Monday, February 29, 2016

Which Whiteners Work?

Everyone wants to have white teeth, right?  I recently got my braces off and instantly noticed that my teeth were looking a little...dingy.  I wanted to whiten my teeth to remove the five years of stains that having braces left but I also knew that I had to have some cosmetic dentistry done and they would match the color to whatever my teeth were and I didn't want that color to be yellow.  However, I also didn't want to spend a lot and didn't have a lot of time.  I ended up using four different products with varying success and I wanted to share my experience in hopes of saving you all some money in the future.  I've ranked them from worst to best so let's jump in and see how it went!

Walgreens Express Whitening Kit
This was the first product I tried.  This kit runs for around $20 at Walgreens and consists of two sets of whitening trays (top and bottom) that you wear for twenty-five minutes each, along with whitening rinses.  I noticed absolutely no whitening with this product.  Even worse, I had quite a bit of pain in my gums while using it and after finishing the long process, I noticed that the gums around my bottom center teeth had some serious damage.  It looked as though my gums there had a chemical burn and it was quite painful.  Luckily, it healed over night and didn't seem to leave permanent damage (your mouth heals quickly) but I will never ever use this again and I wouldn't recommend this to my worst enemy.  A painful waste of my twenty hard earned dollars.

PlusWhite 5 Minute Speed Whitening Gel
I honestly couldn't tell you if this product has any whitening effects because I only used it one time.  It was so incredibly uncomfortable and gross, I couldn't stand to use it again!  I guess that was another $7 of mine down the drain.  I don't know what's up with this one but it foams while it's in your mouth and it feels like you have rabies or something.  And it only comes with the tube of whitening gel but no way to apply it!

Here you can see on the box that it suggests using a cotton swab, a mouth tray, or your toothbrush.  At the time I did this, I had an upper and lower Invisalign-like Essix retainer so I used that but it was just so awful in the way it foamed that I spit it all out and rinsed it away right at the five minute mark.  My husband Brian also tried this one and found it horrible and gross as well.  I don't recommend this product either.

CVS 5 Minute Whitening Kit
This CVS Whitening Kit runs around $6 - $7 and comes with a "tray", which is more like a weird bite guard.  You squeeze the gel into the tray and then bite down on it.  The whitening claims to start working after five minutes and you should see results in as little as three days.

Brian and I both bought one of these kits and tried them out.  We used nearly an entire tube of the gel and I used it for about two weeks.  He used it for about one week.  We both noticed some subtle whitening and neither of us had any sensitivity on our teeth or gums.  It seemed to remove the surface stains but not those deep down stains, which are what can really make your teeth look less white.  I think this product was okay, and below I've included some photos to show the results.  At the time I went in for my dental work, the hygienist actually decided to make my dental work whiter than my actual teeth because she was afraid they would be too dark.  So I guess that tells you that this stuff wasn't great.  I will probably keep it and finish the tube in between deeper whitenings just for a touch up but I wouldn't repurchase this. 

Crest 3D Whitestrips Luxe Professional Effects
Frustrated with spending a bunch of money on products that didn't work, I finally decided to go with the Crest 3D Whitestrips.  At the time that I bought these, I had already had my dental work done and I had two teeth that were noticeably whiter than the rest.  The hygienist assured me that it would be best to just whiten the rest of my teeth until they matched.  For anyone who is wondering, it's apparently fine to whiten most dental work (of course, check with your dentist first) without damaging it.  It's just that only natural teeth can be whitened so you'll want to be sure everything matches.

We bought our box at Target for $49.99 and they actually had a promotional box of fifty strips (twenty-five treatments) for the price of forty strips.  We chose this type of Whitestrips because they had the largest strip for your bottom teeth compared to less expensive styles.  Brian and I agreed that we would split the box and just see if we saw any results, since Crest has a money back guarantee on this product if you're not satisfied.  We figured if we weren't happy, at least this time we weren't out any money.  I used thirteen days of treatments on top and bottom and he used twelve treatments on top and bottom.  Even with not using the entire box as you're advised, Brian and I noticed visibly whiter teeth in about three days and way whiter in seven days.  We were both really satisfied and we're actually going to buy another box.  (The box isn't meant to be split for two people so one more box would make a total treatment for both of us.)  We had taken a break for a few weeks because we did both notice a bit of increased sensitivity to cold on our teeth after about ten days.

If you're not familiar with the Crest Whitestrips, in this box, we got twenty-five packets like the ones you see above.  In each packet is a top strip and a bottom strip attached to a clear sheet.  (See below.)  You stick them on your teeth and keep them on for thirty minutes.  They stick really well and you can talk like normal and even drink water while you whiten.  We both did one treatment per day and found it really easy to just put them on before showering and take them off thirty minutes later.  And most importantly, they really work!  I would recommend them to anyone who wants real whitening results.

