June 13, 2018

At-Home Teeth Whitening: Does it Work?

We've all done it, or at least thought about it - whitening our teeth, that is. Personally, I've tried several options - I've used the white strips (those gooey, slippery little things that never quite seemed to stay in place), the whitening toothpaste (although, I could never really tell a difference), and the whitening mouthwash to name a few. Nothing with substantial results, really.

When I was contacted by Smile Brilliant with an option to do a review, I admit, I was skeptical. Would it be like the others? Lots of hope with minimal payoff? I'd honestly never heard of an at-home professional teeth whitening system before, so I wanted to do some research first. I scoured their website. I watched YouTube videos, read tons of reviews and testimonies. After all, these are my teeth! I don't want to potentially jeopardize the health and structure just for the sake of vanity. But honestly? Everything checked out. Seriously.

The Smile Brilliant begins, at it's core, working just for you. The first thing you do is make trays that are specifically fitted to your particular set of teeth. Have you ever gotten a set of impressions done at a dentist? It's kind of like that. Your kit comes with these small containers of white and blue putty as well as two mouth trays. You mix one jar of blue putty with one jar of white putty until the colors are combined and then evenly spread it throughout the mouth tray, working as fast as possible. (Once the putty colors are combined, they begin to cure).

Once the putty is in the tray, you open your mouth and place it on your top set of teeth and gently press your teeth all the way in the putty, up to the gums, being careful not to drag your teeth or bite the tray. The tray must stay in place for three minutes to get a good impression. Once the proper amount of time has passed, gently pop the tray away from your teeth and repeat the process on your bottom teeth. Once both impressions have been made, rinse the trays for several minutes under cold water, but *do not* remove the putty from the trays. Let they trays sit for at least 30 minutes before putting them back in the pre-paid envelope to send back to Smile Brilliant.

Once you've mailed your impressions back to Smile Brilliant, their lab technicians will get to work making you your very own custom fitted trays. Once those are completed, they'll mail them back to you and you can begin your teeth whitening process.

Okay, so let's break the teeth whitening process down, step-by-step:

1. Brush teeth with water (not toothpaste, fluoride slows down the whitening process)

2. Whiten for 45 minutes-3 hours (3 hours max per day! Do not whiten overnight, it can cause extreme sensitivity)

3. Brush teeth with a non-whitening toothpaste

4. Rinse trays out with cool water

5. Desensitize for 20 minutes (do not drink or eat for 1 hour after each session)

6. Remove trays, but do not rinse your mouth or brush your teeth, just spit (leave a thin layer of desensitizing gel on your teeth)

7. Sleep! It is the best to whiten before bed so you are not introducing any staining food or drinks.
Sounds easy enough, right? The average person will need one to two weeks of daily (or every other day) applications to remove all stains from their teeth. For reference - One gel syringe holds 3-4 full applications aka enough to cover both the upper and lower teeth. I feel like this is a given but just in case I should probably mention that while you're using the Smile Brilliant system, you really need to avoid teeth staining food like coffee, wine, tea, dark colored soda, berries, red sauces, candy, beets, chocolate...basically, any foods that have the tendency to contain a lot of natural or artificial dyes in them. If they'll stain your clothes, they'll stain your teeth.

Overall thoughts? Wayyyyy worth it. I have a fair amount of teeth sensitivity so I went into the process using the desensitizing gel and I only stayed in the whitening trays for about an hour each time, but I am really pleased with the very noticeable change so far. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the gel got into the edges between my teeth and whitened them as well, but I think I need to give props to the custom whitening trays for that! I don't know anyone who wants patchy white teeth! The trays really allow the whitening gel to reach all areas of your teeth.

 don't judge, you guys!

Now For The Fun Stuff...
Smile Brilliant has graciously provided my readers with a 20% coupon code that can be used with any of their whitening systems! Use code "fashionintheforest20" (no quotes) at checkout to get your discount! 

Additionally, Smile Brilliant is giving away a $149 credit to one lucky Life Of A Lost Muse reader! The giveaway is open to USA, UK, Australia & Canadian residents. Click here to enter the giveaway! Good luck everyone!

Connect With

 Smile Brilliant sent me their at-home teeth whitening system as a PR sample in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way are influenced by Smile Brilliant.

June 8, 2018

Happy Workers Are Healthy Workers

Keeping your workers happy in your company might seem like a tall order to complete. However, your workers aren’t as difficult to keep happy and healthy as you may think. The key to making sure you have a good team of people dedicated to your company is the way you treat them. Here are the top ways that you can make sure your employees stay happy.

