Tria Laser

A year ago, I purchased the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X. It is a pricey tool for sure, but the time, pain, and money spent on my own hair removal made me decide to take the plunge.

My backstory: I have super sensitive and very fair skin. When I shave, especially sensitive areas such as my bikini line or armpits, I always end up with irritation and often ingrown hairs. When I wax, the irritation with hair regrowth in is even worse; even if I am dedicated in using my signature after-depilatory cocktail of equal parts antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, and night cream daily after showering. And honestly- the resources wasted by shaving and waxing are astounding!

So, laser seemed like a good option. But professional laser removal is not only VERY expensive, you cannot do it at your leisure from your couch while watching Law & Order reruns. Since I struggle to schedule regular hair appointments for my head, I was even less confident in my determination to do so for my pubes. After some research and an enthusiastic recommendation from a friend’s sister, I purchased one on Amazon Prime Day for $332.*

Who can remove: My first reading of the pamphlet made me scream “Is this thing racist?!” and reader, it kind of is. You must have light colored skin, and the hair being removed cannot be blonde, red, or white/gray. This has to do with the pigments affected by the wavelength of the lasers used. Tria’s website provides the following chart:

Any skin to the right of the selection (or hair color to the left) is marked as not suitable for Tria. For me, this meant that Tria would not work on the blonde hair on my arms, face, and several other parts. Here is some information about the growing options for hair removal with darker skin, and possible upcoming solutions for laser removal of light colored hairs.

The removal: The Tria device looks like the baby of a hair dryer and a dental curing light. You have to unlock it by placing the bottom of the unit on skin that is a shade impacted by the laser’s wavelength. Once unlocked, you select levels 1-5, with 5 being the most intense. And it is intense. Getting zapped in sensitive areas with a laser is not fun, but for some reason the pain level mostly made me burst out in awkward laughter. But it does hurt!

I decided to test the device out on my big toes. I figure- what is the worst that could happen to my toe? To prepare for hair removal, you can’t wax or tweeze  (or any method that removes hair from the root) for several weeks, but you do need to be freshly shaven. It is super easy to use: you simply place the circular laser area on your skin and it gives you a happy beep and you continue moving along (overlapping the treatment area), or a sad beep and you try again.

My freshly shaved toes handled the laser like a champ and I decided to try out my bikini line; just the area that would show outside of regular swimwear (not this far). The pamphlet said the higher the level used, the fewer treatments would be needed.  I was breezing away on level four when suddenly “!*$%@ oww!!” I will tell you that you skin sensitivities can DRASTICALLY vary within an inch.

The results: My outer bikini line was basically totally compete after four treatments. There were about 15 hairs on either side that didn’t seem to take, so I began marking those with a peach colored Sharpie before shaving, and focusing  my removal on just those areas. A few more treatments and then…the dream. I finally can pack whatever swimwear I want for a multi-day swim trip, instead of wondering what will cover my seemingly diseased skin, as it would assuredly become red and irritated 48 hours after hair removal.

You can treat every two weeks but I was busy and/or lazy and it took me way longer than the minimum amount of time. Part of the reason why was that after a few treatments, the hair is much more thin and takes so long to grow back that I didn’t think about it.

Ongoing: I decided to move the laser in and am now doing an even more sensitive area. I COULD NOT handle it on more than level 1, and I was expecting to need something like 15 sessions to get permanent results. Then a Nicole Cliffe tweet clued me in to lidocaine. You can buy 4% over the counter at a pharmacy, but there are creams available up to 20% with a prescription. Rub a bunch of that on your intended area, wait 20 minutes, and you can level up like a champ. It is a little messier, and I recommend having a towel handy to wipe off the laser head if you’re using a cream, but it changes everything.

Overall: If you have unwanted hair and $400 and have an applicable hair/skin combo…go for it. I am so happy and so much less bumpy. If you love your body/facial hair, or are unsure, please embrace it! Hair removal is a very personal choice and you should be sure before going with something as permanent as a laser. I do hear that some people grow hair that has been laser removed back during pregnancy though…

*I am not participating in Prime Day this year due to striking workers and am attempting to purchase less on Amazon in general due to my growing knowledge of their warehouse conditions





The Full Routine

I’m back! Turns out, my fun holiday giveaway plan turned into a great way to organize my thoughts and semi-frequently sought advice.  I will be writing about products, places, routines, and who knows what else.

Mid OG Favorite Things, my amazing sister asked me to detail out my full skincare routine. I, an ever responsive sibling, am finally doing so months later.