Let's talk about this photo above.  The Before photo was taken the day I got my braces off, when my teeth were at their dingiest.  The After CVS photo was taken after using the CVS 5 Minute Whitening Gel Kit for two weeks and I think it looks a little better than the Before but not much.  However, that After Crest photo really speaks for itself!  I feel like my teeth are definitely much whiter and my smile looks great!  For the three products I bought that didn't work as well as the Crest Whitestrips, total Brian and I paid about $41.  The Crest Whitestrips were only about $9 more expensive and they gave us great results.  In the future, instead of wasting my money nickel and diming myself on products that don't work, I'll just buck up for the Whitestrips.  We're already planning on ordering this set from Amazon because that's the best price we've found for them.  I hope that this post was helpful to anyone trying to decide on the best product for whitening.  If you were to ask me which whiteners work, I would definitely tell you Crest 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

FOTD, Palette Bingo

* rimmel fix and perfect pro primer
* revlon colorstay whipped creme foundation in ivory
* benefit erase paste in no. 1 fair
* l’oreal true match powder in n2: classic ivory
* nyc smooth skin loose face powder in translucent
* sonia kashuk tinted brow gel
* elf contour palette (bottom right shade as contour, bottom left shade as bronzer around hairline, top right as highlight)
* cover girl cheekers blush in rock n rose
* elf makeup mist & set

* milani eyeshadow primer
* milani shadow eyez in champagne toast 
* coastal scents metal mania palette (shades E4, A5, J4, I5, E1)
* wet n wild color icon single eyeshadow in brûlée
* nyx single eyeshadow in dark brown
* smashbox limitless eyeliner in onyx
* nyc high definition liquid eyeliner in extra black
* maybelline colossal volum’ express waterproof mascara in classic black
* elf mineral infused mascara


* rimmel provocalips in wish upon a berry

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rimmel Provocalips Swatches & Review

I know that I'm totally late to the party on finally trying out these Rimmel Provocalips.  I decided to review and swatch the four I have anyway, especially since a few of the shades that I own were hard to find swatches online.  Hopefully this can help out anyone that had trouble finding swatches before buying like I did.  :)

Product Claims:
Rimmel claims that this lip color is kiss proof, transfer proof, and food proof and will last for 16 hours. I agree with the kiss proof and transfer proof but I don't find that it can last through all meals, as it depends on what you're eating. Oil based salad dressings can definitely break this down but I find it can last through snacking on some fruits and veggies. Take that as you will. Let's look at my lips with no product first and then we'll take a look at the swatches.


Wish Upon a Berry is a light dusty rose, with the finest bit of shimmer.  It's actually one of my favorites because it's just a perfect your lips but better shade that is great for work without being super noticeable that you're wearing lipstick.  At least, it's similar to my natural lips but as you can see, I don't have very pigmented lips naturally.  It just adds a little something to my face that looks better than my lips do alone, in my opinion.

Make Your Move is a sort of light terra cotta color.  It surprised me because it looks like a creme finish in the tube but on the lips there is quite a lot of shimmer in this color.  Happily, I feel like this isn't a lipstick where the color fades but the shimmer stays.  It's a warm peachy neutral and while it's pretty wearable, it's actually my least favorite of the four shades I currently own.

I'll Call You is a pink creme shade that is my absolute favorite.  It's just the perfect pink lip color.  It's beautiful and gives your face life without being too in your face.

Play With Fire is an eye catching blue-based red.  It makes your teeth look whiter and definitely stands out.  I love that this red can be trusted not to end up on your teeth or smeared outside your lip line.

*I love that this product includes the balm step and you really can reapply it as often as you need to keep your lips hydrated.
* While I'm not 100% sold that the 16 hour wear time claims hold true, these can definitely hold up really well through most things.
* There is a pretty good color range from neutrals to bold shades.
* These are affordable and readily available at drugstores. 

* If you apply your own balm over this product, there is a good chance the color will reliquify and all bets are off then.
* If you're like me, you'll use way more of the step 2 balm than the step 1 color but step 1 has 0.14 fl oz (4 ml) and step 2 has 0.10 fl oz (3 ml). So at some point that seems like it could be an issue. 
* I've noticed that occasionally after a few hours of wear, the color can start to sort of pill on your lips but only if you've applied a little too much of the color initially. 

Would I recommend this product?
Yes! I really like that these are so low maintenance. I can wear them to work or for a special occasion without worrying about checking on my lipstick. If you haven't yet tried these, definitely give them a shot if you're looking for a long wear lip color at a great price!

