Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy April!

[all images from ffffound.com or tumblr]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whitening Strips Review

A few too many cups of tea, sodas, and red wine later, I decided to jump on the at-home teeth whitening band wagon. I've explained the tray whitening method in a previous post, but decided to try whitening strips and let you know how it fares. Now that I've tried both I would say that the trays are excellent for maintenance or for someone who feels the stains on their teeth are not that substantial. It's a routine you can do once a week or once every two weeks or as you see fit. The strips are definitely more about instant gratification, but require a bit more commitment. 


Do I recommend Rexall Whitening Strips?
I would highly recommend paying the extra few bucks and getting brand name whitening strips, like Crest Advanced White Strips, instead of the generic ones I got that are made by Rexall pharmacy. I'm glad I tried the pharmacy brand first just to get a taste (ha!) of the process though. I didn't want to spend $50 on a system that I wasn't sure of, but now that I know that I will see results I'm curious to see what level of white a more expensive product could achieve. The Rexall strips cost me about $24.  Bottom line: the generic ones work, you will see results, but the strips are cheap and flimsy which makes me wonder how much whiter my teeth might have been with sturdier strips.

The process:
- Patience is key! If you want to see nice results, you've got to stick with the program and use the strips as directed. 
- Use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth prior to starting the whitening regimen, as well as during. I found this helped me out a lot as I experienced tooth sensitivity after the first application. (My teeth are generally speaking pretty sensitive as it is, so bare that in mind).
- Tooth sensitivity was not unbearable though, especially while using Sensodine toothpaste.
- The whitening strips I used said to leave the strips on for 30 minutes (minimum) twice a day, unless sensitivity is experienced then once a day is fine. I fell into the sensitive category and had to take a break for a day (after not using Sensodine) then I only used the strips for 30 minutes once a day for the remainder of the week. 
- The strips themselves aren't big enough to wrap around the entire tooth (front and back) so the back of my teeth ended up being overlooked - I'm assuming that a more expensive brand would have bigger strips. 
- Whitening gel/bleach foams up and out of the strips so be prepared for this and stay close to a sink for the unavoidable mid-processing time spit (blech).
- I got used to having the strips in my mouth by the third application and didn't experience nearly as much salivating and overall grossness as the first 2 times.

The results:
- Unfortunately (or fortunately for my vanity) I didn't take before and after pictures, so I can't show you proof of the results, but I would estimate that my teeth are 2 shades whiter. It's subtle but it's a nice spruce up and it's something I will maintain and maybe even improve on by using whitening toothpaste. 
- Now that I know what the strips are like I'm going to keep an eye out for higher-end whitening strips to go on sale; I've done some research and deduced that Crest Advance Whitening Strips are the best on the market as they stick to your teeth really well and whiten significantly. 

True say: Apparently whitening strips (specifically Crest Whitening Strips) aren't approved in Europe. So some Europeans buy them off of Ebay from Americans. That's got to be a good sign right?! :S

Friday, March 12, 2010

Calm down!


I've reacquainted myself with Redken haircare products recently, and I'm thoroughly impressed. Specifically I've been using the Smooth Down shampoo, conditioner and styling serum (for frizzy, dry, unruly hair - that's me in a nutshell). In the past I've also tried their All Soft range which is excellent as well. 

Here's the description directly from Redken on their Smooth Down line:

Smoothness for very dry, unruly hair. Hair is up to four times smoother*. Get ultra-smooth, shiny hair that's in control. New Smooth Down is specially formulated to enrich and tame extremely dry, coarse, unruly hair. Redken's exclusive Interbond Conditioning System delivers a unique Ionic Smoothing Complex of macadamia oil, candelilla wax and cationic refiners to help replenish oils, provide intense smoothing and a long-lasting, humidity-resistant, frizz-free finish.  
Smooth Down

How many times can you say smooth? 

I've been using the Smooth Down shampoo, conditioner and protective smoother - which is a frizz tamer and guard against hot tool damage - for the past week and I have definitely noticed an improvement in the condition of my hair already. I'm not falling victim to the marketing of their campaign either, ie. "Hair is up to four times smoother"! But I can say for sure that the overall condition has improved, thus leaving me with much more manageable and therefore smooth hair. Two thumbs up.

To give you some background, I could put 'Carrot Top' to shame when it comes to the level of frizz and curl that is my hair. I colour it and have some remnants of failed permanent straightening that's still growing out (the bottom 4 inches of my hair) which has lead to/still leads to a lot of breakage and general unhappy hair. My goal is to have it back in shape and shoulder length by the end of the summer (it's currently sitting at my collar bone).

I would recommend this line for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the volume in their hair, hates frizz, or has dry-coarse hair. I would specifically recommend the Protective Smoother for anyone who uses hot tools on their hair on a regular basis (irons, hair dryers, etc) because it really protects and nourishes the hair unlike any other heat protector I've used. There is no discernible fragrance to it (there's a hint of musk or men's cologne to it though - not in a bad way), and it's a large bottle with a pump that you apply with your hands.

