Things I Bought That I Love: The Body Shop Cactus Body Brush

Let’s talk about the softness of women’s skin. Skin softness is a common preoccupation for dark-skinned women. I swear there must be (and should be!) a documentary about lotions and the dark-skinned woman. I have dark brown skin, and no fancy department store moisturizer seems to be moisturizing enough to keep my legs from goin’ gray midday. I have to use the CVS special Eucerin or Lubriderm “calming cream” or “heavy-duty” moisturizer that is sold to either women with comparably dark skin or medically parched burn victims. I don’t care though; I save a ton of money not buying fancy lotion this way. (Tangential observation for dark-skinned women: Isn’t it annoying when you go to a hotel and they have body lotion and it’s so thin and non-moisturizing you’re like: this could basically be water?).

In this economy it is great that I can keep my skin smooth and soft with various low-cost methods. One is my no-frills CVS skin cream regimen, as I’ve mentioned. The other is my Body Shop Cactus body brush.

My lovely mom has been telling me to scrub and moisturize my skin since I was a tiny kid watching her put on Oil of Olay on her face. Maybe it’s an Indian thing, but where others simply pumice their feet, my mom would advise me to gently pumice my elbows, knee and upper arm skin. Then, post-shower, a deep and nourishing lotion application. I still do this and not to sound all braggy but, I have been complimented many times for my soft skin (but never for my greasy-and-yet-still-dry hair! You win some you lose some.)

There are two things I’m proud to say I introduced to my mom. The first is Crème de la Mer (When I got my first staff writers check for The Office, I bought my mom some Crème de la Mer. This insanely great and hideously expensive face cream was my “Look, Ma! I made it!” present to her that I make sure to keep her supplied with).

The other is the Body Shop Cactus Brush. It’s scratchy and great and gets gunk off your back/legs/feet while exfoliating. You can’t get soft skin from loofahs. Loofahs are for the freaking birds. Literally. I’d like to see some birds flying around with loofahs in their mouths and maybe building nests with them. They do nothing.

Loofahs, I am so on to you.

The Cactus Body Crush is $15 and I replace mine twice a year (oh fine, once a year. I’m lazy). I use it every day in the shower.

Good for: People into softness, or need an inexpensive gift for a friend or lover with
scaly skin.

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THINGS I BOUGHT THAT I LOVE: CLARISONIC BRUSH

There is an omitted chapter from my book called “Robo-Bath”. It was based on an idea I’ve had since I was a teenager about a device that would bath you to your specifications, all while you lay in it, sleeping or zoning out. (Unsurprisingly, this idea was invented during a time in high school when I was trying to get into college and staying up really late to do homework, and waking up super early to get to my singing group rehearsals, which were at 7am before classes started).

Robo-Bath would be a human-shaped plastic mold that lay flat in your bathroom. All you would do is open it, punch a few buttons, and it would close on you. Shampoo, conditioner, and all varieties of soap would be pre-filled into Robo-Bath. Then, warm water would rush into the Robo-Bath, wetting your entire body, and tiny brushes would scrub you clean while you breathed through a plastic tube.

Even though I think Robo-Bath is an amazing idea and will one day make me the billionaire I deserve to be, I cut the chapter from the book because it made me seem a little crazy.

The closest thing I can currently find on the market that approximated Robo-Bath is the Clarisonic Brush. The Clarisonic Brush is a handhelf electric facial brush approximately the size of a men’s electric razor. It gently but vigorously cleans your skin and stimulates it so your face is super rosy when you leave the shower.

I like mine so much I bought a travel size, the Mia. I was worried that an electric facial brush would wreck my skin, but it doesn’t get that intense. It just sort of purrs on your skin and makes the most of your face wash. I also use it on my neck and elbows, which I never remember to clean.

Good for: People who are lazy, like me, but want good clean skin.

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Cool Press For “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”

Click through the images to read at full size!

TimeOut New York

Entertainment Weekly

Elle

Cosmopolitan

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THINGS I BOUGHT THAT I LOVE: HOUSE OF HARLOW EARRINGS

Since I turned twelve or thirteen, my parents started giving me gold jewelry for my birthday. If you’re an Indian woman– warning, I’m about to make a massive generalization– if you’re not wearing at least two items of gold jewelry at a time, then my assumption is you were adopted by white Americans. Rocking gold bling is a huge cultural symbol of femininity in India.

