By Colleen Kratofil
May 28, 2015 10:54 PM

Because teeth whitening treatments usually involve a lot of time and money (for sometimes less-than-stellar results), we took four products for a spin to see if they actually lived up to the hype. Read on for our editors’ take on oil pulling, whitening gel, toothpaste and more.

Brittany Talarico

Brittany Talarico, Style News Editor (and teeth whitening junkie)
What I Tried: Cocowhite (oil pulling teeth whitening system)
Level of Difficulty: 4
Level of Effectiveness: 10
Here’s the deal: After testing a string of teeth whitening products that left me with some sensitivity, I was eager to jump on the oil pulling bandwagon. First I tried it the old fashion way, and I noticed results. Then a fellow editor introduced me to Cocowhite which makes the whole process so much easier. Each packet contains the perfect dosage for easy use.

The hard part is swishing the coconut oil around your mouth for 5 to 15 minutes. I maxed out at 6 mins my first time, but my goal is to hit the 15. I just started using it and I’ve already noticed my smile is a bit brighter. And because it’s all natural, I’ve had very little sensitivity. The coolest part? Cocowhite comes in 3 different flavors — Minty Fresh, Vanilla Swirl and Light Lemon. (The classic mint is my favorite, but they all make the swish process a little bit better.

(Sidenote: I love that Lindsay Lohan and I have twinning Cocowhite selfies.)

Jackie Fields

Jackie Fields, Beauty Editor:
What I Tried: Glo Science’s Glo Pop
Level of Difficulty: 0
Level of Effectiveness: 7, and counting!
Here’s the deal: I finally got my teeth professionally whitened for the first time last summer. The experience taught me two things. 1: bright white teeth are a faux tan’s best friend, and 2: I don’t have the patience to sit in a dentist’s chair for 90+ minutes ever again.

My penchant for quick fixes led me to this teeth whitening gel encased in the cutest dispenser on the planet (yes, its adorable packaging was another reason for my trying it).

On a difficulty scale of “I could do this with my eyes closed” to “paging a NASA engineer,” the former was absolutely the case. You simply slide off the top and glide the super soft bristles over your teeth while gently squeezing the deliciously minty gel (that’s safe to swallow!) from the capsule. The process takes less than a minute, and hasn’t left my mouth feeling sensitive. And yes the gel is, well, jelly-like in your mouth, but that dissipates quickly.

The vial is meant to hold three applications (for morning, midday and night) so it’s best not to go overboard squeezing the goop out. Also, the process is discrete, so you could do it just about anywhere (like in a taxi headed to a date) but definitely carry a mirror for a “spot check” in case the foam gets on your lips (or you’ll spend the first moments of your rendezvous telling your boo you don’t have rabies).

Depending on how many stain-causing indulgences you have, you can see results after one day, or 10 days, which is a full cycle. I am a few days in and can’t say I’m blinding people yet, but my smile is shinier. For $89 I would say stick to the office visits if your teeth are heavily stained. But if you just need a pick me up, and you’re not into swishing or multi-step systems, this may be for you.

Catherine Kast

Catherine Kast, Style Editor:
What I Tried: Luster Premium White’s Smile Illuminator Instant Whitening Kit
Level of Difficulty: 1
Level of Effectiveness: 8
Here’s the deal:  My teeth are naturally pretty white (not to brag, but my grandma is my dentist and she’s one of the best in the biz). Still, I get a bit insecure about my smile when I wear lipstick — the wrong shade can make anyone’s teeth look dingy. After finding my new fave bold red, Troi Ollivierre’s ‘George’ (more on my obsession with it here), I set off on a mission to brighten my smile. ‘George’ is more orangey than other lipsticks I’ve tried, and if you’ve ever researched what it takes to get a perfect red lip, you’d know that blue tones are preferable because they set off  the white in your teeth.

Luckily that’s the entire point of Luster Premium White’s product: Its technology leaves behind blue micro-particles to cause what they call an “optical whitening effect.” Both the toothpaste and the mouthwash are super blue (see my photo?). First you brush with the paste, then you rinse with the minty mouthwash for about 30 seconds. Easy! The set also comes with a travel-size whitening serum for on-the-go touch-ups. I get the sense that the serum worked primarily because having it on my teeth made me not want to eat or drink anything for hours, especially not something with the propensity to stain, like coffee or my favorite Juice Generation charcoal lemonade.

After a week of daily use of the paste and rinse, I definitely noticed my teeth were shinier. The serum wasn’t my fave just because of mouthfeel, but it works if you aren’t a baby and can commit to having gel in your mouth for a bit.

Colleen Kratofil

Colleen Kratofil, Style Writer-Reporter:
What I Tried: Crest Pro-Health HD Toothpaste
Level of Difficulty: 0
Level of Effectiveness: 6
Here’s the deal: I’ve always found a lot of excuses to forgo the whitening process. I heard friends complain about the burning and discomfort of whitening stripes, plus there’s the serious price tags of drugstore (or dental) whitening treatments. But after perfecting my smile with a two year-long Invisalign process, it’s finally time to make my pearly whites look their absolute best. Lucky for me, I tried out the easiest whitening system — ever!

Crest’s Pro-Health HD Toothpaste is an simple two step toothpaste (see, crazy-easy!) that promises six times whiter teeth in one week. It comes with two pastes, a Purifying Cleanser and a Perfecting Gel to use for one minute each.

The cleanser has the consistenty and minty taste of a regular toothpaste and is designed to strip away plaque. It really foams up, so I felt like I was really scrubbing my teeth. Then, without rinsing, I put a dab of the perfecting gel on the toothbrush to “polish and whiten.” It’s a clear gel that doesn’t really have any taste, but did make me experience dry mouth (after a day or two I got used to it and the feeling goes away within a few minutes after brushing). After using for two minutes, I rinsed and let the magical whitening powers do their thing.

I used the two-step formula twice a day for a week and noticed faint results. I wouldn’t say my teeth are gleaming, but yellow stains definitely seem muted. If all else, my teeth feel cleaner thanks to the high-power scrubbing consistency of the pastes, so I plan to keep on using them!

What’s your favorite teeth whitener? Tell us below!

Related Video: The best way to get perfect red lips!