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.)
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...
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...
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.
Olaplex is the latest scientific breakthrough to shake up the beauty world. This salon-only treatment is a three step process that enables things that were heretofore considering impossible to do without disintegrating the hair! This includes super high level lifts (hello gorgeous Asian Blondes) and perming + bleaching (which before would literally cause the hair to snap off!)
How is such a miracle performed? Science, obvi.
Olaplex describes itself as a "bond multiplier" that works by “reconnecting broken disulfide sulfur bonds in the hair.” Simply put, hair coloring breaks the hair - Olaplex protects/fixes these breaks. Step one is an additive that's put into the color. It needs a developer, the same way that hair color does but can be used with 0 lift** (bleach free) in order to minimize damage even further. Then a second and third step is added about 10 minutes apart after the color is removed. You finish by shampooing, conditioning and styling your hair as usual.
In about 20 extra minutes (and for about $30 extra dollars depending on how much hair you have) you can transform dry, cracking hair into soft, virgin feeling hair. It's magic.
If you're in SF my mama is offering the treatment now at her salon. Mention this blogpost and add in your first Olaplex for only $10 with color (coloring is additional, sorry guys!) or $25 for just the Olaplex. 415 - 235-2338 to book (her name is Kathy)
**Developer is available in increments of 10 from 0 - 40 with 40 lift being the highest and able to lift hair somewhere between 5-7 shades, depending on the additives. Those blue bleaching powders can lift up to 7 shades when mixed with 40. Hair coloring and perming is some serious chemistry kids, pay attention in science class.
Here's what I have realized - when it comes to the photos from your dear friends weddings where you will be immortalized for all eternity, it's best to stick with your natural hair color. I can just hear the ghosts of children future "Mommy why is your hair yellow at Auntie Gabi's wedding." So before I go back to land of the sultry and exotic brunette a I'm taking a pitstop at planet purple (coming soon) and also doing some deep conditioning and hair restoring on the way. But first a tribute to the blonde. I'll miss you golden beach tips.
Yes, I love to workout, probably more than most people do. It's something I discovered in my early twenties and it has only grown in it's ferocity over time. That said, there are still mornings (like this) when I wake up exhausted. My back hurts. My bed has swallowed me like the heavenly puff of soft linen that is, forming perfectly to my shape. There's a puppy paw pinning me down, his body curled into my belly in exactly the right way. It is on those days I call on these reserves to motivate myself. To drag me from the warm bosom of comfort and out into the cold (or swelteringly hot) world. I can't remember the last time I regretted going, but sometimes I need more than that.
Exercising as hard and as often as I do is how I prove to myself that I am not going to die anytime soon. The fact that I am living with Stage IV metastatic cancer is not something I forget, it's just something I live around. It still defines my life in a thousand subtle and not so subtle ways every single day. Missing out on fun things to go to chemo. Explaining every single time I take a new exercise class that I need to make modifications because less than a year ago they cut a chunk out of my body and then opened and closed me up, twice. Telling new friends in a new city. Remembering to take a gazillion pills everyday.
The fact that I drag my butt to these torturous workouts, sweating and panting and hurting, is how I prove to myself that I am actually healthy. That this serial killer that lives inside of me is under control. Fear of dying is how I drag myself to class, how I push myself to go harder.
I like things. I am not ashamed to admit this. I am a maximalist. I am more likely to do something if it involves the acquisition and use of things I like. Cute workout clothes, shoes and other gear are a strong motivator for me. There is something akin to triumph when I feel my shoes (or my sticky socks, or the thighs of my workout pants) give out and I know I've worked them so hard that I've earned a fresh pair.
My current obsessions are these dope slip ons from Reebok (I mostly do barefoot or spin shoe workouts so that's how I justified these cuties for wearing to and from class) and these amazing headphones my husband gave me, which have incredible sound, are super comfortable on my ears, and of course, match.
There is nothing like a $10 late cancel fee to get my tush out of bed. I don't know why this is so effective on me, but it is. My beloved clothes not fitting is a close second, followed by the fact that they weigh me every single time I go to the doctor. I hate myself for caring but I do.
