Beauty Notebook

Guest Post: Teeth are Always in Style

My BFTDS editor Jennifer is back with another insightful and engaging post.  Read on, if you dare!

You put a lot of effort into your beauty routine.  From taking great care of your skin, to choosing just the right make up and anti-aging products, and using top-notch tools.  Are you doing the same for your most important feature – your smile?

In researching this article, I was surprised to find how few beauty sites and sources mention dental care.  Some talk about the latest fad (oil pulling) or the best at-home whitening products (white strips and charcoal toothpaste).  But none seem to talk about basic dental care.  One beauty writer for a major beauty magazine lamented on how tedious it was to spend a whole 5 minutes at the beginning and end of the day brushing her teeth.  She said it was her least favorite beauty task.  *sigh*  One writer went so far as to say eating pulled pork was just as good as flossing.  Um, ewwwww…

Due Diligence:

Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste removes plaque, odor-causing bacteria, and helps protect your teeth from future decay.  If you’re not flossing regularly, you’re missing 30% of your teeth’s surface.  That’s a lot of real estate for plaque and bacteria to make themselves at home.  Cleaning between teeth and at the gum line decreases your chances of cavities and tooth decay and significantly improves your gum health. In addition to brushing and flossing, an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine helps remove any residual bacteria hiding out in your mouth.

Many people avoid the dentist because they fear pain:  pain from poking, prodding, drilling and filling and pain in their wallet.  But skipping dental visits may actually end up costing you more money. Regular visits to your dentist can help ensure you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.  Exams and x-rays can identify potential problems that you may not see or feel.  Cavities, little ones or big ones, don’t go away.  Once decay starts, it cannot be reversed.  So have your dentist address any concerns as soon as they are diagnosed.  It’s much easier to treat and manage problems before they become emergencies or major malfunctions.

Tools of the Trade:

You know what a rotary brush can do for your complexion.  An electric toothbrush can do the same for your smile.  An electric toothbrush provides a superior clean to a manual brush because it removes food debris and plaque from hard to reach places in your mouth, decreasing your chances of bad breath and tooth decay.  A brush with a rotating head is best because it sweeps particles up and away from your teeth and gums.

tooth tools

My dentist let me in on a little secret about toothpaste – 98% are a gimmick.  The pretty packaging and claims to whiten your smile and freshen your breath are mostly meant to increase sales.  All you need to create a beautiful smile is an electric toothbrush and a basic fluoride toothpaste, like Crest original formula.  Baking soda works too.  It’s not the toothpaste, but the mechanical action of removing food, plaque, and bacteria that improves your oral health.  While that $8 tube of toothpaste may in fact remove some surface staining, your dollars are better spent on an electric brush.

Diet and Your Smile:

Everything that passes your pucker, from the foods you eat, to what you drink, chew, and puff, affects your oral health.  Food debris that is not immediately brushed away after eating accumulates in the tiny spaces in and around your teeth.  As the food breaks down, bacteria are created and the potential for decay begins.  Sugary and acidic drinks are just as harmful and can erode your tooth enamel.  Smoking and smokeless tobacco are also extremely damaging to your teeth and gums.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking lots of water is the best recipe for a healthy smile.  If (like me) you can’t commit to eating healthier, at least commit to a better daily dental routine:  brush twice daily and after every meal and floss at least once daily.  For those times when you just can’t brush immediately after a meal, chew sugarless gum instead.  Chewing gum for 20 minutes after a meal increases the saliva flow in your mouth, helping to wash away food debris between teeth.


Got Sparkle?

tooth snap

Thanks to Snapchat for the cat ears and my dentist for the healthy smile!

Having glorious, pearly whites can definitely boost your confidence and self-esteem, but the way your teeth look is only part of the story of your smile.  Cosmetic procedures such as whitening and veneers are meant to enhance the look of healthy, functional teeth.  Great at-home care and regular visits to your dentist for exams, cleanings, and treatment should be the priority.  Whitening unhealthy teeth will not help you in the long run and may contribute to tooth sensitivity.

