Tricks of the Trade: 5 ways to get a better smile

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I hate my smile. I get so self-conscious with my teeth because they are not pearly white and my lips are always dry and flaky. How can I get a nice smile that’s photo-worthy? -Jess

As they say, you’re never fully dressed without a smile. Many of us forget just how powerful smiling is–it can make someone’s day brighter and happier by flashing it, and in turn, it puts you in a positive mood when you do it. For me, receiving a genuine smile is worth its weight in gold; it is right up there with hugging and kissing–it immediately puts you in a happy state of mind. That’s why it is understandable that you feel self-conscious when your smile is not picture perfect, because it is one of the first things people notice about you, and it leaves a lasting impression.

I remember back in high school, before I got my first commercial gig, I had the most awkward smile. I wore braces, which meant I had to smile extra wide (lips stretched and gums exposed) so the metal brackets wont stick to my lips. Doing this for years destroyed my smile, and it wasn’t until my modeling agent pointed it out to me at a test shoot that I became aware of it. No wonder I didn’t get any work haha (I went to about 50 VTRs and castings before I got my first job)! After that, I made more of an effort to improve and maintain my smile, which meant quite a few trips to a reputable dentist for dental hygiene and eventually got teeth whitening. I also learned many tips from makeup artists I worked with at shoots, who had really great advice on making my smile better. Here are some of the things I learned that can hopefully help you improve your smile.

Exfoliate your lips. One way to beat dry, flaky lips is to exfoliate them. I like doing this when I take a shower before going to bed: I use a wet washcloth and rub it over my lips until they’re smooth (you’ll see all the dry skin on the washcloth). Or you can also use a wet toothbrush to gently brush your lips to remove dry skin. Then, apply a super moisturizing product to lock in the moisture while you sleep at night (you can use Vaseline or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream). I assure you, when you wake up the next day you will have the softest lips!

Moisturize with rose oil. This is super easy and effective–put a drop of rose oil on your lips and the corners of your mouth before putting on lipstick and after taking it off. This will prevent cracked and flaky skin around your lips. If you don’t have rose oil at hand, you can also use VCO, or virgin coconut oil to moisturize the area.

Make some changes. We don’t realize how doing small, everyday things can lead to big changes. Things like avoiding or limiting food and beverages that stain teeth (like coffee and tea), brushing the tongue to help eliminate bad breath, quitting smoking and drinking eight glasses of water can all help improve your smile and overall hygiene.

Visit your dentist twice a year. Having routine cleanings every six months not only helps to promote good oral health but can give you a beautiful smile. Doing this can avoid periodontal disease, which can cause unsightly swollen, receding, and bleeding gums. This is also linked to health conditions like heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, premature births, and sleep apnea. Not to mention, your dentist can screen for health conditions like high blood pressure and oral cancer. Many health conditions manifest themselves in the mouth, and your dentist can actually make you aware of certain health issues that can save your life. Oh, and if you have the extra budget for it, ask your dentist if you can be a candidate for teeth whitening or veneers–these are so worth the investment as they can instantly brighten your smile.

Practice in front of a mirror. I remember spending a lot of time practicing in front of the mirror until I finally perfected my smile. This isn’t just a vanity thing, it is self-awareness. If you know how you look when you smile (and when you remember how your facial muscles move when you do it right), your smile will definitely improve a ten-fold.

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