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Roxanne Assoulin Spectrum Choker


The cool girl version of the "candy" necklace is all grown up and ready to party. If you stalk the internet you'll start to spot them on the coolest of the cool girls - Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss/Glossier was wearing the bracelets on the snapchat this weekend, Lucky Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen wore one with a black dress to the Tony's...

I only heard about it from a secret group (oops, I shouldn't even mention it!) of cool girls that I somehow snuck my way onto. Usually cool girl things are subtle and understated (take the Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag, or the "No Makeup Makeup" look) this one is anything but... and it's SO FUN.  Here's to fun things being cool again! 

Wonder why my hair is so shiny? Olaplex. Wonder why my skin is on fleek? Shangpree's Beauty Bootcamp for Peach & Lily plus the thinnest layer of my favorite foundation.  If you missed my post on battling bacne, check it out here


Review: Shangpree Deluxe Home Spa Package from Peach & Lily

 Deluxe Home Spa Package from Peach & Lily shot at The Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco 

When it comes to skincare, there is nothing as exciting as the world of Korean beauty. They seem to be on the cutting edge of effective, affordable, and adorably fun pampering for skin. But when it comes to luxury Korean beauty there is only one name, and that name is Shangpree. 

My first experience with the brand was their Gold Rubber Modeling Mask. I've tried probably half a dozen other brands since, and while they are awesome (and more affordable) there is nothing that even comes close to the results I got from the single application of this mask. I hoard them now, saving them for only the most important and immortalized of events (aka weddings.)

Why is Shangpree so special? In a country obsessed with skincare, where products are already easily available, incredibly effective and reasonably priced, how can one brand set itself apart? Shangpree delivers flawless, poreless, radiant skin. The ingredients and delivery methods are luxurious, in texture, smell and how they make your skin feel. They are pure indulgence that also delivers unbelievable results.

 In fact, I read online that every Shangpree esthetician must complete train the Shangpree-way for 3 years before being able to provide client services - even with 20+ years of practice in other training methods. So when they decided to launch a home care line you knew it was going to be amazing, but when the Aestheticians created a week-long "Deluxe Home Spa Package" I knew it was going to be good. I didn't even need the discount (although $50 off of the $200 price these items would cost individually is pretty nice!) and my friends at Peach & Lily were nice enough to send me my very own box. 

For the cost of one normal facial I would get a box filled with a whole week of facials, with detailed instructions from the Shangpree Aesthetician's on how to use the goodies to maximize their effectiveness, plus super-sized samples of their home care products. I could not wait to start. 

But wait I did. In part because I had to track the box down (love - moving) and in part because I wanted to make it worth it. 

Of course, the perfect opportunity presented itself when a few days later I found myself awake for 48 hours straight on an airplane (dry dry, tired skin) then gluten-poisoned (hello giant acne cysts all over my face) and stressed out (death in the family, travel changes, life etc.) My pores could host a party, with the bags under my eyes as additional seating for unexpected guests. And I week until my beloved friend (and champion of my blog and skincare!) wedding. People would be looking at my skin with a critical eye. It was time to crack open the box.

Day 1: Pore Tightening Mask & Snail Moisture Sheet Mask
Would it be ridiculous to say my skin whimpered with glee at this combo? Well it did, so deal with it.
The pore tightening mask is a clay mask unlike any I've ever felt before. There was no stinging, but I could feel it sucking my face clean, in a gentle way. Instead of tightening up and drying out, the mask turned into this waxy, soft firmness that was so fun to touch (you may have seen me playing with it on Snapchat) that reminded me most of the paraben treatments that used to be a big deal at nail salons. Like letting hot candle wax dry on your skin. The snail mask was a pretty standard sheet mask, with the bonus that the smell was divine and that afterwards my skin was plump and dewy, and the angry red welts around my acne cysts were noticeably soothed and diminished. 

Day 2: Shangpree Black Premium Modeling Mask
As a huge fan of the gold mask I could not wait to try the black version - which contains charcoal, one of my favorite detox ingredients. Like the gold version, the black starts out as a thick gel that oozes the most divine, comforting serum into your skin as it quickly hardens into a slick, rubbery surface that then forces those nutrients into your skin. Afterwards my face felt glowing, calmed (cysts, about the size of a pinhead now) and my pores were already shrinking down to their previous glory (aka invisible.)

Day 3 & 6: Gold Black Pearl Eye Mask but Everywhere
These little wonder patches are SO fun and slimy. I mean good slimy. Like tiny, portable less messy versions of the rubber modeling masks that you can use to spot treat anywhere you need radiance. Plus they are so conveniently packaged. This is going to be my new plane travel staple. Yes, they look a bit silly, but when you put them on your skin goes AHHHH and then it says thank you by being perfect and glowing. I don't know why it never occurred to me that I could put these anywhere (they eye area being the most delicate area on the whole face) but once I read that I had a major DUH moment. I guess that's why they are the genius aestheticians...

Day 4, 5 & 7: Silver Modeling Mask, Charcoal Hydrogel Mask, & Gold Premium Mask
I'll be honest, by day 5 I was having a hard time finishing the set. My skin looked SO DAMN GOOD, I couldn't imagine it looking any better. Since I was getting on another plane I decided to finish up with the Silver mask and Charcoal Mask and save the gold one for the day before the wedding (having already used it once I knew it was freaking amazing.) 

