Kidney Be Damned – I’m Getting Invisalign

Aiming to correct my teeth - Invisalign

I got my ducks in a row and have an appointment to kick off the (expensive) process to correct my teeth. I did decide to pursue Invisalign treatment; my case can be treated with conventional braces faster and cheaper, but the hassle isn’t worth it to me. Smile Direct Club never got back to me, but did spam the shit out of me with marketing pleas. I have since unsubscribed.


I’m excited and thrilled to be finally pursuing this, but it isn’t without nerves. After all, it is a big investment. It will be physically uncomfortable. It is also at least eighteen months of my life that I will be shackled to a fairly inflexible routine. I can handle routine.

The Invisalign Routine

For Invisalign and other clear aligner systems to be effective, they need to be worn for as much of our 24-hour day as possible. Literature varies slightly but conventional advice, including that from my orthodontist, indicates that 20-22 hours per day of wear is necessary.

The only time(s) the clear aligners should be out is when you are eating and drinking or when you are brushing and flossing. When you brush or floss, you need to brush and rinse your aligners as well to keep them clean.

After my treatment, I will have a retainer to make sure things don’t revert to their old ways.

Not all Bad

The routine sounds challenging, but it isn’t all bad. Aside from straight teeth, I expect to get a lot out of it:

Less random snacking or, “grazing.”

Because eating ANYTHING requires that I remove my trays then brush and floss before I put them back in, snacking cannot be a mindless activity. Time-wise, snacking will be expensive!

Eating Better (in general)

Since I won’t really be able to snack unless I’m prepared to spend five minutes after the fact, I need to eat better! I need to eat nutritious things that will stick with me and keep me from feeling empty, longer.


Drinking anything other than water subjects you to the same cleaning protocol as eating. I already drink a lot of water, which is good – but I’ll basically need to limit myself to having non-water beverages with meals.

The Plan

Next, I schedule an appointment with my orthodontist to take a 3D scan of my mouth. That scan is then sent to Invisalign. My provider works with Invisalign to develop a treatment plan that is returned as a digital time-lapse. I’ll then go back and approve it with my doctor. Once approved, they get to making trays and I get them a few weeks later.

My goal is to keep this blog updated with my treatment progress. Neither my orthodontist nor Invisalign know that I am a blogger or that I intend to document this process. There’s no incentive for me to document this beyond my own amusement.

TPDTY: On Upselling for Consumers and Salespeople

A month ago, I went for a wax at a popular waxing chain. The first-time service, albeit uncomfortable, went well! Part of how this chain makes money is through selling their in-house line of skincare products for use at home after the service. I generally eschew these things unless the person I’m working with can make an excellent case for them. Most do not.


Afterwards, the esthetician who rendered my services tried (gently, unlike this hair stylist) upselling me on some of their retail line. According to my esthetician, the products contain growth inhibitors and exfoliants. Both are cool, but not enough to sell me on a $27 tub of 45 wipes. She gave me one of the wipes to demonstrate how saturated they were (unlike some wipes that are halfway dry); it was pretty solid. But then again, for $0.60 per wipe, they ought to be.

Know Your Products (or Services)

I asked what its active ingredients were to exfoliate – like an AHA or salicylic acid; she balked. She ultimately went on to tell me that it contained lavender and aloe vera for soothing purposes – great, but not what I asked. The packages did not list that information either which, as a consumer, I find disconcerting.

Needless to say, she didn’t make the sale. I later went to research the products and found that they do have both AHA and BHAs – but no information on what kind or on concentration. Ouch, not worth it to me when I can use any number of products I already own.

As a Consumer

Read more

Invisalign: It Costs a Kidney

Aiming to correct my teeth - Invisalign

Good News:

Despite my woefully complicated case, I’m a candidate for orthodontic treatment via Invisalign. This is largely due to having selecting a ridiculously experienced provider.

Bad News:

Unsurprisingly, it does kind of cost a kidney. Some language in my dental insurance policy includes (shockingly generous!) coverage for adult orthodontic treatment, but it isn’t clear if there is an age cap or not. My treatment coordinator and I are tag-teaming my insurance provider to get clarity on this; obviously, I can begin treatment sooner if insurance is in play.

What Happens at an Invisalign Assessment

I couldn’t be more excited about this practice, honestly. It’s a little annoying to get to, but is a pretty damn cute office and everyone I dealt with was lovely.

