About True Brilliance
The True Brilliance teeth whitening pen promises to use a blend of ingredients that can be applied in seconds and deliver a noticeably whiter and brighter smile after one use.
To accomplish this, the company tells us that True Brilliance polishes while whitening for professional results at home, all in three simple steps:
- First, dry your teeth and rotate the bottom of True Brilliance’s click pen.
- Then, you’ll dispense the whitening gel directly onto your teeth, while avoiding contact with your lips and gums for 30-60 seconds.
- After 15 minutes, rinse your mouth and avoid food and liquids for at least one hour.
Alright, so True Brilliance’s whitening pen appears to be easy to use, but is it really “the secret to a whiter smile”? We researched the facts and we’ll reveal what we learned here.
What Causes Dark, Stained Teeth?
Your teeth are 3-layer structures covered with an ultra-hard mineral substance known as enamel, which is even stronger than bone.
Despite its solid appearance, though, the reality is that enamel is full of small holes, pits, and ridges that can “grab” onto food coloring, which can build up over the years and cause stains, even if you brush and floss regularly.
Some of the worst offenders are acidic, sweet, and/or starchy foods like tea, cola, berries, and wine, while lifestyle factors like tobacco, poor dental hygiene, certain medications (especially antibiotics), and more also play a major role.
Pro tip: However, keep in mind that the color of your teeth can also be affected by genetic factors that dictate the opaqueness of your enamel, the color of your dentin (the layer just underneath the enamel), and more.
With this said, staining can occur on the outside of the teeth (known as extrinsic stains), or on the inside if substances have made their way through the pores in the enamel (known as intrinsic stains).
Now, the big question is: Will any of True Brilliance’s ingredients effectively lift teeth stains and deliver a whiter smile?
How Effective Are True Brilliance’s Ingredients?
Here’s everything we’re told about True Brilliance’s formulation:
Glycerin is a colorless, odorless liquid found in thousands of different cosmetics, foods, and more. When applied to the skin, it helps trap moisture and acts as an emollient.
Similarly, peppermint oil is found in a wide variety of products, including flavoring in foods and beverages, topical creams, and dietary supplements. In the instance of True Brilliance, it appears to primarily be a flavoring agent.
Finally, carbomers are synthetic polymers that largely act as thickening agents.
Taking all of this together, you can see that none of these ingredients are especially (or at all) effective for delivering whiter teeth.
What’s Does True Brilliance’s Manufacturer Have to Say?
However, at the bottom of the True Brilliance website, they list two pieces of evidence to support their claims:
- An ADA statement of efficacy for teeth whitening products. This is a general statement, though, and doesn’t specify the method True Brilliance uses to whiten teeth.
- A March 2011 study conducted by Essex Testing Clinic, Inc. based out of Verona, NJ that resulted in up to an 18% improvement in teeth shade after a single application of a gel. The product is only referred to as “Teeth Whitening Gel Formula,” and True Brilliance is not mentioned specifically.
Fortunately, the HighYa team has reviewed many of the most popular online whitening systems over the years (more about the next), and in almost every instance, they use 22% carbamide peroxide.
Perhaps this is the carbomer True Brilliance’s manufacturer is referencing on their website, since when applied to teeth, it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea (22% carbamide peroxide equals a little more than 7% hydrogen peroxide).
Then, hydrogen peroxide reacts with oxygen. As it does this, it lifts away small particles of stains, adding up to whiter teeth over several applications.
Pro tip: While peroxide-based products may help lift mild to moderate extrinsic stains, they likely won’t provide any improvement for intrinsic stains.
Will True Brilliance’s Ingredients Cause Any Side Effects?
Because of the oxidation action it delivers, carbamide/hydrogen peroxide may cause mild gum sensitivity in some users, although this generally subsides after discontinuing use.
Will you experience fewer side effects than an in-office treatment at your dentist’s? What about better whitening results?
We’ll talk more about this shortly, but let’s first talk about other whitening products like True Brilliance.
Does True Brilliance Have Any Competition?
The HighYa team has reviewed many of the most popular online-only teeth whitening systems over the years, including Whitening Coach, Spark Whitening, Action Pro White, and many others. What have we learned?
Overwhelmingly, customers seem to complain about sneaking “free” trial programs that turn into expensive purchases, along with recurring monthly shipments (we’ll go into full detail about this next).
Often times, customers claim that it was essentially impossible to cancel their trials and that customer service representatives were very rude, putting up every roadblock possible to prevent returns.
Admittedly, True Brilliance seems to come from a different manufacturer than these other options, so we’re definitely not saying you’ll experience the same.
With this said, perhaps the biggest difference between True Brilliance and these other products is that True Brilliance is only available as a pen, while many at-home whitening systems use trays to keep the whitening gel in place. Remember this point, because we’ll come back around to it at the end.
Now, let’s talk about those trial details.
How Much Does True Brilliance Cost?
At first, you’ll only pay $3.95 S&H to get your hands on one True Brilliance pen. But 14 days after your order, you’ll then be charged the full price of $119.38!
Every 30 days thereafter, you’ll then be sent a new True Brilliance pen and charged $119.38 each time. Comparatively, you can find whitening pens from national manufacturers at pharmacies and grocery stores for as little as $3 to $6.
Now, this 14-day trial system is an extraordinarily common business model, found in everything from anti-aging products and supplements to online-only teeth whitening systems and hair growth regimens.
However, because these important details are often buried deep in the Terms or the fine print—as well as the fact that costs can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not careful—we typically recommend avoiding free trials like these. Especially if it’s the only way to purchase a product.
On top of the high price and trial-based subscription program, you’ll also be automatically enrolled in a “Smart Retailing” subscription if you don’t check the “Opt Out” box on the True Brilliance ordering page. Here’s how the company describes it:
“Smart Retailing subscription can save thousands of dollars each year with members only discounts and cash back shopping. Includes four magazine subscriptions of your choice and free credit scores. Take advantage of membership for $1.00 (USD) for the next 90 days. After the 90 trial, service will continue for only $19.90 (USD) billed monthly to the card provided. You may cancel your membership anytime, make address or title changes.”
In order to cancel your trial or recurring shipments, you can contact customer service at (866) 622-5629 or email@example.com.
There wasn’t a refund policy listed, so we emailed customer service for details. We’ll be sure to update this review as soon as we receive a response.
Will a True Brilliance Whitening Pen Work for You?
In our opinion, the answer to this question largely rests on what you mean by “work.”
In other words, can you reasonably expect True Brilliance to whiten your teeth? While we’re not quite clear on all its ingredients, as long as it contains some form of peroxide, there’s no reason to believe it can’t lighten mild extrinsic stains a couple shades.
Now, will this happen in just one application? Will it work as well as an in-office treatment from your dentist? Will it cause fewer side effects? All of these remain to be seen (we didn’t test the pen ourselves and there wasn’t any online feedback), although until we see some evidence, we remain skeptical.
What about the competition? While pens like True Brilliance might provide ease of use when on-the-go, keep in mind that you’ll have to keep your lips off your teeth for at least a minute, which could complicate matters if you’re whitening in public.
Also, since tray-based systems sit firmly in place over your teeth and could provide better coverage for whitening gel, they might deliver faster, more pronounced results.
So, if you’re primarily focused on convenience, pens like True Brilliance might deliver what you need. But if you’re looking for ease of use and the fastest results possible, you might want to look more at tray-based systems.
Either way, it’s important to reiterate that True Brilliance costs as much as 40X some of the competition—without providing any evidence that it’ll deliver 40X the results.
For more, be sure to read How to Choose an At-Home Teeth Whitening System That Works!