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Ideally, brushing your teeth every day would be enough to keep your teeth pearly white between dentist appointments. For some, investing in the best at-home teeth-whitening kits can help those efforts significantly — that is, once they’ve educated themselves on what teeth-whitening products can do, how to safely use them, and their limitations. You can either consult your board-certified dentist or refer to our FAQs below. Once you’ve got the low-down, or if you already know the deal, we’ve rounded up the best teeth-whitening kits to enhance and supplement your existing oral-care routine. Hello, brighter smile.
Our Top Picks:
- Best LED Device: Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit, $65
- Best Teeth Whitening Serum: HiSmile V34 Colour Corrector Serum, $29
- Best for Daytime Use: Quip Daytime Whitening Kit, $229
- Best for Tough Stains: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit, $48
- Best Whitening Strips: Crest Whitestrips Professional Effects, $45
- Quickest Treatment: Moon Midnight Enamel Care Dissolving Whitening Strips, $40
- Best Whitening Pen: Colgate Optic White Express Teeth Whitening Pen, $30
- Best Teeth-Whitening Trays: Opalescence Go Whitening Trays, $83
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you remove stains from teeth?
- How do teeth-whitening ingredients work?
- What are the differences between in-office whitening and over-the-counter whitening treatments?
- Am I a good candidate for over-the-counter teeth-whitening products?
Best LED Device: Colgate Optic White ComfortFit Teeth Whitening Kit
Why It’s Worth It: In case you weren’t already familiar, Colgate makes some of the best teeth-whitening products on the market. Both New York City-based, board-certified cosmetic dentist, Pia Lieb, DDS, and Phoenix, Arizona, board-certified dentist Brian Harris, DDS, have previously revealed that they’re fans of Colgate’s Optic White at-home kits. This latest iteration is called the Optic White ComfortFit LED Teeth Whitening Kit, which features a flexible, rechargeable LED light that more easily conforms to the shape of your mouth.
Editor Tip: The process is simple: Apply a thin layer of the Teeth Whitening Pen to each tooth, let the serum dry/set for a mere 10 to 15 seconds, and then plug the LED device right into our phone. From there, you let it do its thing for 10 minutes (the device will automatically shut off after that period, in case you lose track of time). Avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes, or leave it on overnight for better results. Either way, use your handy toothbrush to sweep away the dried serum after you’re through.
Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Who It’s For: Everyone
Best Teeth Whitening Serum: HiSmile V34 Colour Corrector Serum
Why It’s Worth It: You’ve probably seen a bottle of the HiSmile V34 Colour Corrector Serum come up on your FYP, and trust us, the TikTokers aren’t just hyping it up. It has a bright, ultraviolet color that basically acts like a purple shampoo for your teeth, temporarily cancelling out the look of yellowing and surface stains.
Editor Tip: This pick is supposed to be used in tandem with your usual whitening toothpaste rather than replace it. After brushing your teeth, the brand recommends lightly buffing the formula over stains with a cotton swab to achieve the best brightening results.
Key Ingredients: Glycerin, sorbitol, peppermint oil, red no. 33 and blue no. 1 (dye for color) | Who It’s For: Anyone looking for a quick, temporary fix to yellowing.
Best Whitening Kit for Daytime Use: Quip Daytime Whitening Kit
Why It’s Worth It: The brightening abilities of the Quip Daytime Whitening Kit just can’t be beaten, and its peroxide gel formula gets kudos for still being gentle on teeth (but still proceed with caution if you’re sensitivity-prone). Along with its gentle-yet-effective formula, this kit also features a more customized experience. First, Quip will send you an Impressions kit to create your own custom-fit whitening trays, and once you mail the molds back, you’ll receive your own clear acrylic trays and a 14-day supply of the brand’s whitening gel.
Editor Tip: Though this whitening kit is made for daytime wear, it’s not a quick-wear formulation. The brand recommends letting the whitening gel sit on your teeth for one to two hours.
Key Ingredients: carbamide peroxide, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide | Who It’s For: Anyone who wants the whitening effects of a peroxide-based teeth whitener with little to no sensitivity.
Best for Tough Stains: AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit
Why It’s Worth It: Dr. Lieb waxes poetic about the AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit, as it’s highly effective and also more affordable than other products on the market. “This whitening solution comes with trays and an LED mouthpiece to comfortably whiten both your top and bottom teeth,” she says. “It also features 35% carbamide peroxide (most dental offices use a 40% peroxide formula), which is a testament to the great results this product produces.”
Editor Tip: This at-home teeth whitening system takes about 30 minutes each day, for seven days, though you’ll probably see noticeable results after one or two uses.
Key Ingredients: Carbamide peroxide | Who It’s For: Tough stains, non-sensitive teeth
Best Whitening Strips: Crest 3D White Whitestrips Professional Effects Teeth Whitening Kit
Why It’s Worth It: There’s no doubt that Crest Whitestrips are one of the most recognizable over-the-counter teeth-whitening systems available. It seems almost as if they’ve been around forever — and professionals still love them. “Over the counter, I recommend Crest 3D Whitestrips,” Neil Hadaegh, DDS, a board-certified cosmetic and restorative dentist in Beverly Hills, California, says of the Allure Best of Beauty Award winner that continues to be an editor staple. “A lot of my patients who naturally have whiter teeth or slightly discolored teeth are happy with the results,” he notes. Giri Palani, DDS, a board-certified dentist in Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes, California, is also a big advocate of Crest teeth-whitening strips. “When people use strips properly, they can get very close to professional whitening,” he says.
Editor Tip: The hydrogen peroxide in the strips eliminates up to 14 years of stains, according to the brand, and they don’t slide right off your teeth like some other kinds.
Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Who It’s For: People who already have naturally whiter teeth
Quickest Treatment: Moon Midnight Enamel Care Dissolving Whitening Strips
Why It’s Worth It: Dr. Gonchar is an advocate of Moon’s Midnight Enamel Care Dissolving Whitening Strips, which are unique because they take all but 15 minutes to completely disappear. While the active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, as you’ll find in other teeth-whitening strips, she says that tooth sensitivity is less likely because of the time-sensitive formula. Not to mention, these strips won a 2023 Best of Beauty Award in the teeth whitening category.
Editor Tip: Another unique ingredient in these whitening strips is hydroxyapatite. “Teeth are composed of hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring substance that helps remineralize the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, and prevent cavity formation.” Not only are these strips suitable for sensitive teeth, but a relaxing blend of lavender and chamomile will help lull you into a deep slumber.
Key Ingredients: Hydroxyapatite, lavender, chamomile, glycerin | Who It’s For: Everyone
Best Whitening Pen: Colgate Optic White Express Teeth Whitening Pen
Why It’s Worth It: Our testers called this 2023 Best of Beauty Award winner “the holy grail of teeth whitening.” This ultra-portable Colgate Optic White Express Teeth Whitening Pen is filled with 35 treatments and only needs an hour to work its whitening magic with each dose. All you have to do is stay away from food (you can drink water) during that time and then brush off the dried film with water. For best results, Colgate recommends using the pen three times on the first day and two times each on days 2 to 7. But, if you’re in a pinch, you’ll see a noticeable difference in just one day (or three applications) — which makes this the perfect pre-event treatment.
Editor Tip: Like the Optic White Overnight Teeth Whitening Pen, this treatment only contains four ingredients: alcohol solvent, copolymer, hydrogen peroxide, and water.
Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Who It’s For: People who want results quickly
Best Teeth-Whitening Trays: Opalescence Go Whitening Trays
Why It’s Worth It: Both Marina Gonchar, DMD, a board-certified dentist and owner of Skin to Smile based in Morristown, New Jersey, and Chrystle Cu, DDS, a board-certified dentist in San Mateo, California, and Cocofloss founder, are onboard with Opalescence pre-filled trays, which come in 10% or 15% hydrogen peroxide concentrations, as well as refreshing Mint and Melon options. “I like that the whitening gel is dense and stays put while you wear the tray, which means less whitening gel [goes] on your tongue or down your throat,” Dr. Cu says, adding that you don’t have to worry about the trays slipping or falling off, as you might with strips.
Editor Tip: Heed their advice and use this product with care. “This higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide results in optimal results but can result in minor tooth sensitivity with prolonged use,” Dr. Gonchar warns.
Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide | Who It’s For: Tough stains, non-sensitive teeth
Best Leave-on Treatment: Crest Whitening Emulsions Leave-on Treatment
Why It’s Worth It: When you think of Crest, your mind probably automatically jumps to its iconic Whitestrips. But the brand is proving it has more than one way to effectively brighten teeth with its Crest Whitening Emulsions Leave-On Treatment. This 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner can be applied up to four times a day, perfect for frequent coffee and red wine drinkers.
Editor Tip: Las Vegas-based, board-certified dentist Michaela Tozzi, DMD, also told Allure that the inclusion of petrolatum in the formula “helps prevent the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide in the mouth, therefore providing better whitening results.”
Key Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, petrolatum | Who It’s For: Tough stains and deep discoloration
Best Non-Peroxide Whitening Strips: Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips
Why It’s Worth It: If you have sensitive teeth or gums, a peroxide-free formula might be your best bet. Founded by board-certified dentist Kourosh Maddahi, DDS, who is based in Beverly Hills, Lumineux’s Teeth Whitening Strips relies on ingredients like coconut oil, sea salt, and lemon peel oil to whiten your teeth while preserving their integrity. (You can read a seemingly unsponsored, third-party clinical study done by the University of California, Irvine.) Lumineux also claims to be microbiome-friendly by killing bad bacteria in the mouth and promoting the growth of good bacteria.
Editor Tip: Lumineux whitening strips are applied just like any other, and you won’t find yourself wanting to tug them off after 10 minutes because of sensitivity. They’re also on the affordable side.
Key Ingredients: Coconut oil, sea salt, lemon peel oil, sage oil | Who It’s For: Sensitive teeth and gums
Best Professional-Grade: Smile Brilliant Professional Teeth Whitening Kit
Why It’s Worth It: If the Smile Brilliant Professional Teeth Whitening Kit looks like serious business, that’s because it is. It’s practically a dentist’s office in a box, minus the soft-rock Pandora station playing in the background. “These custom trays properly fit the teeth and allow for better contact of the bleaching material with the tooth,” New York City-based, board-certified dentist, Marc Sclafani, DDS, has told Allure.
Editor Tip: You have the option of a regular or sensitive-teeth version of the carbamide peroxide formula to choose from, the latter of which comes with a special desensitizing gel.
Key Ingredients: Carbamide peroxide | Who It’s For: Everyone
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you remove stains from teeth?
“Tooth enamel [is] a crystal,” Matthew J. Messina, DDS, a board-certified, Ohio-based dentist, and spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA), says. “If you were to look at tooth enamel under a really powerful microscope, [the structure] kind of looks like chicken wire” (or wire mesh). He explains that removing stains within the matrix of the tooth enamel is like getting out dirt stuck in chicken wire: “So what happens in whitening is we want to…open the matrix and bubble out that color, the stain, and then close it back up.” That’s where peroxide comes in.
How do teeth-whitening ingredients work?
Dr. Messina says peroxide causes that bubbling to occur, so the active ingredient in whitening kits you buy will be hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (a diluted version of hydrogen peroxide). “Carbamide peroxide is used because it’s a comparatively stable compound,” Neil Hadaegh, DDS, a board-certified cosmetic and restorative dentist in Beverly Hills, California says. “This helps the manufacturer to ensure product quality and consistency at the consumer’s end.” Dr. Messina notes that aside from the peroxide, over-the-counter whitening products usually contain some additional ingredients to improve the taste.
What are the differences between in-office whitening and over-the-counter whitening treatments?
Peroxide is the main active ingredient in the products dentists use to do in-office whitening in their offices, too. The only difference is the concentration. “If we’re doing something where we can mask off the gum tissue…where the gum tissues are protected, we can use a stronger whitening agent…because it’s only touching the teeth,” Dr. Messina says. “Something you’re using over the counter has the potential to touch the gum tissues or be swallowed. So, we have to use a much lower strength of the active ingredient because…it might burn [the patient’s] gum tissues.”
Dentists carrying out professional treatments, on the other hand, “can take all the necessary precautions to make sure the gum tissue is safe and protected and the whitening agent is only getting on the tooth enamel that we want whiter.” Ultimately, Dr. Messina says that all over-the-counter, peroxide-based whiteners will deliver comparable results as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. He says you can use it for 7 to 10 days to start, and then once every other week or so for maintenance.
Any other considerations while shopping for teeth-whitening products?
Aside from that, Giri Palani, DDS, a board-certified dentist in Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes, California, says the most important thing to look for when you’re shopping is ease of use. “Also, [you] want to make sure that the product you buy has a good shelf life and you store the product properly in the refrigerator to last longer,” he says.
Am I a good candidate for over-the-counter teeth-whitening products?
Before you do so, though, consider taking a trip to the dentist for your standard teeth cleaning and to consult on your at-home whitening plans. “Tooth whitening is something that should only be done in a healthy mouth situation,” he says. “If somebody has cavities or periodontal disease, or some other reason why their teeth aren’t white, whitening is not the right choice for them. That’s why it’s always good to have a thorough examination done by your dentist before starting on a whitening program.”
Not to mention, if you do the whitening right after having your teeth cleaned at the dentist, Dr. Messina says, you’ll be whitening your tooth enamel itself rather than the tartar or buildup on top of it. Regardless, he says, involving your dentist in the discussion will help you ensure you’re taking the right path.
Now, check out more on teeth whitening:
- The Crest of the Whitestrip
- 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Professional Teeth-Whitening Treatments
- Some of Us Have Naturally Yellow Teeth and There’s Nothing We Can Do About It
Done reading? Watch how a professional mermaid gets ready for work: