The Average Girl's Guide to Styling Thin Hair

GUEST POST ALERT: Look at this Babe...

Introduction by Dena: 
I've been lucky enough that when my hair grew back after chemo it grew back in approximately 14 times thicker than it was before. I did a little research and discovered that it may be because only about 1/3 of your hair follicles are ever active at one time. Chemo therapy damages the hair follicles (causing the hair to fall out) and also sometimes activating some of the dormant follicles. Then, the follicles that were damaged by the chemo recover and voila! Thicker hair! While this may not be worth going through chemo (j/k - DEF NOT WORTH IT) I definitely remember the pains of having thinner hair, and even a slightly receding hairline! Male-pattern baldness actually runs in my family. 

With that in mind, when I read an amazing list of cool tricks on The Listapp, I knew it would be something I should share on Leo with Cancer. Abigail was generous enough to write it up for me and let me post it here. She is the cutest! Not only are these tips amazing, I know other women who use them AND they also work great for women who are growing back/recovering from chemo hair loss, hormone related hair loss (pregnancy, hormone therapies, menopause - all can cause hairloss FML) and,  damage from over-processing hair. 

People ask me a lot about the method that I used to get extensions in my super short hair, so I also wanted to start this list with my own addition, because it's very similar to the "the fall" that Abigail talks about. However, I am a spoiled rotten princess with a mother who is a hairdresser so I got a custom one made just for me. Then, I had her attach that piece onto my head using non-damaging silicon beads, supplementing the bottom with more bead-in extensions. It also looks amazing for a shorter look, like these before and after shots I took. In addition to making the piece, a good stylist will also give you a better cut (no layers for thin hair!) and highlights to add visual weight and dimension (all one color looks flat, and can make hair appear even thinner...) The difference is startling. 


Please let me save you hundreds of hours and dollars and tears.


It took me a long time to allow myself to feel my feelings about my hair.  I punished myself for being shallow.  That’s just a lot of bad vibes. Once I allowed myself to accept what is, I got to looking for a solution.

First things first: A good cut.

We deserve to enjoy getting a haircut.  Finding a good stylist is key.  Like doctors, stylists have varying skills in terms of bedside (chairside?) manner.  For me, I’ve learned that talking candidly before the cut has improved my experience tremendously.  It’s not easy, but the moment I sit in the chair I tell them I have alopecia, my hair is thin, and I’m aware.  With that information out, the stylist has permission to openly acknowledge what they’re working with.    

After years of experimentation I’ve found a one-length bob is the best starting point.  Some stylists might recommend layers for more volume but that doesn’t work on thin hair.  Too many layers can contribute to a “wispy” look.  Cutting it all one length makes the most of what’s there.  On me, I like chin length, keeping it light and less likely to weigh itself down. 

Toppik is your new best friend

Master the little pump attachment for the Toppik

Getting the hang of this takes some practice but makes the application of the fibers more precise.  It also helps direct all of the product to your head and not the floor/counter/your face. 

Toppik makes it easy and packages all three together over at their website, here

I have it on good authority some of the best tops-of-heads on Film and TV are actually clip in! 

A lot of people love “The Fall” by HaloCouture and it clips to the top of your head.  It blends seamlessly, has a natural looking part, and can be cut and dyed to match your natural hair.  Learning about the ubiquity of this thing made me feel so much better about being follicularly challenged.  It’s important to know when we’re looking at smoke and mirrors.  It’s also important to know we can employ them ourselves if we want to.

You can find a salon that carries these pieces at the halo couture website or you can get a custom bead in version from Dena’s mom, who makes her own pieces using all natural human hair, and can make them clip in or semi-permanent using non-damaging silicon beads. 

Spironolactone might make your hair grow.

It’s a pill.  You need a prescription, ideally from a Dermatologist specializing in hair loss/Alopecia.  I tried it, my skin was ethereal and my hair grew thicker.  I didn’t experience any negative side effects myself, but ultimately decided to discontinue my use of it because of the potential side effects.  But first, I grew my hair out one more time:

Embrace natural texture if you have it!

This one is easy and free! If you have natural texture, work with it! I regret my years of striving for pin straight hair.

