This Is My Skin on Technology

Just a picture of me and my face.

Just a picture of me and my face.

It occurred to me recently that my vanity is crowded not only with makeup, nail polish, curling irons, and various skin creams, but also quite a few items that can be reasonably categorized as technology. It also occurred to me that I love not having to go to a spa to use these devices. That’s exactly how lazy I am: going to a spa is even too much work. Luckily, if you throw a little money at the situation (though less than it would likely cost for a few spa treatments), you, too, can use these treatments in the comfort of your own home. Here are my tried and true beauty technologies. Note: when my husband looked at this post, he said: “They all look like pain machines.” I promise only one of them hurts (only just a little).
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Work in Progress

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Some bloggers, writers, designers (fill in creative-type person here) have a strong voice and solid point of view at a young age. Take Man Repeller, for example. She was in her ’20s when her blog, with it’s great photos and confident, hilarious writing, became huge. Or Alexandar Wang. He was a youngster when he saw major success as a designer. But for the majority of us, it takes a little longer.
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Procrastinators, Unite


local take



You can order these cute Maggie Hurley giclee prints on wood and have them delivered on the same day with Six Doors

I am probably the worst procrastinator I’ve ever known. And despite limited scientific evidence that procrastination might actually help you get things done, I’ve always felt it’s mostly a bad trait of mine, especially around the holidays. Baking, decorating and, of course, shopping, end up getting done under duress. But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore, thanks to the amazing advances in shipping speed our civilization has seen in recent years. Case in point: Six Doors lets you ship on the same day as you order from a slew of  San Francisco boutiques, including Aldea Home + Baby, A&G Merch, Local Take, Urban Mercantile and tons more.

The folks at Six Doors asked me to curate a collection for them, which you can check out when you download the app. It’s entitled: “California Cool: Gifts cool kids of all ages will love.” It includes a beer bottle belt buckle, antler bottle openers, a really cute toddler dress, a terrarium, and lots more. All of these things you can not only have delivered on the same day as you order, but Six Doors will DELIVER FOR FREE in San Francisco until Christmas Eve—if the store’s open, they’ll deliver. Don’t you feel super ahead of the game all of a sudden?

Buying a Diamond? Take This Test First!

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‘Tis the season to get down on one knee. It’s so romantic! Yet so fraught with nerves and uncertainties. Will your love say yes? What if she/he HATES THE RING?! Relax, I can help. 1. Of course she will, you’re awesome! 2. She is 90 percent (non-scientific estimate) more likely to LOVE the ring if you take Blue Nile’s Leave Nothing to Chance quiz first.

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Science of Style Friday: Do Horizontal Stripes Make You Look Fat? The Debate Rages

I’ve written about the science of stripes before, but new research has emerged and it’s time for an update. Especially since it’s summer, when nautical vacations call for sporting nautical blue (or red, or whatever) stripes. 

It’s a long-held belief that stripes going across the body will make you look short and fat. But a researcher in the U.K. seemed to have proven that’s empirically untrue. He showed that quite the opposite is actually the case. 

In 2008, Peter Thomson, a “perception expert” at the University of York took up the issue. He showed study volunteers 200 sets of pictures featuring women, all the same size, wearing horizontal and vertical stripes (in two separate outfits, of course). The vast majority of volunteers perceived the horizontally-striped women as thinner. He dug even deeper and found that even women wearing horizontal stripes who were 6 percent larger than those wearing vertical stripes could appear to be the same size. Audrey Lustig, who studies cognitive neuroscience, breaks the matter down even further at Ionpsych, if you’re interested.

I know you ain’t callin’ my baby fat. 

The idea (which is counter-intuitive today) that vertical stripes make you look wider and horizontal stripes make you look thinner goes all the way back to Hermann von Helmholtz, who theorized as much in the 19th century. But we’ve been ignoring the “Helmholtz effect” for more than 100 years. Isn’t that that is just rude? But we may have good reason. 

Last year, a woman named Val Waltham won the BBC Amateur Scientist Award for showing exactly the opposite. She put women in vertically and horizontally-striped outfits, took them out on the street and asked 500 passersby what they thought. In this case, the majority thought the horizontal stripes made women look bigger. 

The difference between the two studies is that the 2008 version used images, while in 2012, Waltham used real women. It would seem the latter is a more accurate way to judge. But, as scientists always say, a single study doesn’t prove anything, and more research is needed! 

