I tried a teeth-whitening kit that was personalized to my level of sensitivity and discoloration — here's what it’s like
At-home teeth-whitening kits are an affordable and convenient alternative to professional teeth-whitening treatments.
The problem is that they can be painful for people with sensitive teeth and aren't specific to any particular type of stains you're concerned with.
A new teeth-whitening kit called Glowup ($60) is designed with teeth sensitivity in mind and uses whitening agents that are personalized to your teeth.
It's quick and effective: each treatment takes just 16 minutes and can yield up to eight shades of difference in brightness after a week of use.
A smile changes everything. That's probably why we're always looking to improve our smiles, whether through teeth straightening services, oral care subscriptions like electric toothbrushes, and teeth-whitening products.
If you're someone who's looked into at-home teeth-whitening solutions, you'll know that they're cheaper and more convenient than professional treatments, but they can also be painful or ineffective, and depending on the design, still expensive and inconvenient.
A new startup called Glowup is making one of the most affordable and innovative teeth-whitening solutions. Glowup's teeth-whitening kit combines a whitening agent personalized to the user's teeth sensitivity and discoloration level with a 16-minute light treatment to deliver pain-free and noticeable results. It costs $60 and is available only on its website.
Prior to starting Glowup, CEO David Tao tried nearly every type of teeth-whitening product on the market, but most experiences caused unbearable pain for his sensitive teeth. Direct-to-consumer brands like Harry's and Dollar Shave Club inspired him to create a new teeth-whitening concept. He says, "I noticed remarkable similarities between the shaving and teeth-whitening experience: controlled by large players, high mark-ups, terrible in-store buying experience, and paralysis of choice."
Glowup further differentiates itself in the teeth-whitening space with its personalization process. Tao says, "The hypothesis [is] that if a product is personalized, it can be pain-free and effective for everyone."
The Glowup team is currently comprised entirely of current UC Berkeley students and recent graduates. In the short amount of time since its launch (April 2019), it has secured angel funding from the founders of Curology, as well as a seed grant from a student fund at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
I tried out this new teeth-whitening kit to see if it was really as simple and effective as it seemed.
What it's like to use Glowup to whiten your teeth
First, you need to visit Glowup's website to take a short quiz that will determine the type of whitening agent you receive in your kit. The questionnaire asks about your brushing and flossing habits, your level of teeth sensitivity, and how often you consume stain-causing food and drinks, such as coffee.
The kit you receive in the mail will look like the below. Each kit includes a whitening light in the form of a mouthpiece, two USB adapters, three customized whitening gels, and a user guide.
Read more: SmileDirectClub's $79 LED whitening kit worked exceptionally well — and it didn't cause me any tooth sensitivity
Like SmileDirectClub's teeth-whitening kit, the mouthpiece is powered by your phone, so there's no need to stand attached to a wall. You can use it any time you have your phone on you.
To use the kit, I applied the gel to the top and bottom of the mouthpiece, placed it in my mouth, plugged it into my phone's charger port, and pressed the "on" button. Wearing the light isn't exactly the most natural position to hold your mouth, but overall the experience isn't too uncomfortable and it only lasts 16 minutes. The light automatically turns off once the treatment is completed.
Read more: The best teeth-whitening kits you can buy
Glowup uses the same enamel-safe whitening agent as dentists, plus natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients like chamomile and aloe leaf to prevent against sensitivity and pain. My teeth are a little sensitive, and I experienced no pain while using Glowup's whitening kit.
The results of my testing process
The three gels should last six to nine treatments (about a week's supply). Glowup suggests using its kit every day until you reach your desired result. I try to avoid some of the worst teeth-staining offenders like coffee and red wine, so my teeth aren't too obviously discolored, but I still have always wished my teeth were whiter.
I'll admit I wasn't good about consistently using the kit at the recommended daily interval, and I was closer to a couple times a week. However, I still saw results and improvements in the color and brightness of my teeth. Depending on the level you start at, Glowup says customers can see up to eight shades of difference in brightness after a week of use.
The bottom line
Overall, Glowup's teeth-whitening kit was easy to use and really works. Though less convenient than teeth-whitening strips, it didn't intrude too much on my weekly personal care routine, and it's more affordable than other light treatment whitening kits. I also loved that it was customized to my specific needs, not just a general catch-all product. If you have sensitive teeth and have been let down by other teeth-whitening kits out there, it's time to try Glowup.
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