Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Crying Shame

So, to catch you up: we’re buying a house.

And it needs a lot of work.

And while my other half is super (annoyingly) crafty and can build things just by THINKING about them–whereas my home improvement skills are strictly limited to vetoing paint colors and moving all the furniture to one side of the room so I can do some half-assed workout video–we definitely have a very, very limited budget.

Luckily we work in real estate development, so when the opportunity to straight up cannibalize another (way nicer) house came along, we jumped on it. Grabbed our crow bars, loaded up the ipod with some Ke$ha, and started tearing stuff out and boxing it up.

It’s been dirty and sweaty and fun, if you’re the kind of person who thinks bubble wrapping shower heads and coming face-to-face with the limits of your own meager physical strength on a daily basis is fun.

Anyway. Today I was in the middle of taking down some light fixtures in the house that we’re going to use parts from to renovate our own shack– and the key word here is shack, because the house we’re buying is pretty busted but the house we are cannibalizing is DOPE AS HELL and totally tricked out– when I heard a thunderous crash and had what I assume is the worst thought any human has ever had, which was:

Please let that have been someone getting shot.

Please let that thunderous, terrifying crash have been someone I care about DYING…as long as it wasn’t the marble…

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Friends for your Manfriend

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, for which my boyfriend will most likely get me something impressive and expensive and elaborately romantic and I will inevitably get him something that I really just want for myself but that I am masquerading as a gift for “us” (cough cough ROOMBA cough), I thought I’d switch it up for a sec and focus on man products, because men need skin love too, love is in the air, whatever.

I also think that in a world (the beauty world, I mean– though wouldn’t it be great if that really was a separate world, though? And you could live in a house made entirely of beauty products? That’s my Hansel and Gretel fantasy, step into my brain for a sec) where beauty products are marketed almost exclusively to women (using a distinctly heteronormative marketing system that places value judgements on women’s faces and bodies as if they are a commons to be governed and critiqued  by the masses) I think maybe it’s good to remind people of the fact that these so-called “beauty” products can be co-opted by men, for their use, without stigma that “beautifying oneself” or “beauty” in general is inherently feminine, and therefore emasculating.

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THIS dude know’s what’s up.

 

Anyway. My friend Chad sidled up to me recently and sort of covered his mouth as he asked me: Shmuufh dspfml dosshh shmuudle shmuff shhhhh?

And I was like, Chad, what are you saying, I can’t hear you, stop covering your mouth.

So he took his hand away, dropped his voice to a whisper and said: “What are some good products for guys to use?”

And then my heart exploded into a thousand pieces and it rained sparkles and candy for three hours, because do you know how hard it is to get the men in my life to even CONSIDER using a face product? Do you know how hard it is to get them to even use the WORD product? It’s impossible. I have tried and failed and whined about it for a long, long time, until people drop their eyes and mutter about having to go home and feed a nonexistent cat and then slowly back away from me until they can break into a run.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Chad spends a ton of time outdoors because he is a crazy cyclist. So he’s constantly putting tons of sunscreen onto his face to avoid developing a giant melanoma spot across his whole forehead and over time that gunk cakes up and clogs his pores. Universal beauty problem that transcends gender.

My boyfriend, like every other dude here in Florida, would trade in his legs for waterskis if it meant he could spend every moment of the rest of his life out on the ocean, chasing some big fish and terrorizing it half to death. So he gets a TON of sun as well, and while he will haphazardly slap some sunscreen on his mug every once in a while, he already has enough sun damage to make me worry about a future scary mole situation. (Never mind the fact that he may one day resemble an actual leather handbag– he’s not concerned about that shit.)

And even though he may not care about getting skin cancer, he DEFINITELY still gets self conscious if he gets a honking zit, and he is always complaining about the ingrown hairs he gets after shaving. UNIVERSAL BEAUTY PROBLEMS TRANSCENDING GENDER AGAIN.

There are, of course, a whole slew of amazing men’s products out there. (Those of us with gay manfriends may have even gotten drunk and snuck into the bathroom to smell their products longingly–so much menthol! So much sandalwood! But I’ve definitely never done that. Ever.)