Abigail Katsen Toner is an actor, writer, and recovering cynic fighting existential ennui in sunny Los Angeles where she lives with her husband, Liam.  She’s definitely going to start blogging soon. 

The Most Natural Looking Blush Ever - Blush Blending #nomorecontouring VIDEO

I am so sick of skin that looks like a mask. I love my freckles. I am even learning to love my pores (although I have to say I have shrunk them pretty significantly!)  While I hate the idea of calling anything a "no make-up, make-up look" because the syntax alone is like sandpaper on my soul, I am obsessed with the idea of make-up that is fun, beautiful and plays up things you like about yourself.

Look at your cheeks. Those plump little pillows that sit on your face. They do so much for you. They flush with joy, sexual tension, pleasure, naughty thoughts. They connect your smile from your lips to your eyes. They frame your eyes, give your lashes something to rest their heavy load on. They are the under-appreciated workhorse of the face. Nobody has ever said to me "You have beautiful cheeks." But I love my cheeks. I love swirling them with colors like a watercolor painting. I love layering and blending shades until I look flushed and fresh. That was how this look was born. Playing with colors. Not being able to choose what kind of pink I wanted and so deciding not to limit myself. I deserve ALL THE PINKS. All of them.

Think of this as the anti-contouring. The end result is what I look like after a day of proper hydration, lots of fresh leafy greens, exactly the right amount of kisses from my husband, and a great workout.


applied before the video:

applied during the video:
RMS Beauty Lip Color in Sacred (bright pink color)


Crop Tops For Everyone - Free the Belly Button #plussizefashion

Vintage Levi's**|  State of Being Gypsy Top | Super Thin Bangle | Tiniest Evil Eye Bracelet (sim) |  Clear Sunglasses (sim) | Tan courtesy of James Read Tan Express Bronzing Mousse | Marble Iphone Case

I will admit to feeling completely comfortable dressing sexy. Showing skin has never been something I shied away from. In addition to practical issues (I've always run hot, no pun intended, and find comfort in being well ventilated) I also enjoy the power that comes from owning my bodies feminine appeal.

In addition to my relative hotness,  I've always been pretty confident in my intelligence. Thanks to a good pattern spotting brain, some generous mimicking abilities thanks to a strong tendency to extroversion, and a close to eidetic memory I breezed through school. I was a vicious killer in class. Nothing brought me more pleasure than showing up to an all male, 600 level history seminar in short shorts and a normal fitting/tight-ish t-shirt. Watching the sexist pigs dismiss me and then quoting a passage from that week's reading verbatim to point out a way that They. Were. Wrong. Morons. When they grade on a curve you play every advantage in your arsenal right? Mine was my good-looking body. I'm an effing Bond villain. Stab them while they look down your shirt.

I also truly believe you can be hot, sexy and brilliant. And female. This is not the triangle of belief, that idea that certain ideas cannot all exist in tandem. This is the world, and if it were a  fair one - well, shoes would be free and I would not have cancer.

Sometimes my "sexiness" was unintentional. I wore the same styles and trends as my lithe, skinny friends but on me the styles became "pornographic". I'm not lamenting my mile long legs or my large chest - I'm just saying, I was born this way. Chesty girls are given two choices - hunch and hide and cover and conceal and basically burka their bodies or become sexy. There's not a ton of middle ground. Men get to run around shirtless whenever they feel like it! Free the nipple!

Even making the decision to post my mastectomy photos was challenging in this way. I wanted to create something beautiful, daresay stylish. Maybe even cool. But one thought lurking in the background was perfectly captured by one of my best friends, wise sage that she is. "How do you think the pictures will make people feel who aren't 5'10, long legged and genetically blessed like you?" (Obviously she meant in the looks department, not the illness department - that goes without saying) And it's true, there's enough hotness to go around. But I would never want to make someone else feel bad about their body - especially not a fellow hurricane cancer survivor.

Such is the double standard. We're all just knocking around here trying to feel good about ourselves but god forbid we do. Then we are narcissistic, selfie-obsessed and vain. How do we win?

I for one will continue to be sexy whenever I feel like it. When I do it, I do it for me. It's authentically me. I am a hot-blooded (that time it was intentional) creature who likes my body and will put whatever (or nothing at all) on my figure whenever I feel like it.

