Does the $20 TikTok Teeth Whitening Pen Actually Work? Here’s Our Honest Review
• Value: 18/20
• Functionality: 18/20
• Quality/Ease of Use: 19/20
• Aesthetics: 20/20
• Speed of Treatment: 20/20
Forget Instagram face. These days all the significant beauty trends are born on video platforms, and we’re here to kick the tires on a recent micro-trend we’re calling “TikTok teeth.” Thanks to a highly circulated viral TikTok video, hordes of people are tromping to their nearest Ulta to buy the Spotlight Teeth Whitening Pen (and once in the semi-privacy of their cars, brushing this solution on their teeth for instant brightening).
Since I live in Los Angeles, the land where high-definition cameras have made a blinding smile as necessary for survival as a reliable set of wheels, I had to visit two Ulta locations before I found a Spotlight pen in stock. Side note: I was pretty skeptical to start.
Even though I’d seen people get instant results using the pen on TikTok, I assumed it was some sort of camera manipulation. I was also apprehensive about trying anything that had enough bleaching agent in it to produce fast results. You see, years before, I used teeth whitening strips, which left my teeth permanently sensitive to temperatures. And besides, it wasn’t like I had a big toothy grin to show off anyway…so what’s the big deal if my teeth were a little coffee-stained?
Well, the deal became big (at least to me) when I started going out in public without a mask. Recently, I was headed to a friend’s pool party when I looked in the mirror—like really looked at my reflection for the first time in months—and thought, wait, when did my canines start to resemble the yellowed fangs of our family’s beloved (and now deceased) mastiff? So began my teeth-whitening journey.
And now, a word about my personal grooming habits to give you some additional context. If I had to choose one word to describe my beauty behavior that word would be “intermittent.” As in, the only thing I can remember to do daily is brush my teeth, and that’s thanks to childhood indoctrination.
Since the age of 11, I’ve been polymorphously perverse when it comes to beauty. I’ve had brief forays into scrupulously tending to my face, hair, cellulite, etc., but in terms of being committed to a regimen for an extended period of time? Not so much. Which is why I was enticed by the Spotlight pen’s promises of instant results and cumulative effects even when used sporadically. Add to that, the minty fresh flavor that claims to transmit a “light, just-brushed aroma” from your mouth and I had try it.
So, did it work? To my surprise, yes it did. After I pulled the silver pen from its recycled paper packaging, I twisted the base 20 (!) times to release the fluid onto the bristles. I just brushed a thin coat on my front and side teeth. (I didn’t bother with my molars because they aren’t really visible when I smile). Then, I held my mouth open for the recommended five minutes to let the solution dry. This is also when I learned that my drool reflex is very healthy and the only way I could stop from spitting up everywhere was to make loud sucking sounds as I waited for the time to elapse. My dogs looked at me in alarm as though I were some sort of zombie.
A few minutes in, my formerly yellowed teeth looked whiter overall, and in my case, my teeth on the sides more closely matched the bright porcelain hue of my front two crowns. As I splashed water from the sink onto my teeth to rinse off the solution, I marveled that my teeth didn’t feel sore, nor did my gums feel achy. And they did look brighter—even after just one application.
I’ve used the pen a few times over the past week and have come to look forward to this moment of self-care. It’s low lift and high reward. And the results aren't just anecdotal; there’s real science behind the pen. The hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen carbonate calcium in the formula have shown demonstrable results in clinical studies. Oh, and these whitening pens are part of a line of oral care products started by two dentist sisters in Ireland (who we love following on TikTok by the way). Thanks to them, I’m genuinely happy to smile at my maskless self in the mirror.