City Life Is Disgusting, But These Products Make Me Feel Clean

Scrub away that blood, vomit and piss with a super coarse exfoliator.
Publish date:
February 22, 2013
shoppables, Clean, garbage, rats

Last week, I got back from California again, since I’m incredibly bicoastal. (Not really. I was there for “medical reasons” this time. Get it?)

Though I usually feel that itch to get back to NYC ASAP, I didn’t experience an urgency to return to the place I call home this time. At all. Why? California is beautiful right now -- as it is most of the year. And New York is, well. It’s kind of gross.

Although I’ve expressed the desire to live in L.A. since I realized I could move away from the Chicagoland area when I was 11, I’m happy I live in New York now. I think.

Of course there are many wonderful things happening here: hordes of creative people clustered together, emanating this energy that you can drink up and let drive you, art in all forms up the ass, tasty international meals available via Seamless delivery at 4:30am.

Then, there are those consequences of living in the U.S.’s most populous city that linger in my mind when I rave about New York, and wonder if I’m saying I love it to convince myself that it’s true.

See: The fact that I pay a G to live with three other people in an apartment in Bushwick. Tasks that got a “meh” out of me in the Midwest, like grocery shopping or going to the dry cleaners, are considered productions here and give me boob sweat. I nearly trip over things that make me want to vomit (like vomit) daily, and now I’m getting immune to them, and I’m unsure of what that’s doing to my soul? Also, it’s February and everything is gray.

Here are all of the gross things I’ve gotten used to as part of regular New York life -- and not like, in a hospital or institution -- and some very clean products that I use to help me feel not as nasty:


On my commute home from work yesterday, the subway doors opened up, and I believe I saw two rats making love.

I had rats in high school, OK? (I was that girl.) They were soft and adorable and had precious little people hands. New York rats are nothing like that. They would’ve beaten and mugged my rats. And they probably would’ve eaten them, too.

And since Superstorm Sandy, the rats have only risen. RAT KING FOR NYC MAYOR 2013!


Alba Sea Salt Body Scrub, $10,

I handle witnessing two rats doing it by scrubbing off a layer of skin dramatically while bathing. The sea salt in Alba’s scrub is super coarse, and the combo of oils helps hydrate, so your skin is supple, and you’re not exfoliating until you bleed (even though you want to).


I also almost stepped in a pool of vomit when I got off the subway yesterday. A POOL.

Another humiliating tale: I was heading to a concert last summer with a bottle of vodka and a bottle of juice. “We need to stop and mix this,” I told the friend I was with and directed us to turn down a less-crowded street to conduct our schemes.

“Is this N. 9th?” she asked. “I think someone just got shot here.”

“What?” I crouched down and started pouring the liquids in an empty water bottle. “That was probably S. 9th. This is a ‘nice’ neighborhood.”

“You might want to watch out,” a friendly passerby said. “There’s still blood on the sidewalk.” He pointed to the spot directly in front of me -– there was a faint brown stain, and a piece of broken police tape.


Say Yes to Cucumber Facial Towelettes, $5.99,

Since I’m always running around and mixing drinks next to dried pools of blood, I love grab-and-go products like this one. I’ll use these fresh-smelling towelettes to clean my face after the gym, before reapplying makeup after a workday that never ends, or I’ll use them to wipe my hands off when I realize everything I’m touching in this city is most likely covered in piss.


I think Philly has the most trash on the street of any city I’ve been to in America. One of my favorite cities is also Detroit, and a few blocks of that place is an art installation that implements junk.

Still, since New York has approximately no alleys, all the garbage is on the street, and there’s a buttload of trash floating around here, constantly.


Breath of Fresh Air Toner, Lush $9.95 - $21.95

I have a fairly simple skin care routine (unlike Hannah) and never even used a toner until last year. However, this one is great for aromatherapy and smells like the sea, and not the garbage filled-rivers sandwiching Manhattan. It also makes my skin tight without drying it out.


Picture me: On my lunch break, frolicking down 5th Avenue, like Mary Tyler Moore. I have a huge, dumb smile on my face, as it’s sunny. As I hop and skip across the street I-–


Scream in the middle of the crosswalk when I realize my foot is hovered over a bloody, freshly dead pigeon.

Another time: I’m talking to my boyfriend, who is tall and blonde and loud, and he’s telling a story as we walk home from the bar at night, and we’re crossing the street, and he’s like, “BLAH BLAH BLAH, and -- whoaaa!” He kind of stumbles and grabs me and we walk a few more steps before he stops and turns around and says, “I just slipped in a dead rat.”

I look over my shoulder, and see a smooshed corpse with a stringy rat-tail protruding from its end

Another time: I left my apartment one morning and saw a severed chicken head on the sidewalk. I have no idea why.


Davines Love Lovely Smoothing Shampoo, $20,

The only dead thing I like is my hair. This shampoo is nourishing and smells amazing, but it also actually cleans your hair, rather than simply coating strands with fragrance and de-frizzers.


I wish I were that woman who could call out the guy masturbating on the subway.


Nubian Coconut & Papaya Body Wash, $12,

I love using this fragrant body wash in a scalding hot shower and pretend I’m somewhere tropical with no sick fucks around. It’s super creamy, made with coconut oil soap, and creates a nice lather. I get it at Whole Foods.

SO! Tell me about nasty things you’ve seen in New York City, or whatever other city has burned perturbing thoughts into your mind. What is your go-to product when you feel repulsed by everything around you? Go!