At Home Teeth Whitening: Does it Work?

This product was gifted to me to review by Smile Brilliant. As always, the experience, opinion review are completely my own.


Coffee Coffee Coffee!


There are few people on this planet I relate to more than Lorelei Gilmore. Her love for coffee, need to prove herself on her own, and quirky personality spoke to me once a week for years. And then again on Netflix on repeat for years.

But this post isn’t about my love for Lorelei. It’s about our shared love of coffee. The delicious black tar of the Gods. And while my heart, soul, and mental capacity to tolerate other humans all depend on it’s beautiful role in my life, my teeth do not appreciate it.

I still remember being a kid and on vacation with my dad and him asking me if I wanted a cup of coffee with my orange juice (like him). It was more creamer than coffee and I only took a few sips but the foundation had been laid. I’ve had a lifetime of coffee drinking for my teeth to combat with and whiting toothpastes just don’t cut it.

So, if you’ve ever been curious about teeth whitening, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through this post. It’s for you. I’ve tried it many times over the years and never had successful results. Whether it be from the dentist or OTC options, I hated them all. The ones from the dentist we super expensive and really uncomfortable. The over the counter ones have very minimal results, and there’s no way for them to be comfortable when they are a one size fits all. I also have sensitive teeth so both options ended up hurting. I was resigned to believe that teeth whitening was not for me.

That’s why when the crazy sweet and helpful team at Smile Brilliant reached out to me, I didn’t jump to try it out for quite a while. After a lot of questions and answers, I agreed to try the Sensitive Teeth Whitening System. The whole process was so easy thanks to their seamless process and because I did have such a great experience, I wanted to share it with you here.


Picking Your System

The first thing you need to do is go to the Smile Brilliant website and decide which package is right for you. They have two primary choices: The System for Non-Sensitive Teeth or The System for Sensitive Teeth. Pretty simple. Pick your door. From there you’ll be able to determine the level of program right for your specific needs.

If you have light staining, but don’t drink coffee or wine and have done whitening before then you’re good for the T3 System. However, since most people have staining from a lifetime of build-up from coffee, tea, wine, ect, I would recommend the T6-T9 systems. They are all the same product and all will use a custom molded tray, the difference will come in with amount of applications you will use.

The System for Sensitive Teeth that I used is the same basic concept, but typically is better for those with teeth sensitive to cold/hot, have had “aching” when doing teeth whitening in the past, had a history of childhood medication or smoking, ect. It allows for shorter application times and comes with a second type of application you’ll do after whitening to desensitize your teeth. I can attest to the fact that it really works. I was VERY skeptical because I have very sensitive teeth due to genetics and childhood meds combined with (as previously mentioned) an undying love for coffee.

What You Get

Each system will provide everything you need to complete the process:
Professional Lab Service
Professional dental lab will receive your impressions, create an exact model of your teeth, and fashion a truly custom-fitted tray

Custom-fitted Teeth Whitening Trays
Exactly like your dentist would make. Finished trays include 1 upper and 1 lower tray.

2 Impression Trays
Used in combination with impression material to create mold

3 Sets of Impression Material
To make your own dental impressions (1 extra set of material in case you mess up)

3-Way Postage 
All postage between you and the lab is covered (2-way for orders outside of United States)

Professional Teeth Whitening Gel & Desensitizing Gel (If Applicable)
Dentist-strength 22% Carbamide Peroxide in 3ml syringes (you choose quantity). Desensitizing gel included with “sensitive” packages.

Amazing Customer Service

I really can’t say enough good things about the team that works for Smile Brilliant. If you have any questions or concerns throughout the process they want to help so don’t hesitate to reach out.

First Things First (I’m the Realest)


Ignore the way my brain works. Before continuing this blog post I had to stop and do a Iggy Azalea mini dance party just because I thought of the lyrics. But I mean, come on people! Have you seen that music video? Summer 1995 Leslie came back in full swing.

Anyway, I digress. The real first things first, will be a package that arrives with your kit to make your impressions. I was a little nervous about messing this step up but it was really easy and they provide you one extra in event it doesn’t go right the first time. Just make sure that before your start the process of making the molds, you can see it all the way through.

It doesn’t take long but set aside 20-30 minutes with no distractions just to be safe. One you start, the activator in putty starts and you need to create your molds immediately after forming the dough. I’ve created a handy dandy photo guide of the process and you’ll get a comprehensive instruction sheet with your order as well.