If it lasts so long, how do I get it off?
I find that the Nyx Be Gone Lip Color Remover works really well to take this color off.  However, I also think that my Carmex Lip Balm does just as well as this and costs way less.  I'd say any emollient lip balm with that type of texture (think squeeze tube) would probably work.

Monday, February 22, 2016

OOTD, Small Details

This morning I had some extra time since I was starting my work day at the office closest to my house. So I decided it was a good morning to stop and take some outfit photos! I tried to be a better photographer than last time... but I won't be quitting my day job any time soon, that's for sure!

What I'm Wearing:
* periwinkle 3/4 button down - Kohl's
* white 3/4 cardigan - Belk
* camel chinos - Walmart
* black buckle flats - Rack Room Shoes
* watch - Fossil (gift from hubby)
* bracelet (medic alert) - Amazon: two separate pieces, this one and this one
* swallow bird necklace - Bealls Outlet
Lip Color
* Rimmel Provocalips in Wish Upon A Berry

It was a delightfully warm day here in Florida, with a high in the upper 70s. Still, my office is always freezing so I try to layer so I'm comfortable no matter what the temperature is inside. Plus, layering is just so cute and easy. However, I was really enjoying the small details in this outfit, like the cute little birds on my necklace and my adorable new medic alert ID bracelet. As a diabetic, I've been sporting medical bracelets for over fifteen years now. Let me tell you, they don't focus enough on making them aesthetically pleasing! So when I found that Amazon sells interchangeable beaded bracelets for them, I pressed "add to cart" pretty darn fast. I love how you can use different pieces to match your outfit or DIY up something that is uniquely you. I fully intend on making a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michaels to make myself some ones I can stack together for my own look. Anyone have suggestions on what wire or string make good bracelets? I'm open to ideas!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FOTD, Target Haul Video

rimmel fix and perfect pro face primer
rimmel stay matte foundation in light ivory
benefit erase paste in no. 1 fair
l'oreal true match powder in n2: classic ivory (set undereye)
nyc smooth skin loose face powder in translucent (set rest of face)
elf contour palette (bottom right shade to contour, top left shade to highlight, bottom left shade as bronzer)
elf blush palette in dark (top right shade)
sonia kashuk tinted brow gel
elf makeup mist & set

milani eyeshadow primer
milani shadow eyez in champagne toast in inner corner
cover girl trunaked eyeshadow palette in nudes (mink on lid, shell as browbone highlight, fawn as transition shade in crease, cocoa to deepen crease, coffee to line lower lashes, champagne in inner corner, sable dampened as upper liner)
maybelline unstoppable liner in onyx in upper and lower rims
elf mascara primer
elf mineral infused mascara in black

rimmel provocalips 16hr kissproof lip color in i'll call you

items mentioned in the video:
elf blush palette in dark
elf contour palette
elf essential lip stain in berry blush
elf essential lip stain in pink petal
rimmel provocalips in i'll call you
cover girl trunaked eyeshadow palette in nudes
nyc get it all lipstick in PINKtastic
nyc get it all lipstick in fabFUCHSIA
nyc get it all lipstick in incREDible
nyc get it all lipstick in extraordiBERRY
cosmetic wedges
nyx be gone lip color remover

Monday, February 15, 2016

elf Essential Lip Stain Swatches & Review

Back in December, I picked up an e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain in the shade Nude Nectar to wear for Christmas.  While it was not at all a nude shade, I did love the fact that it gave rich color without any worry about it getting on your teeth, kissing off, or smearing around on your face.  And for only two bucks, it was hard not to want to pick up more when there were so many pretty shades!  I ended up with four out of the six (every color that is sold in my local stores that carry e.l.f.) so I thought now would be a great time to share some lip swatches and my review on these inexpensive lippies.  However, if I can get my hands on the Fuchsia Fusion shade, I'll probably buy it eventually too!

How It Works:
The e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain is basically a felt tip marker where the color can easily be drawn on your lips with precision.  The color is a liquid, much like an actual marker.

Pink Petal is a bright pink.  It's quite similar to the color of my vest in the photo, but not quite as vivid.  I feel like it's a great neutral pink that doesn't lean too cool or too warm.

Pink Petal
Nude Nectar is not a nude at all, at least in my opinion.  I would call it more of a warm bronzish berry.  It's not what I was expecting but I found that I quite liked it!

Nude Nectar
Berry Blush is perfectly named.  It's a more cool toned, pink-purple berry and is one of my favorites of the bunch.  It's not too purple that it isn't wearable but I think it's just a delightful color for winter.

Berry Blush
Crimson Crush is a cool toned red, which serves great to make your teeth look whiter than they are!  I feel like this color is very old Hollywood glamorous.  It totally makes me want to listen to Taylor Swift and pretend to be as fantastic with red lips as she is.