Recognize progress

The worst thing you can feel in your job is underappreciated. When you are trying to work your way up on the career ladder, you need that positive reinforcement to tell you that you are doing something positive. To ensure that your employees never feel undervalued you must show gratitude. When your team member works hard on a project, make sure you remember to say thank you and applaud them for their efforts.

2. Make them feel at home
One great way to make sure your employees are happy is to make them feel as if they are at home. If you have a plain and impersonal office space to work with right now, take the time to make it personal. Let your employees decorate their own desks and work spaces with art and items which they love. Paint a bold color on the wall for a splash of fun, and hang large art pieces on your walls. Make sure that the office is a second home for everyone who works here and allow them to make themselves comfortable. This will not only make them feel happier and more motivated, but it will all provoke conversations when your employees chat about their desks.

3. Get to know them
Being a boss doesn’t mean that you cannot talk to your workers. Get to know everyone in the office and take an interest in their lives outside of work. You might be able to find out a lot about the type of people they are, and it will bring everyone closer tougher and allow you all to work in a much more positive and relaxed atmosphere.

4. Have fun

Work doesn’t have to be all work and no play, in fact, taking a break from work is an incredibly important part of creating a positive working environment. To avoid stress-related illnesses surrounding work, make sure to offer plenty of team lunches and days out which can give everyone chance to wind down. Think about activities like a paniq escape room, mini golf or something where everyone can play against each other. Having a chance to bond in a normal environment can make life much easier for everyone and allow everyone to be happy at work.

5. An outdoor space
If you have a building with land surrounding it, try to create a garden for your employees to relax on a summer’s day and unwind during their lunch break. Having fresh air is crucial for stress levels and it helps your employees to escape from the office for a while and refresh for the afternoon.

6. Get moving
Exercise isn’t just to stay lean and fit, it can also have an effect on the mood of your workers throughout the working week. If you can, think about bringing in a yoga teacher or a boot camp teacher to get your employees up and moving once a week to keep everyone happy and healthy throughout their lives. It might not sound like it would make much of a difference, but it can be hugely beneficial to everyone who gets involved. Plus, it can be fun!

7. Be flexible
It is crucial to remember that every person who works for your company is a person. Every single one of your workers has their own life outside the workplace, they have families, commitments, and interests. Respecting your workers and knowing that they have more to their lives than work will not only make you a great boss but will keep them happy and cause them less stress. Make sure that you accommodate for people who have to travel further for work, people with kids, and let your workers have an extra day off for their birthday each year. Show that you care about them as people and they will stay with you for life.

Making your employees happier is not difficult to do and it will make a massive difference to the way you work and get along in the office. If you can take just a few of these tips into your workplace this year you will see a huge difference in the mood of the people who work for you.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

June 1, 2018

4 Things To Think About When Moving Out

Other than college, can you think of a time that you’ve lived without your parents in the same house? Probably not -- which is why you are now moving out on your own and into your own place. It’s an adventure to move out into a place that you can call your own, and it’s often one that you take on your own for the very first time.

Living with friends is fun, but there’s also a weird clarity that people get when they live by themselves for the first time. They seem to understand that they need to figure out who they are and to do that, they need to be by themselves. There are a lot of reasons that people wait around after college ends before they move into a place of their own. Sometimes these reasons surround finances and career being so much more important to focus on saving enough for a house deposit than it is to live alone. You also may need to consider whether you want a physical address for your mail and packages to go to while you’re couch-surfing with your friends while you find a place to live. There are some other things that you need to think about when you’re in transition from your parents’ house to your first apartment, and here they are:

adult, back, backpack

Budgets. As a former student, you may well be a dab-hand at managing your cash, but have you ever considered the merits of a strong emergency fund? You can’t plan for the unexpected to happen, but you can plan to cover yourself cash-wise when it does. You also need to plan your budget to ensure that you can cover your rent, utilities, food and phone costs on top of extras like the internet, your travel and your social expenses. Budgeting is so important, and tools like this can help.

Rent Or Buy? When you move out on your own, it can be difficult to decide whether you should rent your first home, or you should take the plunge and purchase a property all on your own. Renting is always a good way to dip a toe in the water of living independently before making the commitment of a purchase. Consider this before you get a mortgage appointment.

Where To Go? Flying the nest doesn’t always mean relocating to a different forest, you can still move away, maintain independence and know that your parents are right around the corner. Choosing where you should live is going to take a little research and self-discovery, and you can explore your areas of choice before starting to pack your bags and go for it.