After you’ve created your molds, you’ll use their return packaging to ship it back off to the company. They have a handy form to show you what your molds should like when done, so try to get it as close as possible to that. The company will examine them when they receive them to ensure they were done properly, and if they were, they will create your trays for you and mail them back.

The Whitening


This picture makes me laugh. Hello, Vanna White here, look at my trays. Full disclosure, I took these photos after I went through the majority of my applications, my teeth did not start out this white. I also usually use filters on my photos, but I opted not to edit these like I normally would so you could see the real results.

During the first fifteen minutes of my first application, I was like NOPE, don’t like this. I can feel it. I didn’t feel pain, but I just felt weird having something sitting in my mouth and not being able to talk. However, very quickly I almost completely forgot about it. And it was a really nice excuse to not get asked 10,000 a minutes by my kids. Oh no, sorry guys, mama can’t talk for the next hour. Come back later. Hello, mom win.

I did a few days with just desensitizing gel before starting the actual whitening at the recommendation of customer service since I have pretty bad sensitivity. If this is you too, you might want to get a couple extra syringes of the desensitizing gel just in case. After my first real session, and then quick session with the desensitizing gel, I was told I could put coconut oil on my gums to help sooth it but I wanted to see if would need it first. Turns out, I didn’t. My teeth were fine throughout the entire process and my results were amazing.



And guess what, because I loved this whitening system SO much, Smile Brilliant has agreed to do a giveway with me so one of you can try the system for yourself at home!

To Enter:

Simply go to and enter your email address! You can also add your IG handle for an extra entry! I won’t see these entries, Smile Brilliant will be doing a random drawing so enter away! This stuff is truly amazing, I wish you all could win! For those who don’t though, please use my code leslielately15 to get 15% off store wide!

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I would absolutely, 100% recommend this whitening company to everyone I know. And I really love that if you want to keep up the results you don’t have to keep buying the whole system. You have the option to buy the applications by themselves as well. I’ll be doing touch ups every few months just to ensure I keep them this white, because we all know I won’t be giving up my coffee. Ever.

*Disclosure - you HAVE to have the trays for this system to work, so the first time you purchase you’ll need to buy the whole system.

Have you ever done a whitening system before? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

xx, Leslie

Welcome Home, Atticus.

Hey friends, 

It's been a minute since I've come to chat with y'all here. Since I've been gone, our family welcomed Atticus earth side, and we've been devouring up all of his newborn goodness since then. We've also been adjusting to having three kids and being completely outnumbered. I think Daniel and I go back in forth between being completely enamored and completely defeated. It wouldn't be parenthood without that reality though, I'm pretty sure, so it looks like we are doing something right. 

Atticus is seven weeks old now! I honestly can't believe it. And while I had a great plan lined up for keeping the flow of work going, it all fell by the wayside once he made his appearance. After what my doctor called a traumatic birth a week before his due date, it took me some time to recover both mentally and psychically. Then once I recovered mentally, okay recovered for the most part, I came into the problem of Atticus never wanting to be put down. Any mamas out there relate to that? 

I decided that I was going to embrace the longer than planned maternity leave, and the slow, exhausted moments of this stage. This is my last baby, and I want to take in every moment possible. I'm already panicking that it's going by way too fast. So you'll see me around here more than I have been lately, but if it's quiet for a few days, you know why. 

All of my love, 


5 Easy Ways to Embrace Self-Care After Baby


If you’re anything like me, the concept of self-care was hard to grasp at first. I was so used to doing everything for everyone else that taking time to pamper myself felt...well, selfish. After talking to a few of my mommy friends, I realized that I’m hardly alone in this regard. Something that I’ve experienced, and had validated by those mommy friends, is that self-care after having a baby is extremely difficult.

You’ve spent nine months growing a little person inside of you and after you’ve given birth, it feels extremely selfish to take time away from your little one to pamper yourself when they’re the ones who need all of the care. However, embracing self-care is so incredibly important. You can hardly be the best friend, mother or partner without taking time out of your busy schedule to make sure that you are okay. The word “self-care” may send off other alarms in your head like Expensive! and Time-consuming! But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Here are five easy and practical ways to embrace self-care as a new momma:

Hot shower

This may seem like a given, but think about it- when’s the last time you had a hot shower or bath? You’ve probably spent more time bathing and cleaning up after your newborn than making sure you’re fresh and clean. As simple as it may sound, a hot shower or bath can do wonders.

