French Girl Style: Perfume as Deodorant

Some of you might remember a post I did last summer, wherein I confessed that I have worn antiperspirant or deodorant in 5 years.  For those of you who have not, a quick summary. Though no scientific evidence links the use of these products with causing breast cancer, they have been reliably linked to a recurrence of cancer in people who have had it. Plus, with my super sensitive skin it makes me break out in a rash. Now it might seem like this task is harder in summer (what with it being hot and all) but the hard truth is it's much harder in winter. You go from cold outside to hot inside, peeling off layers as fast as your neuropathic fingers will let you. Sweaters are especially challenging for avoiding sweating, which is not why they are named that but it should be.

That said, my parents are european and from them and just plain common sense, I have learned the ultimate hack. Perfume. Sprayed sparingly under the arms or directly onto the fabric. And of course, with sensitive skin the nicer the perfume the less likely I am to break out. My eczema is fancy.

Right now I'm wearing a delicious blend of my signature scent - Vanilla by Atelier Cologne which is a kind of spicy, earthy vanilla - and Maison Margiela's Jazz Club which smells like campfire smoke and expensive whiskey. Mixed together with a little Eu de Dena, this warm smell is all the good things about winter. I describe it as dirty, smokey vanilla.  I like it when my husband hugs me and then says, "mmmm, you smell good."

wearing this sweater


How to use Blurs

I call them blurs, but some people call them primers, pore erasers, colorless foundation. Whatever you call them there exists a mystical and hard to understand middle land of colorless/white potions that claim to "erase" pores, and smooth "texture" of skin. They can, as most will tell you, be worn alone or under foundation. Makeup artists like to tell you they can also be used after foundation. Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am?

In today's video I am going to talk about and demonstrate the various ways to use what I refer to as blurs in three different ways:  alone, before, and after foundation.

Hylamide Ha Blur
Niod Photography fluid
concealer (eyes) and concealer (eyes)
 concealer (acne)  and concealer (acne)
Foundation all over, blended with the beauty blender and some mist
Haloscope in Quartz on nose and upper cheekbones
Haloscope in Topaz under cheekbones

Also wearing:




Treating Big Thick Scars NSFW

Let's be honest here, I have been cut open and sewn back together twice on one side, and once on the other. I am very happy with the results of the surgery but I have also spent some serious time trying to ensure my big thick surgical scars heel as smooth, silvery and gorgeous as possible. And, not to toot my own horn, but I think I succeeded. My scars are flat, soft to the touch and beautiful.

I really saw a huge difference in how flat and light my scars were when I started using a body lotion with Retin A. My first foray was accidental - I wanted to lighten up some aging on my chest and I decided to go all "french facial" and work my way all the way down to my belly button. Then I noticed how insane the hand cream was working so I decided to try it on my chest when I was too lazy to go to the bathroom where the oil lives.

I've been using both products for about 3 months now and the results are down right remarkable. I vaguely recall my surgeon mentioning some stuff about retin-a to help with scarring but in the blur that was post surgery I never acted on it. Turns out the Kardashian dermatologist is also a big fan of retinol for treating scars. My best guess on how it works, based on my understanding of skin and healing and how retin A acts on the above is that it breaks down and exfoliates the scar tissue, leaving behind less discoloration and a smoother texture. Pay special attention to the scar that went all the way under my left breast, from the inside of the cleavage straight around the bottom to the other side. If you squint closely you can see the faintest silvery pink mark, but that's all that's left.

All I can say is that I have seen it work. Look at these gorgeous scars. So pretty, right?

PRODUCTS: The Hand Chemistry cream | Retin Oil
WEARING: Ana Ono Rachel Wire Free Bra | Silk Pajamas

Review VIDEO: Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam

The buzz on this product could not be hotter. Dry shampoo has been a staple for years now but with very little revolution in texture. To this point there were two choices: powder (messy, very visible on dark hair, leaves behind an undesirable texture and dulls shine) and spray (sticky, not as effective, stiffens hair) which left people satisfied enough but not with the kind of fervent loyalty I know that people have for say, their conditioner. This product is set to change all that - once people get over how weird it is in concept. Because yes it's a foam. It's wet. When you take a huge handful and apply it to your head it's scary. It's a dry shampoo that doesn't feel dry. It defies logic. But lo and behold, in slightly longer than you might expect, at that moment when you're about to give up and just go shower, it evaporates. Leaving behind only clean, soft, sweet smelling, beachy waved hair in it's place. Awesome for bangs, amazing for everywhere else, it somehow revitalized my hair style from three days ago before I started wearing it in a bun on the top of my head. It refreshed hair that hadn't been washed in five days but had been sweated on, hairsprayed, worn up, half up and half down, straightened, curled, and piled on my head. It's crazy good.

