We’re mostly about utility here at Cool Material, but sometimes, we need a good pampering. We love a martini. We spend money on good clothes because it’s better to spend up front and keep something for awhile, and we write articles about downright obscenely expensive campers because they make us drool.

Teeth whitening is a topic a lot of men fail to consider because they view it as something done purely for vanity’s sake. And it totally is. At the same time vanity can work for you. Not only do pearly whites (also, pearls aren’t usually all that white) they make him seem younger and more attractive, but successful and powerful as well. In a world where first impressions mean everything, white teeth are more important than you think.

But what are your options? Where can you go? What products are the best, and which are better left on the shelf?

TOOTHPASTES

Let’s start with the most basic, most common, and most cost-effective stuff out there: Toothpastes. People have used whitening toothpaste for decades, and its effectiveness varies from brand to brand and label to label.


Rembrandt Toothpaste, Intense Stain

Everybody from at-home DIYers to actual dentists recommend Rembrandt because it polishes away tough stains with actual micro-polishers, coupled with intense stain fighters. However, take note that it’s not meant to be an everyday toothpaste, and should only be used for a few weeks at maximum. $19


Crest 3D White Luxe Diamond Strong

By far one of the most popular (and highly rated) whitening toothpastes out there, Crest’s 3D White Luxe Diamond Strong toothpaste claims to remove up to 95% of surface stains in just three days, and also protects against future stains and guards against cavities, too. Independent user reviews give it one of the highest ratings of all the teeth whitening toothpastes out there, and those who’ve used it say change is noticeable after the first brush. $8


Curaprox Black is White

This one is kind of cheating. Using activated charcoal is a whole different type of teeth whitening, but toothpaste is toothpaste, so we’re tossing this one here. Black is White is a very popular whitening toothpaste, and its fans claim to see results after just one use. $27


WHITENING RINSES

Mouthwash in general is great for killing germs and curbing bad breath, but whitening rinses have the added bonus of chemical enhancements (usually hydrogen peroxide) to help remove hard stains and whiten teeth. But even then, different rinses have different effects.


Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White

Sometimes, it’s as easy (and inexpensive) as picking up new mouthwash. Also, yes, we know we mentioned Crest 3D white in the toothpaste selection, and no, they’re not paying us to include them here—they’re just that good. Crest’s 3D White Luxe Glamorous White mouthwash might have a pretty awful name, but it is ranked time and time again as the best whitening mouthwash on the market. $4


Essential Oxygen Organic Brushing Rinse

For the gluten-free crowd among you—this stuff actually is gluten-free—Essential Oxygen Organic Brushing Rinse is a natural alternative to harsher alcohol-based rinses. It still includes hydrogen peroxide, but it also includes things like rosemary, lemon, leaf oil, peppermint oil, aloe vera, and eucalyptus. $9


Listerine HealthyWhite

Finally, we have good old fashioned Listerine HealthyWhite. You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen the commercials for it, and if you’ve ever tasted it, you know how weird the bubbles leave your mouth feeling. But, that’s not to say that it doesn’t work. It starts to whiten after the first use, and if used twice daily, you’ll definitely see results. It’s also antibacterial, enamel safe, and helps prevent tooth decay. $6


TEETH WHITENING TRAYS

These technically aren’t technically in the same vein as the other things mentioned on this list, mostly because you can’t just walk into a store and buy them. There are a couple at-home kits we found online, and it seems like they have a lot of great reviews, but the best kits come straight from a dentist. The take-home tray kits are a lot more intense than than standard hydrogen peroxide rinses or pastes because they use a higher concentration of chemicals, which work harder and faster to get teeth whiter.

Trays usually involve a trip to a dentist because they’ll make an actual plastic mold of your teeth. It’s important that they fit specifically for your teeth so that they keep spit from leaking in and diluting the whitening gel. After you have your mold, you fill it with a gel solution that’s usually a mix of certain bleaches and hydrogen peroxide, and then you apply it to your teeth for the recommended time—usually anywhere from a half hour to two hours. Treatment typically lasts about two weeks.

If you’re looking for serious whitening, do the research and consult with your dentist, because these things are the truth as well as potentially dangerous to your mouth’s health.


WHITENING STRIPS

The second-most effective means of at-home teeth whitening, whitening strips usually utilize hydrogen peroxide and are applied directly to the teeth for a certain amount of time. The cool thing about them is that they work quickly and immediately, and treatment isn’t particularly harsh on tooth enamel. They’re cost-effective, convenient, and most of all, pretty affordable.


Crest 3D Professional Whitestrips

Another win for Crest on our list, their 3D Professional Whitestrips boast whitening power 25 times greater and more effective than teeth-whitening toothpaste, and results are visible after just one use. They also use a no-slip grip technology that keeps them fastened and molded to the teeth for as long as you have them on—typically 30 minutes per treatment. You can talk and even drink water while you whiten. $44


Cool Teeth Whitening Zero Peroxide Strips

If you’re into a less caustic solution for teeth whitening, these strips by Cool Teeth use zero hydrogen peroxide, opting instead for baking soda (another time-tested method). The packs come with a two-week supply that are guaranteed to whiten teeth, and reviewers agree—they do the job without any harmful chemicals. $10


DentaPro2000 At Home Professional Teeth Whitening Strips

The name is absolutely ridiculous, but the reviews don’t lie: These strips are affordable and do an excellent job of removing surface stains from teeth. Period. $19


WHITENING LIGHTS

We think it’s safe to say that teeth whitening light kits are probably the strangest item on this list. Essentially, the kits shine LED lights onto your teeth, and when combined with a hydrogen peroxide/bleach gel, they work very well. It’s not voodoo or anything, either. The LED lights act as accelerators that help activate teeth whitening gel and make teeth whiter.


MagicBrite Complete Teeth Whitening Kit

One of the hands-down most popular LED kits, MagicBrite includes whitening gel, gel mold, LED light, and even a vitamin E swab to help ease gum irritation. It’s one of the most popular LED whitening systems in the world, and for good reason. $15


Professional Teeth Whitening Kit

The future is now, y’all! This teeth whitening kit doesn’t just include the mold, gel, and a neat carrying case, but it also comes with an adapter that allows you to power the LED mold through your smart phone. No, seriously. Whether you’re heading out on a last-minute business trip, or just want to make your at-home whitening as easy and hassle-free as possible, this kit is perfect. $16


Premium Teeth Whitening Kit for Home Use

This kit is a little more expensive than others, but we like it because it’s made in the U.S.A., has excellent reviews and comes with everything you need: LED whitening light, teeth whitening gel, and remineralization gel. Users report being able to see a difference after just one use, and several even say it rivals professional dentist-grade teeth whitening kits. $20