barney’s beauty bag sept 2015 … tick, tock

Eeeeeeee!!!! It’s almost that time again. Barney’s fall beauty event is September 8-12, when a $200 purchase gets you a big bag chock full o’ high end samples (details to follow). Anything on the cosmetics floor counts — that means candles, home fragrances, etc. are included. (Perfect, since fall is the perfect time to reload on my very favorite home scent.)

In the meantime, what are you going to get? Lots of brands have really nice step up gifts with a purchase at a certain dollar amount — I’m looking forward to the details and will share when I learn more.

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.



involuntary manslaughter / repentance

Drew Barrymore was my first real girl crush. Half I wanna look just like her and half I wanna make out with her. She was the original DGAF free spirit. I was the opposite, seeing as I had carefully cultivated the same perfectly grown out shade of blond, the same perpetually messy choppy short haircut, the same shade of brown lipstick, and the same tortured little 90s brows, in a concerted effort to look as if I gave as few fucks as Drew. (The irony is not lost on me.) I retained a shred of dignity and bypassed the daisies in the hair, but this was probably just because cut flowers bummed me out. Eventually, my hair grew out and the brown lipstick (Aveda’s lip gloss in Cinder, actually) was relegated to the “retired” section of my makeup stash. What failed to return to baseline, however, were my brows. It had only taken a few years of overzealous plucking to ensure their permanent demise.

I’m pretty light haired, so the four surviving brow hairs on each side really didn’t have a chance in hell in making up a remotely normal looking brow. Since high school, I’ve relied on pencils, powders, gels, waxes, and tints in every permutation, formulation, and shade (to match the revolving door of hair colors) in an attempt to humanize the swath of hairless skin on my face. Sweating and face wiping were red-security-level risks. God forbid if I was in a hurry or having a bad makeup day; I couldn’t get them to be remotely the same shape, much less symmetrical. When you’re drawing them on from scratch every day, you never know what you’re going to end up with. How many times did I get so pissed off I just wiped it all off and started from scratch? What a tremendous fucking waste of time.

A few years ago, the very chic and sexy woman who does my extensions one day just casually mentioned she’d had her brows tattooed way back when she was in cosmetology school. Pump the brakes. What!? I associated permanent makeup with old ladies and Google search images of “scary eyebrows”. The wheels started turning, and before I knew it I was in a dentist-style reclining chair trying not to have a full-blown panic attack while a woman ran a humming tattoo machine over and over the same tiny area on my brow bone until it felt like it was raw. What if they were too dark? Too thick? Too chola? Too red? At that point, I really didn’t know how I’d gotten there and felt like I was viewing a horrifying lapse in judgment from above, a total out-of-body experience likely fueled by the panic- and pain-induced endorphins frantically squirting from my adrenals. The permanent makeup artist had a billion years experience, had a full face of tattooed makeup and was a fair-skinned redhead also to boot. She didn’t look like a drag queen or a grandma. Of all people, she could be trusted. She’d warned me the brows would be thicker and way darker at first, but would lighten once they’d healed. I did not find this reassuring as I held a little hand mirror up after, still supine in the dentist chair. We’d edged past mere panic mode and had reached full on WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE. I’ve only reached this level of self-induced horror a few times in my life, like those times involving platinum blonde and an inadvertent mullet. (Not at the same time, mercifully.) In the car afterward, I sat, dazed, my brow throbbing.


Thankfully, like all tattoos, the brows lightened dramatically upon healing, which was uneventful despite my defying orders to “not put anything on besides Aquaphor”. Their shape became far softer. They needed virtually nothing in the morning. The experience made the full circle from totally horrifying to why didn’t I do this years ago. All was well and my brows and I lived in harmony… for a little while.

THEN, big defined brows had to come back with a vengeance.

I admit it, I got sucked in. Reflexing back to my arsenal of products, I tried. I made them thicker, I arched them higher, I tried. I indulged in many of the new generation of brow products — from glorified felt-tip pens to pigmented waxes. The end result ranged from “okay, not bad” to “frankly bad”. You never know how something works — or doesn’t work — until you scroll through photographic evidence of it randomly while looking for that one picture of the cat sitting in the bathroom sink. (I have to laugh at what Benefit’s Brow Genie wanted to do to me. At least I did better than this on my own.)