But most of the dudes I know can’t be bothered to mess around with anything more than a scraggly shard of Irish Spring, and while Details magazine may insist that 7 out of 10 dudes are using women’s products in secret or whatever, I do not buy that. I do not buy that for a seeeeecccccccoooonnnnnd. I think most guys are too lazy to really get into facial products, and while they wouldn’t technically mind using one that made them look better (as long as it smelled neutral, looked like it was for men, and was supremely uncomplicated to apply) they are more concerned with things like which razors don’t shred their cheeks, or which hair wax  keeps their hair spiky through the very last fist bump.

Also, hello, men’s skin is hella different than women’s. It’s thicker, fattier, it binds water better, produces more sebum and it occasionally sprouts massive amounts of hair. So they need different stuff than us.

We’re looking for products that multitask, look slick, smell manly and get shit done. (Oh, and they can’t be expensive because show me the straight man who is willing to spend a ton of money on products when he could be buying beer. I would like to meet that guy and shake his sweet-smelling, well-moisturized hand.)

Here are a few that are, in my humble opinion, pretty bitchin…

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This is a unisex product that is inexpensive compared to many of the Men’s aftershave-type products that you see on the market today. It’s excellent for stopping ingrown hairs, and while it stings like a motherfucker if you apply it right after shaving or waxing, its worth the 10 seconds of pain. Dudes who are especially prone to ingrowns (red, inflamed, occasionally white-tipped bumps that seemingly crop up overnight and wreck your whole game) should apply to the shaven area once a day. It doesn’t smell, it comes in a nice blue bottle, and it works.

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Givenchy has come out with a men’s skincare line that tickles my ribs for two reasons: one, it has quality ingredients, and two: the person writing their copy is a batshit maniac, and I love me some crazy. They talk big game about how their products have HIGHER CONCENTRATIONS OF INGREDIENTS, which means HIGHER EFFECTIVENESS (not necessarily but we’ll let it go) and how you only need to USE IT ONCE, SO YOU SAVE YOUR MAN TIME, but the best part by far is that all their products descriptions begin with the question– literally– “Are you man enough?”

Are you man enough to use a face cream, dude? Are you man enough to PUT THIS FUCKING CREAM ALL OVER YOUR FACE LIKE A MAN AND THEN PRIMAL SCREAM AND EAT SOME MEAT? AHHHHHHH! MAN CREAMS!!!!!!

But seriously. This is a great daily moisturizer.

It has one of my favorite acids, Hyaluronic, which will keep his skin soft and exfoliated. It’s got some nice vitamins, it absorbs quickly, and it can help to combat some minor fine lines which no one is going to complain about.

 

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This product is EXCELLENT, and while it’s worked for me in the past I know a lot of women for whom the 10% Glycolic was just too drying or harsh. The men I know who use this, however, have never had a problem. This is an excellent option for guys who are suffering from clogged pores, acne, or overall dullness. I’ve also seen it even out patchiness, fade acne marks, and heal the sick.

That last one might be untrue but it’s really a wonderful product that isn’t going to break the bank, can be bought online while one is still in one’s flannel pajama pants, and brings dramatic results in a reasonable time frame. Great choice for dudes who use sunscreen daily and need to strip their face down at night– and it should only be used at night, since it makes you sensitive to the sun and interacts with sunscreen.

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This one is mine, and I use it weekly– but somehow I’ve also convinced my obliging other half to try it out (maybe because it’s black and looks a little bit like corpse paint?) and it’s just such a great product, for both men and women. Great for clearing out pores, bringing an overall tightness and clarity to the skin. Contains both charcoal and clay, two absolute heavyweights when it comes to face masks, plus it’s natural and relatively cheap. If you’re ever going to convince your dude to do a face mask, this one might be it. It smells medicinal, not floral, and you look like a member of KISS when you apply it.

Ditto this other luminizing mask by Boscia, which is also truly great and even BLACKER so you really look like you’re in Halloween costume and can scare the shit out of anyone who decides to swing by to visit.