Teeth are always in style.  So do yourself a favor and take care of your choppers while you still have them!



Beauty Q & A

LeslieLeslie’s most pressing beauty issue is her wrinkly eyes!

Oh no! Unfortunately, our eyes are one of the first places we start to see fine lines and wrinkles. And if you are a squinter such as I am, beware! But it’s never too late to use the Force.

There are so many good quality eye creams and gels on the market right now. I’m partial to Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Eye serum, but the Salma Hayek Nuance Firming Eye Balm is fantastic and you can find it at CVS. It’s a bit on the thick side, so use it sparingly. But it is so incredibly luxurious you will think you’re using a La Mer product. Only you’re saving hundreds of dollars. Eye products should be used twice a day. Be sure you purchase products that are safe to use on your eyelids. And apply with your ring finger. It sounds silly, but it’s the most gentle of fingers to use and we want gentleness around our peepers. It also helps to use an eye primer before applying eye shadow, but after eye cream.  This will help hide the look of wrinkles and help keep your eye shadows in place longer. Urban Decay and the $2 ELF primer are favorites of mine. Remember that it took years to earn those wrinkly eyes, so it’s not going to be an overnight fix.

Thanks for your question Leslie.  Looking at you kid here is!



Beauty Destination: the Amazon

Pack your bags DS Devotees, we’re going on a trip! A trip to the Amazon. OK, TBH it’s just but I spend so much time there, it should be considered a destination! It’s a veritable playground of beauty products, gadgets, and gizmos from all over the world.  Just point, click, and a few days later a little box of happiness arrives on your doorstep.

A couple years ago I had no idea what was all about. I thought it was books and electronics. Then my mother surprised me with a gift card and changed my life forever. I started scrolling and surfing and discovered my love of all things gimmicky, pretty, and (if your Korean or foreign beauty) kooky!  My beauty universe just expanded exponentially!

amazon_logo_500500My collection of beauty purchases includes, but is not limited to:

Cat’s Wink Powder Compact

Rose Gold Beauty Blender Holder

12 Piece Taiwanese Lip Pencil Set

24K Rose Gold Facial Serum

Russian Eyebrow Pencil

5 Piece Unicorn Makeup Brush Set

Red Liquid Lipstick

Jelly Flower Lipstick

Green Color Changing Lipstick

Loose Powder

Red Wine Lip Tint

15-Shade Cream Color Correct, Highlight and Contour Palette

Generic Beauty Blender

Domed-Well Serum Foundation Brush

5 Piece Generic “Artis” Makeup Brush Set

Combo Black Liquid/Gel Pencil Eyeliner

Various Fan, Contour and Foundation Brushes

Korean Beauty Lip Masks and Pore Strips

amazon haul

Of course there are some absolute busts.  The lip masks are a waste of time; a good lip scrub and balm are quicker, easier, and make more sense. The red liquid lipstick is from Turkey and is so thick that it’s uncomfortable to wear. I can never get the color even on my lips. The green color-changing lipstick turns my lips the most horrifying shade of shocking pink. I can’t leave the house wearing it, I just can’t.

There are also some most excellent finds. Not only is the Cat’s Wink compact adorable, the powder actually works for my skin tone. It’s also quite the conversation piece when I pull it from my makeup bag! The Russian eyebrow pencil has become a staple – it’s the perfect shade, a lot of product, a nice surprise! The red wine lip tint smells like wine and leaves a gorgeous red stain on my lips.  The color is so long-lasting that I need an oil based remover to take it off at the end of the day. The unicorn and generic “Artis” brushes work remarkably well and are very easy to wash. Nothing has fallen apart and they apply my makeup perfectly. The 24K serum is not quite a dupe for my Farsali 24K serum but it was $4.68 instead of $56. It makes a very nice makeup primer, leaves my skin with the exact amount of “tackiness” that I’m looking for in a primer. I’ve also used it as the last step in my night time skincare routine.


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The rest are fun, simple pieces. Do I incorporate them into my daily makeup routine? Not all the time, but they are cute pieces that I can reach for when I need to change things up a bit. I consider them souvenirs from my trip to the Amazon. I’ll be sure and send you a postcard from my next beauty expedition!

