Smile Brilliant At Home Teeth Whitening Review

Coffee Atlanta

My relationship with my smile has changed so many times throughout the years.
Growing up, I had a gap, crooked teeth, and yet I smiled, laughed, and was my loud self because I really didn’t care.
Throughout my teen years I cared a bit more and I’m now unlearning that, but interestingly, my teeth were straightened.
No braces, and no, they’re not perfect at all, but no gap, and a pretty great smile that I flash constantly.
The only issue with my smile now is my every day consumption of this thing called coffee.

Every day, twice or three times a day, no cream no sugar, thank you!
As much as I love my morning, post- lunch, and afternoon ritual of coffee, I know it’s been staining my teeth. I’m not willing to say no to my cup of joy just yet, so I looked to teeth whitening strips and whitening toothpastes- even oil pulling and charcoal powder. None worked the way I wanted them to.

Smile Brilliant teeth whitening review

When Smile Brilliant reached out and offered to send me a teeth whitening kit I was doubtful at first because I had tried everything. But then I realized just how LEGIT they are.
They sent me a kit to make my own molds so the custom fitted whitening trays fit my smile perfectly. I was shook.

Smile Brilliant is vegan and cruelty free, which was a huge factor in me agreeing to try the product out or not. They also have incredible customer service, and were quick with the shipping, which I appreciated!

Now I whiten my teeth almost every night for 45 min to an hour and a half, depending on how much time I have. The package that came in the mail was so informative, and the little syringes make me feel like a mad scientist in the middle of my bathroom. It’s also really pretty and I’ve enjoyed incorporating it into my nighttime routine.

I’m shocked at how the appearance of my smile has already changed in a week. It’s not just that they are whiter, they feel cleaner and healthier.

Here’s some before and after pics to show my progress in the past week!

Smile Brilliant teeth whitening before
Teeth whitening smile brilliant

GIVEAWAY

The sweet, sweet people at Smile Brilliant gave me the opportunity to share this incredible teeth whitening system with you through a giveaway!!!
Here’s the link: https://www.smilebrilliant.com/g/myclosetetc
The winner will be selected and contacted via email. Giveaway is for $149 credit and is open to USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.

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If you don’t believe in leaving things to chance, use my coupon code for 15% off your own teeth whitening kit: myclosetetc


Curiosofia on Creativity.

There is something curious about creativity, you know? How so many times it feels just like magic.

In the end, every single time we humans stand in front of something we can't explain, we tend to perceive it as a sort of magic. As something that lies just right outside of the boundaries of our understanding. And only after we overcome awe, we start working in trying to figuring it out.

But more remarkable for me, than the magical aspect of creativity, is the fact that you can actually feel it. You've been there: that precise moment in which you get struck by an idea, and there is this tickling sensation in your brain, this sudden heat all over your head that makes you feel so good. I think you can relate, right?

Cartagena doors

Now, the thing is that although most of us enjoy the idea of being creative, we don't know how. No one taught us. Even worse, for some reason, we just started believing that some people are creative and some are not... As if it were a matter of chance, or fate.

Good news is that it's not like that. Creativity is not a gift, it’s an ability, and you can train and work it out to make it stronger. That is precisely what we want to teach you this September, in a place that is so full of magic that we can't think of a better match: Cartagena.

Join us for a life-changing experience, in which you will get a better understanding of how creativity works, and how you can spark it up in your everyday activities to make them more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Learn how to set your mind to a creative frequency, have more -and better- ideas, improve them, overcome mental blocks, think differently and effectively make conscious decisions.

All of this, through a whimsical mix of knowledge, practical exercises, proven methods, techniques and a lot of playing.

So, I hope we'll get to make some creative magic together in a magical place... see you in Cartagena!

- Mario Ramírez is the General Manager of Curiosofía, a colombian consultancy agency, that offers both professional training and other services in creativity, branding and strategic communications. He and Ana, his wife, will be leading the private workshop we'll have in Cartagena!

