And because they transition from summer to prefall (whatever the eff that is) to fall fall to slippers for around the house, all while making you feel like a sporty/cool version of a 50's pinup. Also they give your feet little hugs and unlike arch-support-less slippers or flipflops these mold to your feetsies so they make your whole body feel good. Did I mention they were designed by badgirl RiRi? If that doesn't convince you IDK, I give up.
I know GASP, this is just crazy! But hear me out? Recently I've been having like, tectonic plate level action on my chin causing an ongoing cluster of breakouts. The rest of my skin is stunning and does not want a heavy dose of foundation. What's a girl to do? I tried just using foundation on my chin but it was a nightmare - it looked like I was a puppet, or like I dipped half my face in something. People kept trying to wipe my chin for me.
So I started just using concealer, and that was ok, but I could really see the places that had that uniform makeup look. It felt like I was just drawing even more attention to the spots. So almost by accident, I decided after I had put my concealer on to revisit the Glossier Skin Tint everyone raves about that I could never quite figure out. Lo and behold, when put on after my heavy, full-coverage concealer it became a wonder that blended the spots in, evened out my skin tone, and imparted a dewy shine. All without greying out my freckles or looking gross.
Then, as if by magic, my friend asked me if I had tried the concealer after foundation thing. I was like WHOA, spooky, this must mean I need to write a blog post about this. So now you know my creative process. Seriously I take requests.
I remember this slip dress thing in the 90s. It was not figure friendly. Even if you are comfortable going sans bra (which I like, totally am) there are still other things that need to be taken care of. Ideally in a comfortable, smoothing, effortless and flattering way. That's not asking for too much right?
Well, if you are comfortable going sans bra (hint: the trick is in the fit of the garment, the right tailoring or looseness will eliminate most concerns) then I highly recommend a pair of reusable pasties. They come in a variety of colors, and when you match your skin tone, become invisible even under a white, crepe slip dress. The trick is the material which almost creepily feels like skin, but is light and breathable and moves with your body when on.
When paired with a set of nude high waisted boy shorts (with a little support, sorrynotsorry) you have the perfect underpinnings for what should be impossible to wear, a white slipdress.
Here's the thing - I have freckles. So if I try to go for that poreless, airbrushed look I end up looking freakish. The freckles do not want to be hidden. They do not like it. They revolt. So I have had to learn how to get all the things I want from my complexion without the aid of full coverage. You guys don't know how lucky you have it.
Half of it is just in finding the right formula and color. But the other half is definitely in the application and the tools. The beauty blender has basically changed my life because it allows me to get what I can from product, namely evening out my color, eliminating redness and spots, and imparting a healthy, dewy glow. It also lets me use less product, and helps it last for longer.
How it does it do all these magical things? Well, like all things in the beauty world it breaks down to science (which is why the knockoffs don't work as well!) The porous, synthetic, patented material has a unique surface that grabs onto product, leaving just the right amount behind. So the trick might actually be thinking about using your blender to remove your makeup, not put it on.
The tapping method is really about using the blender to blot the product away, leaving behind the thinnest possible layer so it looks the most like natural skin. The addition of water (or in my case, mist) melts the product into your skin and helps the blender to leave a little bit less behind for a fuller coverage effect. The mist is actually what helps the product to stay on longer (got to love that melting!)
Watch the video to see exactly how I do it, and remember these rules: 1. Never Never Smear - smearing with the blender is basically useless. It just spreads the product around. In order to take advantage of the blender's magic texture you need to blot on the face. Use the broad side for big areas and the tip for precision and for blending things like concealer. Smearing not only wastes product, it looks unnatural. 2. Tap Tap Tap - imagine you're blotting out a stain on a delicate fabric. In fact, always treat your skin like delicate fabric. When you blot with the blender apply a light but deliberate force to lift to product up - like you would if you were trying to rub out a stain. Then repeat all over your face.
3. You can always add more, but it's soooo hard to take it off - I like to start with a very small amount and tap it all over. If I need more, I will apply just to those areas, this let's my skin shine through.
4. Clean your blender often - I don't feel like I need to explain this one but just don't let it get gross. It will last longer with regular cleaning and it wont make you break out! 5. Practice makes perfect - Once you finally unlock the magic it is so so worth it!