Before I brushed it out there was a little bit of a powder left behind (seen below) but once brushed it was just shiny hair.

Get your own before the anticipated sell out, and watch the video for the full experience.

Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam

What is Millenial Pink?

There are things millenials like that I also like. Puppies. Gathering their stuff together and taking pictures of it**. The oversharing and anthropomorphization of pets. And this color, also known as millenial (or tumblr) pink.  I first noticed the color emerging around the time I became obsessed with the cosmetic brand being launched by my favorite beauty blog Into the Gloss, aka Glossier. I don't know why I liked it, but I loved it. Shortly after came my pinterest board, creatively titled: Pink Things. The first pin is something called the Palace of Winds, which is a glorious structure located in a place called Jaipur, that resembles nothing if not an architectural wonder dipped in pepto bismol, and and then frosted. 

Little did I know that I was cresting the wave of a tide soon to wash over my instagram feed, turning it from a multicolored photo sharing app into something resembling a photoshoot in the barbie dream house. Like me, other internet people can't seem to get enough of this color. 

So what is it exactly? It's sort of a range, varying from diluted Raspberry Lemonade G2 to salmon cream cheese. It's a pink that is more fleshy, or peachy, than purple. It's the Valencia filter. It's rose quartz polished, if you squint your eyes and allow the white streaks to blur with the pink. The pantone color developed to try to capture it has been dubbed "pale dogwood" but the truth is that millenial pink has been messed with in so many digital ways you have to know it to know it. It's not supposed to be cool but it is. To achieve the perfect shade of Glossier Pink, one of the progenitors of the millenial pink, it's a 70 percent saturation of PMS 705. 

But really, it's a whole family, Millenial Pink, or "Tumblr pink" for those who hate to refer to themselves as millenial. And it's earned the moniker because "millenials can't seem to get enough of it." 

Behold this collection of some of my favorite things, gathered in a mad dash through my home**. Yes, I grabbed pepto bismol and gatorade.

Look at this spread - GlossierEverlane,  French Girl Organics, Apple, Fenty by Rihanna for Puma, Miu Miu, Peach & LilyBkr, Renee Rouleau, Gatorade. From big brands to Etsy seller turned Anthropology stocked baby labels, major french design houses to low-calorie female targeted sports beverages. The ample offering of not pink-pink products I found in a quick sweep of my house blew my own mind.

But of course this is not about me. Let's look at a case study: Pop & Suki, best friend/super model duo turned purveyors of customized bags, has an instagram feed devoted exclusively to images in millenial pink, despite offering it's bags in three shades. The other colors (camel and black) are relegated as second class citizens to features in the ephemeral insta stories - despite the remarkable list of A-list celebs snapped sporting bags in this color (think Jessica Alba, Lena Dunham, all of the Maybelline Cover Girls, the list goes on.) Before there were even product shots, they had thousands of people following their pink instagram. I don't know what color their Facebook is, or if they even have one. They probably don't because all that blue framing would hurt their millenial eyes.  

But if you don't believe me, here's a more comprehensive list of brands and how they're using this color family, that I stole from The Ringer:

"Acne Studios, Glossier, Kinfolk, and Thinx incorporated it in their shopping bags, websites, magazine covers, and ad campaigns. In October, fashion startup Everlane teamed up with Opening Ceremony for a line of clothing from the same family of pinks and beiges. The music video for “Cranes in the Sky” opens with Solange swathed in a series of outfits, each a sensual variation of that fleshy color. Somewhere along the way, it became representative of a certain female cohort. It became “millennial” pink."

So, what makes pink millenial pink?

First off, it's a shade has been dubbed "universally flattering" according to the trendsetters who dictate such things. I can attest, having worn the same color in a linen reformation dress at my most faux tanned, and also in a turtleneck of the same shade in my winter paleness. “It’s not bubblegum pink,” Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, told The Ringer. “It’s obviously not a bright pink. It’s not fuchsia. It has a certain innocence, it’s unobtrusive, it’s very subtle. There’s kind of a healthy glow that’s attached to shades of pink like that.” 