The fabulous part about Redken is that they have a product line for everyone, and you can mix and match. Also, I personally think the price is reasonable ($14-$35). Although some people will think they're asking too much, I think that considering it's a high quality salon product the price isn't bad at all. Especially after using product lines such as Phyto, Philosophy, and Bumble and Bumble which all start at over $40 and didn't improve the quality of my hair any more dramatically than Redken has. 

Next time I think I'll try the "Fresh Curls" line, and I'll let you know what I think.

Also, it's worth noting that I bought these products myself (randomly) and haven't been approached or encouraged to promote these products in any way. 

P.S. I'm getting a hair cut today and could not be more thrilled. Did I mention that I look like CARROT TOP?!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You spent what?!

I just read this article on Jezebel.com describing that, shockingly, the average woman will spend $13k on cosmetics in her lifetime (within 65 years). Or at least, it's supposed to be a shocking figure. But when you break this figure down it works out to about $200 a year or $16 a month, not exactly as reckless as the original figure sounds, right? Compare this to what the average woman might spend on dental care, gym memberships, or movie tickets in a year and I think this number is reasonable, if not frugal for some (me).

Scrolling down to read some of the comments on Jezebel.com, a lot of the posters agree with me that $13k or $200 a year is completely reasonable and probably could be multiplied several times over to be equivalent to the money they spend on cosmetics. Others disagree and can't believe the huge sum, saying that their beauty routines comprise of a more natural look, only requiring a tub of Vaseline (that last a life time) and a mascara purchase once a year.
More like, "Makeup FUN"

Whether you're a Sephora zealot or not, the study reinforces the importance of budgeting: spend within your means and plan purchases as much as possible - and acknowledging and not being ashamed of, the little extras in life that you want to spend your money on. For some, this might be vinyl records or converse sneakers. For others it's cosmetics. 

Another point worth considering is that like clothing, cosmetics come in all different price ranges. As a consumer it is our responsibility to educate ourselves, do some planning, and decide which products are worthy of our hard earned money - all $13,000 of it!

I thought this comment by "BetteD" on Jezebel.com was especially astute:

"Oh whatever. If I had every penny every ex boyfriend of mine has spent on RC cars, video games, porn, golf balls & gear, Rogaine, and gambling, I'd have enough money to buy Sephora itself.

I personally enjoy makeup. I see it as an artistic outlet, it makes me feel good, and putting it on actually relaxes me. I know this isn't true of all women, nor should any woman be expected to wear makeup. But those of us who do shouldn't be shamed by stupid studies like this, whose aim is to point out the stupidity and frivolity of the lil' wimminz."


My bathroom is starting to look like a chemistry lab because I'm currently testing L'Oreal's Renewal Eye Lash Serum and Rexall Teeth Whitening Strips. It's just a coincidence that I'm testing them over the same period of time - but perfect timing for a spring spruce up. I received the lash serum from L'Oreal to test and review last week. The whitening strips I purchased myself because I want to let you know what I think of whitening strips vs. tray method (as explained in my other post here.)

http://drkam.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/dental-strip.jpgSo look out for those two reviews in the next few weeks (1 week for the whitening strip review; 3 more weeks for the eye lash serum review with before and after photos). 

Has anyone tried these products yet?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beyonce Cosmetology School

On March 5th, Beyonce Knowles (pictured here with her mom) opened the Beyonce Cosmetology Center at the Career Academy in Brooklyn, NY. The cosmetology school will offer classes to women as part of the career academy at the Phoenix House, a residential substance abuse treatment centre. Read more here.

Go Queen B!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hose you doin'?

Panty-hose (ugh. hate that word) and open toed heels, or worse still, sandals is not good. Yes, the sun is out. Yes, it's still chilly. No, this does not mean that sandals and nude hose are acceptable - ever. The end.
However, colourful (or black), non-skin coloured tights OR bare legs with heels? That's taking it to a whole-nuva-level.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Wunder Product!

Whether you get your nails done at the nail salon or DIY in your bathroom, there is nothing worse than discovering you've smudged an otherwise perfect manicure 5 minutes later. In my case, this usually happens because I want to eat something...curse you, Vegetable Thins box!!

It's nothing new or technologically advanced really, but I've found a solution that every nail polish enthusiast looks for; drying drops. I stumbled upon this in Sally's Beauty Supply and have been thoroughly impressed since the first drop. Nail Life Aromatherapy Drop-on Polish Dryer is applied after the top coat by dropping one drop of this oily green liquid on top of each nail (the green becomes an oily slick on each nail, that dries completely after a few minutes). As an added bonus it moisturizes cuticles and smells like watermelon.
A product thumbnail of Nail Life Aromatherapy Drop-On Polish Dryer
I've found that these drops dry polish rock hard in about 5-8 minutes. A vast improvement from the usual 30+ minutes without using them.

Since discovering these drops I've changed my polish once a week - it's that easy now! 

Sorry, had to include this. This woman is FOR REAL!