Credit Worthiness. You need to have a stable financial head on your shoulders before you start making home applications. Your credit report will determine whether your new landlord agrees that you’ve got your budget ready and waiting, so why not order your credit reports online and check to see how credit worthy you are.

Moving out of the family home is a big deal, and you shouldn’t allow anyone else to make you feel differently.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

South Of The Border: The Best Stops On A Tour Of South America

Although many people thoroughly enjoy visiting destinations in North America, it's important to remember that there is a fanatic selection of places to visit that are south of the border too. In fact, there are so many that you may have to do a grand tour to fit them all in. With that in mind, to help you make your decision check out the post below that details the best of the best.

Machu Picchu
We may as well start with probably the most famous sight in all of South America, Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is a terraced Inca city placed high in the Andes Mountains. It is a remarkable site, and in visiting this location, you can almost feel how it was to live in such a city.

While there don't forget to visit the fabulous Temple of the Moon, which is an underground space carved into the rock. There are also plenty of hikes and walks to do around the site, and recruiting a local guide can be a great way of learning about the possible uses of some of these ancient buildings. Of course, with the high altitude and steep trails that need to be traversed to reach and explore the city, you will need a certain level of physical fitness to get the best out of a trip here.

Igua├žu National Park
Next, if you are looking for a wonder that is all natural, then the Igua├žu National Park in Brazil is for you. Sited in the state of Parana this national park is chock full of breathtaking sites. Possible the best being the Igua├žu Waterfalls that cascade in white plumes over into a dark blue lagoon spotted with lushly vegetated islands.

The park itself is made of up many different types of flora including sections of rainforest. It is also home to much rare and endangered fauna such as giant otter and anteaters. Something that makes this are well worth a stop on your tour.

Plaza Botero
If you are touring South America, then you will want to plan a visit the Plaza Botero and the Museum of Antioquia in Medell├şn, Colombia. In the plaza, you will find some curvaceous statues by the world-famed artist Fernando Botero. While in the Museum of Antioquia you can view many permanent exhibitions such as the colonial art display and the international gallery, as well as get involved in the many workshops that are designed to encourage your creative spark to shine.

Of course, it's good to know too that the stunning Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture is right on the other side the plaza as well. If you are lucky, you may even be able to catch a classical concert or theatre performance there, making your trip truly memorable for years to come.

Tayrona National Natural Park

Las maravillas del #mundo #parquenacionaltayrona

A post shared by Dise├▒oDeSonrisaEstiloAmericano (@cristianhinojosa_) on

Also in Columbia, but to the north of the country, you will find the rather spectacular Tayrona National Natural Park. A park that is, in fact, a tropical paradise complete with palm trees, turquoise and ultramarine lagoons, and rainforest. Venture further into the forest, and you will find the ancient Pueblo ruins in amongst all that flora and fauna. A site that makes it a Tayrona an unmissable stop of your tour, south of the border.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

4 Ways To Make Your Best Friend’s Birthday Breathtaking

Since you were little your best friend has always celebrated her birthday with you. You used to spend months planning out exactly what kind of cake you were going to have, making your own decorations and trying on the perfect party outfits. This year it is your closest friend’s big milestone birthday and you want to make it unforgettable for her. Finding a special gift has never been easy, but now it is really important you get everything right. You want to plan a birthday bash that she is going to remember, so here are a handful of things you need to get spot on.

1. The Perfect Present
This is no ordinary birthday; you want to find the perfect present that will light up her eyes instantly. She has always been into quirky ideas, but you don’t have a ton of money to spend on anything expensive. You can buy gift baskets under $30 that are absolutely stunning and will suit everybody’s tastes. Whether they are filled with sweets or chocolate they will not only taste delicious but they will look regal when placed on the present table.

Gift Jeans Fashion Pack Give Loop Substanc

2. Birthday Bash
This party is going to be the main event of your friend’s birthday, so decide on a fun theme that suits her style. Perhaps she would enjoy a roaring 1920’s evening or a classic afternoon tea party full of delicious cakes and quintessentially British cucumber sandwiches. A fancy dress party is always a good idea to get everybody’s creativity flowing too. Once you have chosen the theme you will be able to discover the ideal snacks for your guests.

3. Fantastic Food
The food is one of the most exciting aspects of planning a birthday party, so make sure you spend some time doing your research. What is your best friend’s favourite food? Would a Thai feast go down a treat? Would a Mexican treat be a hit? Don’t forget about the sweet snacks too. Cupcakes and macarons are always a good idea, because your guest can take them home in goody bags.

4. Clever Keepsakes
Your best friend will want to remember this party forever, so make sure you think of some clever ideas to make memories. Perhaps you could place disposable cameras on the tables or include a guest book for everybody to sign as they arrive. You could design your own guest book and fill it with old pictures from her childhood. Each of these ideas will act as ideal keepsakes for your friend to treasure for a lifetime.

You want your friend to remember this day for the rest of her life, so if you manage to pull of these all important things you will be the superstar of the party. Get planning sooner rather than later, because parties can take longer to pull together than you might think. Discover a glorious gift, throw the perfect party and organize fabulous food for everybody to enjoy. Don’t forget a deliciously divine cake that it lit up with candles too!
*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

Getting Away From It All

There are many benefits associated with living in different places as you get to experience a much richer perspective of the world; indeed, sometimes we can find ourselves living in our own bubble to the point that we feel timid and uncomfortable with embracing new cultures, or new experiences, and that’s where travel can really help develop us as people and open our eyes to the rich diversity of life on this planet.

Now, not everyone wants to pack up and live somewhere new, particularly if you have a young family, but there’s a great middle ground that can bring the benefits of having a stable base in your home community whilst exploring the world - and that’s the idea of mini retirements.

A mini retirement recognizes that life is unpredictable and that taking some time out to fully explore the world is an enriching adventure we can all benefit from.

A mini retirement could, perhaps, be viewed as a gap year or sabbatical, but taking a mini retirement isn’t necessarily about not working. In fact, the ideal might be to keep earning in a strong currency such as pounds or dollars, either through freelance work or a remote working agreement with your current employer… and then travel to a country that offers a higher standard of living; as in, there are some countries where you can live like royalty for just $1,000 a month.

This is the power of contrast. For instance, you could rent a beautiful four bedroom house right on the ocean with a staff of cleaners, cooks and drivers in a country like the Philippines for much less than you could a one bedroom flat in London or New York.

See, today, it’s less about making tons of money; it’s more about utilizing your resources to squeeze the most out of the time you have on Earth.

With that in mind, here are three destination ideas for places to take a mini-retirement and get away from it all for a bit.


Many would describe Chiang Mai as a mystical land of temples, rice paddies, monks and jungle; yet the city itself, is a city in the same way Bangkok is a city. Admittedly, it’s at a much slower pace than Bangkok, but it is a city with its own congestion issues, nevertheless.

However, the areas around Chiang Mai - particularly places such as Pai do offer the picture perfect environment that people associate with this region; with an abundance of rice paddies, canyons, meandering rivers, and a much slower pace of life.

Chiang Mai makes a great place to rent a property for a few months, as a base, from which you can then explore the rest of Thailand. With direct flights to Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui you are able to live in the North of Thailand (much cheaper and perhaps a little friendlier) and go on mini breaks to the more exotic locations which are just an hour away.


As a country, Turkey has received a fair amount of bad press in recent years, with terrorist attacks, political instability and social unrest bombarding the headlines.

In reality, however, Istanbul is a place where people get along with each other very well and tourists are respected. Indeed, there is a sense of community and brotherhood within Turkey that instantly makes you feel part of the culture. In essence, Istanbul is a very safe city that will offer a warm welcome. The only caveat to this is that women can be known to get a little more hassle from men than they are used to in the west.

Istanbul is much like London, New York and Paris - in that it is is one of the world’s greatest cities to explore with plenty of things to do yet it is comparatively cheap when compared to the cities above.

The joy of Istanbul is the city retains a traditional and authentic feel yet is superbly modern, design oriented, relaxed, and friendly; perhaps one of the best ways to experience this is to do an istanbul old city walking tour as you’ll then get a taste of both the old and traditional side with the new and much more contemporary side to Turkish culture.


Kuala Lumpur is known for being a melting pot of cultures with a serious foodie scene. It’s an impressively modern and clean city that retains the charm of a SE Asian city, and the congestion, but the huge shopping malls and architectural feats such as Petronas Towers make Kuala Lumpur feel very modern.

Whilst Kuala Lumpur isn’t as cheap to live as the likes of Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam or even Thailand… it is a fantastic hub to travel from - as some of the cheapest flights in Asia can be found departing from Kuala Lumpur airport, plus, it’s a city that’s very easy to live in. It feels mostly westernised and has great infrastructure for life; whether that’s fast internet or premium health clubs.

