My Teeth Whitening Stash

I mentioned my home teeth whitening set-up back in July, and I’ve been asked about it ever since. At long last, all my rich teeth secrets!

Gonna start with a disclaimer: I’m not a dental health professional, just a historian who will do the equivalent of shoving my body into a light socket in order to learn about beauty stuff. At the end of my jaw and braces journey, my surgeon and orthodontist were happy to send me off for teeth whitening to complete the smile transformation. Then the pandemic hit, and while I’m open to just about any beauty treatment, taking off my mask in NYC at the height of a pandemic to whiten my teeth wasn’t on the menu. So I hunted around and got myself a home teeth whitening set-up.

Before diving in with my whitening routine, I went to my dentist for a checkup and had x-rays done to make sure I didn’t have any cavities. I’ve heard of people having nerve zaps from whitening (!!!), and this might be related to cavities or other weaknesses in the tooth enamel allowing the LED light to overheat the tooth pulp. I got the all clear and off I went to blast through the layers of grime from braces and cold brew.

For roughly the cost of one whitening session at a pro whitening spot, I managed to acquire a whole stash of whitening tools that I’m nowhere near using up. An initially cheaper option would be Crest Whitestrips, which my awesomely low-key dentist suggested, but I wanted the big guns to get my teeth stupendously white very fast. I think my stash ends up being cheaper over time due to the number of treatments in each gel tube. One great thing about home whitening is that if my gums get irritated, I don’t have to plow through with treatments just because they’re already paid and booked (whereas I’d probably suffer through a three-session whitening treatment at a studio just to avoid having to come back or forfeit the fee).

Here’s what I’ve got:

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How to wash your hair with acid

Pour some acid on meeeee.

-your tired, sad scalp singing 80s songs due to agony, bail her out
Original: Edgar Degas, Woman Combing Her Hair, ca. 1888–90.

I’ve posted a fair bit about scalp skincare over the years, most notably when I wrote about washing hair with cleansing oil for Racked (the same place I shared my acid deodorant hack). When I bring up scalp skincare, I find that lots of people comment and message me to say that their scalps feel bad: they’re itchy, dry, flaky, painful — despite lots of attempts at soothing that skin with medicated washes that contain stuff like coal tar. I don’t think you have to live like that.

One of my favorite things about kbeauty haircare is that it’s not just focused on treating the strands of hair; hair is understood to begin at the scalp, which means that scalps get treated like skin. Which makes sense since…the scalp is skin.

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Talking to my best friend about her scalp skin cancer experience

I was busily humming away in my own bubble of concerns when my best friend Suzie sent me a text saying we should hang out and oh also she had skin cancer on her scalp.


Given that I run a skincare blog and Suzie wants to help other people avoid the same experience, we decided to record a conversation about what it’s like to discover that you have skin cancer on your scalp, the surgery process, and things learned along the way. We’re not experts at anything other than Ugly Betty trivia, so we’re focusing on what it’s like to navigate scalp skin cancer as a patient.

Here we are in 2011 at my wedding!

Suzie was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma in February of this year and had surgery soon after. She has healed very well, but she’s bummed to have a pretty big scar on her head that’s hard to cover up while waiting to see if and how her hair returns.

One’s risk for skin cancer varies quite a bit, so ask your dermatologist or GP if you need to get regular checks. I’m about Suzie’s color and I don’t think anyone in my family has had a spot removed despite a wild disregard for SPF/love affair with our closest star, but my dermatologist pushes strongly for an annual exam. I groan and comply, but I won’t hesitate to strip down in the future after hearing about what happened to my bestie.

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