That said - I am a human female in the era of media. I have my own gigantic host of body issues, not the least of which is a constant battle with liking my "size" (large) and my belly (larger than I would like...)

The first time I ever watched pulp fiction, in the scene with Bruce Willis and the gorgeous french chick, when she strokes her stomach and says "I want a potbelly" my first thought was why? Should I be french? Should I move to France? Would they like me better there? Would I like me better there? Of course, she meant she wants to get pregnant (yes, I get that now, like on so many levels) but the idea that there was a place where my little tummy would be preferable to the flat stomachs adored by so many where I come from was revolutionary to my teenage self.

Of course, the irony is that now my stomach is flat. It's still not small (bone structure) but since I discovered that a whole host of foods do not sit well with me, I have for lack of a better word, depuffed. I love exercising now with a fierceness I lacked in my lazy youth. I don't drink as much alcohol. I look at pictures of my younger self and I say to her, "You gorgeous idiot. You didn't appreciate what you had when you had it." So now I try to. Now I dress sexy because I love my body. I do it for me. Not for the reactions it provokes in other people. Not for male attention (unless it's my husband, and he seems to dig me no matter what I wear.)

Enter the crop top. Something I never, never thought I would wear in my misspent youth. I thought no Dena, these are not for you. No matter how much you seem to be irrationally drawn to this particular style of abbreviated clothing this does not flatter you. Turns out I was wrong.

So please enjoy these shots of my "plus-size" belly button.

**Also, highly recommend you get a pair of vintage levi's tailored (yes, tailored!) like I did with these. I bought them to fit my waste and then had the leg's flattering tapered in. If you're in SF the downtown Levi's store has a tailor shop, and even though I wanted to go even more narrow in the legs I'm so glad I listened to her, she's a genius.

White Leather, Rose Gold and Flares

I once had a friend who swore up and down she would never, ever wear a jumpsuit. Flash forward 4 years and she was blogging about how universal the black, cross-over front crepe/jersey jumpsuit was - like an LBD with pants. I've never called her out on this, mostly because I know how capricious and ever-changing the "fashion" rules are. No matter how many editorials I read about how I shouldn't follow trends and I should find what works for me and blah blah blah blah. Forget it. I consume medie in massive quantities. I notice patterns. When ever blogger, model, celeb, actress and pinterest image I see has people wearing flares (and of course, the hubs is obsessed with them) I start to crave them. I dig out the pairs that have managed to survive endless closet purges. One is too bag, sagging on my under-squatted bottom and pooching around my waist. Pass. I dig out the perfect dark wash sevens I've had for almost 6 years. Still a little too small. (They're from 2010, when I worked in a building with a gym and then got my heart broken and shrunk to my all time smallest 28 - on second thought, these might need to go...)

Not to be daunted by my skinny-jean stuffed closet I venture to my two favorite places to dip my toe into a new trend. I start at my neighborhood thrift shop. It's got an amazing selection of NAME brand denim for like $25 each. My neighborhood is posh. If you don't live in a posh hood - find a thriftstore that is in one. Trust me, you won't regret it. Alas, the current selection (while it includes flares AND in my size) has all been hemmed well beyond the reach of 5'10, leggy frame.

Plan B. The Rack. It is there, in last season heaven, that I find the perfect pair. Dark but with some texture. Only the faintest whiskering (I hate whiskering!) and soft as butter. It fits tightly on my thighs, swooping down into the perfect rippling flair of fabric.

So what do I pair these puppies with for it's inaugural run. Here's where I get to dip into the bounty of my KonMari cleaned closet. That perfectly slouchy cream colored motorcycle jacket I got on super-sale from lucky. CHECK. My beloved white and rose gold minkoff**. Check. The classic and perfect Everlane  U-Neck tee (a steal at $18, just remember to size way down) also in cream. White shades from Alexander McQueen (also from The Rack!) and my vintage Swedish Hasbeens. I feel like I look good enough to pin.

What makes me love this outfit enough to write like 1,000 words on it (not to mention photograph myself in it!) is that it's classic but also special. It feels like me. I love moto jackets, rose gold anything, white, Everlane, looking like a slouchy, boho preppy and also my clogs. I am trying a new trend, something outside my comfort zone, but because it's surrounded by things I love, and which are so totally me, it feels like the first time I've worn flares and not been in costume. Not been wearing them just for my husband (sorry babe, that's love!) This outfit brings me joy because I feel like myself in it. But also like, hella fashion.