Color: Blues

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I've been looking over my outfits and have found a sad, gaping hole: there's no blue. Yes, denim. But not blue!
My ex favorite color... Society tricked us into thinking pink was girly and therefore weak, and blue was strong. And I wanted to be seen as strong, so blue. 
Now, if you ask, it fluctuates between neutrals like beige, white, and black, and yellow, peach, and blush pink. Nevertheless, justice for blue!!!! 

I was looking through And I Get Dressed's feed, our inventory, and even my own face and found a bit of inspiration for choosing blue. It's not that it's dead- it's just resting, letting millennial pink have it's moment. But isn't it so pretty to look at? 

 Turquoise + orange is a DREAM on Courtney

Turquoise + orange is a DREAM on Courtney

 Amber bought this jacket from My Closet etc and made it her own. 

Amber bought this jacket from My Closet etc and made it her own. 

New York photog
 Alek wek for V magazine

Alek wek for V magazine

 Blue is actually easy on the eyes- shocking, I know. 

Blue is actually easy on the eyes- shocking, I know. 

 Sarah letting the blue be in the sky- which, by the way is so beautiful

Sarah letting the blue be in the sky- which, by the way is so beautiful

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 Avail in "etc"

Avail in "etc"

 This is a denim moodboard if I ever saw one

This is a denim moodboard if I ever saw one

 Jessy's hair. Amazing. 

Jessy's hair. Amazing. 

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cartagena experience my closet etc
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So, will you be wearing blue bit more this week? 

 

 

Giveaway w/ Formulate

Formulate co

Ok so exciting, exciting news: Formulate launched recently and I am AMAZED. 

Formulate creates personal care products engineered just for you. My hair is completely unique, so it deserves something more than whatever I pick up at Target, right? 
I took a quiz on what they call the "hair wizard", where they asked me about my hair type, what do I want to improve, where do I live (for weather conditions), and what scent did I want (or unscented.) Turns out, I have oily roots and dry ends and I am desperate for shine + anti frizz. 
Then they formulated a completely customized shampoo and conditioner, just for ME! I feel so special. 

You know I've been struggling with my hair recently, so this came at the perfect time. If you want your own customized shampoo and conditioner, enter my giveaway HERE
If you're not the kind of person to leave things to chance, I have a limited amount of invite codes so you can get your very own customized haircare. DM, email me, or comment below if you want one!

So much love,

Nikka 

Experimenting with Dry Shampoos (2 Winners, 3 Sad Faces)

 The new hair

The new hair

I darkened my hair recently (thank you to the beautiful Briana Hebeisen, sweet angel, fantastic hairstylist, and connector of people) and I love it! I feel like I look like an Italian film star! I feel more connected to my latin roots! I feel like I belong in a foreign film, chewing on a lemon while some man tells me he loves me!

So yes, the hair, I love. The not washing it? 

Girl. 

I used to wash my hair every day (yes, I know you're gasping, I'm sorry I disappointed you, Jonathan Van Ness.) But it's only because I work out every day! Like, I'm sorry I don't want to walk around with a sweaty, humid mess on my head for the rest of my life. That being said, I knew I'd have to change my ways if I wanted to keep my glossy, dark color. In come the recommendations from friends, family, and strangers in the target aisle for great dry shampoos. Here, a list of five I tried and two I fell in love with. 

1. Not Your Mother's Beach Babe dry shampoo
Ok, the smell is great. That's just a fact. I feel like I had to put way too much on for my hair to be not so greasy, but once I did my hair looked pretty good and nicely textured. 

Cruelty free

IGK Dry Shampoo

2. IGK Direct Flight Multi-Tasking dry shampoo
First of all, always trust your hairstylist. Briana recommended IGK's dry shampoo, and, for the first time ever, I bought it. I usually just nod and say "yeah ok" and get the cheapest things, but I knew if I wanted to keep this hair I'd have to commit! Ok honey! 
Let's talk packaging- It makes me feel like I'm living in my dream apartment, post workout (at Equinox, of course), pre coffee run. 
There is so much product and you only need a bit- no residue, delicious smell, and it sucks up enough oil so I can wait three days between washes. 
I kind of want to try the deepest cleanse that comes after this one, which is called "First Class." It boasts a hefty amount of charcoal to really suck all the oil out. I also just want more pretty packaging. 