The other thing to consider, is that you can earn a decent wage here due to the modernity and pervasiveness of the English language.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

May 29, 2018

The Importance of a Rainy Day Fund

For many of us, a rainy-day fund might seem like a distant dream. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, clearing your bank account every month and struggling to pay debts off, never mind grow savings, the idea of having a little pot of money “just in case” might seem impossible. You may even find that every time you do manage to set a little cash aside, you need it a few weeks later to buy the kids new shoes or replace broken goods. You know that your emergency fund will never grow if you keep breaking into it, but you need to, to give your family a decent quality of life, or even to put food on the table.

But, a rainy-day fund is incredibly important. Setting aside just a small amount each week in a high-interest account can give you enough to start. Set up a direct debit so that you don’t forget.

Things Come Up
Unfortunately, things come up. Cars break down, appliances come to the end of their lifespan, people get sick and find themselves unable to work, unemployment hits or you have to start planning your veteran memorial service. The kids always need something, and life is constantly throwing up barriers that cost money to pull down.

Having a rainy-day fund means that when things come up, you’ve got some spare cash to cover it and you don’t need to worry about getting into debt.

Things Change
You might be managing today. Your financial situation might be stable, but even if no unforeseen events crop up, things change. Your insurance premiums might go up, food and fuel seem to get more expensive all of the time, your landlord could put your rent up, or fluctuating interest rates might affect your mortgage repayments. Things change and suddenly you can find yourself struggling financially. A rainy-day fund, even a small one, gives you time to budget and make cutbacks to improve your situation.

You’ll Become More Disciplined with Money
The main reason we don’t save is thinking we can’t afford it. The truth is that many of us could if we just made some cutbacks, budgeted more carefully and became more disciplined with money. Saving just a little each week will teach you how to do this. You’ll quickly adapt and learn to cope without it.

You Can Plan for The Future
Your rainy-day fund is there to be used when you need it. To make sure you are comfortable and ready for unexpected events. But, you might not need all of it very often. You may have periods when it continues to grow uninterrupted for some time. This gives you a chance to start making plans. Think of where you want to be in 5 years and start saving for it.

You’ll Have Options
One of the worst thing about being in a tight financial situation is feeling like you don’t have options or choices. You have to do what you can afford, and money dictates your life. Having a little extra gives you more options and some freedom.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

May 24, 2018

The Benefits Of Living In Many Places

Living in many places either around the world or even in your state has many net benefits. People will often tell you that settling and feeling comfortable in a certain location is superior, and of course we’re not suggesting their wrong. We’re only suggesting that this outlook tends to downplay the beauty, excitement and excellence of living in many different locations during the course of your life. We’d recommend that the benefits to be experienced are:

A Sense Of Place
It’s true that living in multiple locations will give you a better sense of place, not a worse one. Having many things to compare a living situation to will allow you to see the benefits and flaws of a certain location more conclusively. You’ll be able to make more informed choices, be able to better value if you’re paying over the odds for your living situation or not, and also make the most of the unique parts of every home. For example, living near the beach might be a wonderful aspect of one apartment, while living close to the cultural district could be an amazing benefit of the other. When you’ve lived in both you’ll be much more interested in never letting these benefits go to waste, because you’ll know just how unlikely they can be. Living in multiple different environments stops you associating your personal identity with artificial borders, and instead keep a wide-awake perspective concerning other people, cultures and attitudes, even within your own country.

Moving Will Not Frighten You
One of the worst parts of neglecting or refusing to move is that this decision can often grow cobwebs over time. It goes from not desiring to move to not feeling able thanks to the enormity and huge structural change coming from the roots of your life. Someone well versed in moving place to place will have no problem with the process, and will mostly see it as a new adventure waiting to be had, or a new chapter waiting to start. Of course, there are services to help you with this, such as MyBekins https://www.mybekins.com/location/las-vegas-nv-movers/, movers to help you get from one place to the other (your belongings too!) without much in the way of inconvenience.

One of the best parts of living in new places is meeting people. Why else would you move? Being connected to many different scenes, nightlife cultures and environments can make you feel intrinsically excited about your entire experience, and forge friends for life. Then, when moving around the country, you’re at least likely to happen upon certain people willing to help or socialize with you. This can be a real positive in a world of seeming fragmentation. This will also help you get a sense of perspective socially, and you’ll realize that the world isn’t half as chaotic as you’re being led to believe.

With these simple attitudes, the benefits of living in many places will reveal themselves to you, and hopefully apply to you in all ways.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.