instant gratification

Since I clearly am in a no-nonsense mood, let’s not beat around the bush here. In a world where skin care products may take months to see an effect, sometimes you just don’t want to fuck around. Maybe you have a job interview, or a hot date, or maybe you have your period, feel like a bloated hemorrhaging pig, and want a little pick-me-up that doesn’t involve a bowl of brownie batter. Sometimes you just need a quick scrub or mask that you can count on — one that WORKS.

I have three no-fail options in my arsenal that I can rely on. All three result in baby-butt-smooth, soft, and glowing skin, and for once, all price points are represented. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment, $105 + SR Ceramic Slip cleanser, $45 – Sunday Riley recommends 3 pumps of GG + 2 pumps of CS left on for 5-10 minutes as an impromptu mask. That’s a lot of product; I do 1-2 pumps of GG + 1 pump CS. I probably do this the most, because it’s fastest and easiest at end of a long day.

philosophy the microdelivery peel, $40 – don’t be thrown by the “peel” in the name; there is no physical peeling involved, of skin or product. This is a two-step process, starting with the granular Vitamin C scrub, followed by the lactic and salicylic acid activating gel, which results in some satisfying foaming action.

aspirin powder, $6 + honey – the aspirin comes in suspect little folded paper packets. I use one packet plus enough honey to make a paste and a little water to make it spreadable. Then I scrub this sticky goopy mess all over my face, adding extra layers to any zits or inflamed areas. Because this is concentrated anti-inflammatory goodness, I gravitate towards this concoction when I’m breaking out. (See: hemorrhaging menstrual pig and brownie batter, above.) You could do this with just water, but as it dries, the powder won’t stick very well — you’ve got to anchor it with some goopy base.

Now you tell me! What products or routines would you trust your first born with?

live and learn

I thought it might be fun to write about the things I’ve always wanted to try but won’t because of fear of addiction/debt/gross impracticality. Well, that backfired; I test drove the G wagon over the weekend and am obsessed, and ordered samples of pretty much the entire line of May Lindstrom products. They are sitting in my bathroom right now waiting for me. I’m a little frightened. If you don’t hear from me, you’ll know what happened*.

*I’ll be sitting nude in a G wagon rubbing grossly overpriced boutique oils all over my body.

lust :: covet :: desire



I don’t mean bugs or flying or public speaking or any of that trite stuff. I mean more like I don’t want to go to the animal shelter because I am afraid I will come home with six kittens, or I don’t want to pick up fast food because I’m afraid I will consume an entire large order of fries in the car before I get home. We all have weaknesses. I wish my weakness was something useful, like an exercise addiction or an obsession with cleaning. Instead, my natural inclination is to eat Oreos while looking at cat pictures on Instagram, which, sadly, ends up being the case more often than not. My self-control leaves something to be desired.

The first battle is recognizing the problem: know thyself. There’s lots of temptations in this world, which upon sampling, could potentially lead to an unwanted effect, like, oh, a 15-pound weight gain or a $15,000 credit card bill, if you have poor self-control. For many, the only solution is complete abstinence: no junk food in the house, no credit cards, no Facebook, period. Today I want to go there. Let’s talk about stuff you want to try, but don’t, for fear of losing control. And let’s get rad and branch out from skincare and makeup, although we’ll certainly start there. I’ll go first.

Tata Harper skincare – people literally rave about this brand. I fully admit that I deliberately don’t know anything about it except it’s expensive. I’ve avoided reading anything about on purpose. I do not need to get intimately involved with another high end skincare line.

May Lindstrom skincare – this line is what sparked the idea for this post. People rave about this brand too, but ouch! These are crazy prices. Note: while perusing the linked website, it appears they sell sample sizes of ML products for two bucks a pop. Aw, shit. Game on.

High end lip balms (like Rodin, Chantecaille, Sisley, Tatcha, and so forth) – I am such a lip balm whore, I can see myself getting totally hooked on a $75 lip balm. Yes, SEVENTY-FIVE US DOLLARS. For ONE unit, not a pack of twelve. So I’ve never tried any of them, in fear I would fall hopelessly in love and feel compelled to spend $500 to ensure I had one in each purse plus a backup. (I have a serious lip balm problem. I get anxious if I am without. I thank the sweet baby Jesus every day for Cococare lip balm, because at $1.50 a pop I can order them in bulk. Which I do. Which means each purse gets at least two, along with every nook and cranny in my house and office so I am never without. Which means this is basically the most exciting thing ever. I even put it on my Amazon wish list.) My dabbling in the high end lip balm arena started and ended with La Mer. It is so glorious, you want to smear it all over every fifteen minutes. It’s also embarrassingly expensive, so I feel compelled to limit its use to before bed only. And that sort of takes the fun out of it.