Like so much of America, I got really into skincare in 2016; if you can’t control your environment, maybe you can control your face! However, I’ve been fairly into skin products for about six years, mostly discovering from Birchbox or listicles.  I must admit that I haven’t actually gone to a Sephora (or similar) to browse in more than 10 years. Those places stress me out. Plus, I cannot say no to an attractive woman with a promising serum so it is also DANGEROUS.

Obvious disclaimer: everyone has different skin, and to discover your own secret lotion potion, sample, sample, sample. Many companies allow you to choose a few free samples at checkout. Sometimes you might need more than one sample to figure out if it’s worth it! Purchase travel and trial sizes if they’re available. You don’t want to be left with $80 worth of serum that does nothing for you, even if everyone online raved about it.

With all that, here is my routine:

Cleanse! Morning and night 

I talked in this post about my cleansers, which are:
Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser
Face Shop Natural Rice Water Light Cleansing Oil,
Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser,
GLYTONE Acne Self-Foaming Cleanser

Mornings are almost always dedicated to the Good Morning Cleanser, and  I wash my was in my morning shower.  In the AM, you’re not washing off pollutants or make-up (probably lol), and you might have used some great serums on your skin the previous night that you don’t need to scrub off, so a simple cleanser is a perfect start.

I use the cleansing oil is used at night when I am wearing a significant amount of make-up, and I almost always double cleanse when I use it. I try and use the GLYTONE at night 2-3 times a week, more in the week before my period or if I am getting breakouts. And the Cerave is my default and everything else cleanser. I use it when I am traveling, when I am lazy, when I need something simple, or if nothing is making sense.

Recently, upon advice of Twitter skincare guru Nicole Cliffe, I bought Clinique’s Take the Day Off. It’s great, but I am still on the fence about it being worth the money. Same thing with Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip, which I only get when it makes Good Genes a better deal.

Exfoliate daily

I usually exfoliate in some way daily. Most days, I use a lactic acid product, which you typically leave on the skin. I frequently use The Ordinary’s 5% Lactic Acid. This is a great daily leave-on exfoliant, and uses the same acid as the ridiculously expensive Sunday Riley Good Genes.

I wish I could sit here and tell you Good Genes isn’t worth it. It brings me so much shame to admit that I love a product that costs more than $100 an ounce. But it makes me look sooooo good. I kid you not- every single day I include Good Genes in my routine, someone tells me I am beautiful or that I look so young. It is uncanny. It transforms me! I look filtered IRL. But, as I cannot afford it on the daily, so I ration it out for special occasions, and typically buy it as part of a product set.  The Ordinary

For a little more serious exfoliating, I turn to the Neogen pads I wrote about previously. I am also a huge fan of Real Chemistry’s Luminous 3-Minute Peel. If you ever have problems with dry patches or flakes, this (sadly another budget buster) is worth it. And about twice a month I turn to Dr Jart+ Pore Medic Bubble Peel, which is now discontinued and I am on my last batch. The replacement product is a one-step cleanser, not aimed at exfoliation. We shall see when I finally run out.


I love a good sheet mask to refresh and moisturize, and a deep-cleansing cay mask to clear the filth. Innisfree Pore Clearing Mask with Super Volcanic Clusters rips absolutely everything out of those pesky pores. You don’t even have pores when you’re done using this. But seriously- be ready to moisturize immediately after. Speaking of…


Wow this is already a lot of info…also moisturize a lot!

For daytime, I use Cetaphil Pro Oily Skin or Olay Moisturizing Face for Sensitive Skin. At night I use the previously discussed Cerave, or CORSX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask, which I discussed briefly here.

Toner, Serums, Acids, and Retinol

I religiously use Thayers Unscented. You probably should use a toner to restore your face pH after exfoliating, after cleansing, in between other steps etc.

SNAILS- I use this snail mucus every morning after cleansing. It sounds weird but I look better now than I did when I was 22. You decide.

Also daily- I use the Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% for additional moisturization.

Retinol- I use both The Ordinary 2% and Sunday Riley Luna. I try and use a retinoid 3-4x a week. Will probably increase as I age. I switch between the two based on how luxurious I am feeling.


As previously discussed, many of these products strip your skin down to the baby skin cells. All cells need to be protected, but especially your baby cells. What are you doing without a daily sunscreen?? Seriously. Daily. Then reapply.

I feel poor and ridiculous now. I might write another post on products that have disappointed me.

