Secret: Behind-The-Scenes Essentials
This blog post was inspired by a tweet that I'm pretty sure was meant as a joke...
... but when I thought about it, I realized these ho-hum essentials are entirely necessary, and nothing I could post about here is any less valid or valuable than me recommending my favorite sundress or lip gloss of the moment. Thus, when Secret reached out wanting to collaborate, seeing as how I was already a longtime Secret user, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk about the supporting cast in my beauty and lifestyle regimens.
So, without further ado, here's the nitty gritty on the decidedly less glamorous yet tried-and-true behind-the-scenes products and tools that I swear by...
Crest 3D White Whitening Strips Professional Effects ($45)
There's a reason you've never seen me advertise one of the many teeth-bleaching options on Instagram. I am much more #basic when it comes to my teeth (#dentistsdaughter) and I'm always hell-bent on their health (I'm an oral hygiene maniac) and care more about them looking natural rather than like a row of too-perfect Chiclets. (If this means they're a shade or two away from complete, blinding whiteness, that's fine by me.) I'm generally OK with the whiteness of my teeth but will occasionally use a strip touch-up if I feel like they're beginning to look dim. It's usually while I'm getting ready for an evening out, and I'll just apply them to the top and bottom (be sure to dry the area first; I use a tissue!) and leave them on for anywhere from half an hour to an hour. I don't get any sensitivity issues with Crest's strips (this has been an issue with some of the options out there) and a little goes a long way; one or two sessions of this and I'm good for about 4-6 months. A tip that surprised me when I read it: As counterintuitive as it feels, don't apply a whitening strip after brushing (at least, not with toothpaste containing fluoride, which most toothpastes do); the fluoride literally blocks the peroxide.
Secret Clinical Strength Invisible Solid Antiperspirant ($8)
One of the joys (and curses) of living in NYC is that every day is a bit of a marathon. A normal day of errand-running simply doesn't look the way it does in other cities. I can't run around the city and dip into various destinations, tossing and leaving my belongings in a car. (Everything I bring with me I am bringing with me and will be on my person for the entire day.) As such, I tend to look like a bonafide bag lady in this city, lugging my laptop, sometimes a change of shoes, whatever purchase I might've made, maybe some groceries. You really do get your sweat on, so it's no surprise I take my underarm situation very seriously.
I joke that Secret Clinical Strength should be called Secret "Industrial Strength"; You just apply once in the morning and that's it. It has a nice, simple, clean scent (I use "Completely Clean") that isn't overpowering (some I've tried actually give me headaches) and I swear, it really is invisible.
I wear this pretty much every day, especially when I'm doing yoga or barre, but I think it speaks volumes that I wear it every time I have an audition or performance (I love that it doesn't leave white residue on my singing dresses, especially since so many of them are black). Also, I wore this stuff on my wedding day (and danced the night away until 3am!) without a worry. Whether it's a high-stress situation or a long, sweltering Summer day, it just works, reliably and well.
Underarms & Legs
Braun Silk-Epil 7 Wet & Dry Epilator ($70)
I don't think I'm super unique in epilating my legs, but (surprise!) I also epilate my underarms. I know that, depending on your pain threshold, the thought of epilating your underarms may sound horrific, but I've been doing it for YEARS now and really do swear by it. (I realize it's not for everyone; one of my favorite Bachelor memories was epilating the other girls' legs and armpits in our hotel suite in Seoul... ahh, the footage they don't show!)
I'm not a super hairy person but the hair I do have is coarse and dark (thank you, Chinese genes). This means that when I just shave, I'll still have a bit of a shadow and that skin, though hairless, just never looks completely smooth and hair-free because of said shadow. Epilating gets the hair from the root, eliminating that shadow. The reason I opt to epilate versus wax is that it's not nearly as messy, it takes a fraction of the time, and I don't need to grow out (or "save up") my hair for it to be long enough to wax. Basically, if I glance at my (now very sparse) underarm or leg hair and there are a few strays, I just whip out this epilator and eliminate them.
My two favorite things about epilating versus shaving are: 1/ You just don't have to think about it as often. With shaving, it's an every day or every other day affair. With epilating, a couple of moments of discomfort mean weeks of hairlessness. 2/ The hair really does become thinner and sparse over time. Even when my underarms are in free-for-all jungle mode, you honestly probably wouldn't be able to tell, because I've killed off most of those hair follicles from years of epilating.
I've used a few epilators over the years but Braun's is hands-down my favorite, to the point where I actually re-purchased the upgraded model. It's water-resistant, a charge lasts forever, and it comes with a bunch of different "heads", including a hair trimmer. An epilator kind of defines "unglamorous essential", but let me tell you: if it's possible to have a Holy Grail epilator, this is it.
KEEPING IT TOGETHER
Topstick Toupée Tape ($7)
Over the years SEVERAL of you have asked me about what garment tape I recommend and this seemed like the perfect spot to include it. After all, there is nothing remotely glamorous about garment tape, but man, can it save the day. I'm a major snob about garment tape (as ridiculous as that sounds!) and have only one but mighty requirement, though it's harder to find than you'd think: That, like my antiperspirant, it be INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH. Seriously, cannot STAND weak garment tape. What is even the point?! There are countless pathetic garment tapes on the market and I turn my nose up at all of them.
I was put onto toupée tape by a fellow singer well over a decade ago. She was recommended it by a costume store, and the argument was that, well, this stuff is meant for toupées, and certainly no one wants THOSE budging. Thus began my obsession with Topstick (or just toupée tape in general; I link out Topstick here, but pictured I have the brand they currently sell at Ricky's. They work equally well.)
I use this stuff for everything and some of my uses have gotten pretty inventive...
- Taping garment straps down or out of the way (I did this at my wedding)
- Sealing shut button-down shirts and dresses (at the bust, where it can hang open)
- Creating makeshift hems (when I haven't had time to get something hemmed, or when I just want a different length for the shoes I'm wearing); to do this, make sure you have an iron handy to first crease your new "hem" in place and make it look convincing
- Taping together 11th-hour rips and tears in clothing
- Wardrobe malfunction-prevention (taping the girls into drapey or plunging items of clothing)
- Securing looser off-the-shoulder or almost-off-the-shoulder necklines in place so they don't ride up or droop too low
- Taping skinny or unruly straps to my bra straps so the latter won't show
- Taping excess belt length down (when there are no loops on your pants/jumpsuit to keep the belt looped around your body) so the loose end isn't flapping around
- Taping down leather on a high heel when it's partially been ripped off
I either use whole pieces (when making a hem) or I just use scissors to cut whatever size or shape I need. I also keep spare strips in my bag because you never know when disaster might strike.
That's it for my hardworking behind-the-scenes essentials! I'm always on the lookout for others, so be sure to share yours with me in the comments below!
P.S. This post was sponsored by Secret but all thoughts and opinions are my own!