TEETH whitening kits that you can easily buy online could be dangerous and even burn your gums, Which? has warned.
Kits for sale on Amazon, eBay, Wish and AliExpress were found to contain illegally high levels of hydrogen peroxide.
Too much of the chemical which is used to brighten smiles can cause serious damage to teeth and gums.
The Which? investigation tested 36 cheap and easy to buy kits from house-hold brands, and 21 of them exceeded the legal amount of the chemical for home use.
Teeth-whitening products that you can use at home are allowed to contain up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, while the legal limit for application by professional dentists is 6%.
One kit was found to contain 300 times in excess of the ingredient.
The products Which? says you should avoid
Six products in Which? tests were found to have more than 100 times the legal limit for hydrogen peroxide. Those were:
Teeth bleaching gel kit
- Price: 85p per syringe
- Hydrogen peroxide: 30.7%
- From: Oral orthodontic materials store, AliExpress
Sunup teeth whitening gel
- Price: just over £1 per syringe
- Hydrogen peroxide: 29.7%
- From: Expsmile store, AliExpress
Teeth whitening gel
- Price: £1 for each syringe
- Hydrogen peroxide: 14.3%
- From: ZZ Shiny official store, AliExpress
Pro teeth whitening gel
- Price: £13.34 for 10-pack
- Hydrogen peroxide: 13.9%
- From: BMT store, AliExpress
Crest 3D Whitestrips
- Price: £50 for 32-pack
- Hydrogen peroxide: 13.2%
- From: Yougo flagship store, Wish
Professional bleaching kit
- Price: £2.30 per pen
- Hydrogen peroxide: 10.6%
- From: Dear Beauty Official store, AliExpress
The worst offender found by Which? was a bleaching gel syringe containing 30.7% hydrogen peroxide for sale on AliExpress for just 85p.
A spokesperson for AliExpress said: “We take product safety very seriously and after being notified by Which? of its findings, we took prompt action and removed the third-party product listings.
"We will take action against sellers that are found to be in violation of our terms.”
Crest 3D Whitestrips which were £50 for a 32-pack (or £1.57 per strip) on Wish were found to contain 13.2% hydrogen peroxide in the investigation too.
Crest Whitestrips are not allowed to be sold in the UK but the company does sell a version of the product with the permitted amounts in Europe through dentists.
Which? found you could still order the teeth-whiteners to UK addresses from the Chinese site even though they contained the dangerous amounts.
A Wish spokesperson said: “All of the merchants on our platform undergo a range of checks before being permitted to trade.
"We can confirm that products flagged by Which? were removed promptly from the platform as per our terms and conditions.”
The site is a third-party marketplace much like the other companies mentioned in Which?'s report, and merchants selling on the sites are supposed to comply with local laws and regulations.
All the online marketplaces have said they removed the unsafe products that went above legal limits from sale as soon as they were flagged.
Dangerous products were also found on Amazon and eBay as 10 out of the 36 products tested and were over the legal limits came from both the sellers.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon and we want customers to shop with confidence on our stores.
How to buy safely online
- Make sure you research a retailer before you buy to make sure they’re legitimate.
- Check the company’s returns policy and know your rights.
- Keep your software and virus protection up-to-date and use strong passwords – but avoid using the same one for multiple accounts.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Your standard data connection is more secure.
- If you pay using a credit card, you will have more protection. Or you can use online services like PayPal so scammers won't be able to get hold of your bank details.
- If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is, so be clever about how you shop.
"If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”
eBay has removed the five listings from its site that were deemed dangerous in Which?'s report, and a spokesperson said the online marketplace has, "taken the appropriate action on the sellers."
"We take the safety of our users extremely seriously and work closely with authorities including Trading Standards to help ensure sellers and listings on eBay comply with laws and regulations."
But Which? is concerned that social media users may be encouraging others to use the products with dangerous levels of the chemical.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said: "It's worrying that our tests have revealed so many of these products sold on online marketplaces – and often hyped on social media – are breaking legal limits for hydrogen peroxide and putting the health of users at risk.
"It's clear that self-regulation is not working, leaving people exposed to a flood of unsafe products online."
Which?'s advice to customers is to avoid buying teeth whiteners from online marketplaces and instead go to a professional dentist.
Which? also tested a £25 Beverly Hills professional 2 in 1 whitening kit, which is available from high-street stores LloydsPharmacy and Superdrug.
The whitening pen and strips set was found to contain legal and safe amounts of hydrogen peroxide, making it an alternative and safer option as well.
There's big money in the teeth-whitening business as pair of entrepreneur brothers managed to rake in £4million in a year after launching a teeth-whitening brand.
But the dangers were still evident in an investigation by the BBC last year that revealed illegal teeth-whitening is leaving people with ‘horror burns and missing teeth’.
The best way to keep your teeth pearly white is with a classic brush twice a day, and our list of the best toothpastes you can buy will help you stay minty fresh.
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