Home Teeth Whitening Kits: Reviews, Costs and Comparisons

There are all kinds of things that can cause our teeth to become discoloured. Everyday foods and drinks like tea, coffee, wine, sauces and berries are just a few of the main culprits. If you’re considering using a home teeth whitening kit to brighten up your smile, you’re certainly not alone.

white teeth

You’re not alone in wishing your teeth were whiter

The whitening industry has boomed in recent years and there is now a huge variety of whitening products available in the UK and the US. And while it’s nice to have options, this choice can be overwhelming if you’re new to it all.

It’s great that you’re here to do some research before deciding how to whiten your teeth. With the recent crackdown on beauticians and other untrained individuals performing whitening treatments illegally, people are becoming more concerned about finding a safe (and legal) way to get a whiter smile.

In this article we explain why home whitening kits are such a popular option for people dissatisfied with the shade of their teeth. You’ll be able to compare the cost and effectiveness of some of the best teeth whitening kits in the US and the UK to make your decision easier. Finally, we offer some advice on how to prepare for whitening and care for your teeth afterwards.

Ways to make your teeth whiter

There are many whitening products and treatments available to try. Some are performed in a dentist’s office while others can be bought over-the-counter or online to use at home. Choosing the right one for you will come down to two main factors: how much you want to spend and how drastic you want the results to be.

brushing teeth

Toothpaste is cheap but less effective

Whitening toothpastes are the cheapest option but they are abrasive to teeth and prolonged use can cause sensitivity. Results are mild and only last for as long as you are using the product.

On the other end of the scale, you can visit your dentist for whitening treatment using advanced laser technology. Although this delivers impressive results with just one visit, the cost of treatment can easily exceed £1,000 (but you might find it cheaper abroad). There is also a risk that you’ll end up with dazzling white teeth that just look weird.

Cheaper yet effective

Somewhere in the middle, offering a balance between price and results, is the option of a teeth whitening kit. Available in many high-street chemists as well as online, these kits can produce decent, lasting results after 1-2 weeks’ use.

Usually, teeth whitening kits cost £10 – £35 in the UK and $15 – $50 in the US. More expensive options might have stronger gel or more components included. They offer the added benefit of allowing you to do your whitening at home, when it suits you.

But even if you have decided to whiten your teeth at home with one of these kits, you’re still faced with many options. Should you go for a kit that uses LED or UV light? Are professional brands more effective than chemists’ own brands? Should you supplement your whitening with other products like toothpaste, mouthwash or a whitening pen? And how can you be sure it’s safe to use?

We’re focusing on home kits in this article but if you’re interested in other ways to whiten your teeth you should check out our complete guide to teeth whitening as well. This covers other methods like whitening strips and pens as well as professional treatments carried out at the dentist. There is even a section on natural whitening techniques for those who would rather try a chemical-free approach.

How do teeth whitening kits work?

mouth trays for whitening gel

Most kits use syringes to dispense whitening gel into mouth trays

Although the individual components of each kit vary, the principle behind them is the same: you apply a bleaching gel to your teeth for a certain amount of time each day. Most kits come with a set of trays (which look like mouth guards) that fit to your teeth and hold the gel in place.

The bleach, usually containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, seeps through your tooth enamel to whiten the layer of dentin below. Dentin is naturally a darker yellow colour, which is why our teeth aren’t perfectly white in the first pace.

Some home kits come with an accelerator fluid which you must apply directly to your teeth before fitting the trays.

