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If you’ve been wishing your smile was a little brighter, you’re not alone. While there’s no shortage of various whitening products out there—both over-the-counter and professional options ranging from pens to gels to trays—whitening strips offer one of the easiest ways to score pearly (or at the very least, pearlier) whites.
Because these strips are breaking down stains chemically rather than scrubbing them off with abrasive ingredients, as most whitening tubes of toothpaste do, they can be less detrimental in the long run for people with sensitive teeth or gum recession, explains cosmetic dentist Dr. Lawrence Fung. Other pros include ease-of-use and the convenience factor, not to mention that strips are generally a very wallet-friendly whitening option. At the end of the day, strips are a great first step into the world of tooth whitening, and/or a way to touch up or maintain the results of professional whitening treatments, Dr. Fung says.
Ahead, the best teeth whitening strips worth trying in your quest for a gleaming grin.
Best Overall: Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips
Both dentists we spoke with unanimously agree that these are the best whitening strips out there and laud them for their use of hydrogen peroxide. Most teeth whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide, the only ingredient clinically proven to whiten teeth. It’s the same active ingredient found in professional whitening treatments, though at a much lower concentration. That does mean results will be less dramatic, generally only a few shades whiter, but the upshot is much less sensitivity if any at all.
“These were the first on the market and remain tried-and-true, with extensive research and development behind them,” says cosmetic dentist Dr. Shahira Saad, who also likes how well they adhere to teeth. Dr. Fung agrees and points out that they’re easy to use and can help whiten teeth by up to two shades on average.
Best Budget: White Glo Charcoal Deep Stain Remover Activated Charcoal Strips
For less than lunch, you can brighten your smile in just seven days. These strips from White Glo are powered by polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), a common tooth-whitening ingredient that both lifts and prevents stains and activated charcoal. When worn for 30 minutes a day over the course of a week, pesky wine and coffee stains are gently lifted—and users agree that sensitivity is minimal if any. Plus, it contains menthol to help leave your breath nice and fresh.
Best Splurge: Crest 3D White Whitestrips with Light
This kit pairs the same efficacy of the brand’s beloved strips but kicks it up a notch with the inclusion of an LED light. For 10 days, you wear the strips for an hour, then hold the LED-light mouthpiece against the strip for another 10 minutes, five on top and five on the bottom.
The blue light works to help the whitening gel better penetrate the tooth enamel, ultimately upping the efficacy, particularly when it comes to removing super stubborn stains. Byrdie contributor Jenna Igneri is a big fan, raving about the whitening results and pointing out that she only experienced mild sensitivity that dissipated over the 10-day period.
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips
For those who have super sensitive teeth and simply can’t handle chemical bleaching, and/or are seeking a natural whitening option, these strips are choice. The brand is both dentist-formulated and made from naturally derived ingredients; these particular strips rely on a totally natural trifecta of coconut oil, sage oil, and lemon peel oil and are free of, among other things, sulfates, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. They’re a fan favorite, with reviewers raving about both the impressive whitening results and the complete lack of sensitivity.
Best for Sensitive Gums: Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips
According to Dr. Saad, one of the biggest drawbacks to whitening strips is the potential for the gel to get on your gums and cause irritation. Enter this option, which comes with a comforting, vitamin E-based gum oil you can use after each strip application to soothe gums if they are in fact feeling a little wonky. Dr. Fung is also a fan: “These are great as they contain hydrogen peroxide but leave out some of the unhealthy chemicals that may be in other strips such as BPA, sulfates, and parabens.”
Best Flavors: Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips
An unpleasant flavor is one of the most common drawbacks to any tooth whitening strip. Enter these, which alleviate that issue and come in three yummy flavors: mint, peach, and coconut. The strips are also super grippy to avoid slipping and sliding and work gradually over the course of the two-week treatment period.
Best Fast-Acting: Burst Coconut Whitening Strips
These hydrogen-peroxide-infused strips are choice when you want results, fast; you only need to wear them for 10 minutes per day for seven days in order to see results. Equally as noteworthy is the wallet-friendly price tag, although the brand does recommend repeating a treatment every three months for the best effects. Still, if you want to get a brighter smile ASAP, these are a great option.
Best Hydrogen Peroxide Alternative: Sheer White Professional Teeth Whitening Strips
Those who don’t want to use hydrogen peroxide for tooth sensitivity reasons should consider these strips, which use carbamide peroxide as an alternative active ingredient. While it ultimately releases hydrogen peroxide when it comes into contact with water, a study published in the Journal of Applied Oral Science found that it was less likely to cause sensitivity during in-office tooth bleaching than hydrogen peroxide. These strips contain 20% carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth in just five days, and also earn high points with users for being comfortable on both teeth and gums.
Best for On-the-Go: Moon Dissolving Whitening Strips
These strips tout a unique technology that ensures they gradually dissolve after you apply them. As such, they’re ideal (and meant for) quick whitening boosts on the go, think on your way to a big event. (Though FYI, once they do dissolve, you’ll need to wait 30 minutes before eating or drinking.)
While they do contain hydrogen peroxide, Dr. Fung points out that because they’re dissolvable, the ingredient is in contact with the teeth for a shorter period of time, which reduces the effects. Still, he does note that they’re easy to use and eco-friendly since you’re not tossing the used strip in the trash. Also nice: They leave behind a fresh, peppermint flavor to freshen breath.
Best for Men: Spotlight Oral Care Men's Whitening Strips
What's the difference between regular whitening strips and these for men? These hydrogen peroxide-based strips provide the same whitening benefits as Spotlight’s original teeth whitening strips, but they're slightly bigger in size. This allows them to cater to anatomical differences in a man's mouth, ensuring total coverage of all teeth for a maximum whitening outcome.
Overall, we’re giving top honors to a true classic (and dentist favorite): Crest's 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips. Formulated with a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide, they’re clinically proven to whiten your teeth and cause minimal sensitivity. If you’re looking to step it up a notch, try Crest’s 3D White Whitestrips with Light, which, as the name suggests, contains Crest’s classic white strips along with an LED light device that ups their whitening abilities. If you’re worried about sensitivity, you can’t go wrong with the Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips, which are gentle and packed with natural ingredients. Plus, they’re certified non-toxic, to boot.
Because teeth whitening strips contain a lower amount of active ingredients, diligence and patience are essential for achieving the desired result, notes Dr. Saad. These aren’t a one-and-done deal; you’ll need to use them daily for the entire period of time as directed. But if you can commit to doing that, you’re golden.
What to Look For in Teeth Whitening Strips
Adheres Well to Teeth
When it comes to teeth whitening strips, Dr. Fung says a product that adheres well to the teeth is the key to ensuring you get a uniform whitening effect. “The strips have to adhere tightly to your teeth in order to work properly,” he says. “If there are air bubbles, you may end up with a spot that’s still stained.”
Contains Potassium Nitrate
To prevent your teeth from feeling overly sensitive during your whitening process, Dr. Fung says to look for products that include potassium nitrate. “Teeth whitening uses peroxide, which can be sensitizing, and potassium nitrate is a great desensitizer and can help with the unexpected sensitivity that comes with whitening,” he says
Has a Low Concentration of Peroxide
Sure, we all want a quick fix when it comes to whitening our teeth, but potent strips that promise results in a shorter period of time are more likely to lead to sensitivity. That said, it’s best to opt for “gentle” products that are worn for a longer period of time, like ten days to two weeks, especially when it comes to peroxide-based products. “Because high concentrations of peroxide are sensitizing, opt for a lower strength for more days,” says Dr. Fung. “This way, it’s a lower yet consistent [and therefore, effective] dose.”
Meet the Expert
- Lawrence Fung, DDS, is a cosmetic dentist and founder of Silicon Beach Dental in Culver City, California. He is also the clinical instructor at the Center for Esthetic Dentistry at UCLA.
- Shahira Saad, DDS, is a cosmetic dentist at Silicon Beach Dental. She completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency in which she focused on cosmetic smile design as well as conservative restorative dentistry.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any teeth whitening strips from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.