Personally, I love Breton stripes and I feel strongly that if you find a stripe you like, you should wear it. Mama is Haute says even the French don’t find them too cliche to wear oftene—so you know they’re très chic. 

Published with Monogram

Science of Style Friday: Don’t Get Tan for Vitamin D

Last year when I had my annual physical exam, my doctor took all the typical blood tests. I got a letter in the mail a couple months later saying I was quite healthy except for one thing. I’m vitamin D deficient. I was so… embarrassed! Am I really that much of a nerdy, antisocial homebody who stays indoors in front of my computer so much that it’s making me unhealthy? The ultimate irony, it seemed, was that a year previous we had just moved to the BEACH. I can see the ocean from my house—my Instagram feed proves it. If I’m not getting enough sun now, something is seriously wrong. I know what you’re thinking: it’s foggy in Pacifica. But 80 percent of the sun’s rays shine right through the mist, OK?

So I did a little research (read: Googling), and it turns out, instead of being embarrassed, I should have been concerned for my health. Since vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, a study in the July 10 issue of Science found that people with vitamin D efficiency not only have bones that are less dense, but that are also more brittle. A study that came out in Science in June found that a lack of vitamin D coincides with more flu cases. Coincidence? Probably not. And there are plenty more worrying studies where that came from. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the best way to get your recommended daily dose of 600 IU (or 800 for people 70 and older) per day is by eating oily fish, fortified dairy products and cereals, or by taking supplements. Sunlight is indeed a good way to get your vitamin D, but the cancer risk associated with that isn’t worth it.

So, it’s time to start eating more oily fish (I mean, salmon steaks, twist my arm. Here are tons more types if you don’t like salmon). Fortified cereals can also help, as well as supplements. So I’m going to keep wearing my hat, sleeves, and sunscreen (yes, even in the fog)—and I will continue my dedicated use of self-tanner. I may not be a spring chicken but I’m too young for brittle bones. 

Just in case you needed a little more encouragement to use suncreen or other protection, here are some protective hats, shirts, and sunglasses to keep you safe and gorgeous. 
Published with Monogram

What Are You Afraid Of?

I am very afraid of public speaking. But I did it last night. It was a panel discusion, so it wasn’t quite as scary as giving a full-on speech. But I’m feeling like it wasn’t too terribly embarrassing, though I did lay awake between two and four A.M, surrounded by my snoozing baby, cat and husband, wishing I’d said things differently and that I’d said things I hadn’t. Still, it happened and I’m glad it did.

So I’m imagining my friend Jaimal Yogis must feel extremely badass right about now. He spent the past three years facing his biggest fears (big ones, like surfing Mavericks and becoming a dad), conquering them, and writing about them in a book that’s coming out in January called The Fear Project. It’s available for pre-order now, and I cannot wait to get my mitts on it, being a person with her fair share of things that scare me. Plus I’m dying to read Jaimal’s first hand account of surfing Mavericks, one of the most extreme surf spots in the world.

Check out the props Jaimal’s book has gotten from other authors and scientists. I think this one is my favorite:

This book would be worth the price of admission for the Maverick’s chapter alone–the first and, as far as I know, only literary first-person account of riding one of the greatest big-wave breaks on earth, for which Yogis has both the surfing ability and the writing chops, making a unique contribution to surf literature. But Yogis is a also man on an authentic mission–to face down his deepest fears and–as in all of his writing–to interrogate the deepest sources of meaning in every aspect of human life. From his hapless Alcatraz swim at the book’s beginning to his success at Maverick’s to that biggest challenge of all–fatherhood–Yogis writes with confidence, clarity, and brio. This is a heartfelt, hard-won, and utterly worthwhile book.” – Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside, Looking for Mo, and How to Cook Like a Man.

Sounds pretty macho, but knowing Jaimal and his excellent writing, and if we can judge at all by his first book Saltwater Buddha, it’s safe to say you don’t have to be a bro to enjoy The Fear Project. I’m guessing anyone who suspects their fears are holding them back from achieving everything they’d like to in life—from lil old me facing my next panel discusion on style to an Olympic athlete trying to win a medal—will love this book. I cannot wait to dive in!