Cruelty free

3. Tresemmé Fresh Start Volumizing dry shampoo
I should have known. I should HAVE KNOWN. And yet, like a child playing with an electric socket, I thought "what's the worse that could happen?" 
tangled, sticky, clumpy hair. 

Not cruelty free

dry shampoo review

4. Batiste Original dry shampoo
Everyone talks about Batiste like they invented dry shampoo. It was invented around the late 15th century in Asia, people were using clay in their hair. Minipoo was the O.G, which was the first commercially avail dry shampoo. It popped up in the 1940s. 
But anyways. 
The smell reminds me of hand soap- it has like a citrus smell, but chemical-y, and it just builds my hair up but doesn't clean it? 

Not cruelty free (claim they are, but they sell in China which requires animal testing by law.)

5. Aveda Shampure dry shampoo
Oh my goodness, so disappointing. I was excited because the packaging is better for the environment (non-aerosol), but it literally did not work, did not absorb anything, and was way too much $$. 

Cruelty free

What are your fav haircare brands? And don't forget to recycle your aerosol cans when you're done with them!

3 Summer Outfits To Wear Right Now

Sometimes I get in a stylist mood.. I just want to suddenly style all the gorgeous pieces I post here and share them with everyone. And when that happens, I throw them together to show you, like a proud preschooler who just came back from arts and crafts with a macaroni self portrait. 

Autumn Tones But For Summer... But Also It's Too Hot Outside Where Is Fall 

I fully believe mustard and yellow tones brighten up any outfit and make it WAY more exciting. Next time, add a pop of yellow and see how it switches your outfit up. 

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Turmeric.
17.00
Add To Cart

I Will Dress Like I'm On A Yacht Because That's Where I Mentally Am 

This is my nautical look! Do you like it? I'm picturing 70's Italian film star, on a yacht, waving at Sofia Loren.

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Gardening.
15.00
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Statement Earrings Fix Everything! Not Kidding!

This is a classic look- bright, bold statement earrings + a pared down top and denim. The dark basic tones make the earrings the masterpiece and your face the canvas. Love. 

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Yasmin.
16.00
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Mariposas.
17.00
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Beachy Clean.
14.00
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Everyday Stripes.
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Baking Jeans.
17.00
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Is anyone else tired of Instagram?

As I'm writing this, I'm hoping Instagram doesn't find it and proceed to use their evil algorithm to hide all my posts from everyone. LOL. 

 Phone always in hand. 

Phone always in hand. 

When I went to Cartagena in April, I had a change of mindset. I was in front of so much fresh, real stuff. The food, the people, the places- they were authentic. They were inspiring. I felt stifled and suddenly very aware of my need to stick to the "theme" of my feed, or posting at the right times, or not taking something in because I was busy filtering a pic.
I realized I was worrying more about constant content, likes, and engagement than living out what I was posting. It was sad. 

I decided to stop the madness and focus on what I wanted to post, not on what I felt like others wanted to see. This became posting maybe every three, four days, as opposed to daily (or sometimes twice.)
And yes, I lost likes and followers. But I felt lighter and more creative. I was giving myself the time to create something important to me rather than continue cranking out material that I didn't love. 

The issue is, I want to continue growing my online brand. It is a brand, after all. It's me, but I have things to say, products to share, and businesses like My Closet etc to grow. So what's the middle ground? How can I expand and market this business I have put my heart into without becoming overworked or feeling like I'm sharing unoriginal stuff? 

Maybe the answer is that everything is a balance. Maybe it's taking breaks for brainstorming, creative sessions by myself, and not worrying about what followers are thinking. Maybe it's about not worrying about winning everyone over. The right people will buy, like, engage. The people I want to attract will follow me for who I really am and what I represent, not because of some made up blogger persona I am trying to push. 