But I never wear real gold jewelry, because I always lose it. However, that hasn’t dulled my interest in bling. I love it anywhere; in my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my birthday cake. I love jewelry and wear earrings every single day. The problem is, I can’t wear real gemstones, because I get too worried about them since at work I have to change into my Kelly costume and am constantly taking my jewelry on and off. So I wear only costume jewelry. But in LA, even costume jewelry can be crazy expensive.

When Nicole Richie started her House of Harlow jewelry line, I flipped. I love Nicole’s jewelry sensibilities. Aztec, tribal, deco, she is inspired by some much that’s cool. And the price points are always reasonable.

They’re also great jewelry for day to night. I’ve worn a pair of half-moon shaped earrings to Sunday lunch and also to Jenna Fischer’s fancy bachelorette party at Nobu. (At this party I coincidentally ran into Nicole Richie, whom I excitedly interrupted on her date night with her husband to show her my earrings. Sorry Nicole, I’m afraid that’s what you get for making these show-offable earrings. Joel, to you I do apologize sincerely).

Good for: bling-loving girls who don’t want to break the bank.

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Things I Bought That I Love: Chicken Banh Mi Fixings

My favorite two kinds of sandwiches are Banh Mi and eggplant parmesan. My friend Brenda and I used to cook up eggplant parm subs from scratch back in New York in the early 2000′s, but that was when I was in my early 20s and could spend four hours to make the fixings for a hot sandwich. I learned that eggplant parmesan is time-consumptive but very hard to mess up, which is a recipe for buying it from a sub shop.

Banh Mi on the other hand is very easy to make AND hard to find store-bought. For this of you who have never had Banh mi, first of all, that is crazy sad. Second of all, they’re a Vietnamese sandwich that is different combinations of delicious hot meat or pate, pickled veggies, fresh veggies, mayo, served on soft baguette. To learn more about Banh Mi, you can go to this great site passionately devoted to the sandwich: http://battleofthebanhmi.com.

As I have said before, I love cooking but do it once every nine weeks. My kitchen is basically a storage unit for pretty placemats I bought, and where I put find my weird trendy vitamins. That said, these days I have started making sandwiches more and more in my kitchen, and banh mi I’ve had more than once.

The way I make banh mi is buy chopping up the fresh vegetables and spices I need on a Sunday, then keeping them in plastic tupperware for the week, so I can just grab ingredients and toss them on the sandwich like it’s Subway. Those ingredients are:

• Sliced “picked” carrots (I quickly julienne two carrots and put them in a tupperware with rice vinegar and a half-teaspoon of sugar and a dash of salt).

• Sliced cucumber (I love cucumber. It wins the prize of Single Easiest Vegetable to Deal With, doesn’t it? So easy to slice and prepare.)

• Chopped cilantro (a controversial herb nearly every person close to me hates and thinks tastes like soap. But not me! And this is my sandwich! Bring it on!)

• Thinly sliced FRESH jalapeños (I discard the seeds, too spicy even for the likes of Indian me.)

• A bottle of Sriracha (an Asian hot sauce that they sell basically everywhere, don’t stress about this. You will find it at Stop & Shop.)

• A jar of plain old mayonnaise (don’t get fancy with it)

• A loaf of soft baguette

• A fresh rotisserie chicken from say, Whole Foods or your local supermarket, torn into pieces like a junkyard dog (keep the skin, for gods sake)

I assembled the sandwich with proportions to my liking, and then add torn-up rotisserie chicken and Sriracha. For some reason the sandwich tests best if you wrap it up in aluminum foil and let the hot chicken meat sit in the other ingredients. If you’re making leftovers, I leave all the ingredients cold except the chicken which I heat up for 30 seconds in the microwave. This is great for get-togethers for sporting events, and for picnic baskets, Yogi Bear.

Then I grab a Diet Coke from my fridge, sit in front of my TV watching Extreme Home Makeover, and cry, cry, cry.

For: People who want to save money, people who want to feel like chefs, and people who like eating delicious ethnic food that’s not too greasy.

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THINGS I BOUGHT THAT I LOVE: STILA CREAM BLUSH

There’s a specific kind of agony that is losing your makeup bag. It’s awful because it takes forever (and can be expensive) to accumulate the best combinations of makeup and tools. It’s also sad because no one really cares if you lose your makeup bag, especially guys. When I have lost my makeup bag – which happens about once yearly, sadly-– the first thing I replace is my Stila convertible color cream blush.