But it wasn't until this tweet went viral (pictured below) - becoming the unofficial repository of brands using this color - that think pieces started to emerge exploring it's ubiquitous nature. A color, even one profligate by marketing exes, insta-influencers, and fashion it girls, is never just a color. In this case, it's rampant absorption into the general gestalt also became a reflection of the way feminism has been adopted by the generation of girls who, through no fault except birth, were lucky enough to be born in the 80s, 90s, and 00s. 

So what does this muted pink say about feminism? 

According to New York Mag, "A cohort raised to distrust pink has turned contrarian and embraced a muddied, faded version of the color. This summer, we’re conspicuously reading Sweetbitter, drinking a matching glass of frosé, and Instagramming it all with our rose-gold iPhones. Instead of the minimalism that’s dominated fashion for the past few years, we’re firmly into maximal, ruffled, not-pink pink from the Gucci resort collection (or its Zucci equivalent).

We’re in a moment of ambivalent girliness — a moment in which we celebrate, say, Hillary cracking the glass ceiling but can’t quite get into the human embodiment of magenta, Katy Perry, stumping for her, themed nail art and all. We’re embracing our girlier impulses: our vocal fry, the “likes” and “ums” we were told would hold us back, our #girlboss-ness. (Want to take a guess as to the color of that book cover? Yes, it was not-pink pink.) But we’re not quite there yet. We still have to hold something back. There’s still an implicit divide between women who lean into honest-to-God pink and all that it implies, and women who are allergic to that kind of thing."

I remember reading about how pink became the color for products made for "ladies" in a history of gender class I took in college, well before there ever was such a thing as millenial pink. I have searched and searched for the book in question (dear 2004, can I get my syllabus emailed to me? thanks) but what I remember most was my professor breaking it down, "How do you double your sales? If you're Bic, you convince women that they couldn't possibly use their husbands razors - what they needed was the exact same razor, but this time in pink. One household - two razors, two pens... Instantly double the market."

Fashionista choosing to take a slightly less "damn the corporate man" approach than this left-wing hippy: 

"As F.I.T. fashion historian Valerie Steele explains, 'The idea that pink is for girls really only solidified as recently as the 1940s in the United States. Some people would say, well, maybe pink is for boys because it's a more determined color and closer to being red.' According to Steele, blue was historically viewed as a feminine color because of Virgin Mary frequently being depicted as wearing the color. But, as with most things, media and commercialism changed the public's view on the matter. 'I think two paintings that came into America in the early 20th century, 'Pinkie' by Lawrence and 'The Blue Boy' by Gainsborough contributed to reinforcing this commercial idea that you could sell pink to girls and blue to boys,' she theorizes." 


I personally have barely heard of these works of art (I had to google them to get the pictures above, which sit across from each other as part of the permanent collection of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California) and choose instead to point the finger squarely at the petroleum guzzling, landfill-filling evil corporation that introduced us to this:

But of course, understanding something doesn't make me love it any less. Oh millenial pink, it calls to me. Perhaps it's the process of reverse association - I love Glossier, I love Solange, I love Everlane, I even love Thinx (in theory, by the time it came out it had been years since I menstruated...) So if the brands I love have whole heartedly embraced this color, infused it with their own cool girl-helmed endorsement, could that in turn be what made me love it? Or did my loving it (along with every other millenial on the internet) draw the brands to it? What came first - the free-range grass fed chicken or the organic, bio-dynamic egg? 

When I do take the time to explore my feelings about the color pink I find that even knowing about the ways corporations shoved it's rampant consumerism down my throat, even after seeing Susan G. Komen endorse a pink KFC bucket (but not planned parenthood) and even knowing that I was deprived my thriving S.T.E.M carrier because they made pink kitchens and not pink blocks when I was a kid, I still love the color that I think of as baby pink.

My homepage as I write this... 
But of course, I object to the idea that my feminism is somehow watered down, even if that's the way I prefer my pink consumer goods to be. And while I now see it everywhere (and after reading this article you will too) it's like the song I could listen to on repeat. I'm not even close to sick of it yet. My own instagram will veer into cotton candy land if left to it's own devices, devoid of me having a social life or leaving my house. It's the pink of sunsets, of cupcake frosting, of my fingernails when I leave them unvarnished, my healing scar tissue, and SOTC cosmopolitans. 

So now that you know what it is, what do you think about Millenial Pink? Let me know in the comments below. 

DIY Rose Embroidered Shirt

It all started with this one, which sold out eons ago. Then I saw this image and was like "CAN I LEARN HOW TO EMBROIDER TOMORROW? HALP" Short answer: No. But, I found something better, quite possibly the easiest DIY project I have ever done. All you need is an idea, some etsy and an iron. Endless possibilities! And yes, I did also make a shirt for bit.