Each kit will include instructions to tell you how much gel to use, how long to leave the trays in for, and how often to repeat the treatment. Some may have different options depending on whether you’d rather have several short treatments in a day or one longer one. The timings are all dependent on the ingredients used in the products, and you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

Certain kits come with additional features or components which make them faster-acting, more comfortable, or easier to use. Premium kits may include:

  • A blue light used to accelerate the whitening process
  • Individual pre-filled trays for each use
  • Pre-measured amounts of gel in syringes
  • Trays that can be moulded to fit your teeth better
  • A peroxide-free gel for gentler whitening on sensitive teeth
  • Additional whitening products such as a tooth polisher, whitening pen, or toothpaste

Keep in mind that a more expensive kit won’t necessarily produce the best tooth whitening results. Cheap teeth whitening kits can be just as effective if used properly, but the process itself may be less enjoyable.

blue light whitening

You don’t have to visit the dentist to get good results

LED teeth whitening

If you’ve seen images of people with a device crammed in their mouth emitting an eerie blue light, they were probably whitening their teeth at the time.

Dentists have long been using LED (light emitting diode) and UV (ultraviolet) light to accelerate the whitening process when you go for in-office treatment. Some kits now use this technology in a handheld device to speed up whitening at home, too.

The blue light itself doesn’t have any impact on the whiteness of teeth, but it kick-starts the whitening agents. This means that visible results can be achieved much faster with an LED teeth whitening kit. If you don’t have much time to dedicate to wearing bleaching trays each day then you may benefit from choosing a kit with an LED light.

LED whitening has widely replaced UV whitening in dental clinics since it is proven to be more effective. It’s also thought to be safer; UV light poses a greater risk of damage to gums and other parts of the mouth and face.

Measuring success

The whiteness of teeth is measured using a colour scale. In dental surgeries you may see a row of what look like teeth in different shades of white and yellow. Dentists use these to check your original tooth colour and measure how many shades of whitening you have achieved.

tooth shade guide

Use a shade guide to check your progress

The best home whitening kits often come with a shade guide you can hold up to your teeth to assess the change in colour. Without this it can be hard to measure success since our teeth can appear different shades in different lights.

Many kits are labelled with a promise such as “makes teeth 10 shades brighter”, but in reality your individual results will vary depending on the condition of your teeth.

Don’t be tempted to use whitening trays or other products for longer than stated on the packet. You might think this will give you whiter teeth faster, but in fact it could leave white blotches on your teeth. Similarly, over-filling the trays with more than the recommended amount of product could cause it to leak out and damage other parts of your mouth.

Over-whitening can also lead to your teeth losing their healthy shine and instead becoming dull and chalky white, so it’s best to aim for a modest improvement at first.

Home whitening safety

Any products you buy from a reputable high-street pharmacy should be safe to use. If you look online, though, you’ll find numerous other options on offer. Products sold in other countries are regulated in different ways so it can be harder to know whether these are completely safe to use.

check dental problems

Ask your dentist whether it’s safe for you to whiten your teeth

Firstly, you can check the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching agent. EU regulations limit the peroxide content to 0.1% in home teeth whitening products sold in the UK. If you find a product with a higher percentage it doesn’t meet EU standards and might not be safe for home use. Dentists are allowed to use whitening products containing up to 6% peroxide, which is why their treatments are more effective (and expensive!).

In the US, regulations are not so strict and home whitening products usually contain 3-10% hydrogen peroxide. Dentists, meanwhile, can use products containing as much as 38% peroxide for in-office bleaching.

Although the gel used in home whitening kits is much weaker than that used by dentists, there is still a risk of injury to gums and cheeks if the product leaks out of the trays. Kits with trays that mould to the shape of your teeth can reduce this risk.

The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that a concentration of 10% hydrogen peroxide or higher is more likely to damage skin and tissue, so steps must be taken to protect the gum tissue when using these products.

Before going ahead with any kind of whitening it’s a good idea to speak to your dentist first. Teeth bleaching kits may be unsuitable for people with gum disease or dental crowns, and if you have any tooth decay the bleaching agent can get to your nerves more easily, causing sensitivity or pain. Your dentist will be able to advise you of any potential risks at your next checkup.

Home teeth whitening kit reviews

Below we describe some of the top teeth whitening kits available in the UK and the US. You will see:

  • How they work
  • The advertised RRP (recommended retail price)
  • Pros and cons
  • Any unique features
  • Real user reviews

This information will help you make up your mind about which is the best teeth whitening kit for you.

