought it would be fun to do something similar on Haute Mess so my readers could follow along.

Lauren shared that it has been her New Year’s resolution for the past two years to read one book a month, and this year I unknowingly made myself the same promise. Like Lauren shares in her post, reading one book per month is so rewarding, and it’s a great way to escape reality.

For the past year I haven’t gotten much of a chance to read any literature of my own choosing because I’ve been in a grad school program that has a ton of required reading. Though everything I’ve been required to read has been rewarding, it can be dense at times, and I’ve definitely been missing more leisurely reads.

In the past I loved titles like the White Girl Problems series by Babe Walker, The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, The A-List series by Zoey Dean and various self-help books such Do Less: A Minimalist Guide To A Simplified, Organized And Happy Life by Rachel Jonat and The Trump Card by Ivanka Trump.

When it comes to fiction, I like fun and exciting books; I rarely go for extreme, gory thrillers or anything supernatural. But, I also enjoy self-help books from inspirational and successful women.

That being said, my first book of 2018 was a fiction piece called Startup: A Novel by Doree Shafrir. Currently, I’m reading another fiction piece titled Sex And Rage: A Novel by Eve Babitz for the month of February.

So, let’s get started on the Startup discussion, and I’ll have all the details on Sex And Rage in a few weeks. Spoilers ahead…

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that this is one of, if not, the best book I’ve ever read; I was hooked from the beginning. There are so many books that I’ve read half of (or more!) before I could actually get into them. (And there are quite a few I’ve finished but did not get into at all). Not Startup.

Similarly, there’s been a number of novels that weren’t bad, but after finishing them, they just left me thinking so what? That is not the case with Startup, either. But, maybe that’s because it hits close to home in both a literal and a figurative sense.

It takes place in New York City and focuses on three main protagonists: Mack McAllister (a 20-something, seemingly successful startup founder), Katya Pasternack (a young reporter at a digital publication) as well as her boss Dan, who’s slightly older, and Sabrina Choe Blum, (a mom-of-two who gave up life as a homemaker to become social media manager at Mack’s startup, and who so happens to be Dan’s wife).

Katya and Sabrina (as well as Katya’s (soon-to-be ex-)boyfriend Victor, the co-founder of a failed startup, and Sabrina’s boss Isabel, who is 10 years younger than Sabrina and had a secret fling with her boss Mack McAllister) cross paths at an exclusive dinner party hosted by Isabel’s new love interest.

When Isabel drunkenly leaves her iPhone on the coffee table around which Katya and Sabrina are chatting, it starts a chain of events that affect the entire New York City startup community.

According to Dan (Katya’s boss), there’s a possibility that her job is at stake, so at the time of the dinner party (which is supposedly off the record), she is on the hunt for a groundbreaking story that will impress the higher-ups at her publication.

And when she and Sabrina accidentally see the series of raunchy text messages Mack sends Isabel, she gets her first lede: the young founder of a multimillion-dollar NYC startup harassing one of his female employees via text message.

Katya takes a picture of Isabel’s phone screen with her phone, then goes into the kitchen to give her her phone back, acting as if nothing happened. She’s shocked when Isabel takes her phone and nonchalantly puts it in her pocket without looking at it, then puts her arm around her newest fling without a care in the world.

All the while, Sabrina and Dan’s relationship isn’t faring so well, either. She’s fed up with him working long hours and not doing his fair share of housework; he’s more interested in his work life than his home life–and even kisses Katya after she meets up with him one evening to vent about work.

At the same time, Katya and Victor’s relationship is also on the rocks. He’s been moody and needy ever since his startup failed, leaving him out of work; she’s been extremely stressed over the possibility of being cut from her job. In a way, she didn’t hate the kiss from Dan, but ends up avoiding him at work in the following days.

Mack hosts a going-away party for one of his best employees who’s leaving to pursue a career at another startup, and while giving a toast, Isabel loudly interrupts, calling Mack out on the bullshit (for lack of a better term) he’s put her through in recent weeks.

Soon after, a mysterious, anonymous Twitter count receives an audio recording of the event and reveals Mack’s actions to the entire NYC startup community. It is then, with Isabel’s approval, Katya decides to publish the story.

After the story is out and Katya is able to tweet it for all to see, she and Dan go outside for a smoke break (something they do regularly throughout the novel), and he reveals to her that he is the face behind the anonymous Twitter account. She is so upset by the news, Dan suggests she takes the rest of the day off and goes inside without her.

While still in front of the office building, which Katya’s publication shares with Mack’s startup, she bumps into Sabrina, who is on her way to Isabel’s to console her. Katya asks to tag along.

Though Isabel truly wanted to get her story out there in the hopes that it would help other young women in similar situations, she is still understandably upset. While at Isabel’s apartment with Sabrina, Katya reveals Dan runs the anonymous Twitter account. Sabrina is just as angered as Katya, and the novel ends–somewhat abruptly–right there in Isabel’s apartment.

This, in my opinion, leaves the reader thinking that Sabrina will be leaving Dan and (possibly!) Mack’s startup, too; because of all the turmoil, things are not looking so bright for Mack’s startup in general. And given their argument, work with Dan will be awkward-at-best for Katya.

I’m dying for a sequel. Startup is the perfect balance of satirical, entertaining, smart and meaningful. Plus, if you’re a millennial, it’s insanely relatable. Reading Startup was honestly the perfect way to escape reality, so I’m a little pissed at myself for getting through all 304 pages in four or five sittings. But I just couldn’t help it–it was that good. This novel is definitely going to be a tough act to follow.

What books have you been reading lately? Have you read Startup, or are you into other types of lit? If you’ve read it, let me know what you think! If not, I’d love to hear what your current reads are 🙂


Whether you’re in a relationship or not, every day should be about love, so Valentine’s Day is pretty useless in that aspect if you ask me. Still, it’s a good excuse to treat yourselves to a nice dinner or a weekend trip.

I put together this ultra-femme, romantic rose gold makeup look using ColourPop eyeshadows, highlighter and lip products to get us in the mood for the holiday–no boyfriend necessary.

Products I used:

Step 1: Prep the skin by applying Pore Refiner Primer evenly to the t-zone, working towards the outer perimeter of the face. Apply Balm Dotcom to the lips.

Step 2: Using the same technique used to apply Mattifying Gel Moisturizer, apply a light layer of Perfecting Skin Tint. If necessary, apply an additional layer where more coverage is needed.

Step 3: Conceal the under eyes, blemishes and redness with Shape Tape. Blend with a stippling brush.

Step 4: Set the entire face with Wowder, focusing on the t-zone and under-eye areas. Finish with a generous amount of setting spray and allow to dry. Blend by pressing into the skin with a dry or damp makeup sponge.

Step 5: Apply a little Primer Potion to the eye area.

Step 6: Set the primer with a matte bone-colored powder shadow on a fluffy blending brush. I used ColourPop’s Full-Zip.

Step 7: With the same fluffy blending brush, define the crease with Gimme Gorgeous. Blend upward and outwards for blown-out, cat-like effect.

Step 8: Take the matte brown shade on a smaller crease brush, and define the outer corner of the crease, as well as the outer “V” of the eye. Use the same fluffy brush from Steps 6 and 7 to blend.

Step 9: Apply Come And Get It to the center of the lid on a clean shadow brush. Blend with the same brush from Steps 6 and 7 if necessary.

Step 10: Use the ring finger to apply a mixture of Drizzle and Unsupervised to the remaining bare part of the lid.

Step 11: With the same fluffy brush from Steps 6 and 7, apply a little Gimme Gorgeous to the lower lash line.

Step 12: Drag the matte brown shade along the outer half of the lower lash line. Keep this shadow tighter to the lower lash line than Gimme Gorgeous.

Step 13: Take a mixture of Drizzle and Unsupervised on the ring finger, and gently pat that onto the lower lash line. Blend with the fluffy brush if necessary.

Step 14: Clean and define the eye area by sweeping the matte bone-colored shadow (Full-Zip) onto the brow bone with a dome brush.

Step 15: Carve out the cheekbones with Mocha by applying it directly to the skin. Begin application from the upper corner of the ear, working downwards diagonally. Then, tap with the fingers to blend.