**Found it on Tradesy, even though it's sold out! In case you need this in your life

Olivia Palermo for Nordstrom Review: ITS DOPE

Olivia Palermo and I have similar figures - which is to say that she is like a super miniaturized and skinny version of me. But the fact remains - we both have broad shoulders, reasonably large breasts proportionate to our frames, and very long thin arms and legs. This means that OP is a great fashion role model for me. Her looks tend to scale up very nicely to my "plus" size frame and flatter my figure. It is from her my long-held obsession with thigh high boots took root, and also architectural shapes in very short skirts. She "lampshades" very well, playing with prints and patterns to flatter an inverted triangle like we are.

So it should come as no surprise that I am obsessed with her collection for Nordstrom. I should've known - OP plus Nordies would come up with something good. But collabs can go radically either way. Would the tailoring and fabrics reflect the paired down price tag? Just how much of her editorial shoot for the line was, um, editorialized. I decided to jump in with both feet and order the striped bustier top - in my opinion a standout and most lust-inspiring piece in the collection. Though it was paired often with the matching shirt, I could see how it would fit nicely into my recently paired down wardrobe. Bereft of "going out" tops that transitioned well from day to night and were not black. Also, reminscent of the "wear your shirt in weird ways" trend I've been noticing. At $78 it was either going to be the deal of the century or A HUGE DISASTER. Also, I used Nordstrom's True Fit app, and it told me to get a Medium - which is terrifying because I always get large - but I decided to trust the bot.

Fortunately for me it was better than I dared to hope. This top is AMAZING. The fabric is soft and crisp. It looks expensive, not cheap or shiny or synthetic. It has a fantastic white lining that is soft and comfortable, and also gives the top this awesome structured movement. The built in bustier is actually incredibly comfortable and tiny buttons are gorgeous. It fits pretty perfectly (other reviewers also commented on the generous bust) and they tiny gapping that always happens to me when button-down shirts fit was actually solved/covered by the belt. GENIUS. I am getting belts made for all my button down shirts.

I like the single button un-buttoned look (mimicking how OP wore it in the campaign) but also could get away with another button down (hello date night) or a button up (who knows, maybe I'll develop some kind of cleavage aversion in my later years) and it still looked amazing.

These celeb collabs sell out so check it out before it's gone.

Also, I put that new tanner on entire upper body about 6 hours before this photo shoot, put on zero make-up and I have to say, I am very impressed with the results.

Olivia Palermo for Nordstrom Striped Bustier Top |  Versa Spa Gradual Tanning Face Moisturizer  | Cap Toe Espadrilles (sim)

New Product Obsession: Gradual Tanning Face Moisturizer

As you know I am obsessed with sleep on it tanners that provide other benefits. The silky gel of the James Read Sleep Tan Mask introduced me to the possibility of a once a week treatment that would keep my face tan faux fresh and on pace with my body faux tan when I use retinols and cleansing brushes and other things that strip it down.

So when I was sent a new product to try I was skeptical. I have a product I love, nay obsess over. Could this possibly have a place in my routine?

Right away, I was intrigued by the eco speak. What is eco-cert DHA and erythrulose? Obviously, I need it to be Paraben free,  but gluten free, cruelty free and non-comedogenic? Sign me up.

The packaging had me skeptical. You guys know I am a pretty, minimalist packaging girl.  I do not love the leaf print or the teal. (sorry!) 

I love it so much I now use it on my entire upper body - here I am about 6 hours after applying it from the belly button up. No make-up, filters or photoshop. Amazing, right? 

But one pump of the dreamy, light as air cream had me reconsidering my snap judgment of the teal plastic. This felt good. It was much more substantial than the sleep mask, but in a good way. It was plumping, hydrating and rich when I put it on. My dehydrated skin lapped it up. Plus, itt had NO smell.  And while the sleep mask was subtle and gradual (usually taking a few nights till I notice a difference) with this product  I saw an difference in my face the next morning. 