I've been growing my eyebrows out since the end of April. Every time I google it, or look it up in pictures, I see great before and after shots but never the process of during. I've realized this is where most people stumble. Because they think "Oh, this hair is so low below my brow bone it won't matter if I pluck it!" But they are wrong. So very, very wrong. Growing your eyebrows out is like growing your hair out - there's a heinous, awkward, unavoidable part in the middle and apparently nobody else wants to take pictures of it and put it on the internet. The new growth starts so low it feels like it's basically coming from your eyelid. You want so so bad to pluck it. It grows longer leaving a beached section of stubby little hairs separated by a noticeable trough of skin poking through. This is when most people give up, this is when it becomes hard, this is when the lure of the tweezers is unavoidable and men start asking what's going on with your facial hair situation. THIS IS WHEN YOU MUST PERSEVERE. Pencil it in. Use a brow tint.** It's only a month and then suddenly your brows are amazing and thick and on fleek or whatever. Power on.
I did not set out to take these pictures but found myself compiling them for a friend who didn't understand why her growing out wasn't working. It's because those "low hairs" were the sproutlings of the thick hair she wanted. They just needed time to reach their destiny.
**Full disclosure: I used some latisse on my brows during the month of June in an attempt to speed the process. I'm not sure it did anything since the hairs seemed to grow faster in July/August when I ran out and stopped using it. Not enough data to make a full conclusion on if it's worth it.
When did glossy lips fall out of Vogue? The mid 2000s? The 2010s? Slowly, without realizing it was happening, the beloved sticky glosses of my early teens through 20s began to be replaced with matte pencils, matte lipsticks, even matte lip balms (hello beloved balm.com that imparts moisture without a hint of shine or gloss.) How ironic that a brand called "Glossier" would be the purveyor of my favorite host of matte products? But I digress, as is my custom.
As I peruse the blogs, everyone from Refinery29 to Into the Gloss is slowly starting to herald the return of the glossy lip. And why not? Gloss gives lips volume, it is sparkly, it is fun and youthful. My husband wont kiss me if my lips have even a hint of balm, so why not go full bore and slick on the beloved thick and pout enhancing glosses of my youth? The answer is there is no reason.
So it's back.
Here I am wearing a super fun color from Smith & Cult Lip Gloss (yes I love the name) in a color aptly named Life in Photographs. Why so apt? Because it bestows upon the wearer a photographically pleasingly apparent shine, with the added benefit of a plump pouty effect that I think looks amazing in pictures. See evidence above. It is as thick and glossy as the formulas of my youth but not sticky, if that makes any sense at all. It does feel like I'm wearing something (perhaps a coat of armor against the dryness of cooling temperatures?) but my lips don't stick together, or to my hair for that matter.
I can't wait to try out other formulas (there's a lot of oil based versions making their way down the pipeline!)
PRO TIP: If you line the outside of your lips with concealer on a little brush it creates a barrier that prevents the gloss from sliding all over the place. I didn't do that hear but I read about and I plan to try it soon.
Now that I am "commuting" from Chicago to San Francisco every third week for treatment, I've realized just how much I have a tendency to overpack. That may not seem shocking to anybody, but it was a shock to my back the first time I tried to do the roundtrip and could barely limp my way to ride share pickup stand because my heavy bags were more than my body could stand.
The first and most obvious solution was to pack less, and I am growing increasingly better at that**, but the next step was to upgrade my luggage. I knew what I wanted - a battery, something light, four direction wheels, good compartment organization and all with a sleek look I wouldn't mind living out of and a price tag that wouldn't break the bank.
As I began to do my online research, one brand started to stand out. Created by two Warby Parker alum, this suitcase was being touted as the suitcase by Vogue. It was showing up with it's distinctive label in the back of photos of my favorite bloggers. It was $225, pricing it well below similar offerings and it had a 30-day money back return policy.
I was determined to put it through the ringer, to really vet it.
Challenge 1: two weeks at home, carry on only, going from warm napa wedding to frosty SF and back again - with a social calendar so packed I am still recovering.
I stuffed this thing so full I thought the zipper would give out for real. I paired it with a duffel bag for my "personal item" which I filled with all my beauty goodies and electronics - making it about as heavy as my roller bag.
I woke up late for my very early morning flight and had to sprint through the airport to make my gate. The bag not only held up (and saved me time closing it!) but the wheels were awesomely balanced and I could sprint with my heavy duffel propped on top without fear of tipping over. I could charge my phone, I could fit everything in every single time I moved locations. I was sold.