Step 16: Continue to apply Mocha to the temples and under the center of the lip for a subtle plumping effect, and continue tapping with the fingers to blend.

Step 17: Buff Capri Coast over Mocha with a fluffy face brush.

Step 18: To brighten up the face, add a little Seduce to the apples of the cheeks. Tap with the fingers to blend.

Step 19: In a “C” shape along the orbital eye bone to the cheekbone, apply Might Be with a setting brush, then tap along the edges with the fingers to blend. This will give you somewhat of a faux “sunglasses tan.”

Step 20: Use a fan brush to apply Might Be to the bridge and tip of the nose.

Step 21: With the pinky finger, apply Let Me Explain to the inner corner of the eye and the cupid’s bow.

Step 22: Beginning in the center of each brow and working towards the inner and outer corners, apply Boy Brow in an upward motion. Add a second coat for a more dramatic look.

Step 23: Finish with more setting spray.

Step 24: After combing and curling the lashes, apply two coats of mascara to both the top and bottom lashes.

Step 25: Line the lips neatly with a nude or a nude-pink pencil (I used Oh Snap from ColourPop). Liners can be tricky, but a foolproof strategy I use is to only line the center of the top lip and the corners of the bottom lip, then gently fill in the corners of the bottom lip, fading towards the center. Rub the lips together, allowing some of the color to transfer from top to bottom and vice versa.

Step 26: Apply two even coats of Moon Child to the lips. Be sure to angle to the applicator so that the product applies neatly.


Sustainability is sexy. And like most things in life, I partake in sustainable fashion using the 80/20 rule. That is, I shop sustainably 80 percent of the time (either secondhand or from “slow fashion” retailers like the ones listed below), and indulge in non-sustainable fashion (such as Free People or I.Am.Gia) the remaining 20 percent of the time.

A few months ago I put together a post on my favorite U.S.-based fashion retailers, and while most of those *are* sustainable sources of fashion (looking at you, Backbite, Reformation and Revice), I left out a few notable names.

Hot-As-Hell: With a name like Hot-As-Hell, this definitely isn’t your mother’s sustainable fashion label. So, indulge in ultra-femme lingerie, swimwear, loungewear and ready-to-wear without any of the guilt you’d get shopping at a department store.

Timeless and wearable, HAH’s constructs quality pieces that fit impeccably–thanks to Jacalyn Bennett, a 30-year veteran of lingerie and apparel design.

Per the brand’s website, “HAH is proud to work with vendors who are pioneers in their industries, socially and ecologically conscious and experts in their respective fields.”

Additionally, the label cares about their production methods just as much as it cares about its products and customers.

The site continues, “HAH is committed to minimizing waste, through our smarter usage of resources and raw materials…Ever conscious of the environment and the products we make, we work hard (and smart) to ensure that our legacy is something we can be proud of. In keeping with the HAH ideal of eco-friendly design, we have launched a number of sustainable initiatives…”

Nüdwear: Kick your Victoria’s Secret habit to the curb with Nüdwear, a sustainable lingerie company based in New York. Specializing in no-show bras for the backless, strapless or plunging top lover in you, this innovative, one-of-a-kind label also has a gorgeous selection of slips and robes.

Per Nüdwear, “We feel that it is our responsibility as a brand to minimize our impact on the environment through sustainable manufacturing practices and by using eco-friendly materials, packaging and mailers.”

Sure, nearly every gal loves splurging on a sexy For Love And Lemons or Agent Provocateur set to show off now and then. But, think of Nüdwear as the essential, everyday lingerie you *don’t* want to be seen; looking seamless is the whole point.

Re/Done: If you love denim, you need a pair of Re/Done jeans. I’m not so much of a denim lover as I am a denim obsessor, so I invested in a pair of Re/Done’s Ass Rip Jean: the same as the brand’s signature High Rise Jean, except its pre-torn right below the cheek.

Re/Done–known for its white label–is completely different from any other denim on the market in just about every way possible.