Hubs told me I looked pretty and asked if I slept well (I didn't, I've had a nasty cold bug! I'm a puffy, snotty mess who wakes up every few hours and counts down till I can take more mucinex.) I spent the entire weekend with a naked face and looked amazing. You couldn't even tell I was dehydrated. I was sold. 

They say to use it everyday but for me at my current state of body tan once a week was more than enough. I will probably use this once a week when I put on my body faux tanner, and then my sleep tan mask once a week for a color refresh as I slough my face away faster than my bod.

Since both have other anti-aging benefits and I don't currently have any of my night cream, I can see this product subbing out for that as the summer months come along. Since my face hasn't felt a beam of sunlight without sunscreen in like, 5 years, I'm excited to have a super fast glow-getter in my shelfie. Especially because it's almost PALM PRINT SEASON..... 

Get your own:

Versa Spa Gradual Tanning Face Moisturizer 
State of Being Palm Print Dress
Stone Fox Sweat Palm Print Sports Bra 
The Auestate Giclee Palm Print Watercolor Painting 

The Coolest Boots Ever

You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'
and you keep losin' when you oughta not bet.
You keep samin' when you oughta be changin'.
Now what's right is right, but you ain't been right yet.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.
- Nancy Sinatra, These Boots Are Made for Walking

And they are soooo awesome they are back! This time with a modified, shorter blocky heel. These comfy, cool AF booties are timeless, the ultimate sleek but somehow feminine motorcycle boot. The super soft leather with wire reinforcement is awesome because it molds perfectly onto your ankles, especially great for chicken legs like me with big feet and dainty ankles. 

Get them this time before they are gone (they sold out super fast in the edition I have and I had to hunt them down like a mad stalker)

Photo Credit: Julia Tartan & Sequins

5 Steps to Fake Being Cool

I am not cool. I am like-able, occasionally funny, down for adventure and shameless - all of which make me fun to be around. Cool I am not. But I can fake it. It's easy, when you read as many blogs as I do and also have a penchant for pattern spotting (the cool kids call it taste-making or trendspotting, but again, me NO cool.) My mom is cool - her clothes keep popping up again reprinted by cool brands like The Reformation. It is from copying her that I learned that mimicking someone who is cool in a timely fashion is enough to make other people think you are cool. Fake it till you make it, right?

So I've broken down the trends I keep seeing everywhere in a predictive manner to help others without the time and/or wherewithal to do such all-consuming research themselves. I have highlighted some cool girl brands and also some basic steps. The over-arching theme is definitely "effortlessness" or "not caring" which of course, this list is the anti-thesis of. Fortunately, I don't care! Ha! So meta. Behold - five easy steps to fake cool this post-winter, pre-spring season.*

1)"No Effs Given Hair" - Hair should be shiny and textured (straight is a texture too!) but look effortless. For example, the tucking of hair into coats/scarves/turtlenecks is totally a thing right now because what says "trying" less than just shoving those strands into whatever garment is available. Don't believe me? Here's some evidence from Cup of Jo, Manrepeller, and Who What Wear

New Cool Girl Favorite Hair Brand: Ouai Clean Shampoo + Volume ConditionerOuai Texturizing Hairspray 

2) Colors should be subtle, shapes should be exaggerated. Coats that fall below the knee, bellow out to there, bell bottoms and bell sleeves (when it gets warm enough!) You had me at Statement Princess Sleeves, Vogue.

Until then I will rely on my trusty oversized camel tent to keep me warm and looking cool. Think Gigi, Patron Saint of the Oversized Camel Coat + Basics = Fashion Movement**.

C/MEO No Limit Peacoat (ON SALE! This is what I'm wearing) | The Reformation Carnaby Jacket (slightly shorter, brown buttons) | The Reformation Maxwell Coat (wrap style with belt, obsessed with, wish I owned)

3) "I woke up, brushes my teeth and ran out the door" skin. Nobody actually does but you can fake it. I'm obsessed with the smell and texture of this new sunscreen I found during a field trip so Sephora. It makes a lovely, bouncy surface that my beloved foundation glides over. Also BIG sunglasses. Covers a multitude of sins. Bonus points for bodacious brows (watch this brow trick to change your brow game like whoa)

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream | Suncare Yoghurt Nourishing Fluid Veil Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 | RayBan Flash Lenses in Copper  | Chosungah 22 Brow Maker  | Marvis Aquatic Mint Toothpaste (trust me, this delicious, indulgent beautifully packaged and all natural toothpaste is what they are using) 

4) Black, always black.