Affordable subscription boxes

Everyone deserves a little treat here and there- especially new moms. Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage; no matter what makes you feel beautiful, whether it’s makeup or lingerie, there’s an affordable subscription box out there for you. My favorite is Splendies Underwear. They deliver three pairs of cute, high-quality undies every month- and they are so comfortable.


Grocery pick-up/delivery

Being a mom takes a lot of energy- don’t burn the last of yours lugging babies around the grocery store. It's an unneeded headache when almost every store has grocery pick up or delivery now. Do yourself a favor and order your groceries online, in the comfort of your own home, and have them delivered right to your door.

New postpartum clothes

Many women don’t want to buy new clothes after having a baby- they’d rather wait until they could fit in their pre-baby clothes. Don't wait to get to the ideal size. Feel good NOW. Your postpartum body will be squishy and harder to buy for, but don't get down on yourself. Find something you feel good in and rock it.

Ask for Help

Asking for help doesn’t make you a weak person and it definitely doesn’t make you a bad mom. Sometimes the best form of self-care is getting a much needed break. Ask your partner, friends or family to watch your baby for a little while, whether it’s to go get coffee with the girls or just catch a nap in the other room.

Embracing self-care as a new mom can be scary, but I can assure you that taking the time to get yourself something nice or pay for a service that can make your life easier is well worth it. Trust me, you have enough on your plate already. Self-care doesn’t have to be an elaborate spa day or a weekend vacation. Instead, it can be a new pair of jeans or delivered groceries. And, speaking from experience, it will feel just as good.

3 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Rut and Crush Your Goals


3 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Rut and Crush Your Goals

Well, crap. You're doing great, movin' and a-shakin', and then all of a sudden you have no motivation to do anything. We all get a bit stuck sometimes. Whether we’re feeling overwhelmed by work or family, or simply haven’t taken enough time out of our days to practice self-care, burnout is real.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve fallen into the habit of taking on endless responsibilities while maintaining the belief that, no matter how much is on your plate, you can handle everything. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not Superwoman- and neither am I. 

Honestly, with everything going on with our home, and being pregnant while juggling two other kids, I have been in a rut a lot lately. I am learning how to cope with it all though, and how to pull myself out of it. 

Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

Be nice to yourself

When I get stuck in a rut, the first thing to happen is negative self-talk. "I know I can handle this, so why am I stuck?" I’m better than this, "why am I being so lazy?" "If I can’t get out of this rut, I’m going to ruin everything I’ve worked for."

Negative self-talk is incredibly damaging, but also unfortunately common. It can make me spiral and make the problem so much worse. What I’ve learned is that this negativity never helps pull me out of the rut I’m in.

However, if I practice extra self-care and start speaking to myself positively, I have much more motivation to understand why I’m in a rut and learn how to pull myself out. Try replacing negative self-talk with encouraging statements and I guarantee you that you’ll crush every goal you set for yourself.


Set achievable goals

One of the reasons that I find myself getting stuck in ruts is because I have too much on my plate at one time. These other Instagram moms and bloggers (though I love being inspired by them as much as the next social media obsessed mama) make it look so easy to balance raising a family, working a full-time job, working out every day and cooking healthy meals, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s not.

And let me tell you if you are comparing yourself and your daily experiences to someone's highlight reel, you're going to have a bad time. That’s not because you’re not determined and dedicated, but it’s because your goals aren’t realistic and we aren't seeing the full picture on social media. It's just a glimpse of the good moments.  Block it all out, and focus on your goals - not what anyone else is doing. Be realistic about timing, and don't take on more than you can chew when you've already got a lot going on. 

Be honest with yourself

Honesty is the answer to many of my problems in life. When I get stuck in rut, there’s always a reason, but I get so focused on pulling myself out of the rut that I don’t look for the cause. Treating the symptoms rather than the illness is dangerous. When you fall into a rut, be honest with yourself: what’s really going on? Have you been skimping on sleep, are you having marital problems, are you too stressed? All of these can cause you to fell into a rut and, without being honest with yourself and identifying the real reason, you’ll keep falling into these ruts. Honesty can help you overcome your struggles and crush your goals.

No matter how stuck you feel, remember that nothing is permanent. Don’t mistake a chapter in your life for the entire novel; you can pull yourself out of this rut. Getting stuck in life is something that will continue to happen, but if you have the tools to snap out of it, you will always be able to meet your goals and you will come out of your ruts a much stronger woman.