Five things I never fly any sort of distance without

Never is a pretty bold statement, and obviously this depends on the length of flight, but here goes:

1) Kiehls In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist

Cabin humidity isn’t just for your insides. Though this product has been relabeled as Cactus Flower & Tibetan Ginseng Hydrating Mist, I have been assured it is the same stuff. I spray this stuff liberally on my face and neck, and honestly anywhere else. It smells great and a bottle lasts forever. Make sure you buy the 2.5 oz size because this is a carry-on essential. Who checks bags anyway? Things are better if you’re on a 787, but I still bring it.

2) A large, thin scarf.

Blanket, headwrap, skirt, privacy shield…what you can do with a scarf is endless. I recommend something at least 6 ft long and 3 ft wide. Linen is great, cotton blends are great, silk is ok. Fold it up, wear it on, whatever. If you’re in economy, make yourself a little privacy sleeping hood. Anything that makes you feel a little less like you’re mere inches away from the face of a stranger.

3) Water Sac

Sure- most planes will give you free water. But it is never enough. Seriously you need to drink more water on planes. One liter for every four hours of flight, even more if, like me, you love to drink the free booze. I do this even when I am in premium cabins, as it is personally more annoying to continually ask for water or deal with trying to hoard mini bottles at your seat than to just bring some of your own. Water sacs are nice because they flatten and are reusable, but if push comes to shove, buy a liter at the airport. If I am going to a destination where the tap water is not drinkable, I will bring one with an attachable purifier.

4) Thick socks or slippers.

My shoes are coming off but I am not going to walk around the cabin in my regular socks. Slippers are ideal- better protection from the floor, but socks are easier to pack. If I am in business or flying economy on airlines like Qatar or Korean, this will be provided. Always be prepared though.

5) Noise cancelling headphones

I like these, which are small and I can crumple up and abuse. I can’t sleep with giant domes on my ears. I also love that you don’t have to charge them. Remembering to charge your electronic devices before leaving is obnoxious. Between computers and cameras and phones and battery packs, the last thing I want to worry about it my headphones.

Disposable face wipes, toothbrush/paste, eye cream, and a non-aerosol dry shampoo are my runners up.

No, I don’t receive compensation for this but I am totally open to product bribes.

The Final 2018 Holiday Thing: 34

So, it is Christmas and I am about to get all sentimental. My final favorite thing is all of you. I truly would be lost without my friends. It is so important to acknowledge, value, and appreciate the family you choose. As a raging extrovert, I need to process almost everything that happens to me with multiple people. Thank you to the friends who listen, gossip, advise, love, challenge, embrace, and push me to be better.

Almost every year, one of my goals is to put more work into my friendships. I look forward to doing so again in 2019.

You are all the best.

Abbey (& Bei Bei)


Unfortunately, original Thing 33 has been discontinued. Costco used to have this awesome cheese—Lake Country Asiago. It was the best deal ($5.50/pound) and one of the most delicious and versatile hard cheeses out there. It was perfect to eat by itself, or could be added to a huge range of foods. I always had some in my fridge. RIP Lake Country Asiago.

But, Peri in Rochester needs a Thing, and there is plenty more I like, so we continue on. In many other countries, everywhere you go, there is a kettle. The US is just not kettle country, which is silly because they are awesome. I have a kettle in my office and a kettle at home, and my winter is greatly enhanced by always being 60 seconds away from tea time.  Plus, with the rise of better instant soups, emergency lunch is also right at my fingertips.

TIP: Trader Joe’s is the place for cheeses. You can put together a fantastic, fancy-looking cheese board for under $12. An excellent entertaining cheese adage to remember is: something old, something new, something goat, something blue.

Old: aged, smoked…a hard cheese. Aged goudas are an excellent choice, as are parmesans. RIP Lake Country Asiago
New: soft & creamy— think Brie. Never go too funky with a soft cheese when entertaining
Goat: Chevre is a classic, but don’t limit yourself
Blue: see rule on new. Gorgonzola is usually a crowd pleaser.

Thing Thirty Two

A few years ago I saw these for the first time. “How cute!” says I. As a frequent flier and lover of cocktails, it seemed like the perfect thing. I picked one up, turned it over and shrieked “twenty-five American dollars?! For a single enhanced airplane cocktail?!”

Helllll no. Once you purchase the booze, you are looking at a $33-$35 drink you made yourself on an airplane. And people complain about bag fees. But, the concept was solid and I started making my own for when I wanted to feel fancy in economy (see also: privacy scarf).