Unflattering Photo Ops

Read more

TPDTY: On Sebaceous Filaments & Why You Don’t Need Pore Strips

This is a post from the Beauty Skeptic archives that has been given a facelift! Content is the same but may have been edited for clarity and flow, as well as some small content updates noted in line.

Pore StripOh look, a pore strip!

Yeah, you’re familiar with them, probably from Biore. Other brands make pore strip products, too, often more expensive for the same (lackluster) result.

But you don’t need them.

Yeah, there are DIY pore strip tutorials online with weird suggestions involving egg whites or Elmer’s Glue. And listen, I can appreciate getting a little mad scientist in my beauty/skincare as much as the next person…

But you don’t need to.

Wash your face, leave it sopping. Dry your hands, open the thing. Slap the pore strip on your nose and smooth it down. Wait until it feels ridiculous, then rip it off.

But you don’t need that.

Here’s the thing – what many of us bought those things or played mad scientist for was because we believed we had a ton of god-awful blackheads on and around our nose, right? Oh god, we have to fix it. We’d peel away the papier-mâché pore strip and marvel in disgust over what we just ripped out of our faces with this pore strip. Right? Don’t lie, if you’ve used this, you have. You’re elated for a day or two because your skin looks a little better…and then things return to normal – and you strip again.

A waste, indeed, of time and money for such fleeting results.

But here’s the thing – in so many cases (I wish I could quote you a percentage) those are not blackheads. They are sebaceous filaments – they occur naturally on everyone, ever, and are not blemishes…and they cannot be, “removed,” not even by a pore strip. Yes, they aren’t the cutest thing in the world, and yes, that is irritating. Proper skincare, however, can make them less obvious.

The Routine

Your skincare routine should consist of (at minimum), daily cleansing, exfoliating as often as your skin wants/needs it (some people like a daily gentle exfoliant, some of us like to break out the big guns 2-3 times per week), and moisturizing. You can get more detailed than this if you wish (I like to!) but it isn’t a dire necessity. (Bonus points if you use a face brush like an Olay Pro-X or Clarisonic!)

In terms of cleansers, I like something basic and simple. (2017) CeraVe Foaming (2014) Cetaphil Gentle is my favorite. As far as exfoliants go…in terms of what is best for your skin, a chemical exfoliant is technically best and I have (2017) this AHA gel from Alpha Skin (formerly Alpha Hydrox) (2014) this one from Alpha Hydrox .

That said, I also commit “skincare sins,” and indulge in physical ones (theoretically the gritty nature of these can cause tiny cuts in your skin. I haven’t had problems, personally, but I get it – especially with the St Ives, it can be a bit much if you overdo the pressure) such as this classic from St Ives and my long-time favorite from Burt’s Bees 2017 Update: The only physical exfoliation my face sees these days comes from my Clarisonic or Luna Mini.

Moisturizers are very personalized depending on your needs but I am currently happiest with (2017) Mountain Rose Herbs Argan Oil (2014) Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. Those things help me keep my skin healthy and looking well-cared-for.

The Bottom Line

Stop wasting your money on pore strip products, your time on playing face-goop-alchemy, and just get back to basics. They’re fun, but they are a gimmick – and a costly one, at that. Chances are if you don’t have other acne issues, you don’t have a nose rife with blackheads…you, like most people, just have some sebaceous filaments which are normal and healthy. Not gross, just kind of odd looking when you actually notice them.

Ask the Skeptic

I put what I intended as today’s post up yesterday – oops. Friday won’t pass empty-handed, though.

I’m not a makeup artist or aesthetician, and I’m certainly no hair prodigy – but I welcome questions. Feel free to leave questions for the blog in the comments OR via e-mail to beautyskeptic (at) gmail (dot) com.

Your question might help someone else – so I’ll round ’em up and make a column of them.

In other things…

I had snagged the most adorable teeny-tiny NARS Orgasm blush via a BI point perk. For some reason, I thought it wouldn’t be a great color for me – but I wore it for the first time and what the hell is wrong with me?! It’s no wonder that NARS Orgasm is such a hit. I’m buying the full size when I’m off my No Buy. It is perfection.

My nails are still recovering from this fiasco. Fortunately, they grow fast so the rough parts are already almost grown-out, but geez. I’ve been slathering my cuticles with this cream from my favorites during the workday, and this oil from my favorites in the evenings.

Regular content returns Monday!