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The Origins mask gets washed off while the Boscia mask gets peeeeeeeeeeeeled off slowly (which is great for exfoliating the top layer of the skin while drawing out any impurities that are easily extracted) so if your guy was a fan of peeling elmer’s glue off his hands back in grade school you might convince him to try this mask just on the basis of that alone.

Truly all of the above products can be used by women as well, but some may be a bit harsh for sensitive skin and are better left to the burly lumberjack (who still pines for radiant skin! I KNOW YOU EXIST) in your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, guys– I wish you love, happiness, and totally rad skin.

Gender-neutrally yours,

-M

 

Long Read for Long Rides

I’m traveling home to Boston for the Thanksgiving holiday and post-holiday festivities (read: sleeping on my face while complaining that I ate too many slices of pie, claiming it is too cold outside to leave the house, etc.)

Then I’m flying to L.A., then back to Boston, then out to the Caribbean for a vacation with my family, then back to Florida, then to Panama.

I am basically a flight attendant, but without the cute kick-pleat skirt and the massive amounts of irradiation.

(Let’s get this out of the way before it becomes a problem: I am aware of my super blessed, lucky-as-shit existence and the fact that I get to travel awesome places and eat many foreign meats. I’m incredibly thankful and it’s not permanent so I take it while it’s here. I’m present in my moment. Don’t worry, this is not the blog of a haughty rich person. I WISH.)

SO: My current life has arranged itself as such that get to fly places a lot. And I often arrive at my destination much faster than I would have if I’d taken, say, an oxen or tricycle. So yes, flying is technically great. It’s a triumph of mankind and it means I get to arrive at very dope places for adventures and revelry or whatever.

But flying a lot is, in and of itself, mostly bad. I AM NOT COMPLAINING JUST BEAR WITH ME FOR A SECOND. PUT DOWN YOUR ROTTEN FRUIT.

First of all, flying is fucking hell on your skin. And of course — big surprise coming, get ready for it —  I struggle to condense my toiletries into one tiny ziplock bag. I’m one taser zap away from a strip search when TSA starts getting on my case as to whether my weird body butter  is a cream or a liquid and I’m all DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT MAKING ME THROW THIS OUT IT IS FRENCH AND EXPENSIVE AND IT SMELLS LIKE MERMAIDS, I WILL EAT IT BEFORE YOU MAKE ME LEAVE IT BEHIND.

I am always dressed inappropriately for the too-hot or too-cold plane cabin because I flat out REFUSE to be one of those chicks who wears sweatpants and carries a pillow for a three hour domestic flight. (To those chicks: Calm down, okay? You’re just going to be sitting down for three hours. Keep your bra on. This isn’t hypersleep.)

And I usually get seated next to the person who grows garlic and raises wildebeest for a living. Or the raving, closetalker missionary who is deeply concerned about my immortal soul. Or in that horrible zone of the plane that always, always, for the entire flight, smells like a cross between egg rolls and farts.

Some kid kicks my seat the whole way. I get thrown up on. My feet get stepped on. I sit on gum. Something punctured a waterbottle in the overhead compartment and it’s leaking directly onto my head. I’m seated in the middle seat next to the bathroom and everyone onboard ate Indian food for lunch.

But you know what? I expect these things. They are part of the privilege of zooming around in the air like a fucking miracle, arriving in places where the timezone dictates you’ve actually travelled back in time to get there like something out of a Philip K Dick novel….I mean, come on. Flying is crazy. We live in the future. We are an episode of the Jetsons.

But the one given about flying that I WILL NOT  accept as part of the miraculous package is that when I arrive somewhere I have to look like I travelled there on the bottom of someone else’s shoe, with my face simultaneously greasy and dry and my hair looking flat and pathetic. I do not accept this. I want to arrive places looking beautiful and so unreasonably vibrant and fresh that people assume I am famous in Korea.

I have amassed some tools to help with this.