Ever get really bored at work and wonder idly: “If I had to choose only one cosmetic item to bring with me on a desert island, what would it be?” (There’s a classier version of this game, which is “Which book would you bring?”, but who cares, this is a shopping blog, come on.) My cosmetic item is this Stila cream blush. A rosy glow is all you need to seem like an attractive, fertile, fun person. A lot of women say mascara, but they are nuts. On a desert island? What mirror are you supposed to put that on with? Don’t tell me you’re going to use your reflection in the water, that’s BS.

It also looks good on your eyes and lips. A little goes a long way. Plus the compact is cute.

Good for
: Desert island makeup, regular life makeup.

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THINGS I BOUGHT THAT I LOVE: TRADER JOE’S PRENATAL MULTI-VITAMIN

I’ve written before that if it were not for my multi-vitamins I would be teetering close to death. I eat abominably. Take this for example: last Monday at work, I was running a small room for a rewrite. For breakfast I chose to eat a heaping serving of spicy sweet Thai Doritos (these exist, and they’re life-changing), two apricot fruit leathers, and a glass of Diet Coke. I loved it so much I did it again Tuesday. I was going to go for a three-peat on Wednesday, but writers had eaten all the chips. I was forced to eat a small Siggis yogurt and berries, which was actually pretty good. Siggis Yogurt is something Carrie Kemper introduced me to. It’s an incredibly dense Icelandic yogurt that tastes like some kind of tangy dairy cud, but it’s actually edible and kind of delicious.

At lunch I have a ritual where, before I can eat anything actually good from catering, like Sergio’s baked potato bar or cookie pie, I need to eat a small bowl of boiled broccoli. It works in two ways: It forces me to have something healthy, and usually after I eat it, I am disgusted by how bland it was, and am completely over food.

Jen Atkin is a hair stylist who has done my hair for lots of cool events, like my book cover. She also does Sofia Vergara’s lush Colombian locks, no big deal or anything. Besides being super talented, Jen also knows every hook-up and cool underground thing going on. She knows the best place to get juices (Pressedjuicery.com), the sneakiest secret gyms (can’t say) and also, the dopest way to have thick, shiny hair for no cost.

Jen was over my house recently and brought me a gift (this is very Asian of her, I’m making her an honorary Asian girl). The gift was: prenatal vitamins from Trader Joes. Not only will they scare the shit out of your boyfriend if he visits your house, it will make your hair grow faster, thicker, and keep your skin glow-y and smooth. At least that’s what it’s done for me, and I’ve not even been using them that long.

Also, these vitamins don’t smile like rotting organic material, which, though I love Whole Foods vitamins, I can’t take the daily ritual of holding back barfing when I open the jar of multi-vitamins.

Good for: Any lazy girl, like me, who wants a short-cut to healthy thick hair.

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THINGS I BOUGHT THAT I LOVE: BLISS SPA FACIAL & GLOW GLAM FACE MASK

I love free samples. When I lived in New York, I would take the subway into the East Village just to go to Kiehls for their free samples. If you targeted the right employee at Kiehls (person under 30 who looks like they want to party, versus older more responsible adult-type), you could walk away from there with half a years worth of Kiehls.

A few months ago I was visiting my parents in Boston on an extended stay and got a facial at the Bliss Spa downtown. I have to get facials regularly because skin is so oily it’s a mini BP disaster. Because I go about once a month, I usually end up going to one of those cheapo, no-frills facial places in LA where for $50, a gruff Eastern European woman will extract gunk from your face, try to get you to pay for a microdermabrasion treatment which you decline, and kick your ass out of there. Once or twice a year, I’ll treat myself to a more spa-like facial, and that’s exactly why I chose Bliss.

Bliss Spa one of those places I read about in my early 20’s when I was living in post-9/11 New York that was a fancy place where only famous people went, like Moomba, or the entire neighborhood TriBeCa. I think I remember reading Gwyneth Paltrow being part of a bridal party that was all treated to pedicures at the Soho Bliss or something.