I don't know, that might be a start. 

I know I'm not alone in feeling this way sometimes- how do you, as a creative, keep yourself fresh and open to inspiration while still maintaining a presence on social media?

 

Picnic With Us!

Hello beautiful!

Atlanta picnic

Remember the First Love event we had in March? We loved meeting you, eating, and just getting to know each other. We miss it, which is why we're having a little picnic this Saturday.
Nothing fancy, in fact we're encouraging you to bring your own snacks a la potluck- a potluck picnic! We'll bring the French baguettes because I firmly believe in carbs, but feel free to bring whatever you'd like. We're not bringing clothing, books, or anything to sell- we just want to share some time with you and maybe play some silly games. Have you heard of "El lobo"? It's a Colombian game children play in parks that involves running and singing... maybe bring comfortable shoes. 

If you've been eyeing something on the site, feel free to contact me beforehand so we can bring it and you won't have to pay for shipping ;) 


Here's the details:

What: Potluck Picnic at the Park
When: Saturday, June 2nd, 9 am
Where: Paces Mill Park, Palisades Unit. Waze it as "Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area- Paces Mill Unit." It's right beside Vinings Palisades Apartments. The entrance will look like this and there's ample parking.
Who: Me, her, and you and your friends. 
Why: ??? Because we're your friends and you love us!

See you this Saturday (weather permitting)!

 

My Skincare Routine.

I! Am! Glowing!

That's too strong of a start but it's honestly how I've been feeling lately. Exactly thirty four days ago I started my new skincare routine and I have not stopped talking about it. If that wasn't enough, two weeks into my skincare routine I went to Cartagena, where I did not wear a drop of makeup for six days. I was relaxed, eating fresh foods, and getting so much exercise because of all the walking I did.

If you are just looking for the routine and no fun backstory :( click here
 1 week after Cartagena, makeup free 

1 week after Cartagena, makeup free 

I decided to start a new skincare routine because I was constantly breaking out, had a ton of redness, and no matter what I tried (or what kind of combinations I'd come up with), I'd still end up with all this acne, dry skin, and no glow.
I want to clarify that break outs are normal and there are some you can't control- hormonal pimples, or sometimes redness due to the weather or stress. And it is ok! It's nothing to ever be ashamed of, and breakouts or not I was still posting selfies like it was my job.
Also, your skincare routine is a very personal thing. What works for me might not work for you, and I am in no way an expert. I just found something that has worked better than anything else in the past, so if you have dry skin, sometimes sensitive, prone to minor breakouts like me, this might help. 

Hush Beauty Bar facial

I had gotten myself a facial for Christmas and went in to use it (thank you Hush Beauty Bar!) The esthetician was so knowledgeable and sweet. She kept asking me what I was doing, and I was horrifying her with all the acids I would put on my face at the same time (lactic acid, glycolic acid, hylauronic acid, retinol, a strong glycolic foaming face wash and many times no sunscreen.) "You have dry skin, with a tendency for breakouts in certain areas. Know your skin and build your routine from that." She shared some recommendations. As much as I'd love to buy them, I cannot afford a $40 cleanser, but I left relaxed and with her words of wisdom on my mind. 


THE ROUTINE

Cerave hydrating cleanser review

Dry skin needs a cleanser that is moisturizing and that won't strip it's natural moisture barrier. I went with Cerave hydrating cleanser. I stayed away from foaming face washes or face washes that would make my skin feel tight afterward (I thought that meant it was "working"- clearly not.)

I needed something to take my makeup off, and makeup wipes are a huge no no- they don't actually take your makeup off, they just smear the dirt all around your skin and irritate it. I ended up choosing garnier micellar water and it worked out perfectly. 

After cleansing, I apply pixi glow tonic to clean, dry skin. I'll wait for it to set.

This changes- typically in the AM I'll use glow tonic after cleansing, but in the PM I'll use The Ordinary's Advanced Retinod after cleansing instead. I do this because I love both products but do not want to mix them, since layering these acids can diminish their effectiveness. I finish up with Cerave hydrating moisturizer and then sunblock if it's my daytime routine. 