Below, find Maxine’s 5 Must-haves for Any Long Flight (or short flight where someone who matters will pick you up at the airport)

1. Prepare your hair like you’re going to sleep the night before the school play. By which I mean, braid that shit (loosely or tightly, depending on your hair texture) and gently mist it with some water (scented with essential oils if you want to be fancy and treat your seatmate to some nice inflight aromatherapy) before you leave. Right before you land, unbraid it, tousle like you’re being filmed in slow motion and maybe sprinkle some travel-sized hair powder on your roots if you had to wake up HELLA early and didn’t have time to shower. (Lulu Organics makes some nicely scented natural ones. I also like Ojon’s little one.) If you have straightish hair, this also works with any sort of beach hair spray, like this one. If you have curly/frizzy hair, I like to work some of this through while my hair is still damp and pre-braided. Get creative.

2. Turn your tiny square of airspace into a mini-spa. Spa is a frame of mind, okay? Go ahead. Cross-stitch that shit and frame it. Hang it on your cubicle wall. SPA IS A FRAME OF MIND. That means do what you need to do to take yourself out of the air (not literally, you would die) and into a thatched room on the beach in Bali or a birch wood sweat lodge in Sweden…whatever, your spa place is your spa place. But treat yourself nicely. Use this time to catch up on all the pampering you haven’t had time to do. I have literally applied face masks on overnight flights. I like to glob some LacHydrin onto my feet, throw some socks on over those puppies and spend the rest of the flight letting my heels take on the texture of whipped cream.

Get to work on yourself! Apply a dense, softly scented moisturizing lotion to your hands, décolletage, elbows and feet. (I love this one, this one and this one.) Spritz your face with a gentle toning or balancing mist (Jurlique makes some excellent options) and use the flight to apply a really dense conditioning treatment for your lips and under-eye area. (I use La Mer because I think I am an actual celebrity. Which brings us to….)

3. Pretend you are Gwyneth Paltrow.* This is the most important one. This means: treat traveling like it’s an exhausting but necessary part of your breathtaking, ultra-fab life. Treat this time like you are a member of an elite, super-special class of über humans who do not normally interact with everyday nobodies. Treat your time in the sky as an extension of your five-star time on land. Wrap yourself in a supersoft pashmina. Refuse to take off your sunglasses. Wear large, noise-cancelling headphones (they don’t even have to be plugged into anything– you’re just signaling the rest of the world that they are not to speak to you.) Drink only water, no drying alcohol or sugary sodas. You’re GWYNETH FREAKING PALTROW, people, you can’t be putting that shit into your body!

Pull the shade down. Ignore every idiot who tries to talk to you about their hedge fund. Read British Vogue. Bring your own raw snacks onboard and pity the fools who have to order the Mrs. Fields cookie. Bring a notebook and spend the flight writing down things that are important to say to your celebrity friends. Say no to autographs. Say yes to oversized cashmere. Be a first class icon who is making the best of it in coach. Be humble and silent and kind of austere. Be a boss bitch. Just take care of YOU, only for those few hours that you’re flying “you” is actually a millionaire lifestyle brand. It is okay to tell the smelly garlic and wildebeest farmer to leave you alone (kindly, if possible.) It is okay to tell the parents of the seat-kicking child that they need to reign in their demon spawn. Take out your lavender-scented eyemask, put in your earplugs, maybe take some Ativan if you’re down with that. YOU’RE GWYNETH FREAKING PALTROW, okay? You need your rest.

4. Make flying a DISCOVERY PARTY. Bring something delightful for all your senses. Something new you’ve never heard or read or applied to your elbows. Something exciting. Something that will take your mind off the fact that you are hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet in what is essentially a shiny silver death trap. I like to bring new music and a weird type of chocolate, the latter of which covers two of my senses (three if it feels weird in my mouth!) and helps me feel like I am having a special treat. If every flight you take is a guaranteed opportunity to experience something new and interesting, you will never find yourself rifling through the SkyMall catalogue thinking Yes, Yes I Do Need A Canine Genealogy Kit. Boredom is your enemy, here. Vanquish it before it has a chance to take root. In an emergency, give yourself a creative task: I will count every bald spot on this plane! I will DRAW every bald spot on this plane! With my eyes closed! On cocktail napkins! With eyeliner! Be specific.