Walking to and from a workout class is when I will allow myself to listen to the same song over and over again on repeat. There's usually one song that is the only song I want to listen to at any given point in time. Knowing this is not socially acceptable, I will only indulge in the "repeat one" as a motivator to get up and get moving. I will also use the lure of discovering new songs (workout classes are a prime source of playlist repeat fodder) as a motivator for the times when I am sans repeat song and looking for that next fix.
Everlane shirt | Etsy Lee Cutoffs (remember when I broke them in?) | JCrew Thin Metallic Blush Barrette ($10) (also seen here)
True confession time. Even before my doctor told me I couldn't wear anti-perspirant I had stopped wearing it. I don't like how they smell, how they feel (moist and powdery? WHY?) or how they look. They fail on all fronts in the trifectas of how I rate products that make it into my life. But Dena, I know you are thinking - what about how you smell? What about the fact that um, they do something. TBH nobody has ever noticed. Nobody has ever once told me (or made a face or implied in any way) that I smell bad. When I tell people I am deo-free they are shocked or disbelieving, and I'm pretty sure they aren't faking. Intrigued? Here's what I think helps me pull this off...
1) I only wear natural fabrics like cotton, linen or silk when I wear things with sleeves. I usually opt for sleeveless when it's hot to let things breathe. This Everlane shirt is a personal favorite because the silk is so breathable and comfortable but also it's cut loose and airy around the armpits. The circulation of air is key to preventing the growth of the bacteria which is what makes sweat smell bad, so if the sweat evaporates quickly those suckers don't have time to grow. Breathable, natural fabrics don't trap the sweat so the bacteria has nowhere to fester and produce that "BO" smell.
2) My armpits are hairless. I had them lasered years ago with only the thinnest, finest baby hairs still left. I can usually tell when I need a touchup because I'll get a whiff of that BO smell.
3) If I am wearing something with the potential to grow the bacteria, I'll spray some perfume there. The alcohol base is anti-bacterial (think hand sanitizer) and the perfumes smell masks anything that isn't killed, plus it wafts off the body in a very natural way. I prefer to spray the clothes themselves instead of the skin, but will occasionally hit the skin. I carry atomizers with me for touchups.
4) If, on the handful of occasions something untoward is happening, I will go to the bathroom and just wash my pits. Seriously, soap + water + paper towels. Judge me all you want, but your side eye isn't going to make me sweat *anymore*.
I want three things from my products: beautiful smells, beautiful texture, beautiful packaging. Oh, and effectiveness and natural/healthy ingredients. That's five. It doesn't seem like too much to ask though. Right now, as I basically cross country commute and switch between climates and spend way too much time in air conditioning and humidity I am all about the balancing power of flower essences. They help normalize my skin as I abuse it, switching water types, drying it out and sweating and doing all kinds of other heinous things to it. Plus they smell amazing and look how gorgeous this packaging is! Petal soft skin can also be yours. Give me this bouquet over flowers any day. Ok, I'm done with the puns :)
Anese Smells Like Queen Spirit Hair & Body Mist (20% off your first order when you use my link)
French Girl Organics Rose Lip Scrub & Rose Body Silk
Glossier Milky Jelly Face Wash & Mist (20% off your first order when you use my link)
Herbivore Travel Sized Rose Hibiscus Face Mist
Rose Gold Stool | Copper Pitcher | Banana Leaves
This is my everyday go to - a super quick and easy natural daytime look using only Glossier's cool girl essentials for a dewy and youthful glow. It's quick, easy and I barely needed a mirror. I think there might be some kind of witchy magic involved.
Highlighter is definitely a thing right now so it seemed the best possible moment to share places I love to highlight that are not on my face. These easy spots - collarbones, top of shoulders, top of shin - benefit so much from some highlighting that I swear it turns "boring shirtdress" into "what is Sofia Loren doing in Chicago?" in just a few swipes.
To get this look I used Haloscope Topez on shins & shoulders, plus Haloscope Quartz on my collarbone. As always, 20% off your first order with my links. Have a very dewy weekend!
Striped Midi Dress | Fringed Sandals | Vintage Clutch
I love a good DIY, which is where this style came from but finding a button shirt that fits me is way harder than you might think. The thought of then maiming it to become a dress is horrifying. Fear not, there is plenty premade to be found, like this one adorned with adorable rose patches whitch match the rose balm dot com (on lips and cheeks!)