The compression system is frankly awesome. That little board really let's you overpack by making it possible to squeeze a few extra bulky items on top. The hard side compartment is shockingly deep and fun to fill. The laundry bag was a godsend, and also somehow magically still fit everything once it was half crumpled balls of clothes and half folded things. The zipper survived my overpacking, and I found the pull design especially pleasant for my chemo-damaged hands. My only complaint is that the pull out handle can be a little sticky - but I am willing to forgive this because everything else is so much better than I ever hoped a suitcase could be at the $225 price point.
First off let me say I love slides. LOVE. I hate flip flops - the way they feel between my toes, how my foot aches from gripping my toes all day, that callous that develops, the inelegant way they chop up the foot. When slides came back in fashion and I could rebuy my beloved Adidas Adilette (a high school favorite worn often to and from soccer practice) I was filled with the kind of joy that only comfortable shoes can bring a woman.
Needless to say I was all over these fur slides when I saw them, going so far as to pre-order them in pink and black from an enabler online shoe boutique.
Lo and behold when they came I was not disappointed. They boast the comfortable, form to your foot bed of my beloved adidas but with a fleece lined top that feels luxurious on my toes (and of course, the fur which is surprisingly wearable with all the outfits one would also feel comfortable wearing sports sandals with, ie not to work.)
I went so far as to match my pedicure to my sandals (OPI Hearthrob, a juicy sheer true pink) because these are the only shoes I want to wear.
A few tips - they are selling out everywhere so if you want them, now is the time to pull the trigger. Also, they run big, so order 1/2 size down.
I first started using Retinol at the ripe old age of 20. I had a friend who was a dermatologist and she told me, "Dena, if you learn only one thing from me it should be this - skin works better when you prevent it from wrinkling and sagging instead of trying to fix it later. Start using a retinol now and in 20 years you will thank me."
She urged me to start with a mild formula - the Neutrogena acne/aging which has since been replaced by this one. So I did. A few years later I upgraded to the blue prescription Tretinoin (Retin A) at .05% for my adult acne. I was maybe 26. That was 8 years ago.
So, while I remember the purge anecdotally, mostly I remember being warned that my skin would peel. That pimples would pop up, massive suckers that were hanging out below the surface and waiting for a special occasion to arrive like a dreaded, uninvited guest. Those evil jerks would now be forced to the surface. That was good. It would mean it was working.
I was told to stick with it. It would be worth it. And for awhile it was. My skin was glowing and clear, smooth and relatively blemish free. It was awesome.
Then I started chemo and my skin fell apart again. I ended up on another prescription - Epiduo - this one a combination of benzoyl peroxide and a different form of retinol. It worked for what was ailing me then, a kind of acne that was caused by all the crazy chemical things happening in my body.
Then a few weeks ago it stopped working again. The acne came back big and bad and painful. Enough for some cortisol shots. Enough for the dermatologist to put me on the .1% Retin A. (This time "you can get benzoyl peroxide from lots of places, let's try a stronger retinol," my new doctor says.)
And so, almost 15 years after I first started on Retinol, I find myself once again going through the dreaded retinol purge. That is the creative name I have given for that adjustment period - when your skin sloughs off in thick, crumbly layers and the deep, lurking cystic acne rises up like a seismic event is occurring beneath your skin. It is how you know it is working, that deep changes are happening under your skin and that it's making an impact. But boy oh boy does it SUCK.
I consider myself somewhat an old hat/dilettante expert at Retinol. I wrote this great list with things to know about Retinol and another one about how to use it. Yet it's not until I found myself experiencing this horrific purge again that I can fully appreciate just how truly awful it is. Concealer flakes off in pieces. My skin is many colors, none of them good and definitely not matching the rest of my body. Zits bubble up under the skin in painful clusters and it takes all my willpower (and very short nails) not to dig at them. I ripped one open in my sleep, which of course led to a scar that will be impossible to cover up as it dimples below the skin. It is awful.
But if I can survive cancer then I can sure AF survive a little retinol purge, so here's my battle plan for surviving the next few weeks until things get back to (better than) normal. 1. Sun is the enemy
As if I didn't already have enough going on the new layers of skin are extra sensitive to everything, but especially sun which means I am not just going hats and sunscreen - I am going full mole people. See photos above taken in the subterranean passages of our apartment building. Such is the lengths I am going to avoid prime "tanning" hours and keep my baby skin fresh and dewy. Summer is the worst time to try a new retinol (or stronger), but Fall is a great time to refresh and purge your skin (winter cold can be extra drying, which is not awesome for peeling.)