The universe sends messages in mysterious ways, though, and in regards to forcing my brows to overachieve it came in the form of a kitschy work event where staff were to dress as their favorite decade. I put on a flannel over a Nirvana shirt and layered rolled up jean shorts over black tights (which is really, horribly uncomfortable, or maybe it just sucks to wear sitting at a desk all day) and topped it off with some nice Converse. I made a deep side part, flipped the hair over, and applied a thick coat of my whitest sunscreen (to recapitulate the truly unfortunate foundation scene of the era) along with some raisin-brown Revlon Longwear lip color (purchased when Bill Clinton was in office, yay for hoarding!). The piece de resistance was the brows. One dark brown Revlon Longwear eyeliner; one uniform line curving in a gentle comma. No sharp arches, no defining with concealer — the diametric opposite of on fleek. It was an epic rebirth and a total what-the-fuck moment, as in what-the-fuck have I been doing to my poor brows, forcing them into some unnatural cookie-cutter arch. The thinner, gradual curve was far more flattering for my prominent brow bone and bore a similar emotional effect as putting on ancient and perfectly worn in sneakers. With that, I happily gave Instagram brows two middle fingers pointed high.

It’s one of the unexpected benefits of getting older, having the experience and awareness and lack of give-a-shit that allows one to overtly reject a look that is universally touted as contemporary or youthful or slimming or whatever other horseshit they say. Because we know that while thicker brows (or dewy skin, or lots of highlighter, or whatever shitty advice you’d like to insert here) may make one appear younger, nothing is as aging as unnatural or contrived, and nothing will ever, ever make you 25 again. So let that shit go, do what you like, and be the best (insert your age here)-year-old you want to be. (Because if you want to be haggard, I totally support that too.)

Okay. Enough of that namaste stuff. I saw a blacked out Rolls-Royce parked at the trendy brunch place by my house this weekend and it had an enormous, lumpy bird turd running down its otherwise gleaming and spotless side. This (along with the orange-sized vanilla bean scone I’d just inhaled) completely made my day.

poor impulse control


If you recall my ill-fated recent trip into an actual Sephora store, you’ll remember me being distracted by YSL Rouge Volupte Shine, which is essentially a hideously overpriced yet deliciously luxe tinted lip balm. I’d decided I wanted some sort of neutral-brown tinted lip color that wasn’t Kylie Jenner matte, that would allow me to cosmetically partake in the 90s revival in an age-appropriate (SIGH) way. I am excruciatingly picky about lip products which is why I typically default to my go-to cheap ass lip balm — it’s the perfect blend of emollient and thick, without being waxy or sticky, and free of offensive scent and/or taste. Since they are practically free, I wait till the weather cools down and buy 30 at a time and then stash them literally everywhere so I am never without. It’s basically a desert island item.

The YSL ain’t too shabby though. It has a really nice texture, and would satisfy even the pickiest Goldilocks in her quest for just tinted enough and just glossy enough. I was agonizing between shades 09 (Nude In Private), 10 (Chocolate Instyle) and 11 (Beige Instinct) (who the fuck makes up these names?). 09 had a good dose of pink but ended up being a little lighter than my natural lip color, so in fear of looking like a corpse, I passed. 10 was a little too goth, a little too jarring for this face. 11 was… say it with me… JUST RIGHT. I love that you can slap it on without a mirror, and you don’t have to worry about looking like a drunk sorority girl with lipstick smeared across your face after you wipe your mouth or eat or whatever. It’s just enough to make you look like you tried just a little bit. Plus, the case is all fancy, and who doesn’t like to feel fancy in the middle of an otherwise blah workday. Please admire it below, and don’t mind the tomato red neck and chest. It was hot as hell and I am a delicate flower.

Because inquiring minds want to know (and since this photo was at the end of the day, know it all looked FAR better 12 hours prior — trust:
Brows: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color in Light
Face: Iope Air Cushion SPF50 in N21
Blush: Perricone No Blush Blush on apples, Nars the Multiple in Portofino under cheekbones, although this appears to have not survived the day, and Perricone No Highlighter Highlighter, well, duh, as highlighter
Eyes: MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study; some nameless ancient matte taupe Aveda powder eyeshadow; Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara

If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too

We all know that celebrity endorsement is a marketing tactic most successful with 13 year old girls (see: Kardashian hair products/makeup/self tanner) and risks backfiring when the association of some celebrities may actually be a deterrent (see: above). Allure magazine recently played a nasty trick on some hairstylists by disguising the labels on the Kardashian hair products before putting them to the test. They said most of the stuff was meh but were surprised by a couple of standout products. (Somewhat surprisingly, I was still not tempted to try it myself despite the rave reviews, another testament to the power of the Kardashian name.)

Upon playing with a sample of Kat Von D Lockit Foundation that came in both (ahem) this week’s Sephora orders, I was surprised to see a product that lived up to its (quite lofty) promises despite being celebrity endorsed (and by a cheesy celebrity of questionable decision making ability, at that). The stuff gives serious coverage and lasts for damn near ever, without a chalky or matte corpse like finish. The sample shade (48) was too pink for me but the tidal wave of grease on my face oxidized it ever so slightly to almost perfect. I felt a little grandma wearing foundation that actually looked like foundation, but this would be a nice weapon to have in the arsenal for times of dire straits. (read: It would have been nice to have this last week when my face was covered in bruises from the PRP injections.) Here it is, 12 hours after application, no primer. I took this photo in the direct blazing 5 pm sunlight which we all look like shit in. Amazing how much is still there. 

Now I feel compelled to go check out the rest of Kat’s line, as much as I don’t want to admit it. Again, fuck you, Sephora.  

Let’s do this. *cue confetti and party hats*

I’m a pathologist, a physician that examines human tissue under the microscope, looking for abnormal cells. And I’m female. And (relatively) young. What mental image popped into your mind’s eye? A plain-Jane bookish woman, wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a conservative suit? Perhaps a mousy, humorless, furrowed-brow type in a stained lab coat? What color is my hair? Am I wearing an outfit from J. Jill? A thumb ring? Louboutins? Wait. What kind of physician wears agonizing 5 inch heels that cost more than rent? It’s so… impractical. If your doctor wore Loubs, would you somehow begin to question her sensibility? Would that budding skepticism also question her diagnostic acumen or fund of medical knowledge?

I — along with many professional women — have felt and still feel the pressure to downplay our trivial and/or socially unacceptable interests in the workplace in fear our competence would be questioned. It’s okay for men to spend hundreds of dollars and many hours trying to get a tiny white ball into a tiny hole in the ground, but women can’t enjoy shopping without being superficial or makeup without being vain. We’re apparently only supposed to jam on yoga and babies. It’s bullshit. So when I saw a feature about a pharmacist on Into The Gloss (, I was stoked. Inspired, I threw together a piece, took a few shitty pictures, sent them into the stratosphere and promptly forgot about it, figuring my unglamorous life (see: clogs, industrial park) would not provoke much interest.

Imagine my shock when ITG reached out six weeks later and said they wanted to use it, calling my bluff. Cue the immediate existential crisis. Do I want an article about skincare and makeup to come up when a patient Googles me? Or how about my colleagues, or potential employers? Fret, fret, fret. I mean, I was mortified posting photos of my products on Instagram. Who was going to judge me there, my tattoo artist? The other crazy cat ladies? Stupid. Stupid! Given that I am generally unconcerned with other people’s opinions of me, this was asinine. I said to myself, fuck it. You’re a medical director. You manage other pathologists. You’ve been in practice for over five years. You’re not posting photos of yourself snorting coke in a strip club. You’ve earned the right to talk about silly shit and not be embarrassed about it.

And so it was:

And so it is.

Welcome. We’re going to be talking about a lot of silly shit here.