Off Shoulder Shirt Dress with Roses (also available sans roses)
If you do have a spare men's shirt lying around and dying to DIY this one from A Pair and A Spare is the one to follow (easy enough but also SOOOO cute.)
Either way the easy breezy style is perfect for a hot summer.
Don't gorget to shimmer those shoulders!
Fringed Sandals | Miu Miu Sunglasses
All The Hottest Highlighters of 2016 - Haloscope vs. RMS Living Lumizer vs. Skin Fetish 003 vs Bobbi Brown
THE GOLDEN GLOWS
Best Stick/Cream Formula: Glossier Haloscope in Topaz
Best Powder: Bobbi Brown Bronze Glow
When it comes to these two I can't imagine not having both. The cream goes on smooth and moisturizing with a striking copper finish that golden, but not orange. The powder provides a sheerer was of the pigment and is actually much subtler. However, layered together (balm, then powder) you get a glow that's going to last all night - even with humidity or dancing all night.
Since I'm pretty tan these really blended right into my skin, but paler girls are obsessing over the topaz color which acts as a blush/bronzer/glow highlighter that makes their skin look chiseled and dewy.
THE PINK GLOWS
BEST CREAM: Bobbi Brown Highlighter in Sterling Nights
BEST POWDER: Bobbi Brown Pink Glow
When it comes to pink glows, I'm a big fan of this universally flatter flush that best mimics a sultry night in tropical paradise after kissing a hot boy. There's flush, there's highlighter, there's cheekbones on fleek. Again, I like to use the cream for precision and then the powder for a subtle way to set it that will last all night long.
THE WHITE/Naked GLOW
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz & RMS LIVING LUMINIZER
I can't choose between these two, I just cant. Both impart a natural dewiness that just looks like you completed a juice cleanse while bathing in the milk and golden powder everyday. Subtle, healthy glow. I think I like the stick application and plastic packaging of the Haloscope more (meaning I will use it more) than the glass post from RMS (of which I have already broken two???) Both are gorgeous and seem to contain the same natural ingredients. Haloscope is about $13 cheaper but I can't attest to which one will last longer because my RMS (when unbroken) lasts forever.
NOTE: I included Skin Fetish In here for comparison, but since it's sold out forever I decided not to rank it in the standings. The balm side of the stick is probably the most natural of the whole lot, while the highlighter is comparable to a heavy application of the Quartz Haloscope (although slightly drier in feel) The powder provides an amazing holographic effect which would put it in the pinks, but a much less natural version of the above.
Do you remember the running gag from the movie 27 Dresses? I just watched it again on HBO Go, it really holds up. But back to the gag - it's the old bridesmaid trope. "It's a great dress right? You can totally wear it again." And of course each outfit is just more ridiculous then the next (remember the scuba suit?)
I think that movie had a really big impact on me because now I find myself using weddings as an excuse to splurge on things I really love. Then I have to justify to myself the cost by finding creative ways to lower the cost per wear. I find this especially true for accessory splurges - shoes, purses and now... The capelet.
I love this capelet. I was utterly smitten. I tried to find something comparable but less pricey in the wild wild west of the internet (etsy) but everything I found looked cheap or didn't have whatever magic thing this capelet has. It was as minimalist and clean lined So, I had to shift the paradigm. Instead I decided, I would make the casual capelet a thing. So I did.
And it was perfect.
My delicate flowerness has been causing some heat related sensitivity, and I left my sunscreen on the boat, and I needed a light, breezy topper to shade my shoulders that wouldn't leave me smoldering. This was temperature perfect. It's the perfect blush lilac. It's so freaking fun.
I'm not sure if it was the capelet or just how much I was feeling myself, but people smiled at me as I
I'm not saying you need this capelet, I am just saying you might need something that makes you as happy and is as pure fun as this is to me. Whatever the equivalent is for you. And not just for special occasions like weddings.
Face: Stretch Concealer in Dark, Balm Dot Com in Cherry both by Glossier | Ditto Endless Sunglasses by Miu Miu | Reformation Capelet | L'Acadmie Camisole | Vintage Levi's