Here's what you need:
Iron: $13 if you don't have one
Patches: This is the exact one I used, set of two for $6, but you can find almost anything on Etsy.
Shirt: Again, sky's the limit, I used an Everlane silk blouse, and this one for Bit but you could use something you have, or find something vintage.
Pressing Cloth: I used a microfiber lens cleaner that came with my sunglasses, but anything will do

Position the patch in desired spot. Remember, check twice glue once!
Put the pressing cloth on the patch. Press the iron on the cloth over the patch and hold for 20 seconds.
Flip the shirt inside out and press the iron directly against the fabric.

Literally, that is it! So easy, right?

Why I Support The Million Woman March: The Saga of the Broken Glass Vagina

My vagina feels like someone placed a glass in it and then crushed it with their fist. If this is  the "mild vaginal discomfort" I was warned about, I balk to think what classifies as pain. There must be something I can do about this, and so, with the reluctance that only comes when a side effect of my cancer treatment that impacts my hoohaw, I go to the doctor.

"Here's the problem," he explains patiently and gently, "We need to keep estrogen out of your body so it doesn't feed your cancer, but estrogen does a lot more than just feed cancer." Ok, logical, makes sense, so is there some way to put the estrogen just in my painful lady womb?

There is a cream, but it's a form of estrogen (I learn from googling) that needs to pass through the bloodstream and bond with other hormones in my blood before it can be the kind of estrogen that will fix the crippling pain in your pelvis. Estrogen passing through the bloodstream = potential cancer growth. Ok, pass.

There's a ring, that distributes pure estradiol (the converted form) just to the place you need it (hoohaw) but...

-- It's not covered by your insurance. (Why not? Because menopause is not covered by your health insurance, and this is a drug to treat menopause - which is what you *technically* have)

-- It costs about $500,  but the manufacturer offers coupons which bring it down... to $300.

-- It's sold out, everywhere. There is only a single manufacturer of it (love, patents) and the factory had some kind of issue and so it's gone. From everywhere. We expect it back in stock in a month or two.

Now, I am lucky enough to have a Supermom, who upon hearing this called every Walgreens in a two-hour radius and found (and paid for) one of these magical rings for me, involving several multi-hour round trips and some sort of her voodoo witch magic.

They say you can't actually remember pain, but I remember being curled in a ball with a hot pad, weeping over the powerlessness I felt to do anything about the pain I was in, broken, fixable, but unable to access the thing I needed. Forced to choose between pain and potentially feeding my cancer.

It was a nightmare I still have not recovered from, and I can't imagine that the new regime is going to make things like this any better.

Not unless we use our voices, our power, to advocate and fight for the things that are the most important to us, that are unique to us as women, that are not easy to understand, talk about or fight for.

Thank you for marching for me. This may be broken, but it is fixable.

Author's Note: I found it kind of overwhelming to write a short snippet of why I support this march. I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible answers. I wanted to write something inspiring, something powerful, something helpful. I wanted to tell a story that only I can. I was paralyzed over a blank cursor. We have a saying in our house. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So this is just my first bite.

How to Wear High Heels

Wear heels. Don't wear heels. I have no strong opinions either way. They may be hobbling, but they also make a statement when stomping on the patriarchy. I am all for freedom of choice and a woman's right to choose what she puts on her body. I fell in love with these "big girl shoes" at first sight and I knew I would have no choice but to break my no heels rule to get these wearable art pieces on my body.

Here's the thing, even before I had a deep and abiding fear of neuropathy in my feet I've been a giant baby about shoes. I may seem so tough and positive, but I'm truly a whiny, pathetic monster when it comes to shoe inflicted pain - something shocking to most people because my other pain tolerances are off the charts. I also fall apart because of paper cuts, but that's a story for another day. Maybe I have especially sensitive hands and feet, maybe I am actually just a wuss. Either way I've learned how to make shoes with heels comfortable enough for a night of standing and talking (still can't dance or walk long distances in them, not sure I ever will.)

1. Quality is important. Cheap shoes always hurt - nice shoes with real leather are designed in a way that makes them ultimately more comfortable and wearable. For this I rely on The Real Real, which boasts an impressive selection of affordable designer footwear that usually comes in pristine condition (much to my chagrin - I wouldn't mind if they were broken in for me!)