Per the brand’s website, “We take the vintage denim apart at the seams, repurposing it as the fabric of our new jeans…The pair you select on our website is the pair that you will receive at your doorstep. We simplify the tedious process of searching for hours or days to find the perfect looking vintage jeans, then having to find a ‘denim’ tailor to modernize the fit, yet give you that same personalized experience, ultimately taking individuality a step further than anyone else.”

And all of that is done sustainably in the United States.

“We are proud to manufacture our jeans in Downtown Los Angeles using water conserving methods and no harsh chemicals. Quantities will always be limited since each pair is handpicked, hand cut and distinctly one-of-a-kind.”

In addition to *tons* of denim–including jackets, shorts and skirts–Re/Done has an impressive collection of leather, t-shirts, bodysuits and sportswear. Explore #myredones on Insta for a little taste of all the brand’s white-label-clad pieces.

More than just a denim company, Re/Done is “a movement to restore individuality to the luxury fashion space, a movement to keep heritage brands relevant and a movement to create sustainable fashion.”

Enjoy the sustainable look I put together with #myredones (Ass Rips, of course) and a simple-yet-sexy ribbed tank from Reformation Vintage.

As Re/Done’s site states, these jeans took a little breaking in before they felt right. The racerback tank, however, was killer from the second I put it on. It has that perfectly flattering fit, plus it’s COMFORTABLE and looks amazing with just about everything. (And it’s just the right amount of see-through). I want to wear it all day, every day. (I’m definitely going to grab a couple more next time I’m in L.A.)

I’m also wearing Red Earth’s Have Fun Lipstick Matches in a gorgeous coral-red color; such a creamy and buildable formula. Peep the super cute packaging, too! I’ve been having so much fun testing out this brand’s range.

Shop my look:

Tank top, Reformation Vintage (Melrose Ave, Los Angeles)

Jeans, Re/Done, similar here

Have Fun Lipstick Matches, Red Earth


From left to right: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, Gisou Texture Comb, Glossier Solution, Kristin Ess Signature Conditioner & Shampoo, Bali Body Tanning/Body Oil

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipsticks, from top to bottom: Freckle Fiesta, Shawty, PMS

Hi! I am making it a priority to do monthly favorites more regularly in 2018, and we’re off to a good start with a handful of things I’ve really been loving all of January.

Let me know in the comments below what you loved in January! I want to learn all about your favorite fashion, beauty and lifestyle things.

Glossier Solution: All I can say about Glossier’s newest launch is wow–especially after seeing the before and after shots on the brand’s website and other digital platforms. This was the product I didn’t know my skincare routine needed.

After trying several different products to combat the persistent problem area on the rightmost section of my forehead/temple, nothing seemed to provide thorough, lasting results–until Solution.

But after one week of use, I noticed a *huuuge* improvement on both the texture of current breakouts and the dark spots left behind by past breakouts. In my opinion, Solution is truly one-of-a-kind because the strong, super effective formula is safe and gentle enough to use every day; its balanced with moisturizing glycerin, as well as soothing aloe and niacinamide.

I love that this product also prevents future breakouts while shrinking pores. Details to come on Haute Mess as soon as I reach the 4-week mark of using this product! But for now, check out my first impressions here.

Kristin Ess Shampoo & Conditioner: Getting my hair back to health is somewhat of a New Year’s resolution for me, so I’ve been on the hunt for the best affordable shampoo/conditioner duo. I decided to try Kristin Ess’ after I saw a handful of my fellow Glossier Reps raving about it. (I also double checked with my hair stylist–hey, Crista!–to make sure she approved. She does.)

I am so happy I didn’t dole out the cash for Kiehl’s, because I was really close to picking up their amino acid shampoo/conditioner duo at Sephora. Although Kiehl’s isn’t terribly overpriced, Kristin Ess is so much more reasonable for something that is, quite literally, going to get washed down the drain.

The first thing I noticed was that it smells really freaking good, like Byredo’s Mojave Ghost. And the second thing I noticed was how soft, shiny and weightless my hair felt once it dried. Kristin Ess’ shampoo and conditioner gave me blowout-worthy hair without any of the hassle (and only a fraction of the cost).

A few days later I noticed that, despite quite a few dry shampoo applications, my hair was still smooth, silky and manageable. I definitely recommend this duo for all hair types, and I am now super eager to try the brand’s Thickening Spray.

Gisou Texture Comb: I love everything I ordered from Gisou in December, but if I had to choose one standout product, it would be the Texture Comb. It may seem superfluous, but this tool has really changed my haircare routine.

Especially when compared to the Wet Brush I was using for five years prior, Texture Comb has done wonders for my tresses. It doesn’t pull at the hair, causing fallout and breakage the way the Wet Brush did. I instantly noticed so much less hair loss after using Gisou’s comb; so much so that I threw my brush into the trash. What can I say? I’m a changed woman.

It’s definitely expensive though, so I am really happy this was a one-time purchase that I won’t have to re-order (unlike Gisou’s hair oil and heat spray).

Oh, and I am so excited for the brand’s hair mask to launch soon! Gisou has been teasing it on Instagram like crazy, and my mane could really use a little more nourishment and deep moisture.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick: These lippies were somewhat of an impulse buy for me, but they instantly made their way to my army of go-to makeup products. I picked up the shades Freckle Fiesta, Shawty and PMS the day after they launched, and I am obsessed with them all.

They’re so comfortable, easy to apply, and the color payoff is strong, even and weightless. The formula, which is smooth and gel-like, is easily one of the best I’ve ever tried in a lipstick. Rihanna really hit the nail on the head with these guys.

Byredo scents: I am definitely a candle junkie! And lately, I cannot get enough of Byredo’s inviting, warm and slightly sultry Bohemia. With top notes of Opopanax and rum, germanium, labdanum and rosemary at the heart, and a moss, sandalwood and vanilla base, Bohemia is the perfect home scent for me.

Now, I’m super eager to try Byredo’s newest home fragrance Woods, as well as Peyote Poem and Safran.


Left to right: Glossier Body Hero Daily Oil Wash, ColourPop All I See Is Magic Pressed Powder Shadow Palette, Bali Body Shimmering Body Oil, Glossier Lip Gloss

Whether you’re on a budget or are unsure about investing in an expensive skincare or makeup item, there’s a number of affordable products on the market that feel so high-end. The beauty industry has made a ton of innovations over the past couple years, and luckily for us, that means better quality products at a more affordable price.

I’ve narrowed it down to 12 of my favorites, but I hope to have a second part on the blog within the next few months. Be sure to leave your favorite affordable beauty must-haves in the comments down below–I cannot wait to check them all out!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: Made with the same cleaning agent found in contact solution, this cleanser is super gentle and safe to use on the eye area. Glossier also replaced 1/4 of the water in this formula with soothing, aromatic rosewater that smells almost identical the brand’s Manhattan showroom.

Milky Jelly Cleanser works on wet skin to–duh!–cleanse, but it also works on dry skin to melt away makeup and grime. And it’s great for every single skin type, including sensitive. $18,

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich: This is the product that inspired me to put together this list in the first place. You already know and love Glossier’s original Priming Moisturizer, but have you met Rich? Think of it as PM’s more luxe sister.

It contains a red algae complex, Ceramides 3 and 6, five key fatty acids and murumuru butter to deeply nourish and moisturize the skin, as well as an anti-redness complex and an oxygenating agent improve tone and texture so skin is prepped for makeup (or not).

I looove how luxurious, yet weightless, Rich feels on the skin; it’s truly feels like a daily indulgence. The murumuru butter feels super dense, while the other ingredients fortify skin’s moisture barrier, locking moisture in. $35,

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Wipes: I’ve used a ton of makeup remover wipes throughout the years, and these are by far my favorite. Neutrogena’s seem to be the most commonly used, but they have always left a weird, greasy film on my skin that I don’t like.

There are some high-end makeup wipes–such as Koh Gen Do’s–that are great, but who wants to spend that much on something that’s getting thrown in the trash in a matter of seconds? Not me.

Simple’s Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes are a trustworthy and affordable option, but when using these I almost always need two to remove a full face of makeup, so I end up going through a pack of them really quickly.

That’s why I am so happy I discovered Bioderma’s last year. They have the gentle and effective micellar formula that I love, but they’re super saturated, so just one does the job. $9.90,

Mario Badescu Facial Sprays: Refresh your face throughout the day and soothe your skin after cleansing with one of these cult-favorite, super affordable sprays.

My personal fav is the one with aloe, cucumber and green tea–I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my skin’s tone and texture after a month of using it daily. Now, I always keep backup so I’m never without its comforting hydration.

There’s also an aloe, herbs and rosewater formula, as well as an aloe, chamomile and lavender option. $5-$12,

Frank Body Lip Scrub: Everyone needs a lip scrub in their medicine cabinet, but sadly this product often goes forgotten.

For me, a lip scrub is essential both for removing stubborn lip colors, as well as prepping the lips for lipstick or gloss. There are some great DIY lip scrubs on Pinterest, and Lush also has a few affordable, natural lip scrubs, but lately I’ve been loving this one from Aussie skincare label Frank Body.

It’s loaded with coffee and raw sugar to gently and evenly exfoliate, as well as coffee seed oil to naturally plump lips. Cold-pressed macadamia oil and ethically sourced beeswax soften and soothe your pout. $12.95,

Glossier Lip Gloss: Remember MAC’s pricey Lip Glass from middle school? Glossier’s got a less costly formula that won’t make your lips peel like crazy the way MAC’s did.

This kirakira-worthy clear lip gloss is formulated with a mixture of emollients so it’s long-lasting, conditioning polymers so it’s never goopy or sticky, as well as Vitamin E so lips are moisturized and look cushiony soft. $14,

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise: Drugstore mascara is the way to go; I just haven’t found any high-end mascaras to be worth their price points. My favorite by far is L’Oreal’s Voluminous Lash Paradise. I never bought the same mascara more than once until the Paris-based beauty giant debuted this formula last year. Available at drugstores

ColourPop Pressed Powder Eyeshadow: Keep just one or two on hand, create your own palette or choose from any of the gorgeous palettes ColourPop has to offer. I really cannot get enough of these pressed powder shadows because they’re so pigmented, silky and blend-able–and they last all day on the lids. Prices vary,

ColourPop Lippie Pencil: ColourPop is known for its liquid lipsticks; at least, that’s how the company rose to massive fame. But, I prefer their lesser known (and super under-appreciated) Lippie Pencils.

Every makeup lover needs a few lip liners, but who wants to spend $15+ on something thinner than the No. 2 pencils we used in grade school? ColourPop’s liners are creamy, long-lasting and available in a ton of shades. Oh, and did I mention they cost $5 each? $5,

NYX Butter Gloss/Intense Butter Gloss: Ultra-pigmented, ultra-shiny gloss without any of the glitter? Yes, please.

NYX Butter Glosses and Intense Butter Glosses plump up the lips, look sophisticated and smell like dessert. With a combined 58 shades between the two formulas on Ulta’s website, there’s something for everyone when it comes to NYX’s buttery-soft and affordable Butter Glosses. $4.99-$6.49,

Bali Body Shimmering Body Oil: I’m just as guilty of lusting over that bronze body oil from NARS on Sephora’s shelves as the next girl. Thankfully, Bali Body has our backs (quite literally) with an bronze body oil that’s half the cost!

BB’s natural skincare and tanning range is a long-time favorite of mine; I’ve been using their tanning oils for years, and their BB Cream for nearly as long. So, when they launched Shimmering Body Oil just before the holidays, I scooped it up as soon as it was available and instantly fell in love.

Not only does this formula smell even better than their original tanning oil, it’s loaded with gold and bronze shimmer particles. Shimmering Body Oil is formulated with coconut, jojoba and grape seed for a nourishing, moisturized glow that absorbs quickly into the skin. It gives the skin an instant streak-free bronzing day or night. $29.95,

Glossier Body Hero Duo: So, this is technically two products, but who’s counting? If you want to treat yourself to an at-home spa day but bath’s aren’t your thing, or you want to make every shower–even the shortest, most rushed ones–feel like a mini pamper sesh, Body Hero Daily Oil Wash and Daily Perfecting Cream are the products for you. Learn more here. $35,