High end body oils (like Rodin, Nars, Tom Ford, and so forth) – I’m sure these smell decadent and make your skin radiant. However, if you’re truly using something like this as a body oil, you’ve got a lot of acreage to cover. Well. At least I do. Think how fast you could crank through a $100 bottle of this stuff. As much as I want to smell them all, I won’t, and will stick with my trusty almond oil.

High end lingerie (like Agent Provocateur, La Perla, and the like) – you’ve heard women say that their entire attitude changes when they have beautiful underwear on under their everyday clothes. Is this true? Am I such a cranky bitch solely because of the $4 Coobie knockoffs that I get at the trashiest mall in the city? This fear is two-fold; first, not unlike lip balm, with underwear, one needs multiples. How many $300 bras and $100 panties can one person really purchase? Second, underwear is not like an expensive cashmere sweater. You can’t coax multiple wearings out of it followed by a light hand washing in the sink. Yet, pricey underwear is a delicate flower. The idea of washing underwear by hand is, to me, at once amusing and horrifying, yet the idea of discovering that your boyfriend ruined $500 worth of underwear with one well-meaning load of laundry is even worse.

Designer furniture (like this Eames lounge chair ) – Okay. This would basically look amazing in my midcentury modern house. However, it would have cat hair stuck in its crevices and little nail marks in the leather faster than you can utter the words “investment piece”. That I could (almost) live with. The problem with this sexy beast of a chair is that it would instantly create waaaaaay too much obvious contrast between it and the rest of my furnishings*, which were pieced together hodgepodge from junk shops, salvage yards, and eBay. It could go from “modern industrial rustic chic” to “dorm room” real fast.

And, since we’re crazy today, let’s go for it. The most notably feared item I lust after is this completely absurd Mercedes SUV. I have a bit of a car fetish. I like fast cars, and I like cars that are big enough to haul steel cabinets purchased at flea markets (see above). I do not want more than one car, so finding one that meets both criteria is challenging. The Jeep Cherokee SRT could have potential, but it is just butt ugly. I love Jeeps — my first car was a CJ5 — but I can’t. I suppose I could upgrade from my current X3 to a M-series X5, but do I really want to continue the close relationship I’ve developed with my service advisor over the past 4 years of BMW ownership? What I need to do is just go take the Mercedes for a test drive and get it out of my system, because I suspect it drives like a squishy couch, which I despise. (One online review even said that it was “terrifying” to drive, which could be an amazing or horrible thing, right?) BUT…. what if it’s stiff and tight and fast? Oh, I’d be screwed, because then I would fall in love with it and be obsessed with it, and then I would have to move to a tiny apartment and eat Ramen just so I could afford it. Or maybe I could just live out of the back of it. Hmmm…….

So tell me! What are you intrigued by, but afraid to try?

*my swank-o-rama couch is excluded from this blanket statement, because it is amazing. Yeah, I’m crazy.

You know what happens when you “assume”…


This is an actual case that crossed my desk recently. It was a decent size skin excision, maybe 3 or 4 cm, from an older woman’s eyebrow, submitted as a “neoplasm”. I have no doubt it was a lumpy bump that bugged her, and maybe it was hard. So when I get a big excision from an older person’s face, I’m thinking it’s going to be a basal cell carcinoma or maybe a big irritated seborrheic keratosis. I was rather surprised to see extensive granulomatous inflammation within the superficial dermis, with associated granular black pigment deposition — basically, a hypersensitivity reaction to what I suspect was tattoo ink, such as in permanent cosmetics. This reaction can occur years after a tattoo; who knows if the ink had all but faded or the patient neglected to mention the tattoo. Certainly most general practitioners are not familiar enough with adverse reactions to cosmetic procedures, including tattoos, to even think of it when presented with a skin lump. Did they clinically think it was a tumor that needed to get cut out? I don’t usually get the backstory on most of my patients, so I don’t know if they’d recognized it as a tattoo reaction and tried to inject it with steroids first, which can sometimes shrink the inflammatory reaction and obviate the need for excision. It might have saved her a surgical procedure and resulting scar.

Moral of the story: don’t assume your health care provider knows everything. They don’t. And they can’t read your mind. As a patient, it’s your responsibility to know your history (was that mole biopsied before? did you put any lotion on the rash already?) and to communicate it, and to ask questions!

With love,
Your pathologist

finito / done and gone

Because nothing says I really know how to party like Bud Light in the woods. 

PS the hipster who brought the PBR probably annoyed his friends by telling everyone he was the one that found the spot, like, two years ago, when everyone else was still drinking in their parents’ basement. 

PPS the giant cucumber looking things in the background are totally freaking me out. Are they pine cones? Wild zucchini? Larval Mothra? I would never be able to relax and enjoy my nice room temperature Keystone in that setting.

Let’s talk about empties.

Not about your boyfriend’s savings account or your boss’s soul. Let’s talk about items we actually — gasp! — used up. When you have poorly controlled ADHD like me, using up a product means I didn’t lose it or forget about it, which in turns means it’s good shit. Here are some recent superstars from my world, in no particular order.

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentrate – a moisturizer with the perfect consistency and scent. (Don’t be distracted by the “concentrate” in the name.) It leaves hands soft but not greasy. It doubles as a fantastic hair cream as it gives that perfect, slightly-dirty but not greasy texture of 2 or 3 day old hair. I’ll put a little bit in, make two Pippi Longstocking braids, and go to bed. The next morning, voila! The perfect lived-in waves. I have a tube on my person at all times.

By Terry Ombre Blackstar Color Fix Cream Eyeshadow in Bronze Moon – literally the perfect neutral warm bronzey-taupe product that works as either liner or shadow. It blends easily and is rock solid until you take it off. It has just enough shimmer to add depth and luminosity, but isn’t showgirl gaudy glittery.

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Playa del Pink – okay, so I didn’t technically use this up. But the cap/sponge contraption sort of fell apart, rendering it unusable. Because I can be a cheap ass, I tried to siphon what was left into a smaller dropper bottle, but because you have to shake the hell out of this to mix the two components, it didn’t work. So I gave up and ordered another. It is that good! The name “Playa del Pink” is a misnomer in addition to being just stupid. It’s really not that pink, more like a warm toned champagne. I love this stuff by itself all over the lid. It’s perfect neutral wash of color that stays put. It also doubles as an excellent primer if you want to go to town on top of it. It doesn’t crease and doesn’t make your lids look like shriveled prunes, like the Urban Decay eyeshadow primers do.

Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray – I don’t know if this product actually does anything except smell incredible and make you feel like a fancy princess getting her hair did. But I’m scared to stop using it.

Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray, Strong – because I am at once hideously busy and extraordinarily lazy, I wash and style once a week. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy commercial, this actually has amazing hold without being stiff. I can use it a few days in a row and it never feels gunky or like there’s a ton of build-up. Also? It smells incredible.

La Mer lip balm – If this shit came in a tube, I would be hooked, forever-ever. The fact that this is almost gone despite my hatred for sticking a finger into goopy lip balm is a testament to its fabulousness. It’s the perfect texture, lightly minty, and just so fancy.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip cleanser – it’s just a cleanser, what’s the big whoop? It smells really nice, never leaves my skin crackly-dry, and serves as an amazing mask when mixed with Sunday Riley Good Genes.

SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex – the almighty penis cream. We’ve been over it before.

La Mer Creme de la Mer – the O.G. of luxury skin care. I’ve been using this stuff since my early 20s. La Mer’s Soft Cream just doesn’t cut it — don’t waste your money. I actually appreciate La Mer’s presence in my life for more than just my skin. When I was a broke medical student making a few extra bucks selling crap on eBay and actually using hospital meal passes because the food was free, I would buy the smallest jar possible with every loan disbursement, and then use only the bare minimum around my eyes at night to make the jar last as looooooong as possible. These days, it’s Nordstrom triple points and I get a jar. I forget I have a backup jar, so when Barney’s runs their semiannual beauty bag giveaway, I get a jar. Then all the jars come with sample size versions. I have no idea how many of those are laying around. Needless to say, I am more liberal with its use now, and at the end of a long shitty day it is a lovely small luxury to smear a big gob of it all over my face, and in doing so I’m always reminded of those early days — it gives me perspective and helps me appreciate how far I’ve come and how important it is to not take it for granted. Sappy, I know, but it helps; my job is sweatshop-level brutal more times than not and there are days where I really, truly wish I’d made different career/life decisions. Nothing says listen to you playing the world’s saddest song on the world’s tiniest violin like having too much La Mer laying around. Yeah, gratitude is good.

So what have you used up lately? Give me some ideas of new products to covet.



dance mom

Yeah. Okay. So I take thousands of pictures of my cats flashing their eight titties and posing in improbable ways in hopes of catching the perfect shot. The fact my little fatty put a smile on over 180,000 210,000 peoples’ faces today makes me so, so happy. Really. I love the Internet.