California Academy of Sciences Is Throwing a Party for Fashion Nerds and People Who Love Ostrich Babies

Image via Davitydave on Flickr, Creative Commons License

And that’s, like, everyone, right? Every Thursday, the California Academy of Sciences throws a rager. It’s pretty much the most happenin’ science museum anywhere. And this week is extra special for folks like myself who enjoy the intersection of science and style. In honor of Fashion’s Night Out, they’re hosting a “Fall Fashion NightLife” which will feature vintage dresses and accessories from the ’30s through the ’60s curated by Mystery Mister in African Hall. The winners from Modcloth’s Make the Cut contest who came up with the best vintage-inspired designs will take the stage. Japanese avant garde designer h.NAOTO will present modern styles, and futuristic “eTextiles” that weave technology into wearable art will also be on exhibit. A fashion showcase of local and sustainable fashions will feature Camelia Skikos, gr.dano, Gelareh Designs, Daniel Chimowitz, and Gio Adame. You can even make your own haute couture-inspired crafts with Haute Gloo (anyone know what that is?), and learn about the important role of ornamentation and fashion throughout human history from Academy anthropologists Zeray Alemseged and Russell Hartman. Honey Soundsystem DJs will be spinning beats in the coral reef and east pavilion. And it’s only $12! I’d pay that just to find out what Haute Gloo is. Plus you get to see Claude the albino alligator! Maybe you’ll also see an ostrich–that’s for viewing not wearing, you fashionistas. This just in, there’s a fresh batch of 2-week-old ostrich babies at the museum!! Though I’m not sure if they’ll be allowed out so late.

When: Thursday, September 6 from 6-10pm (Ages 21+)
Where: California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Tickets: $12 per person ($10 for Academy members), available at the door or online. Check out more details on Facebook!

These Gorgeous Dresses and Sweaters Are Made From Brain Scans

Such a pretty dress. Made from brains! Brooke Roberts science-inspired design

Such a pretty dress. Made from brains! Brooke Roberts science-inspired design

Want. Brooke Roberts science-inspired knit dress

Want. Brooke Roberts science-inspired knit dress

Brooke Roberts science-inspired design at her SS12 show

Brooke Roberts science-inspired design at her SS12 show

Majorly brainy maxi. Brooke Roberts science-inspired design

Majorly brainy maxi. Brooke Roberts science-inspired design

Brooke Roberts SS12 fashion show

Brooke Roberts SS12 fashion show

Brooke Roberts science-inspired chunky knit sweater

Brooke Roberts science-inspired chunky knit sweater

This is your brain on fashion. Love this fuzzy sweater by Brooke Roberts!

This is your brain on fashion. Love this fuzzy sweater by Brooke Roberts!

LOVE these colors and the pattern. Brooke Roberts science-inspired design.

LOVE these colors and the pattern. Brooke Roberts science-inspired design.

Brooke Roberts looking lovely in red

Brooke Roberts looking lovely in red

Such a pretty dress. Made from brains! Brooke Roberts science-inspired designWant. Brooke Roberts science-inspired knit dressBrooke Roberts science-inspired design at her SS12 showMajorly brainy maxi. Brooke Roberts science-inspired designBrooke Roberts SS12 fashion showBrooke Roberts science-inspired chunky knit sweaterThis is your brain on fashion. Love this fuzzy sweater by Brooke Roberts!LOVE these colors and the pattern. Brooke Roberts science-inspired design.Brooke Roberts looking lovely in red

I’m a science writer who also writes about style, so I’ve come across my fair share of designers and artists who combine science or technology in various ways with fashion, whether it’s using high-tech materials or attaching some kind of gizmo to a garment. Often I’m disappointed by the overall result. Either the technology is somewhat useless or the resulting aesthetic isn’t so appealing. So when I encountered London-based Brooke Roberts‘ knitwear, which is modeled after brain scans and and other types of radiography, I was so excited. The pieces scream high fashion, without a hint of gimmicky-ness (gimmickiness?). I would love to wear any one of these pieces, and what an amazing conversation starter they would be! [Read more...]

A Friendship That Overcame White Headbands and Black Backpacks

UnapologeticYou know that one friend who is your Most Awesomest Friend (MAF)? The one who gets you better than anyone else, who you’ve laughed to tears with countless times, who knows all your weirdnesses and still somehow wants to be your friend? It’s kind of pressure (self-induced, of course) to write about this person! I guess that’s why I’ve procrastinated doing this post since I had the idea in December when I visited my MAF, Robyn, in Miami for Art Basel. [Read more...]