 

The routine

SO BASICALLY:

Pixi glow tonic review

AM- Cerave hydrating cleanser

        Pixi glow tonic

        Cerave hydrating moisturizer

        Sunblock

PM- Garnier micellar cleansing water

        Cerave hydrating cleanser

       The Ordinary advanced retinol

       Cerave hydrating moisturizer 

 

ONE MORE THING:

 Week 2 in London!!! 

Week 2 in London!!! 

This is going to sound silly, but I noticed that whenever I travel my skin clears up within like, two days. When I was in London for a few weeks, surviving off of essentially coffee and croissants (the cheapest things I could find), my skin was blemish free. When I came back from Cartagena last week, I did not need or want any makeup- I still don't. I've worn makeup maybe once or twice since coming back (for auditions.) 

So, if you needed more reasons to travel... There you have it. 

I also try to get one facial a month to clear my pores, have some me time, and reinvigorate my face. Even if you just get a 30 min facial for extractions, it will be worth it. 

And I drink a ton of water, to the point where my mum constantly worries I'm going to get water intoxication. And try to stay away from fatty foods, greasy stuff, and sugary drinks (or have them in moderation.) Just those boring basics :)

I still have stubborn blackheads, the ocasional pimple, and a bit of redness, but it's nothing compared to what I used to deal with. If you're starting a new routine, give it 28-30 days to see if it is working. Figure out what kind of skin you have and use what works for you- and don't overcomplicate yourself. 

Any skincare recommendations? Please please share! 

 

 

Cartagena Street Style.

Walking through the streets of Cartagena was sartorial magic. 

Color, head wraps, elegance tailored for the heat. I already knew this, but I was reminded: Colombians don't play when it comes to fashion. 
I think it's so beautiful how women in Colombia truly take care of themselves. They value looking good, having their nails done, makeup done, outfit exactly how they want it. Though this mindset finds it's roots in sexism and the machismo culture, I'm finding that the mentality of "I have to look good for men and for others" is changing into "I want to look good for myself, because I value myself." It's refreshing. 

Scroll through for some of my favorite outfits from this trip!

I wore this to go visit the Castillo de San Felipe (on what to do in Cartagena, click here.)
Not gonna lie, this was one of my favorite outfits. It was day 5 of our trip, I was tan, wearing what I wanted, and had zero makeup on. Yes, I was sick the night before and throwing up. But you can't even tell in the pics. 

Guide to cartagena
Getsemani

I was initially wearing this huge top, tied above the skirt with the sleeves rolled up. When I came down for breakfast my dad was like "you're going to melt." So I threw on my hot pink one piece and hoped it would work with the skirt (IT DID!!) 

Hotel Cartagena
Bendita beach Cartagena

This was my beach look- one of my favorite tops with these teeny tiny ruffled shorts that were probably too small for me. I was looking behind me, at the beachside massages (I got one *heart eyes*)


Below: When people go out at night in Cartagena, they go OUT. Long, fresh dresses, tiny cute purses, Summer heels. Pack a gorgeous long dress if you can for dinner overlooking the ocean. 

What to wear Cartagena
Airport style
Cartagena

This is what I wore to travel.
I'm one of those people who actually care about what I wear when flying. The heels were a neutral and the only heels I brought, I love how these sweatpants look cool but are sweatpants, and I wore a bralette for max comfort. The light cardigan is linen and was more for the cold of the airport than Cartagena- you are NOT gonna need a sweater. 

Estilo Cartagena
Cartagena street style

This was a day full of walking, so I wore these cute sandals that I knew were on their last leg. (they ended up breaking... like, that's how much you walk.) I loved the tied up style of my top- it let me breathe and showed off my mum's cute skirt (thank you Mami for letting me borrow it!!) 

 

 

 

 

First Love book

I had to rep First Love in Cartagena (you can grab the tote bag here!)

For what to do in Cartagena click here