5. If at all possible, do not check luggage. I learned this the hard way, when I was straight up not given a choice and found myself crying atop a giant pile of half-folded sun dresses, contemplating NOT GOING ON VACATION because I couldn’t just pick three goddamn sundresses to pack instead of ten. GROW UP, PUT AWAY SEVEN OF THOSE DRESSES, PAST SELF.

I fought it hard. I am a chronic over-packer; I bring backup rain boots. But I have learned that it is almost always, always, always worth it to just pack carry-on. It makes your whole airline experience a breeze, and it makes you more aware of what you actually need and don’t need. (Also, it gives you an excuse to be like OH SORRY I DIDN’T PACK A DRESS FOR THE OPERA, GUESS YOU’LL HAVE TO BUY ME ONE, I JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE LOOKED UP WHERE THE H&M IS IN VENICE.) Be smart. Pack enough undies, roll your clothes, only bring one pair of dark jeans, only bring one pair of boots, bring a spangly necklace and just make sure everything you DO bring is so fabulous looking that no one will notice you’ve already worn it 2x. Print out your boarding passes ahead of time and then stroll right past those crazy-long lines of sad families traveling to Disney World bringing a whole cartload of bags with them. (What the hell did you pack in there? Are you bringing like 15 more pairs of white sneakers?)

The truth is, no one is thinking about you or looking at you as much as you ever think they are (unless you are Gwyneth Paltrow, fine) so do yourself a favor and pack light, travel easier and consign yourself to re-wearing the same black tank top three times. No one will notice. Do not worry if the people around you are giving you weird looks because you’re applying this face mask while they are eating pretzels and watching Tower Heist. You are in the spa state of mind. Do not think about other people. You’re in a beach hut in Bali! There are no other people. You are a professional. You are discovering new music, enjoying new types of chocolate. You are sitting back with your head wrapped in a soft, woven scarf, listening to Bjork and smelling nice smells. Your hair is braided. Your elbows are creamed. You are relaxed. You are content. You are Gwyneth Freaking Paltrow. Enjoy your flight.

 

Soaring through the air with the softest of heels,
M

 

*may be substituted for: Beyonce, Posh Spice, Martha Stewart, Mariah Carey, J.Lo, or diva of equal worth.

Prime Suspect

Confession: I slather things on my face.

I don’t apply them carefully with expensive brushes and $8 sponges. Who has time for that? No, seriously, I work from home and I still don’t have time for that.

There’s very little delicacy involved in my daily application of products– almost none, really, if we’re being totally honest here.

I rarely pat, or mist, or brush something lightly onto my skin with the eyelashes of babies. Because first of all, that would be terrifying. And second, I am just not a delicate girl! I’m not. I’ve accepted it. I crash into things, I break them, I offer to pay for them (when everyone knows I can’t, really, but it’s the thought that counts, right? RIGHT?)

I like to feel things, I like to pick them up and play with them and squish them accidentally. I like to finger-paint my face. I like to over-indulge, and I have a hard time with moderation; if applying something 1x a day is good, than THREE times a day must be great, right? I am messy. I use my hands to eat foods that are not finger foods. I am a TACTILE MOTHERFUCKER.

This all leads to a veritable oil-slick of an epidermis most mornings. Concealer half-smeared across my cheeks, moisturizers fighting for space, two types of liquid blush all mushed together, five layers of serums and sunblocks and magical potions I mixed in my golden cauldron while speaking latin……I put a lot of shit on my face, okay? And that means that I’m usually working with a less-than-perfect piece of skin on which to put my actual makeup. I slather. Like icing a cake in the dark, I slaaaaather on my products. The sunblocks alone could cushion a small comet if it flew into the side of my face.

Now normally — when it’s time to put on my usual liquid eyeliner– if I didn’t take some small precaution? That careful cat’s eye would end up down by my chin before the day was over.

