Skeptical of Teeth Whitening Strips? These Ones Actually Work

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Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

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.

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.  

Not all teeth whitening strips are created equal, so we took a few fan-favorite products for a spin. Our testers used these strips for the full treatment time (about a week or two), taking note of how much brighter and whiter their smile is, as well as any sensitivity they experienced. Our team then combined these results with our own research to compile this list

Ahead, the best teeth whitening strips worth trying in your quest for a gleaming grin.

Our Top Picks
These were first whitening strips on the market with extensive research and development behind them.
Blue light works to help the whitening gel better penetrate the tooth enamel in this splurge-worthy pick.
The addition of an LED light helps to further enhance the results of this whitening gel.
These strips gradually dissolve after you apply them, so they're great to use on the go.
These are ideal for those steering clear of chemical bleaching, and/or seeking a natural whitening option.
It comes with a comforting, vitamin E-based gum oil you can use after each strip application.
Get whitening in every oral care product you use, including toothpaste, strips, and mouthwash, with this kit.
See results in just one week with application of this product twice a day.
This pick is available in three yummy flavors: mint, peach, and coconut.
Created with men in mind, these whitening strips accommodate larger mouths for an impeccable whitening experience.

Best Overall: Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips
What We Like
  • Effective

  • No sensitivity

  • Adheres to teeth

What We Don't Like
  • Unpleasant taste

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.

Number of Pieces: 44 strips, 2 1-hour express treatments | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Splurge: Crest 3D White Whitestrips with Light

strips
What We Like
  • Effective

  • Results are long-lasting

  • Starts working fast

What We Don't Like
  • Can cause sensitivity

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 10 days.

Number of Pieces: 1 light, 20 strips | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Crest 3D White Whitestrips with Light

Byrdie / Jenna Igneri

Best Splurge, Runner-Up: Auraglow Complete LED Whitening Kit

Auraglow Complete LED Whitening Kit
What We Like
  • Effective

  • Good alternative to hydrogen peroxide-based formulas

What We Don’t Like
  • Expensive

This is a nice kit that combines an LED light with strips that you wear for 30 minutes per day, says Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS, a holistic dentist in San Francisco. While it is on the pricier side, she says it’s very cost-effective all things considered. Plus, the whitening formula is carbamide peroxide-based, a good option for those who find hydrogen peroxide to cause sensitivity.

Number of Pieces: 20 treatments | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for On-the-Go: Moon Dissolving Whitening Strips

Moon Dissolving Whitening Strips
What We Like
  • Dissolving formula

  • Good taste

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Must wait 30 minutes before eating

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

Number of Pieces: 56 strips | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Lumineux Oral Essentials Whitening Strips

Lumineux Teeth Whitening Strips by Oral Essentials
What We Like
  • Won't cause sensitivity

  • Natural ingredients

  • Can be used daily

What We Don't Like
  • May not give dramatic results

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 an ideal 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.

Number of Pieces: 42 strips | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Gums: Spotlight Oral Care Dental Teeth Whitening Strips

Spotlight Oral Care Whitening System
What We Like
  • Helps soothe gums

  • Effective

  • Starts working fast

What We Don't Like
  • Contains alcohol

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 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.”

Number of Pieces: 28 strips, 1 comforting gel pen | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Kit: Lumineux Whitening Kit

Lumineux Whitening Kit
What We Like
  • Good value

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don’t Like
  • Only comes with seven treatments

Patel is a fan of this brand, noting that this kit—which comes with the strips, plus a whitening mouthwash and toothpaste and toothbrush—is her favorite. She also lauds it for being eco-friendly, noting that the strips are made of plant-based material.

Number of Pieces: 7 treatments | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Fast-Acting: Rembrandt 1 Week Teeth Whitening Kit

Rembrandt 1 Week Teeth Whitening Kit
What We Like
  • Starts working fast

  • Strips cover front and back of teeth

What We Don’t Like
  • Can cause sensitivity

Dr. Bobbi Peterson, an orthodontist in Brooklyn, New York, admittedly prefers in-office whitening over at-home options but says this brand is her favorite for those who want OTC strips. You do have to wear the strips for 30 minutes, twice a day, but you’ll see results in just one week, ideal when you’re short on time.

Peterson says the best effects come when pairing these strips with the Listerine Whitening Rinse pre- and post-brushing.

Number of Pieces: 28 strips, 14 treatments | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Flavors: Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips

Zimba Teeth Whitening Strips
What We Like
  • Flavored

  • Adheres to teeth

  • Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like
  • Can cause sensitivity

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.

Number of Pieces: 28 strips | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Men: Spotlight Oral Care Men's Whitening Strips

Spotlight Oral Care Men's Whitening Strips
What We Like
  • Effective

  • Larger size

  • Helps soothe gums

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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.

Number of Pieces: 28 strips | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Alternative to Strips: Popwhite Purple Power Duo

Popwhite Purple Power Duo
What We Like
  • Sensitivity-free

  • Natural formula

What We Don’t Like
  • Won’t actually remove or lift stains

We know, we know, this is supposed to be a list of the best strips, but if you just don’t like the feel of strips on your teeth, Patel says this is one of her favorite alternatives. The combination of the toothpaste and rinse really does help whiten teeth, she says, adding that she also likes it because it’s another all-natural option. While the formula isn’t actually bleaching teeth, the purple tint works by counteracting yellowing, making teeth appear up to four shades lighter (when the rinse and toothpaste are used together, twice daily, for two weeks).

Number of Pieces: 4 ounces toothpaste; 16.9 ounces wash | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

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.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS is a holistic dentist in San Francisco and operates a practice called Green Dentistry. She’s also the author of "Age With Style: Your Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living" and "Total Wellness, Understanding the Link Between Your Teeth and Your Health."
  • Dr. Bobbi Peterson is an orthodontist in Brooklyn, New York. She instructs new dental residents at Kings County Hospital and volunteers in community schools to teach students and staff dental health and to provide free screenings to middle school students.
  • 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.


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 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 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

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 are more likely to lead to sensitivity. That said, it’s best to opt for “gentle” products that are worn for a longer period, 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.” 

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of teeth whitening strips?

    Teeth-whitening strips are a comfortable, safe, and easy way to help whiten your teeth at home, says Peterson. You can also easily control the amount of lightening you get, adds Patel.

  • How do you apply teeth whitening strips?

    “Make sure to brush your teeth before applying the strips. This will both help the strip better adhere to your teeth, and there’s also a chance that if you have plaque on your teeth it could stain further once the strip is applied,” says Peterson. Otherwise, they go on like a sticker onto your teeth, though Peterson cautions that they shouldn’t make contact with your gums.

  • How often should you use teeth whitening strips?

    This depends on the exact product, says Peterson, since the type and concentration of active ingredients vary greatly. However, “if your mouth is healthy, you should be able to do a whitening regimen every four to six weeks,” she says. Patel suggests doing a whitening regimen after your professional cleaning since that’s when you’ll get the best results.

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. She uses a set of whitening strips twice a year, after her professional dental cleanings or as a prep before any type of major event.

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 contact@byrdie.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Epple M, Meyer F, Enax J. A critical review of modern concepts for teeth whiteningDent J (Basel). 2019;7(3):79. doi:10.3390/dj7030079

  2. Gottenbos B, de Witz C, Heintzmann S, Born M, Hötzl S. Insights into blue light accelerated tooth whiteningHeliyon. 2021;7(2):e05913. Published 2021 Feb 10. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05913

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