2. MOISTURIZE, moisturize, moisturize
Not only will this help with the peeling but it will also act as a protective barrier for the skin, but it will also aid in the absorption of the active ingredients in all your skincare. I am currently obsessed with the Lagom line (seen here) and on the dry, peeling patches I go full on balm.com. I like the coconut one because it smells amazing, the packaging is so cute and it's incredibly portable, but I will also settle for aquaphor or straight up vaseline in a pinch.
4. Be gentle with your skin
I tried just shoving the retinol into my existing routine as if that was going to be OK and within two days I was regretting it. Right now I have scaled back my p50 to once a day, and taken out any exfoliating products, slowly reintroducing them as I feel the stinging and dryness abate (this includes other acids like the MicroPeel from Kiehl's and my salicylic acid!)
5. Don't pick
So easy in theory right? NOPE, impossible. I want to peel off the dry skin, pop the pimples, put 14 kinds of cream on. It is in these situations I find the acne dots so helpful for acneand apply a thick layer of balm to the dry patches in lieu of picking or scrubbing. My stepfather told me my face felt like glue the other day when I hugged him. Sorrynotsorry.
Drink tons of water. Help your body out internally. Eat water rich fruits and dark leafy greens and drink peppermint tea and whatever else you can consume in large quantities. Purging your skin is an internal process that becomes easier when your body is properly fueled.
I feel like I could write an entire novel just about the distraction method but instead just click here or here and read about it so I feel like I am not a broken, cleavage-y record. 8. Stick with it
I know it's hard, but it's worth it.
Haters will tell you SF doesn't have a fashion scene. They will point to the sales bros in their hoodies and say we don't care. Well I say "haters gonna hate." Our boutique game is fledgling but strong (see previous post on my girls DOPE shop in Hayes Valley - Seldom Seen) and I love humble bragging on the magical treasures we have to offer the sartorially inclined.
My friends know I love this as well, so as a treat (for me, not my bank account) my BFF steered me to this little gem after grabbing bracingly strong cups of coffee in the cavernous and industrial chic 4 Barrel. I proceeded to drool unapologetically on their gorgeous, tightly curated stock - which includes some fur trimmed Babouche slippers from Tibi that want to come home with me so badly, and a collection of baubles so tasty I want to eat them like candy.
Le Point is located at 301 Valencia St, and they have a beautiful website that I would like to crawl inside of live. ** My pocket book (and most likely, my husband) are thrilled we don't live closer.
** But sadly, it is not shoppable (whomp, whomp) yet?!?
Let's be honest - sometimes getting dressed feels like more work than it's worth. In those times I turn to my uniform. The uniform is as follows: whatever my trendiest shoe is** + a soft loose baggy shirt + my most flattering jeans + trendy accessory. Within this formula there is so much room to play around that it never looks repetitive even though it is ultimately incredibly formulaic. It can be a rock and roll t-shirt, or the chambray shirt seen here (and in so many blog posts for the last 4 years) or a camisole or a cotton ribbed tank top or a peasant top or whatever, it just has to be loose around my middle and feel soft to the touch. The jeans that I find flattering change almost daily, but these RTA ones are hard to beat because they are thick and flattering but also stretchy pull on leggings, plus they have that cool open bottom. Right now, the trendy accessory that really gets me going is a choker, because the 90s are back and also I have this skin tag on my neck I hate but it's too small to be removed (how is that a thing? IDK ask my doctor.)
Anyways, throw a choker on it. Trust me - it's lazy fashion but it works.
Here you see me with greasy pulled back hair, almost no makeup, what is essentially slippers and a Canadian tuxedo but the addition of the magical neck thing makes it into an outfit. Like my laziness is actually that elusive IDGAF attitude I am always trying to cultivate (oh, I see the irony there, trust me.)
This particular choker is amber acrylic and from my favorite boutique in Chicago. It can be worn forward as shown, or backward for a cool open prong khaleesi/xena warrior princess-eque vibe. It's not so precious that I am scared to damage it or break it, but unique enough to be an eye-catching statement. I will most likely lose/break/get sick of it by the time this choker thing has worn itself out again, as trends ultimately do, but for now it just magically pulls it all together.
Such is the power of throwing a choker on it. The end.***
**Since I wear shoes out, I feel totally justified in updating them each season - the cost per wear usually pans out and having whatever the "it" shoe is allows me to do things like wear the same chambray, ripped to shreds shirt for half a decade and still feel relevant.
***What do you think is lazier - this blog post or the formula? Tough call right.