It doesn’t, though. My mascara stays put, my eyeliner remains fresh and doo-wop pretty, my face looks fresh to death when I arrive on the scene and demand they play that song I like. You know, the one with the hand claps and the children’s chorus? You know it.

Now, the reason my makeup doesn’t melt like a Carvel cake at a midsummer birthday party?

I prime this bitch like a motherfucker.

That’s vulgar, I know. It’s an un-ladylike thing to say. I should encourage you to “create a smooth, crease-free canvas upon which to feather your makeup with fingers light as air.” Who TALKS like this? I am not a PAINTER, my face is not MY CANVAS. MY FACE IS MY FACE, AND MY FACE HAS A LOT OF STUFF ON IT.

So I use shadow primer. And then I win at life. Because I get to keep slathering on my products with abandon, and I still get to look put together and bright eyed and polished.

Primer, to break it down for you, is a product (usually a cream, but sometimes a powder…though I’ve found the creamy ones work a lot better) you apply to literally “prime” your skin before you put on your makeup. For eyeshadow primer, which is what I’m most passionate about, you’re painting on a coat of neutral-colored cream that, once dry, is going to block any oils from your skin (or from slathered on products) from interfering with your eye makeup… those oils that usually cause eye shadows to crease, liners to move/bleed, and mascaras to smear. By priming the surface of the skin, you’re essentially giving yourself a shield to wear under your makeup. It’s magical. 

Seriously, if I could impart any wisdom to you– if I could convince you to purchase just ONE product that seems like it’s overkill, seems like it belongs in the makeup bag of the type of chick who calls her face her Canvas and always smells like rosewater, it would be this: makeup primer is actually really awesome, and worth the extra five seconds it takes your lazy ass to apply.

No matter how much goop I glob (look at that alliteration!) on myself, if I use primer on my eyes (and I mean my lids, my creases, and my under-eye area as well) I will remain flawless-looking for the day.

This one is my favorite:

I want to marry this tube and have 5 tube-shaped babies with it. I do.

It’s eighteen dollars, and you use a tiny little bead of it at a time because it spreads well. So a tube can last you at LEAST 4 months, usually 6…sometimes up to a year. What a BARGAIN, right?

This stuff! This stuff is so great, you guys. It’s like a layer of someone else’s skin on top of your skin. Someone who is a model and who never sweats, whose eyeshadow never creases and who dates Leo DiCaprio on the regular. This is the get-up-on-a-banquette-and-dance-in-a-too-small-dress, I-know-I-look-amazing-and-you-wish-you-were-me of products. It is CONFIDENT and PERFECT and makes you feel like a zillion bucks. Or at the very least, it makes you feel secure. I check my makeup about zero times a day when I wear this stuff, just because I know it’s not going anywhere (so let’s hope I applied it right the first time, you know? Ugh.)

There are other primers out there that have their own crazy cult followings and they deserve them, I’m sure. Personally I think they’re all pretty much the same, except some cost more or less and some smell different. Some are lighter than others, some are made specifically for when you want to wear glitter. (Who are you? Who are you that needs a special glitter primer? I’m just asking.) There are actual FACE primers if you wear a lot of foundation/concealer/blush and find those products have a propensity to run on you. Do some exploring! Put some on your face, see if you like them!

I’m just encouraging you to use a primer, ANY PRIMER, for God’s sake– just use one, any of them. It will change your whole game up.

This Lorac one is fucking GREAT, and I go back and forth between this and the above Too Faced one. If you are feeling splurgish, go for broke and pay the extra three bucks for this one: Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer.

Also in the running: NARSMakeup Forever,   and Urban Decay. Three fantastic products that I heartily recommend.

Take this step. Ensure your face looks fresh all day, even when you’re wearing 5 layers of sunblock. Give yourself creaseless lids, smearless liner and smudgeless mascara. (None of those is a real adjective, I know, but it’s my blog and I will misspell if I want to.)

Primed and ready (in the strictly non-prostitute sense),

M