My skin when it is good is very good. Here I am wearing no make-up. My hair also air dried this way. What a great day.

Here I am wearing a lot of makeup, but super great paper-thin makeup that gives a no-makeup look... 

You might be thinking to yourself - what does it take for Dena to write about a product on this blog. Why does she write about certain brands so often? Is it just because the packaging is cute? Do they pay her? (Ha! I wish)

I actually have a strict personal code that I adhere to when I make the decision to write about content on this blog. I test it on myself first - myself being someone who is well used to being a human petri dish and also, by the same token, "blessed" with all the skin problems. ALL OF THEM. Sensitivity, acne of all kinds, gigantic expanding pores and fine lines and other signs of aging (exacerbated by my therapies, especially the hormone ones!) and of course, loss of collagen/firmness. Babes, I am a mess.

But I work diligently to combat all the things I have working against me. I focus on treatments that feel like rewards - I am not punishing my skin for misbehaving. Considering all I do to it, I am the villain in this story. Instead I love anything that makes me feel loved and tended to. Pampered. Cared for. It's when I find products like that, products that are fun to use and make me feel good, that they make it to the pages of this blog.

Here are the other things I test rigorously for, no particular order:

effectiveness: does this product deliver on what it claims to do? how quickly? with what side effects? 

smell: best case scenario there is none. if it must have a smell is it mild and delicious? does my super picky husband notice and/or like it.

feel: texture is so important! this is your skin we are talking about here. if it doesn't feel good to put on, I'm just not going to do it. Bonus points for anything fun that bubbles, peels off, involves magnets or other cool toys.

packaging: must be sleek and minimalist. must look good in shelfie. must be so cute I want to take pictures of it. must look adorable in pink bubble bag. 

value: how does it compare to other products on the market that do similar things in terms of price? this means not only total price but cost per use - if it's expensive but you only need a tiny drop to be effective and it lasts forever, that may beat out something cheaper but with more volume. 

ingredients: does it pass the "think dirty" app test. is it as natural as possible, with nothing irritating, unnecessary or bad for the environment (no animal testing, no microbeads etc.)

time of use: if it's a skincare product I won't write about it until I've used it for two weeks. Obviously I love things that provide dramatic results but you wont see the negative side effects (ie: breakouts, over drying) until you start to use the product regularly. 

brand values: do I like the way they advertise? do they use diverse models? do they make women feel good about themselves? If they use bully, you're not good enough unless you buy XX product, I tend to be a hardpass, no matter how great the product.