2. Platforms always. Then you get that stunning appeal of a high heel, but at a less severe angle to relieve pressure on the ball of the foot.

3. Insoles are totes worth it. I like these ones a lot, they are great for people like me with high arches and sweaty feet. Just a slight adjustment in the angle of the foot can make a huge difference in how weight is distributed throughout the foot pad, ankle, calf and even your back.

4. They make pain relief lotions for your feet. And they kind of work - not for severe pain but for a little soreness or aching.

5. Blisters are preventable. A little smudge around the feet before you slip into your shoes can prevent blisters (see previously referred to sweaty feet) before they start. Once they come there is nothing I can do for you.

6. You can always bring a change of shoes. 

Donald Trump Is Making me Hate Faux Tanner

An answer to the question: Why is Dena so pale right now? Obviously, there is a level of laziness implicit here. Plus the amount of skin showing at any point in time is like, the tip of my nose. Add into that a splash of deep tissue repair and exfoliation, and you get a pale Dena. That's the nuts and bolts mechanical explanation. The truth is I am always a little bit lazy and I still prioritized faux tanning as part of my indulgent self-care ritual.

So what is going on? I'm sure part of it is the influence of truly gorgeous images like this one (hi kelly!)

And a winter aesthetic in the midwest that makes being tan seem slightly ridiculous. The fact that I truly enjoyed the latest installment of Underworld: Blood Wars in part because of all that gorgeous pale vampire flesh does hurt either. Helllllo Irene Adler. 


But the truth is, I just can't bring myself to dose up on tanner. I have so much of it, and it's soooo good, but putting it on just makes me feel a kernel of dread in the pit of my stomach.  So what's behind the sudden aversion?  I can't resist the kernel of awareness that makes me believe my current pale status is rejection of the most infamous spray tan in the world right now. It's impossible to think or see "spray tan" and not think about the end of national healthcare, planned parenthood, and possibly the world as we know it.

I'm not sure I can truly capture it any better than this video can, so if you haven't watched this yet, just trust me it's so so worth it. And it's funny, and making me laugh when I feel like I have my own personal storm cloud following me around is really something.

Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Masque is Everything the Name Says

I am having a perfect storm for my cystic acne - the stress of the upcoming inauguration and what that means for my healthcare, chemotherapy which causes a slight dip in my immune response, and all the wacky things they do to my hormones - mix together et voila... Cysts! Cysts everywhere! Big, painful, throbbing, impossible to cover up, and lasting forever.

This time, a special package arrived in the mail. A gift from Renee herself because she liked my Into the Gloss article.  If you follow my instagram stories than you know I basically ripped into it like a wolf and slathered it all over my chin. I also did two spot treatments, one for a little sucker on chin and another already popped on my cheek.

Unlike what I'm used to in detox masques (drying, messy, chalky, mud) this is a luxurious and decadent gold flecked gel that goes on with a light, refreshing feel. It seems to thicken as it dries to a tacky consistency, but never made my skin feel tight or dried out. It's luxe.

That was a week ago. This morning I went to my dermatologist for my 8 week check in. Him and the nurses were SHOCKED by how clear my skin was. They looked at it closely, felt it, and bestowed upon me a big smile and a "this looks amazing!"

I am a convert now. Thank you so much Renee, you are truly a hero for cystic sufferers everywhere.

Rapid Response Detox Masque

Give Yourself a Home Facial Like You're Going to the Golden Globes

I am still a little bit laid up with a cold I picked up (wash your hands!!!) and so I decided to fill a tray with all my toys and give myself the ultimate home facial. From my bed I watch instastories where the celebs prepped using many of the same devices and treatments I had in my magic tray. I swear, seeing my dewy, depuffed face made me feel so much better. Possible cure for the common cold? Should we prepare a study? Anyways, here's the step by step of what I did, in what order. Plus some bonus after shots where I am still prone but looking all kinds of bouncy and supple and whatnot. 
  1. Wash with Milky Jelly
  2. 10 Minutes each Red + Blue with LED Mask
  3. Ziip + Gold Gel energize and lips program
  4. Nuface ELE Program
  5. Wash face again with Lagom Cleanser
  6. Prep for mask with P50, Mizon Water Essence, Glossier Mist, Hylamide SubQ, Super Pure, Super Bounce
  7. Apply Sheet Mask
  8. Finish with moisturizer, oil, and eye cream
  9. Scrub lips, apply lip mask 
Wearing: Bra | Pajamas | Pillowcase | Sheets 

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