5) Sneakers. Again, with the "effortless" BS but still, a great pair of shoes is a great pair of shoes. As a lifelong sneakerhead I cannot hate on this particular trend. Ashley Graham (the super-model) says to Glamour "Throw on some Stan Smith's" and by gawd, I will. These shoes are the hotness and they are everywhere. YASSSS. I hope the athleisure trend never, never dies. In my world, it never will.

Adidas Stan Smith Black | Adidas Stan Smith Green (Note: Sizes are selling out super fast, I will try to update here as I can, but if you see your size don't wait! It happened to me and I was so sad... #FOMO)

* I made this up, we don't really have "seasons" in SF so we do what we want. yay for army jackets!
**I find this hilarious because to me oversize camel coats have always been capital F Fashion, see 90s Kate Moss, 50s Audrey Hepburn, 60s Katherine Deneuve etc etc.

New Videos are Up!!

PREDICTION: Thick Soled Espadrilles Will Be THE Spring 2016 Shoe

To be honest, they were kind of the spring/summer shoe of 2015 also but the pair I wanted sold out super fast (and was probably pricier than they needed to be!) This year, when I spotted these perfect, reasonably priced beauties,  I pre-ordered them. Nothing like FOMO to get that card out of cold storage.

The thing about these shoes is that they have this illusive sweet spot of being casual but also cute. They're trying a little, but not too hard. The little details are really spot on - the tassels at the end of the ankle wrap, the extra thick toe-band, the bulk of the platform.The gestalt of this shoe comes off as very Jeanne Damas to me. Also, their thickness makes your ankles look delicate and impossibly thin.

They also don't clomp when you walk.

I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they were right out of the box (my other espadrilles required some painful breaking in) and they work with skinny jeans and shorts/skirts/dresses.

I  have been taking full advantage of the freaky warm weather to wear them nonstop ever since. Seriously, get yours before they sell out.

Splendid Edna Flat $88 | Formula X She Better Werk Polish

Ways in Which I Resemble My Dog (or Vice Versa)

To those who find us good looking we are incredibly so - almost irresistablly cute and/or gorgeous. Definitely striking. Big moony dark-colored eyes, with a tilt that makes them look exotic in our otherwise European faces. Shiny chestnut coats and adorable freckling. 

Those who do not find us so appealing do so for the same reason - too big, too chesty. A curvy and muscular figure with long athletic limbs extending from a robust torso. Always smiling, or pouting or begging for affection, never neutral. 

Sleep is something we do with our faces smooshed so aggressively into the pillow that the skin of our lips fold into adorably unappealing shapes. Yes, he always sleeps with his head on a pillow whenever possible.  We also both hate being photographed sleeping, unless we are fake sleeping and posing. 

If one truth could be said of both of us it is this - we know how to work our angles for the camera, much to the chagrin of a population over-exposed to our stunning visage. In need of constant snuggling, cuddling, stroking, words of affirmation and treats, we consume attention with the same voracity we reserve for bacon and good cheese. 

Our preferred position for existence is lying on top of someone we love. There is no limit to the amount of time we can spend lolling around in bed and we have been known to build little nests for ourselves with our favorite toys (mine of the Apple variety, his of the stuffed.)

So many kisses are required to appease us that providing them could be considered a job, or at the very least a strong extra curricular. We prefer them on the mouth, but will accept cheek if it is our only option. PDA phases us not at all. 

 We love long walks on the beach, lying by the pool and sparkling water (yes, him too.) Bandanas are our favorite accessory, followed at a close second by festive Xmas headgear. 

Lack of exercise makes us horribly bored and prone to cause trouble. 

We are both terrible hoarders, who like to hide our most important stuff in places we can never find them again (him, food under pillows, me everything else.) 

We are both cancer survivors - as well as delicate flowers host to innumerable and expensive medical ailments of the tummy, skin and bones, all of which we bare with good humor and asking only for presents and to be held as often as possible. 

When we love someone we do so blindly, whole-heartedly and with endless devotion. If you mess with our people we will end you, and by that I mean make horrible noises with our mouthes until you wish you were dead. We are both, at the end of the day toothless pacifists. 