Crimson Crush

* These lip stains can be a little tricky to apply because there isn't much margin for error.  Since they are a stain, if you make a mistake, you might be stuck with it for awhile so I recommend applying them slowly and carefully.
* They are quite drying.  The shine you see on my lips in all of these photos are because I put Carmex lip balm over top.  Even just applying them make my lips feel dry and parched.  However, if you want for the stain to dry (only takes a few seconds), you can apply a balm or gloss over top and it won't affect the staying power of the stain.
* The drying quality of them can cause some flaking of the color.  It's minor and I'm sure I'm the only one looking at my lips close enough to tell but sometimes it bothers me.
* They are really hard to get off when you want them to come off.  Nyx Lip Color Remover didn't take them off, though it did lighten them.  However, my Olay Daily Facials seems to take them off pretty well, though even after that I still see a tiny bit of color in some of the lines of my lips.
* Some of the markers are more dry than others and seem to have less "juice".  I can see these drying out at different rates, depending on how wet they were in the first place.  I don't find any of them to be so dry that they are hard to work with.

* The color lasts through drinking water or even coffee without transferring at all.
* The color doesn't get stuck to teeth, smear, or smudge at all.  You know you can trust it to stay put, which is especially great in the red color.  Red lipstick has always scared me, not because it's loud but because I had a teacher in junior high who perpetually had tons of red lipstick on her teeth.  It's not a good look for anyone and it's something that always made me apprehensive about red lip colors.
* The colors are beautiful!  While they're aren't a ton of colors, I feel like there is enough variety to be able to play and have different options.
* They are great for work!  I love feeling put together with a great lip color at work without having to worry about checking yourself in a mirror every five minutes to be sure you still look okay.

Would I recommend this product?
You bet!  For only two dollars, it's a low risk if you end up not liking it.  For me, these were a definite win and I've really been enjoying using them.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

FOTD, elf Play Beautifully Unboxing Video

* rimmel fix and perfect pro primer
* rimmel lasting finish foundation in light ivory
* benefit erase paste in no. 1 fair
* l’oreal true match powder in n2 classic ivory (set undereye)
* nyc smooth skin loose face powder in translucent (set rest of face)
* sonia kashuk tinted brow gel
* nyc smooth skin bronzing face powder in sunny (contour)
* elf blush palette in light (bottom left color)
* elf makeup mist & set

* milani eyeshadow primer
* maybelline expert wear quad eyeshadow palette in mocha motion
* smashbox limitless eyeliner in onyx (tightline)
* nyc high definition eyeliner in extra black
* maybelline colossal volum’ express waterproof mascara in classic black
* elf mineral infused mascara in black

* jordana easyliner for lips in plush plum
* nyc get it all lip color in extraordiBERRY

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

OOTD, Not A Professional Photographer

This morning I decided to get ambitious and snap a couple of outfit of the day photos before I left for work.  I set up my delightful new 50 inch tripod and my fabulous new, better quality camera and used my cell phone as a remote so I didn't have to run back and forth to and from the camera to set the timer.  The result: two pictures that remind me that I am so not a professional photographer.  But at least the photos are better quality than what they used to be!

My awful photography aside, let's take a look at what I wore on this chilly day.  

chambray button down: Kohl's
oatmeal sweater: little boy's department at Target (because I'm a miniature human)
mixed neutrals necklace: Payless Shoes
olive chinos: Walmart
brown flats: Rack Room Shoes
lips: jordana easyliner for lips in posh plum and NYC Get It All Lipstick in ExtraordiBERRY

Can we take a moment to enjoy how great this lip color is??  I kind of what this lipstick in every color!  And for $2.99, why not?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

FOTD, Empties Video

* rimmel fix & perfect pro primer
* cover girl ready, set gorgeous foundation in classic ivory
(This foundation shade is a little too dark for me in real life but it comes off looking okay in videos because of the bright lights I film with.)
* benefit erase paste in no. 1 fair
* rimmel stay matte pressed powder in translucent (set under eye powder)
* nyc smooth skin loose face powder in translucent
* wet n wild ultimate brow mascara in nothing but bru-nette
* milani powder blush in romantic rose
* nyc smooth skin bronzing face powder in sunny
* elf makeup mist & set

* milani eyeshadow primer
* l’oreal infallible eyeshadow in iced latte (lid)
* wet n wild color icon eyeshadow single in brûlée (brow highlight)
* nyc smooth skin bronzing face powder in sunny (transition crease shade)
* elf single eyeshadow in saddle (lower lash line & crease)
* smashbox limitless eyeliner in onyx (tightline upper lashes)
* nyc high definition liquid eyeliner in black
* maybelline colossal volum express waterproof mascara in classic black

* elf lip stain in berry blush
* carmex lip balm