If you decide to buy a teeth bleaching kit online, be sure to shop around for the best price. Many kits are available for much less than the advertised RRP through discount sites, with voucher codes, or even from the manufacturer’s own website.

We’ll begin with the kits available in the UK but you can jump straight to our US product selection if you prefer.

Best teeth whitening kits in the UK

Crystal Smile

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Crystal Smile Yes Yes Sodium perborate Up to 45 minutes As long as needed

Crystal Smile produce a range of professional teeth whitening kits. Their basic kit comes with thermoforming (mouldable) mouth trays, whitening gel and an LED accelerator. Having all these features included for an affordable price makes it perhaps the best at-home teeth whitening kit in terms of value for money.

Premium versions of the kit include a pre-treatment stain remover, a remineralising gel, and larger quantities of the whitening gel. Replacement gum trays and gel refills are available on the manufacturer’s website and on Amazon, so it’s a flexible solution if you’re planning to repeat your treatment regularly and don’t want to have to buy a new complete kit every time.

The active ingredient is sodium perborate, which is less likely to cause sensitive teeth than peroxide alternatives.

Treatment itself takes up to 45 minutes and should be repeated for as many consecutive days as need to get the desired results. The light is used for just the first five minutes of each treatment to activate the gel. Top-up treatments can be done every 3-4 weeks to maintain whiteness.

“Works for me.. no sensitivity and def getting whiter. Been using a week so far :)” noted one user. Others commented that it took longer than expected for them to start seeing results.

Buy Crystal Smile Professional Home Whitening Kit


The video below shows one user’s review of the kit and an explanation of what was included with the one he bought:


ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Brilliant No No Sodium chlorite (releases chlorine dioxide) 5-10 minutes 1 week

The Brilliant 1-Week Tooth Whitening Kit claims to get teeth 4 shades whiter in just a week. It comes with a mouth tray, whitening gel, accelerator and whitening toothpaste, making it one of the more basic products on the market.

One user has a tip for maximising results: “I love this product and I’d highly recommend it to anyone… I’ve found if I brush my teeth with the toothpaste before I whiten I get better results, obviously brushing when I take the mouth piece out too.”

“Would recommend kit. Is reasonably priced and does the job. Easy to use and works well.” Says another reviewer.

Some other reviewers experienced problems with sensitivity and even burns in their mouth, so it might not be the one for you if your know your mouth is sensitive to whitening products.

Buy Brilliant Whitening Kit on Amazon


If you don’t want to buy the kit online, it’s also available in some high street shops including Superdrug.

Crystal Whites

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Crystal Whites No Yes Carbamide peroxide 20 minutes 5 days or more

This kit comes with enough gel to get teeth up to seven shades lighter over five or six days. You also receive a shade chart so you can easily track your progress.

Older versions of the kit came with boil-and-bite style mouldable mouth trays. However, perhaps because of the negative feedback they received, the kit now contains a fixed-shape mouth tray that attaches to the LED light. So don’t be put off by any reviews you read where people had difficulty using the mouth trays.

You only need to apply the gel and use the light for 20 minutes a day to achieve the results promised, so it’s a good option for people who can’t commit to the hour or more a day that some kits require.

“I’ve had yellow teeth for as long as I can remember. They’ve always been stained because of all the coffee and cherry Coke I drink and I’m a smoker. I used this treatment four times and my teeth are whiter than they’ve ever been! I’m so pleased with this product and would definitely buy again!!!” says one user.

“I love this product. I don’t use it on a regular basis but if I have a night out coming up I will use it the day before and then again before I go out. The results are amazing and there is a huge difference.” is the comment from another, who adds that her teeth were stained from smoking and drinking coffee.

Several other people mention the helpful service from the company – whether they had a problem or just needed information.