The Bliss locker room and waiting area is pretty much the sickest thing ever. Besides getting a robe and slippers, and having every conceivable steam and wet room you could want (which I never use, because I don’t get what these rooms are supposed to accomplish. But I still like that they exist.), when you’re waiting for you treatment, there’s like a huge feast in front of you. At Boston Bliss there were cookies, mini cupcakes, tiny olive pimento sandwiches, sliced fancy cheese and crackers, dried fruit, regular fruit, cut-up vegetables and dip, and that fancy water with sliced cucumbers in it that when you try to make at home it tastes disgusting. Basically the Bliss waiting area has the same spread as a medium-fancy wake. It’s the fucking best.

The facial I got was sick (the kind they extract quickly and expertly, and afterwards then they massage your feet, arms, and scalp until you fall asleep). On the way out, a nice Bliss girl offered me some free samples. I chose to take two samples of Glam Glow, at the insistence by the Bliss girl that they would “change my life”.

Young women talking about how beauty products will “change my life” is how I ended up with two drawers full of pricey crap in my bathroom at home which I never use. But this was free, and she was vehement, so I took them.

A few weeks later I used the sample. Holy shit. It was the best mask I have ever used, even including the ones that are applied during a facial. Besides smelling good and feeling all tingly, it left my skin visibly smooth and glow-y the very first time I used it. I’m not someone who uses masks, ever; I mean who has fifteen minutes to let a mask do its thing? But this one made such a big difference I now use it every Sunday while I go through the mail and write checks.

For: Men and women who want a refreshed look, and to add weeks between facials.

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Things I Bought That I Love: BCBG Leopard Pencil Skirt

I can’t believe it. It finally happened. I now live in a world where leopard print can be considered a “basic”. Yes, it was exciting when gold shoes became a staple, and who could forget when even the most conservatively dressed woman owned a pair of fitted red pants? But finding leopard print in more and more American women’s closets? That’s amazing.

It would be remiss of me not to give credit to the Kardashian sisters, whose constant wearing of leopard print, to like, church, ushered in this fantastic trend.

When I was in high school, and all the girls wanted to get their prom dresses from Betsey Johnson, I went to Cache in the mall. Cache is a chain boutique filled with dresses and skirt suits for aging tarts. It’s the kind of store low-rent Mob Wives might go to, or where Meredith Palmer from The Office might go in her dreams. Cache is full of aqua lace, strapless taffeta party dresses, and more animal prints than the San Diego Zoo. And I love that stuff. Always have. I loved shopping for my prom dress while staring at leathery decolletage of divorcees. This is where I discovered my love of leopard.

The leopard print is a best of the animal prints because 1) it’s not crazy colors like tiger; it’s basically taupe and black, 2) it’s a smaller animal print so it’s more flattering stretched over your thighs or butt, and 3) it reminds us of the majestic leopard, which is one of those alluring, capricious, hard-to-please animals (at least as they’ve been portrayed in cartoons I’ve seen).

Leopard has developed a certain sophistication. Now you can wear an animal print and show people you’re a fun person, and not a fashion victim like Carmela Soprano. This BCBG stretchy leopard skirt is not a mini skirt (short animal print is dreadful), and, like Herve Leger– also made in the Max Azria family– it is stretchy and tight in perfect proportion for a sleek, body-con fit. I wear it all the time, with everything from a jewel-toned blouse tucked in, to a black tee shirt, to a tank and jean jacket.

For: formerly timid fashionistas who want to be a little wild or girls looking for a good bachelorette party outfit

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The Back Of My Book!

When you don’t look like in a model in real life you cherish great photos of yourself. When I was on Facebook, approximately 1/3 of my life was untagging bad photos of myself and sending messages to their uploaders saying: “WTF, you guys? Put another grim photo of me on the internet and I will fucking kill you.” So when I had to make my book cover, I wanted to look like myself, but the most cheerful, comely version of my life… and obviously in pink.

Now, “being cute” is not the inclination of a truly funny person. I have battled with this my entire life. Funny people are about truth, not cute. I am funnier when I wake up in the morning having slept in the clothes I went to work in the day before, with a greasy T-zone; not when I’m a fancy dress at some awards show. That’s the sad fact of life.

So to off-set the great photo of me on the cover (photographed by Autumn DeWilde, who also did Zooey’s amazing billboard campaign for “The New Girl”), I made this be my back cover:

People think I’m exaggerating when I say that I was a happy child who you could not tell was male or female. How could both facts be true? Well, this photo is the proof. (Notice how I’m holding a puppet of a Beaver. Did Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster get their movie idea from this photo? Can’t tell. All I can tell is that it is pretty damn inspiring. Enjoy.)

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