Users of budget teeth whitening kits may be left with nothing to smile about, warns a watchdog.
Teeth whitening kits can be a health hazard as some are 300 times over the legal limit for the bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide.
While stars like TV tycoon Simon Cowell and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp have their gnashers professionally fixed for dazzlingly bright smiles, Brits on a budget using products bought online could be putting themselves at risk of harm, an investigation has revealed.
A probe by consumer watchdog Which? found 21 out of 36 teeth whiteners available online exceeded the legal limit of hydrogen peroxide permitted for home use, which can burn gums and cause permanent damage to teeth.
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Levels should be no more than 0.1% but the lab tests found six of the most dangerous whiteners had more than 100 times too much hydrogen peroxide to be legally sold.
Five of these products were from AliExpress including the worst one, a teeth bleaching gel kit sold by Oral Orthodontic Materials store with a worrying 30.7% hydrogen peroxide.
And Crest Whitestrips available through a China-based Wish seller contained 132 times the legal hydrogen peroxide limits.
Five out of nine products tested from eBay broke the law on hydrogen peroxide levels with the worst one containing 7.43% of the chemical.
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And five out of 13 teeth whitener kits from Amazon Marketplace had illegal amounts of hydrogen peroxide with up to 7.87%.
However, The Beverly Hills professional 2-in-1 whitening kit from Lloyds Pharmacy and Superdrug had safe levels of the bleaching agent.
Which? is urging those keen to give their teeth a bright white sparkle to contact their dentist or buy a kit from a reputable high street retailer.
It has passed its findings to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and is calling on the Government to clampdown on shopping sites and make online marketplaces legally responsible for products sold through them.
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. It is absolutely crucial that online marketplaces are given greater legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites, so that shoppers are far better protected from dangerous and illegal items.”
All the online sites axed unsafe teeth whitening kits when the watchdog alerted them to the breach of legal limits and said customer safety was taken seriously.
AliExpress added: “We are a third-party marketplace and all merchants selling on AliExpress must comply with our platform rules and policies, as well as comply with all local laws and regulations. We will take action against sellers that are found to be in violation of our terms.”
Amazon said: “We require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and we monitor the products sold in our stores for product safety concerns. When appropriate, we remove a product from the store, reach out to sellers, manufacturers, and government agencies for additional information, or take other actions.”
An eBay spokesman said: “We have filters in places which automatically block listings which are unsafe or do not comply with our policies. These blocked six million unsafe listings from making it onto site in 2020.”
Wish said following an internal investigation, four listings had been removed from the site.
Procter & Gamble, which owns the Crest brand said the product was not available in the UK or Europe.
It added: “Any European site supplying Crest Whitestrips isn’t supported by us and we will challenge those sites selling outside the territory they were designed for.”