Buy Crystal Whites kit on Amazon

UK teeth whitening kits comparison

The following table summarises all of the above information so you can easily compare at-home whitening systems side by side:

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Crystal Smile Yes Yes Sodium perborate Up to 45 minutes As long as needed
Brilliant No No Sodium chlorite (releases chlorine dioxide) 5-10 minutes 1 week
Crystal Whites No Yes Carbamide peroxide 20 minutes 5 days or more


Best teeth whitening kits in the US

This section focuses on products available in the US but you can click here to read about UK kits. Or you can skip this section and jump to the next part of the article about home whitening precautions.


Active Wow

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Active Wow Starter Kit Yes No Hydrogen peroxide 10-20 minutes 5-8 applications
Active Wow Premium Kit Yes Yes Hydrogen peroxide 10-20 minutes 10-16 applications

Active Wow offers a Starter and Premium whitening kit. Both include mouth trays, whitening gel and remineralization gel. The premium kit comes with double the amount of gel plus an LED light and tray case, so certainly offers better value. Some reviewers found the mouldable mouth trays hard to get right – but fortunately the kits come with a spare one (3 in total).

Applying the remineralization gel straight after use helps combat any tooth sensitivity you might experience. No gel refills are available, so you’ll need to purchase a new kit when the initial supply is used up.

The company claims that results can appear after just one use, and the majority of reviews seem to back this up.

“The product worked as advertised. There was definitely a difference after one treatment. I have done it 3 times and I can see an improvement every time. I highly recommend it.” was one user’s comment.

For those who aren’t happy with the results, there is a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.

Buy Active Wow Premium Kit


Active Wow also makes an activated charcoal whitening powder which receives equally high reviews. You can read more about using charcoal to whiten teeth here.


ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
AuraGlow No Yes Carbamide peroxide 30 minutes 10 applications

The AuraGlow kit comes with an LED light and one-piece mouth tray which doesn’t require any moulding. There is also a case to store your trays safely.

Recommended treatment time is 30 minutes a day. The LED light automatically shuts off after this time, and it also beeps at 10-minute intervals to make it easy to time shorter applications. It attaches directly to the mouth tray so you don’t need to hold it in place the whole time.

Some reviewers report seeing a difference after one or two applications, but for others it takes a little longer. The kit contains enough gel for 10 applications, by which time most people notice a clear difference – even on badly stained teeth. The product’s claim to have enough for 20+ whitening treatments is a little misleading, since two “treatments” are needed if you want to whiten both your upper and lower teeth in one application.

“This stuff works. I had stains on my teeth from coffee and tea and after four days the stains were significantly better.” is the comment from one happy consumer.

Gel syringe refills are available, costing around $1.50 per application.

Buy Aura Glow Whitening Kit and Refills

Philips Zoom

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Philips Zoom DayWhite No trays included No light included Hydrogen peroxide 15-30 minutes 8-10 applications
Philips Zoom NiteWhite No trays included No light included Carbamide peroxide 1 hour or overnight 8-10 applications

Although not technically a kit, this product deserves a mention since it comes from the same manufacturer as the in-office treatment used by dentists worldwide.

If you purchase Philips Zoom DayWhite or NiteWhite gels, be aware that no mouth trays or LED lights are included. You’ll need to visit your dentist to get custom-made trays, or use some left over from another kit.

The gels are available in different concentrations. The DayWhite solution contains hydrogen peroxide whereas the NiteWhite solution contains carbamide peroxide. When comparing gels to find the right one for you, keep in mind that 10% carbamide peroxide is equivalent to about 3.5% hydrogen peroxide. So a product containing 22% carbamide peroxide is actually gentler than one containing 14% hydrogen peroxide.

Another unique ingredient in these products is amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) which reduces sensitivity, protects enamel, and helps make results last longer.

The Nitewhite product can be left on overnight, but some users who experience problems with sensitivity say that just an hour or two is long enough. As a precaution, you may want to start by using it for just half an hour and build up your treatment time from there.

As one reviewer puts it: “This stuff is powerful! Don’t leave it on too long or you will have major teeth sensitivity. It works so well though.”

