Musings on effortless beauty, from an apprentice of the science of skin.


Treat yo self… to divalicious Tatcha Aburatorigami gold leaf blotting papers. Lord knows we all need something to take the shine away and although I prefer toilet paper (readily available, absorbent, and economical), we all need a little something to remind us of the goddess inside on these sticky summer days.

(photo credit: John Bentham)

Bump it good.


I bet a kitty fist bump is WAY cuter than the angry red bumps in your armpits.  With the glorious summer heat, I have gotten many a cry for help for these pesky things that pop up after shaving and that keep your arms glued to your sides, even while jammin’ at a summer concert. 

Another name for this unsightly phenomenon is underarm folliculitis. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body with hair and is a local infection of the hair follicle, due to bacteria and blockage and damage of the follicle from shaving and ingrown hairs.  The moist, schweaty environment in your pits can also cause occlusion and irritation of your follicles, making them red, angry, and bumpy, and sometimes even pus-filled. 

All in all, it’s an unpleasant side effect of the summer. Now you know its name, how do you fight it? Start with a simple warm compress and a gentle massaging motion after showers, to open up those blocked pores. This is sometimes all your tempermental armpit follicles need to chill out.  If your pits are still acting up, The Cool Fix is a great product that contains salicylic acid and glycolic acid, both useful in emptying out those pores, as well as some soothing agents. As always, if it’s very severe, it’s best to get the opinion of a dermatologist, they have other, bigger guns in their bag of tricks. 

Get those underarms under control and finish out this summer wearing tube tops and halters without shame! WERQ. 

Be humble, for you are made of earth.
Be noble, for you are made of stars

—Serbian Proverb 

Wise words.

(Source: dreamhampton1, via hybridchic)

Nuts for Coconuts?


Have you heard the news? There’s a hundred uses for coconut oil, all of which end up making you younger, richer, and more good-looking.  I never buy into hype, but after the millionth time someone told me I should be using the stuff and finding myself nearly buying a jar from Trader Joe’s, I figured I should launch a coco-vestigation of my own. 

The anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidizing mojo of coconut oil is purported to cure dry skin, acned skin, rough skin, dry hair, frizzy hair, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis and fungal-ed toenail. Although I completely agree that its emollient nature will definitely help those dry hair and nail issues, is it really cure for the more severe skin ailments? In my digging, I found that a component of coconut oil, lauric acid, has been seen in the lab to be effective in killing the bacteria guilty of causing nasty blemishes.  However, the pure oil form has not been tested on human skin, so it’s questionable whether or not  slopping the stuff on your zits will actually work.  I say stick to the proven guns… 

But that’s not all! Another study showed that virgin coconut oil is actually effective in killing staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria known to trigger flares of eczema.  I was actually surprised at these findings and with all the coco-buzz, I guarantee there is more research to come.  All in all, I think coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer that could be beneficial to all my eczema sufferers out there.. Make it a coco-spa day: slap it on after your shower while enjoying a nice, cold pina colada. 

I still can’t help thinking that this coco-oil hype is just a way to get rid of all the coconut by-product of coconut water production.. a la Proctor and Gamble’s invention and PR blitz of Crisco, made from cottonseed oil for candle making rendered useless by the invention of electricity.  Odd tangent, I know, but nonetheless, fascinating!


Treat yo self… To Melvita Rose Floral Water, $22. When I found this in my Birchbox, I thought ‘why would I need old lady spritzer?’ Oh boy, was I mistaken.. It’s AMAZINGLY refreshing after a 14 hour shift in the hospital. After a mist temples and neck, I felt like a new woman. A must for my jet-setting, bossy divas! 

matcharamen asked: Hi! What are some safe acne/spot treatments for pregnancy?

Thanks for the message! I think anything over the counter is safe if you’re preggers. You’re using such minimal amounts on the skin than it’s insignificant what is actually being absorbed into the blood stream. The only thing I would avoid is anything containing retinols, although only very large doses can lead to birth defects.