Banishing Bacne

I've battled bacne for most of my life - hormones, acne, chemo, suppressed immune system, more hormones, exercise, laziness, a general dislike for showering... You name it, I've blamed it. But I've also learned how to get it under control. Here's my easy 3 step plan for prepping - I try to start a week or two before I know I am going to be showing my back. Best case scenario I'll keep this routine up during the summer (although a little bit of sunshine will dry up my back and keep it pretty clean for the bikini months.)

1) No dairy or gluten: Both of them cause serious body breakouts for me. It's hard but worth it.

2) Alba Acnedote Body Scrub: I put this on like a mask, first thing as soon as I get in the shower. Leave it on the whole time, give it a last minute scrub, and rinse right before I get out.

3) Neutrogena Body Clear Body Spray: A spritz before my lotion and I'm good to go.

Outfit: L'Academie Cami Blouse | Asics Gel Fit Sana

Review: Everlane Modern Silk Point Collar White Button Down

White silk is both a staple and a luxury. Done well it goes with everything, from cutoffs to a pantsuit (not that I would ever wear that but some people do, right?) and because silk is a soft natural fabric it's someone magically both warm and cool as needed. It helps elevate an outfit that would otherwise be basic into something simple and elegant. It's fluid while still having a structured, classic feel. When it's done right it will be the ultimate shirt - the one you reach for again and again.

This one is really good.

First off the white is perfect. I hate saying things like that but bright white is hard - it can be the most flattering or unflattering color depending on something that happens beyond the spectrum of colors I can actually see. All I know is this one works with a faux tan as well as it does with my olive-tinged but still pale winter skin.

The fabric is light and silky but somehow substantial. I felt like it smoothed over lumps and bumps but still held up to a good tuck. It also steamed beautifully into a creaseless milk-like smoothness that lasted the entire night.

Like all Everlane shirts,  it runs large. I decided to use my knowledge acquired from their shirts and go way down, to a small. Considering I am 5'9 and 155 pounds this was a big risk but it fit perfectly. With some hem tape to ensure my movements didn't create a button-gap and the help of a thoughtfully designed placket over the buttons.

I'm resisting my hoarder urge to buy one in every color (strongly coveting the black one!) but if you buy through my link and it's your first time we both get hooked up. Just saying :) In my newly refined wardrobe I see this perfect piece getting a lot of play (since I unearthed from the depths of lesser, non joy-sparking white blouses)

Everlane Modern Silk Point Collar $78 | Tiny Happy Face Necklace $18

VIDEO: The Best Easiest Brow Trick Ever from The Beauty Department

"Brow game on fleek." Those are the words that define eyebrows in the twenty tens. But how do you get Cara-like brows if you weren't genetically blessed with lush eye framing fringe? I've tried everything to plump up my post-chemo sparseness (with and without natural brows to work with) and I tell you this right now - nothing, NOTHING, has changed my game as hard as this simple, easy trick I just found on The Beauty Department. Using only my crappiest, cheapest eye pencil (I wont even link to it here because it is a waxy, thick unnatural nightmare which is why I have it - I never use/lose it)

and of course my beloved Glossier Boy Brow  -

I got serious, and most importantly natural looking, beefed-up brow game.

Check out the results below and then watch me work brow magic. On Fleek! On Fleek!

Get More Awesome Beauty Tutorials at The Beauty Department 

A New Quest: At Home Hair Game

I have a beauty routine that is pretty locked down. I've refined, tweaked and adjusted until I have a routine that makes me feel beautiful, pampered, indulged and balanced. I've calmed the post-chemo orange peel texture, figured out an emergency response when I abuse my fragile system, banish an unwanted blemish, and hacked my mask game. In the aftermath of the great Tidiness Purge of 2016 it's become apparent that I had so much to get rid of that all my good stuff was hiding, but the bathroom was actually the room that only generated a measly half a garbage bag (mostly from under the sink where I banish testers, empty bottles I used to hoard, boxes for products I like, etc.  In the absence of all that excess I can actually truly see what I am missing... And the answer shocked me.