By the end of my (almost) week my skin was so dewy, pore less, smooth, soft and glowing I was ready to throw all my foundation away and call it a day.

If you have a special occasion coming up - or you just need a skin reset - I could not recommend this kit more, plus with the deal it's worth it even if you just want to beef up your mask collection and not do a full week of intensive masking. 

As for me, I am excited to show off my amazing skin (photos coming soon!) but until then enjoy this super fast video featuring all the amazing products...


Banish Bacne: Wipes Edition

I am in a constant battle with my bacne. I hoped I would grow out of it, but whenever I stop being diligent is rears it's ugly head. The most effective weapon in my arsenal is wipes. Doesn't matter what kind. (I have baby wipes, Trader Joe's Micellar Wipes and some amazing smelling L'Oreal Anti-Aging wipes stashed in all my various bags as we speak.)

The trick is two-fold: pressure and expediency. I say pressure because wipes are the dark horse of the beauty world for face. The manual exfoliation caused by rubbing with the pre-soaked fibers is too strong for most peoples' delicate facial skin, leading to over-drying and irritation. But body skin is different. It's thicker and tougher. It responds incredibly well to a coarser scrubbing (especially if you're battling breakouts.) Moreover, in summer - with SPF, sweat, fabrics - getting that stuff out of your skin before it has a chance to attract bacteria and infection works wonders for me in keeping the bumps at bay.

After a workout class? Wipes. During a fun day outside? You may find me in the bathroom doing a quick wipe-down of my trouble zones. I give myself basically a 5-minute window (I didn't make this up, I read it in an interview with Karlie Kloss) between when I have finished my sweat session and when it's time to either shower or break out the wipes.

When I do it, my back looks like this.** When I don't? Well, let's just say I won't be posting pictures of that to the internet. ;)

Dress is from Calypso St. Barth, scored for $20 at my fave thrift store | Shoes by Matiko 

**No editing of any kind was done to this photo...

I look like I wish I looked in High School

Choker | Faux Leather Jacket ($90 hurry before it sells out again!)  | Maxi Dress 

The other day my husband got me an amazing choker. It is a stunning, hand-crafted masterpiece. All the cool girls are super into this designer, and the rainbow version has a 6-8 week waiting list. I decided I like the maritime themed "jump in" partially because I like it more and partially because I decided I am too old to look like rainbow bright, much as I might want to. Eva Chen can pull this off, but not Dena. The tagline for the brand is "uncomplicated indulgence." It is sort of simple in how shiny, colorful things bring me so much delight. Also chokers are the only necklaces that don't rub my skin in such a way that they leave smudges of irritate skin behind. This is all justification for what is a purchase grounded only in love and instant, gut wrenching obsession.

But this necklace is just everything. Hand formed acrylic blocks stacked in the perfect rows like tiny candies... OMG, these are just like my beloved raver "candy necklaces" from my youth. SHIT.

And that's what it hit me. Staring at the image waiting for mine to come in the mail.
There is no universe in which this "new trend" is in some way influenced by the raver style I remember so vividly from my high school style.

Is it more refined? Absolutely. But I think, so am I? And yet, I seemed to have come stylistically full circle. In more ways than just this one necklace. 90s me would be so into current me's style.

I wear perfect delicate wrap chokers or slick and coveted "candy" necklaces. I pair them with slinky recycled material slip dresses and even slinkier camisoles (the grown up and tailored version of the salvaged slip dresses of my youth - this is what I wished  could find...) I have vintage cutoffs that would make young Dena weep with envy. I have an assortment of espadrilles, chucks and other footwear that look surprisingly like my shoe closet circa 1999 (including a pair I would've rocked to prom, as was our custom of wearing sneakers hidden underneath long dresses.) I have flattering mini skirts, leg elongating flares and a gorgeous matte lip tint that makes my lips look chic and puffy. I can do a cat eyeliner flip - most days. I own a checked one piece that teen Dena would've murdered for, a la My Father the Hero.

I even have the hair is what a younger me didn't even know she wanted - blonde and/or multicolored but with some brown to keep things flattering. There was no ombre back then so I had bleached two strips in the front which I colored with various jello packets and manic panic to match my mood/ensembles. Oh, how things have changed. Add in the kind of tousled waves I could only dream of achieving in my naturally kinky hair...

My posture is better, as is my diet, and obviously my skin. My hair is thicker and longer. My confidence unrecognizable but alluring to my former self. I know what fits me, what flatters me, and also, probably more important, what doesn't. I know the importance of tailoring, of loyalty to brands I like. And yet, I can't help but see the echoes of my former self in the choices I make now. It's like I've taken my adult clothing budget, my more refined sense of myself and my style, and used it to get the things my 15 year old self wanted (but tried to make at home and failed.) I can't help but feel like my mom must whenever 70s things resurface again - most of those items now co-opted in my own closet.

I made a list about choker inspiration (lots of 90s with a dash of 20s art deco, which of course was the original influencer of the 90s style) and I think my internet buddy Shanaz really hit the nail on the head when she said, "I can't believe I threw away all my chokers." I am glad I did, because now I have an excuse to upgrade - but I promise future unborn children, that I will save these ones for the next time this makes a comeback, and I will maybe let you borrow them.

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