I’m a coffee-guzzling, blackberry-noshing, marinara-munching dentist dodger who’s holding out hope for a Hollywood smile. I’ve tried a handful of popular teeth-whitening tactics—professional lasers, at-home strips, moldable mouthguards—each of which has proved to be a literal and figurative pain. For one, there’s the zapping discomfort of sensitivity (my teeth seem particularly prone). Separately, there’s the sheer inconvenience of carving out time to sit, close-lipped and wait for the whitener to work.
In hopes of extending the time between such teeth-whitening sessions, I’ve been using the Tarte Pearly Girl Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen ($22). So far, it seems to be staving off any premature coffee tinge. It’s also formulated to be gentle, and is one of the few products that hasn’t resulted in any discomfort whatsoever. The real crowning jewel, though, is that its vegan and incredibly easy to use. Curious? Keep scrolling for more.
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What it is
Like a Magic Eraser for teeth, Pearly Girl eradicates sudden, unexpected stains on contact. It’s a total smile-saver in social situations, particularly those involving red wine. As someone whose teeth turn into little crimson bricks after a few sips, red wine and I don’t mingle in public. With this wand in my purse, though, I might just order merlot at a wedding.
Its compact size, and easy-to-paint-on tip, makes Pearly Girl perfectly portable. (I have two; one in a going-out bag and one in my everyday bag.)
How to use
The product itself is a transparent gel; a gel that’s virtually indistinguishable—visually, at least—from the stuff stuck to white strips. The feel of the formula—thin, glassy; neat like cling film doesn’t slide around when you smile. Instead, it stays put until it dissolves, leaving behind a minty-fresh taste in its wake.
To use, simply twist the top a few times until you see product blooming from the pen’s bristles. Once the brush is loaded, simply swipe as you see fit. (I typically paint tooth by tooth to ensure I haven’t missed any bits.) Wait fifteen minutes for the product to settle before eating or drinking.
What to expect
Pearly Girl contains hydrogen peroxide—the active ingredient in most tooth-whitening products. While it’s the gold standard for stain-lifting, hydrogen peroxide is also responsible for causing tooth sensitivity, particularly at high percentages. The ingredients list doesn’t specify its exact percentage of hydrogen peroxide; it’s been completely comfortable to use, though, so I reckon it’s relatively low. For this reason, I can’t claim Pearly Girl is a full-on replacement, per se, for traditional teeth whitening treatments like strips or lasers.
One thing I can attest to is the stick's brightening power, which is truly remarkable. In addition to removing stains, I swear it seems to bump teeth up by half a shade. It also enhances luminosity, as if someone were adjusting your teeth in a photo-editing app. This effect lasts a few hours, but it’s easy-peasy to re-up. Simply twist, crank, paint, and apply, wherever you happen to be. Feel free to reapply up to four times per day.
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