I no longer know how to wash my own hair. I mean, physically I can do it - but in the end it's a greasy, limp mess. It looks like I have split ends (I don't - I see my mother the hairdresser every week, she would never let it happen) and even dandruff. I went through a phase (post-surgeries) where my hair was falling out by the hand ull. Most likely a combination of stress, anesthesia and not brushing or washing my hair for over a week at a time. But just in case I did a total hair product purge. I dumped everything. I replaced them with the highest rated organic products for hair loss. Lot's of ugly cream colored bottles with bright green leaves and big words like collagen and biotin.

And that's where we find ourselves. With me feeling incredibly disappointed with my shower situation and the hair that comes out of it. Since I've started exercising again my hair no longer holds up to the once a week salon trip blow dry plan that has sustained me for the last 6 months of recovery. These organic unicorn products are not giving me hair I can work with.

So I need a new shampoo and conditioner, and I'm a little bit excited about the process of finding one!  know my mother will have a lot to say about this and probably whisk me away to the Beauty Supply store when she reads this, and I hope to come back with the true unicorn of shampoo/conditioners. Amazing for the hair but minus the exorbitant price tag.
I confess to being intrigued by the new line from celeb fave Jen Atkin, which sounds amazing and just dropped yesterday. Bonus points for the amazing packaging...

 If you have any recommendations or want to weigh in let me know in the comments below... And until then, get ready for a lot of updos....

Bandana Stories - Recovering from KonMari cleaning our apartment

I love bandanas. I've spent the last two days doing a major overhaul, touching every single thing I own and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. I love stuff but I was starting to feel the burden of all the things, pressing in on my life and making me feel slow and heavy.

Obviously I turned to the KonMari method (more on that coming soon) which means I spent serious time sending love and energy into my objects and then deciding which ones were still giving them back to me. I thanked the ones that brought me joy but I had outgrown, hauling an SUV (including front passenger and back seats) stuffed to the brim with garbage bags to the salvation army. A second one went to the dumpster. If you're counting at home that's over 30 bags of stuff, (I finished a brand new box of garbage bags) and afterwards instead of feeling bereft I felt overwhelmed. I have so many good memories in my life, and touching the objects reconnected me with them.

At the end of the great purge I felt like I actually had more, better things - things I had forgotten, things that were hiding under things I didn't need anymore or that no longer brought me that spark of joy. I thanked a lot of things for teaching me what didn't suit me and then threw them mercilessly into a garbage bag. I did it with the hubs, who loves holding onto things for guilt more than he loves things and now has a closet that looks like a Hayes valley boutique.

I learned that I actually love folding, after having spent my whole life thinking I didn't - just because I didn't know how to do it right. Folding something and having it stand up on it's own is a simple, hard to explain pleasure that I hope you will all find someday.

One of the things to survive this purge was one slimmed down vintage bandana in maraschino cherry red.  The humble and brightly printed square of fabric brought me so much joy, and as it figures, continues to do so. I've worn them as bracelets recently, but yesterday for brunch I dared to venture out with one tied jauntily around my neck. I loved it.

I think it connects to the stories of the times I've worn bandanas and how it's tied into a sense of playfulness, fun and adventure  - summer camp, skiing, costumed adventures - each one a precious jewel in my memory box. 

There was the time my friends and I dressed up as the Oregon trail for Bay to Breakers - chanting proudly about manifest destiny as we trooped wear across the city towards the ocean. Our own slightly nerdy but very clever joke.

When I got my first bandana award (I think it was for picking up trash) at Camp Jones Gulch, followed shortly after by my first slow dance with a boy. I still remember the thin strapped Delia's tank top I paired it with for the dance, and how the brazeness of showing my shoulders made me feel bold and feminine.

I promise to report back honestly on if this this tidiness magic holds (if it doesn't I feel that I will have only myself to blame for not being ruthless enough in my purging) but right now I am proud to say that I eliminated THREE shelving units - drawing my clothes back into the closet from where they spilled out into the hall.

Unlike previous purges I feel completely free of an urge to replace things I shed. I don't feel deprived, or lacking in anything. I'm excited to wear my clothes and looking forward to getting my laundry back for once (instead of dread at the putting away process!)

I'm far from a capsule wardrobe, but everything in my closet now fits me, is free of rips and stains, and fills me with joy when I touch it. Even my little bandana.

Also wearing: La Roche Posay SPF 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk