STYLE & BEAUTY
07/23/2012 11:35 am ET Updated Jan 31, 2013

At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Put To The (Sometimes Painful) Test By Our Editors (PHOTOS)

Two of our Stylelist editors, Dana Oliver and Christina Anderson, decided it was time to bravely put these teeth whitening remedies to the test. Read their accounts of what happened here:

WHO: Christina Anderson, Fashion Editor
WHAT: Day White ACP Starter Kit
HOW MUCH: $350

"After years of drinking too much coffee and red wine, I decided it was time to brighten up my not-so-pearly whites. I tried Brite Smile in 2003, and wasn't that impressed with the results, so this time, I took my issue to the professionals: the dentist.

During a regular cleaning, I noticed that he had an offer for teeth-whitening services on sale (I can never pass up a good deal). I took a deep breath and shelled out the $350, excited for a 1000-watt smile. I came to find out that the process was almost as painful as the price.

Firstly, they fit you for custom tooth trays. When I say "fit" we aren't talking about a harmless poke or prod: Imagine a fist-sized ball of silly putty in your mouth, that you have to bite down on so they can take an impression of your teeth. Sounds kinda gross, right? Even worse is the fact that the putty-like substance just about hits your gag reflex, so if the taste wasn't bad enough, you're also fighting the urge to barf.

Once they take the impressions it takes a few days to get the plastic trays back. They were harmless enough -- two clear, pliable trays that looked just like my teeth. But then came the application process: Every day I had to wear the trays -- each filled with bleaching product that was dispensed from two syringes -- for 30 minutes. That wouldn't be so bad, except for the fact that the chemicals taste horrible, so while I'm wearing the trays, I am sticking paper towels in my mouth to soak up the extra saliva that my body is producing as a result (sorta like that extra spit that pools right before you vomit).

Before I continue, I have to mention that my dentist warned me that it would be painful ... and he was right. Store-bought strips are ten percent peroxide; these were 38%. He advised me to use Sensodyne toothpaste to ward off the pain (I already do, I'm married to a Brit with sensitive teeth). The following days I found myself walking around clenching my lips around my throbbing teeth. My editor spied me sipping an iced coffee and chided me that the cool liquid would intensify the pain.

I'm on day four of this challenge, and I may throw in the towel. I hate to think that all the money, time and pain would go to waste, but soon I'm going to have to move to tepid liquified meals."

RATING: 3/10 -- Too painful, too expensive.

***

WHO: Dana Oliver, Beauty Editor
WHAT: Rembrandt Intense Stain Dissolving Strips
HOW MUCH: $20

"Not-so-secretly obsessed with my teeth, I visit my dentist more than the recommended two times a year. I weirdly get a rush just lying back in her chair as she goes to work with her sharp cleansing and buffing tools. And while I've handed over my hard-earned money to fix a chipped tooth (I didn't realize the fork wasn't a soft noodle) and cavities (a girl can't give up her movie candy), I've never had a professional whitening treatment. So when a red and white box containing Rembrandt's new Intense Stain Dissolving Strips came across my desk, I had to give it a try.

Never really one to complain about teeth sensitivity, I was still a bit nervous about the peroxide eventually breaking down my enamel in spite of claims to be safe. But I was in for a wide awakening.

These over-the-counter whitening strips are applied twice a day (once in the morning and afternoon). They're super thin and easily grip onto teeth. The first day that I applied the minty strips, I stuck it a little too close to my gums and was hit by a tingling sensation. It quickly wore off just as fast as the product dissolved onto my teeth. While my urgency to get the strips on and out the door each morning sometimes left behind a clumpy, gooey film that I had to rinse off, I was surprised by the instant stain lift.

Over the next five days, I noticed while applying my favorite pink lipstick that my smile was starting to brighten. However, as I approached the end of week one in my road test, I had to give my teeth a break as a canker sore formed on my gums from eating over-heated mac and cheese. Paranoid that this would set me back on my journey towards achieving a picture-perfect smile, my fears calmed and I proceeded as normal by the ninth day.

Having made it well past the two week mark, I can confidently say that after brushing my teeth I recognize an eye-opening difference in my grin, especially between gulps of chai tea lattes at the office. And I'd definitely recommend this product for anyone who is searching for an alternative method to in-office teeth whitening treatments without breaking the bank or a tooth."

RATING: -- 8/10, In spite of the gooey formula, good results.

Check out our before and after photos below, and tell us, which treatment do you think worked better? Have you tried an at-home whitening system? If so, upload a photo and give us your review.

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