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Even though I’m somewhat of a beauty writer, I really do hate didactic beauty standards. For one thing, they usually exist to make at least some people, therefore I can’t ideologically get on board. But for another, I usually do generally disagree with them – I like armpit hair and greasy skin and back rolls and sticky out ears. Honestly, I do. Interesting looking is the new hot, take it from me.

But one area where I think most people are on the same page is whiteness of teeth. It’s generally a boon to attractiveness if teeth lie broadly on the colour spectrum of “white-ish,” right? I mean, like with everything, it can be taken too far, and don’t try to make your teeth look like Geordie Shore teeth because that’s a losing battle, etc. But I will tentatively make the claim that a brightening of the dental variety is broadly an aesthetically Good Thing.

For a long time, I though at home teeth whitening was a big load of marketing nonsense. But I have, over time, discovered things that actually work, and I drink ten coffees a day and eat sweets for dinner sometimes.

From what I can gather, the only ingredient that actually works to lighten teeth is real life bleach, hydrogen peroxide. Sounds like something you don’t want in your mouth, right? Well, kind of wrong. Used carefully and correctly it can be of massive tooth-whitening benefit with minimal risk.

The other ingredient that I have noticed make visible mouth difference is baking soda. Or bicarbonate of soda. Is there a difference? Probably in life, but in teeth, not really.

So an easy switch to make is from normal toothpaste to one containing some sort of soda-derivative. This one by Colgate is fine, I’ve also used most of the Arm & Hammer range. At first you’ll think it feels gritty and tastes salty, but after about a week your teeth won’t feel clean without it, trust.

You can also buy some sort of peroxide-ish paste, like the Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Whitening Booster. I think this is available in US drugstores, and on Amazon if you’re trapped in the UK. You’re supposed to put this on the toothbrush with your paste and brush as normal. It kind of tastes like cleaning fluid, but in a surprisingly ok way.

Speaking of tasting like cleaning fluid, let’s talk swilling your mouth with hydrogen peroxide! No, I’m kidding … kind of. But you can get a mouthwash from Colgate called Peroxyl, which contains our old friend H2O2. It’s supposedly for healing mouth irritations, but if the shoe fits, whiten your teeth with it.

If you’re a full time crazy like me, you can mad-scientist your own Peroxyl for a fraction of the price. To do this, you need to buy 3% hydrogen peroxide (the kind that says “for swilling,” to be sure you aren’t going to accidentally remove your whole mouth) and mix in a half ‘n’ half ratio with a cheap minty mouthwash. Knowing I was getting the active whitening from elsewhere, I went for the cheapest of the cheap: Sainsbury’s Basics. It’s just a mint flavoured diluting water, and it does the job. Swill with this a couple of times a week, but only if you’re not using hydrogen peroxide elsewhere in your tooth routine.

Finally, for a proper blast to the mouth, you can mix a spoonful of actually bicarbonate of/baking soda with said peroxide mouthwash to form a paste. Apply to teeth, and wait for a minute or so, before brushing and swilling. This is top before a big event when you really want bright shiny teeth, but not great for every day. Use with caution, you have been warned.

Images: Annie Walton Doyle, Byrdie