P.S. Please note that none of the above items cost more than $8. Swear on my Dark Diva Darth heart!

What’s in the DS Diva’s Make Up Bag?

Because of my devotion (AKA obsession) with all things beauty, it’s no surprise that I’ve gotten several requests about what I carry in my makeup bag.   So never one to disappoint my fans, here is your exclusive peek at the ultimate items that I carry with me every day.

Between Ipsy bags, free gift with purchase bags and a couple of high end beauties, I have about 35+ makeup bags in my collection.  I tend to use a medium sized bag because, if I use a larger one I’ll just fill it with unnecessary items that I don’t use on an everyday basis.

Currently in my Clinique makeup bag:


whats in my bag

  1. Carmex lip balm. Chapped lips in any universe are never cool
  2. Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. An all-purpose, multiuse ointment that I use on my cuticles, crazed eyebrows, flyaway hair and dry skin.
  3. Sample size of fragrance. At the moment it’s CoCo Mademoiselle by Chanel. A lady always carries a classic fragrance in case garlic or a marathon run are involved on a date. Obviously a toothbrush/paste and Altoids are in a separate bag I carry with me.
  4. Cover Girl Clean Powder Foundation. In my Dark Side HOF I explained my love of this item. Broken bottles of foundation can ruin my bags and my day. This powder covers like a liquid but with the ease and convenience of a powder.
  5. Ipsy sized Bahama Mama Bronzer from The Balm. I use this as a bronzer, blush or eyeshadow. The size is a bit strange but it’s convenient and I like having a color product in my bag.
  6. Travel sized Moonstone Highlighter from Becca. It’s a beautiful shade on my fair skin that can also be used on my eyes and lips. Even a Darth wants to shine!
  7. Outlaw Liquid Lipstick from Kat Von D. I will always, always have a red lipstick in my bag. It’s the absolute easiest way to go from a day to night look in seconds.
  8. Champagne Lip gloss from Heroes Beauty. Another HOF product! By itself or layered over any color it’s absolutely perfect.
  9. Clinique or any travel sized free gift with purchase mascara that doesn’t smudge or give me pink eye.
  10. Eyeliner/eyebrow pencil from NYX. I adore combo products that actually do what they say and this one fits the bill. Not too creamy or waxy and it’s long-lasting.
  11. Bare Minerals Powder Brush. It’s the perfect size to apply bronzer, highlighter and powder foundation.

I also carry a smaller Ipsy bag with a toothbrush/paste, mints, bobby pins, ponytail holders, travel sized dry hair spray, hand sanitizer and Wet Ones. Not exactly exciting products but definitely needed for beauty upkeep or emergencies. And always keep a pair of tweezers on you! There is nothing worse than checking yourself in your rearview mirror and seeing a 2 inch long chin hair. UGH!!!

So that’s the Dark Side edition of “What’s in my makeup bag?”  I’m going on vacation soon, let’s see how much I pack for a 4 day getaway!

I would love to hear what my Dark Side Devotees have in their portable beauty arsenals.  Feel free to share in the comments below!20759449_267510000402768_485000587671240704_n

Beauty Q & A


Laugh it up fuzzball!

Janet is having issues with her disagreeable eyebrows.

I know exactly what she’s going through!  The only thing that helped me from looking like a Wookie was having my brows professionally shaped.  Almost every hair salon has a stylist that can do this and they will know exactly what shape is best for your face.  It’s the best extra money you can spend on yourself.  Keep in mind that you must regularly keep up with the maintenance, aka tweezin’. 2232066 Check that brow bone daily for any stray hairs.  Starting with the proper brow shape makes filling in any sparse areas or gray hairs so much easier. A light touch is best and I swear by brow pencils from IT

ybf (1)

YBF brow pencil

Cosmetics, Benefit, YBF (found on HSN and a wonderful, fun line) and the brow kit from Milani.

Thank you for trusting me with your beauty conundrum, you have now officially crossed over to the Dark Side!