Jason in New Jersey will be receiving a starter kit, which includes Peychauds bitters, orange bitters, sweet vermouth, honey, cane sugar packets, real lemon, real lime, real orange, candied orange peel, toothpicks, and a spoon. You’ll have to use the airplane napkin. Make a great Old Fashioned, manhattan, Champagne cocktail, hot toddy, spruce up your gin and tonic, or create something new! Most of the time the vials are small enough for airport security to not care, but if you’re concerned, throw them in your liquids bag.

TIP: Batch cocktails and punches are perfect for entertaining. A few of my favorite recipes are below, but if you really want to up your punch game, and learn some fascinating history at the same time, read David Wondrich’s Punch.

Champagne Pomegranate Punch
Red Sangria



Cleveland takes a lot of crap. But I will remind all you fine people that Cleveland has given you some of the best there is across multiple genres, from the Cleveland Orchestra to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to LeBron.  Another Cleveland treasure is one of the OGs of the craft beer world: Great Lakes Brewing Company.

And there is no better GLBC beer than their Christmas Ale. I would venture to say there is no better Christmas Ale than the Great Lakes Christmas Ale. You can check to see if they distribute to your area here.

On Monday, I fly to Cleveland for Christmas and my very first stop will be to secure myself a fresh six pack. My family can wait; this beer cannot. Jacob in Jersey City is probably sipping on a cold one presently.

TIP: Always look up the tipping culture before traveling to a new country, and stop at an airport ATM to make sure you are ready to start tipping accordingly. And err on the generous side. If you can afford to travel, you can probably afford to tip a little extra.

the big three-oh

Get thee an enormous, modal scarf. Make sure there aren’t any serious danglies or tassles. And use it for everything (you hear that Tiffany in Washington?!) Need to lay on the beach? The scarf’s got you. Need a fashion accessory that doubles as a blanket for travel? Scarf. Need to hide? scaaaaaaaaarf. Wear it as a dress when you’re doing laundry. Use it as a head covering when you need privacy or modesty, use it as a cover-up on the beach. It folds into almost nothing, it’s comfy, it’s lovely, and it can transform any boring outfit into something spectacular as a fashionable cape. GET THEE A SCARF. Bigger the better, as long as it’s thin.

TIP: Rewatch Frasier. It’s so worth your time.

Thing 29

I have very thin, fine hair, and wear bangs most of the time. I also live in a sweaty climate for at least 6 months of the year.  Before dry shampoo came along, you would too often find me attempting to wash my bangs in some museum sink. Bless you, dry shampoo. All dry shampoos are not equal. In a pinch, I’ll take whatever is around, but I try and be prepared.

A few years ago, I discovered amika’s dry shampoo through Birchbox. It’s the bees knees. Though I am very blonde, and the white residue left by inferior products isn’t as apparent on my hair, I still want a product that disappears. Amika does that for me. Plus it smells great. Hopefully Isabelle in Tulsa agrees!

TIP: Remember the TSA is limiting powders now. I used to default to a powdered dry shampoo if my liquids bag was bursting at the seams, but now, thats out too.


I started an online book club this year. I wanted to talk about books, and also force myself to be less lazy when choosing reading material. The qualifications were that all books had to be published in the past 18 months, and that I would seek out authors who were not cis, straight, white men.

Each month (though a few were skipped!) I would put two selections up for a vote, with the winner getting discussed at the end of the month. I almost always read them both. Below is my complete list of bookclub books for the year. Meg in Pittsburgh gets a copy of the best thing I read this year, which was What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi.

We’re currently choosing December’s book, and you’re invited to join us on the journey. A discussion will occur mid-January.

        • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
        • Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Lauren-Brooke Eisen
        • What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
        • These Heroic Happy Dead: Stories by Luke Mogelson
        • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
        • Exit West by Moshin Hamid
        • The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
        • Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride
        • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
        • Hey Ladies!: The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss
        • Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay
        • Chemistry by Weike Wang
        • The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife by Lucy Cooke
        • Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution by Menno Schilthuizen
        • How Are You Going to Save Yourself by JM Holmes
        • The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization by Vince Beiser
        • Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything by Randi Hutter Epstein
        • Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
      • December Picks: 
        • The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya
        • Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz

      TIP: Many libraries let you check out books on your Kindle (or other e-reader) for free with a library card. And of course, you can always do the thing where you go into a library and borrow a book (or 10) for free too.