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Smackdown Updates: Sunscreen, Teeth Whiteners, Field Trips & Handbag Dilemmas

By Amalah

Thank you SO MUCH to everybody who sent in updates to past questions! These were all really great to read. If you’ve got an update to a past question and would like to share what worked (or what didn’t work), please drop me a line at amyadvice AT, with UPDATE or something similar in the subject line.

And now, on with…well, YOUR show. The original question is linked in each header, and any additional thoughts from me are italicized. (Because I always have additional thoughts. My brain is like a popcorn maker sometimes.)

UPDATE ON: Sunscreen That Won’t Sting Your Eyes

Hi Amy:

After your answer to my question about sunscreen that won’t make my eyes sting, I purchased a mineral sunscreen from Paula’s Choice. I like Paula’s Choice products because they are always fragrance free, and Paula is a real “no BS” person when it comes to telling which ingredients do what they say and which ingredients are just cosmetics companies putting their hands in your pocket. In fact, I sent a question about my stinging eyes to her too, after purchasing a foundation with SPF in it from her that stung the crap out of my eyes, but never got an answer. The Paula’s mineral sunscreen is only SPF 15, so it will only be good for wearing when I’m inside at the office, but it’s a start. I was concerned about using something not really formulated for the face because I don’t want to clog up my pores (I have enough of that already) but I’ll be testing higher SPF products before summer hits. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and we had snow two weeks ago (seriously!), so I’ve got time!

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

Awesome! I’m so glad you found something that works. The Paula’s Choice definitely fits the bill I suspected would work: a physical sunscreen with just titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and NO avobenzone. So now you just need to find a similar formula in a higher SPF for summer, but at least you know you’ve successfully tracked down the eye-burning culprit. Let us know if you find some other recommendation-worthy options.

UPDATE ON: Teeth Whiteners

Hey Amy:

I saw your call out to people who had used your advice and wanted to report back!
HOORAY…I love to help you out.

Okay, so I submitted a question to you about teeth whitening almost a year go. I was getting ready to go to BlogHer and I needed help with my ugly yellow teeth.

You were kind enough to answer my question mere days after I submitted it.
I took before/after pictures and blogged about the results on my own site. You can find that post HERE.

(Looking at the pictures I posted reminds me that I really should try the whitestrips again!)
Anyway…I hope this helps. And I hope you feel better soon.


Thanks, Isabel! That’s actually a good reminder for me as well, because DANG, those are some great, visible, cannot-be-denied results in those photos. As for some of the downsides you and your readers mentioned: Crest almost always has coupons on their website, or will mail you one if you’re willing to fork over some personal information. (Which: Ew, Crest. Just let me print out a coupon and buy your stinking product already, okay?) And for those who notice an increase in tooth sensitivity while using the strips (I don’t, but my husband does), try swapping out your toothpaste with some Sensodyne for the weeks you use the strips.

UPDATE ON: The Smackdown Field Trip

Hi Amy —
You and I took a field trip about a year ago to Ulta, to pick out makeup in colors that actually work for me.
You should feel good — I still use the colors you picked, and Smashbox stuff is quickly becoming my go-to makeup. It took a little while to get into the habit of actually putting makeup on, and there are still a lot of days when it’s foundation and lip gloss for me, but people definitely notice a difference between when I have the makeup, and when I don’t. Including my 5-year-old daughter, and kids can be painfully blunt sometimes.
I’ve added to the eye shadows I’ve got at this point, but all are still in the same range of colors you and I selected. And Smashbox stopped making the color of lip gloss we picked out, but I found another in a color very close.
All in all, the trip was a success for me, because I was finally able to figure out what colors I should be wearing. I’ve had some professional photos taken by a close friend, and it gave me a confidence boost to know I had appropriate makeup. And I’ve gone with one friend to Ulta and let the saleswoman try all kinds of colors on her. My friend asked if I wanted to ask her about colors, and the woman looked at me and said “her colors are just fine.”

So, you know, thanks.

Oh God, I cannot even tell you how awesome this is to hear. I’m kvelling! Picking out makeup colors — even for myself — can still be a little daunting, so I’m glad to hear your five-year-old didn’t like, mistake you for Ronald McDonald or something when you got home.

UPDATE ON: The Gifts That Keep On Giving You an Insecurity Complex

Hi Amy,
I’ve been meaning to write and thank you for responding to my letter about the purse/earrings gift problem I had (May 5th), and your call for follow-ups made me get off my lazy ass and actually do it. I have definitely been wearing the earrings more often (especially when I am sure my roommates will see them, and they are actually growing on me.) I have been slacking on the purse, though – those 30 seconds it takes to transfer things (I know, I don’t have that many things) is just so, um, taxing on my poor, overworked soul.
Anyway, the best thing about your response was that it helped me take the socially awkward, neurotic side of myself by the shoulders and say, “Self! Chill out and suck it up! There are cyclones in Burma and earthquakes in China and yeah, just CHILL OUT. IT IS A PURSE.”

Pursed Lips

Eh, so you save the purse for when your current one wears out. Or not. The important thing is that you are chilling out, which is by far my most favorite state of being. The Advice Smackdown: Now 43% More Zen!

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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