If you already own mouth trays, this is a good way to save on the hundreds of dollars dentists charge for the same treatment.

Buy Philips Zoom NiteWite Gels


ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
MagicBrite Yes Yes Carbamide peroxide 5-15 minutes 10 applications

The MagicBrite Complete kit contains everything you need for whitening, as well as some vitamin E swabs to protect your lips.

The mouth trays provided are mouldable for a perfect fit, and the syringes provided contain enough gel for 10 applications. The manufacturer acknowledges that some users may experience sensitivity. If you do, the solution is to use the product only once every 3-4 days, rather than on consecutive days.

Some users notice results after the first use while others have to wait up to a week.

“At the beginning I thought that it won’t change anything but after almost a week I started to see the change.”

“I’ve used this 3 times and love it! I’m a big coffee drinker and a smoker so my teeth have staining but after using this my teeth are white again!”

There are a handful of negative reviews which complain of receiving damaged or incomplete kits. Some people also had problems with the mouth trays, saying they shrunk in hot water and were unusable. Still, it’s one of the cheapest options for a complete kit that has good reviews overall.

Buy MagicBrite Complete Teeth Whitening Kit

US home whitening kits comparison

The table below summarises all of the above information so you can easily compare these five home teeth whitening kits:

ProductMouldable Trays?LED Light?Main Whitening IngredientTreatment TimeTreatment Duration
Active Wow Starter Kit Yes No Hydrogen peroxide 10-20 minutes 5-8 applications
Active Wow Premium Kit Yes Yes Hydrogen peroxide 10-20 minutes 10-16 applications
AuraGlow No Yes Carbamide peroxide 30 minutes 10 applications
Philips Zoom DayWhite No trays included No light included Hydrogen peroxide 15-30 minutes 8-10 applications
Philips Zoom NiteWhite No trays included No light included Carbamide peroxide 1 hour or overnight 8-10 applications
MagicBrite Yes Yes Carbamide peroxide 5-15 minutes 10 applications


Things to consider before doing home whitening

If you have any artificial teeth or teeth coverings – such as implants, bridges, crowns and veneers – these won’t be affected by any whitening treatment. This shouldn’t be too obvious with rear teeth but if you have an artificial front tooth you may have to just accept your natural tooth colour.

Many people experience tooth sensitivity while whitening their teeth. Often this is quite bearable but it can escalate to considerable pain. If you experience any such side effects you can stop your treatment straight away and the pain should soon subside. Still, you should consider how much discomfort you’re willing to go through for a temporarily brighter smile.

Most manufacturers recommend you don’t use teeth whitening products while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, you should wait until they are removed before whitening your teeth. You can still use a whitening toothpaste in the meantime.


How long your results last will depend a lot on how well you care for your teeth after whitening.

stain on carpet

If it would stain your white carpet it’ll probably stain your teeth

The simplest way to keep your teeth whiter for longer is to avoid exposing them to things that are likely to stain them. This includes:

  • Smoking
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Berries
  • Brightly coloured sauces like tomato sauces and curries
  • Wine (both red and white – although white doesn’t cause stains, it can darken existing ones)
  • Soft drinks (even sugar-free ones have damaging levels of acid)

Think of it this way: if it will stain a white shirt or carpet, there’s a good chance it will stain your teeth. Drinking through a straw helps keep damaging liquids away from front teeth.

Whitening products temporarily make your tooth enamel more porous so the whitening agent can take better effect. This also means your teeth are more susceptible to staining from other sources while whitening is in progress. It’s therefore a good idea to steer clear of these foods and drinks not just after whitening your teeth, but during whitening as well. If this is too much to ask, at least abstain for a couple of hours after each whitening session.

Your teeth will also stay whiter if you take good care of them (something you should be doing anyway). This means brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day.

A whitening toothpaste will help remove any surface stains that do build up on your teeth. If this causes sensitivity, try using it just two or three times a week instead.

Finally, don’t forget to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings with the hygienist. They use more advanced tools to remove the stuff you miss while you’re brushing.