San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Functional Girl: A column

Functional Girl CJ LEGARE

Q.: I’ve noticed lately that my teeth are looking a little drab. I would like to whiten them but I can’t afford the professional treatments. I know there are a lot of at-home whitening products. Have you used any of them? Which ones would you recommend? — Kathy M.

A. Dear Kathy: First and foremost I would advise talking with your dentist about any products or treatments before proceeding. That being said, I do have some experience with at-home whitening products and can offer some insight.

My first rule of pearly whites is a bit of advice I got from my dentist: Use a straw and place it behind your teeth when drinking anything that will stain them. How do you know if it will stain your teeth? If it will stain your carpet, it will stain your teeth. If you’re just looking for a little polish, try brushing with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for a week. However, this method will only remove minimal surface stains.

For moderate staining, switch to a pre-brush whitening rinse and whitening toothpaste. Try Wal-Mart’s Equate brand rinse as a cost-effective option. If you have staining between your teeth, incorporate whitening floss to maximize results. Give this new regimen 4 to 6 weeks to see results.

If you’re still not satisfied with the results then you should consider trying the whitening strips and trays. There are several brands with varied price points. Before making a purchase, do a little online research and try to get opinions from anyone who has used them. I don’t recommend these for everyone as they can cause tooth and gum sensitivity. If you experience any discomfort, incorporate toothpaste designed to fortify and minimize sensitivity for the duration. Again, talk to your dentist before moving forward with any at-home products.

Q.: I’m not a make-up girl but I recently landed a job that requires a professional appearance. I don’t want to wear a full face of make-up but I need to look polished. Can you give me a “functional” solution? — Maria S.

A.: Dear Maria: I can absolutely help you put together a no muss, no fuss make-up solution for work. There are many double-duty products that will cut your application time in half.

Start with a tinted moisturizer or BB cream that contains an SPF – I love Garnier’s Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector. This allows you to moisturize, protect, treat and even out skin tone in one step. Follow with a concealer to disguise any blemishes, dark circles or redness. Make sure to find the appropriate shade and build your coverage gradually. A little bit goes a long way and can become flakey if applied too heavily. Follow your concealer with a matte, multi-hued bronzing powder. This will absorb any excess oil throughout the day and give your skin a soft glow. Use a large powder brush and tap off the excess before applying. Sweep the brush where the sun would hit you naturally: forehead, nose, cheekbones, chin and eyelids. Again, build your coverage gradually. You want a healthy glow, not an orange assault. Remember to blend, blend, blend towards your hairline, ears and neck. Complete your look with mascara, and some petroleum jelly on your lips for moisture and shine.

TIP: Here’s an easy way to take this look from day to night. Swap your matte bronzer for a shimmer bronzer, but use sparingly or you could end up looking like an alien! Use a sponge applicator and your bronzer doubles as eye shadow. Creating this look may initially take you a little longer, but once you’ve found your application groove, you’ll be done in 5 to 7 minutes.

Now, you could stop here, but I would recommend one final step. A clear coat on your fingernails is a simple way to add a little extra polish (pun absolutely intended) to your look. Find a clear-coat polish that hardens and nourishes. Once a week, file your nails to keep them short and neat. Don’t seesaw, as this will weaken your nail fibers and lead to breakage and peeling. Instead file in one direction at a time, shaping the tips straight across and softly rounding the corners. Moisturize your cuticles with petroleum jelly and apply two thin coats of clear polish. Always allow a few minutes between coats to allow for drying and proper adhesion. This will maximize the life of your at-home mini-mani and give you a couple extra minutes of personal pampering.

Pampering is important ladies, even for you low-maintenance girls. There isn’t a product in the world that can recreate the beautiful glow of a woman who cultivates her own self-worth.

Functional Girl CJ Legare lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua, and is addicted to 2 percent organic milk. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She blogs at

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