Clean and clear spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide is pretty good. Plain white toothpaste works to dry out pesky pimples too. I would also recommend getting squalene to help heal and make concealing easy peasy. Ultimately, you have to get ahead of the acne by using a benzoyl peroxide face wash daily.

Be forewarned, with the hormone changes of pregnancy, acne can flare up and it could be helpful to get a dermatologist on board if it gets too severe.

Congratulations and hope this helps!


A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.


Although this blanket statement by Coco Chanel may not necessarily hold true, I think the mechanics of a good perfume is good know for a discerning lady such as yourself.  Don’t you hate it when you spend a small fortune on a bottle of sweet elixir that evaporates as soon as it dries on your skin? How are you supposed to attract that special someone without enhanced pheremones? 

Perfume is essentially the mix of water, ethanol, and a concentrated aromatic compound. I never put much thought into this, but the fancy french names of colognes actually indicate where they fall on the perfume concentration scale.  

-Eau de Parfum= 10-20%.  Described somewhere as “olfactory shoulder pads,” this class usually embodies the strongest, most concentrated scents. Think CoCo by Chanel.

-Eau de toilette= 5-15% (usually around 10%).  The less aggressive, poorman’s daytime scent for all occasions, coming from the French phrase “faire sa toilette,” describing the ritual of getting dressed. 

-Eau de Cologne= 3-8%. A light, citrus perfume without a base scent.  Sold to the masses at apothecaries and now in the Duane Reade, to get more bang for the buck. 

The higher the concentration, the “stickier” the scent is and the longer it will last on your skin.  The lower the concentration, the more water and ethanol there is and POOF, just in like that, your sexy scent is gone for the day. 

My interest in fragrance was piqued after a visit to Atelier Cologne, a fragrance boutique in Nolita NYC, where I was treated to a 45 minute crash course in the art of scent.  After years of buying the hottest Marc Jacobs scent (usually around 10-12%) and ending up smelling like myself (ew) after a few short hours, I discovered this brilliant combination of a light, citrus scent in the concentration of eau de parfum, at close to 20%.  It sticks like nothing I’ve ever tried and because of that, the scent evolves and changes to the personal chemistry of the wearer. After 14 hours of wear, I still can smell it on myself.  You can’t find that kind of fragrance satisfaction just anywhere.  My scent, Oolong Infini, is described as “cool gin and citrus opening followed by an afternoon tea heart of smoky oolong before retiring to the wood paneled drawing room for a whiff of tobacco.”  Doesn’t get sexier than that.

Another little nugget I got from that fateful day was how to apply perfume. NEVER RUB.  It crushes the fragrance molecules, altering the anatomy of the scent. Spray on pulse points (wrists, base of the throat, behind ear lobes, inner elbows, behind knees), where the radiating heat warms the scent, making it stick, all the while emanating the scent into your space.

This is my homage to fragrance, the finishing touch of any diva beauty routine.  Spend a little time searching for your signature scent, it’s an investment worth making.  You gotta work to WERQ. 

Brazilian Artist Trying to Catalog Every Human Skin Tone


A selection of portraits from the Humanae project. (Photo:

We eagerly wait for Pantone’s color forecasts every year to start raving about the “It” colors of the season (here’s to you, Tangerine Tango). The company’s bread-and-butter, however, is their famed universal color matching system. Now Brazilian-born artist Angelica Dass is using the Pantone shading system in a whole new way with the Humanae project. Dass, who studied fashion design in Rio de Janeiro before turning to photography, is setting out to “record and catalog all possible human skin tones,” as her website explains. 

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The colors of the human rainbow. Fascinating.


Treat yo self… to a baby Vaseline, $1.39. Also known as Vaseline Lip Therapy, it’s pretty much an adorable, purse friendly jar of cure-all petroleum jelly. Although I don’t love it for the lips, it’s perfect for those random dry, itchy, flaky rashes that are just crying out for a little hydration and protection from the elements.  I never leave home without it and neither does Baby Louis Vuitton Don.