5 Ways to Be Unapologetic in Motherhood


The other day I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about a situation she's been facing more frequently lately.  I won't go into the personal details out of privacy for her, but after our conversation, I immediately knew I needed to write about the generality of it because it's such a common theme we face as mothers. 

Why as mothers are we always made to feel guilty for our decisions? 

From the day I gave birth to Ava, I immediately was put on the defensive. I was young so I immediately felt the eyes on me. I didn't go out, I didn't make irresponsible decisions (for the most part), and I was focused completely on building a better life for her and me. But it wasn't enough. I was constantly questioned. I took it personally because I was young and thought that was why. 

But the truth of it is, mothers are judged constantly regardless of their age. For what they are doing, and for what they aren't. By society, by other mothers, by fathers, by friends, and even by family. What we are feeding them, how we are diapering them, sleepovers or no sleepovers, single mothers or married mothers. Everyone thinks they know best when it comes to how a mother should parent her child, and let me tell you, I'm OVER it. 

As my friend was talking and telling our group of friends about the situation, I heard her making justification and justification as to why she was making her decision and I realized we all do this. We all feel like we need to explain why we are making the best choice for our family or our children. But why? 


Let me tell you, mamas, I'm not here for it. I'm not here for the judgement, the snide comments, the side-eye, and the superiority or audacity of someone thinking they know how to parent my child better than I do. If you are my husband, you get a say. If not, you're irrelevant to the decision.

Harsh? Maybe. But after 12 years of it, y'all, I'm not here for it, and you shouldn't be either.

Here are five ways you can become unapologetic in motherhood. 

1. Learn to be confident in your decisions

This is the number one thing I want to see more mothers embrace (myself included). More times I can count, I've been brought to tears by another woman who felt she had a right to judge my parenting. After talking to friends, I learned I wasn't alone in that.

Ladies, mother to mother, this shit is hard. Why on God's green earth are we torturing each other? You can be supportive and give advice (when it's asked for) without belittling. 

And mamas, regardless of what Susan thinks, you know your child and you are a good mom. I don't care if you give your child sugary cereal or just haven't gotten bedtime on lock yet. You are a good mother, and you don't have to justify anything to anyone. 

2. Stop explaining and stop apologizing

This is one of my biggest faults. I feel the need to explain everything. Even when it's something as silly as wanting to order myself a kids meal. I feel the need to make people understand why I did what I did - like I did something wrong. WTF is that? Newsflash, they don't need to understand it. Unless you have hurt them or done them wrong personally, your decision is your decision. If they don't agree, it's okay. 

3. Remove negative or disrespectful people from your life

This was a hard one for me. I forgive easily, but there have come times in both of my children's lives when I've had to say, "This is my parenting decision, and if you can not accept it, we will remove ourselves from your company."

Family, friends, co-workers - whoever. There is no one in my life as important as my children, and to insult my ability to mother them is the greatest insult of all. It's been hard for me, when I've had to do it. I've cried and felt sick over it because I hate confrontation and I hate being at odds with anyone, especially people I care about. But I hate being walked on more, so if I've made my decision clear, respect it. 

4. Forgive yourself

You're going to mess up. You're going to feel guilty. Your kids will probably say something mean to you or about you at some point because they are human. Just like you. We make justifications for our mistakes when we don't need to. Learn from them, and do better next time. Don't hold on to it. You are worth more than that. Trust me. 

5. Support other mothers

The more you open up your mind to the different ways of parenting, the more confident you'll be in your own decisions. It's okay for Susan down the street to only use reusable diapers, feed her kids organic perfect meals, and never ever forget anything. It's not your style but she's a good mom. And it's okay for you to use disposable diapers, pick up fast food on the way home, and what's that? Oh yeah, you forgot the kid's permission slip... again. It's not Susan's style, but you're a good mom. 

Susan might look like she has it alllll the way together, but she doesn't. Just like you don't have it all the way apart. We all feel like a hot mess express more often than not, and question if we are doing what's best for our kids, and hope and pray we somehow don't screw up this little life we love so much (most days). 

Support each other. We all need it. It's good for other mothers, and it's good for you. 

That's about all the preachy-ness I have in me for the day. So, mamas, I hope today you go out there and be your bad self, no apologies necessary.