We try out a homegrown brand that claims to painlessly whiten your smile.

At the Columbus Weddings Show last month, I ran into a Delaney Banda, a former intern of Dispatch Shows, the sister company that produces our events and expos. She now works for Columbus-based startup HaloSmile, and she was super-excited for me to try it. It’s not hard to see why: the product claims to temporarily whiten teeth without peroxide or any of the sensitivity associated with it. Sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true things, right?

My husband and I did the whole whiten-your-teeth-before-your-wedding-day thing using the standard Crest Whitestrips. Personally, I wasn’t a fan. They’re messy, they sit in your mouth for WAY too long and the peroxide did not feel great on my teeth. And the gentle formula didn’t fare much better—it was comfortable, but still required a 30-minute wear and didn’t produce very dramatic results for me. With both, you have to use the product for at least two weeks to see any real change in color.

So I figured, let’s give this a shot.

I purchased a kit using a coupon code HaloSmile was giving to show attendees. (One of the many reasons every engaged Central Ohioan should go to the shows, if I may say.) The kits retail for $59.99, or $53.99 at the 10 percent “subscribe and save” discount. Delaney was kind enough to share a coupon code for readers as well—15 percent off with code CWBLOG15, or just use the link above to automatically apply the code—and each personal kit includes six applications.

There’s also a Party Pack with 15 individual applications for $99—perfect for getting your wedding party’s pearly whites in tip top shape, if that’s your prerogative.

My HaloSmile kit arrive just a couple of days after I ordered it, and included a handwritten thank-you note for ordering. Delaney mentioned the instructional video (available on YouTube and the company’s website) as being vital to a great application, so I watched it fully before trying it out the first time. I also took advantage of the included test pages to practice my brushstrokes; counterintuitively, you want just a little bit of product on the brush.

I won’t lie—my first application was far from perfect. It takes a little practice to get the right amount of product on your brush, but other than that, the process is pretty simple. I’m not very patient, and apparently I salivate more than most people when my mouth is propped open, so I opted to shorten the product’s dry time from 2 minutes down to 45 seconds using my hair dryer on a low/cool setting.

HaloSmile is made of hydroxyapatite, a calcium-based mineral that’s naturally found in tooth enamel. It doesn’t penetrate your teeth in any way; rather, the product sits on top of your natural enamel, almost like a nail polish for your teeth. In fact, the top coat that finishes your application comes in a tiny bottle reminiscent of those 99-cent polishes from Claire’s or dollar stores.

The product—both the whitening coat and the clear top coat—has a subtle minty taste, which is nice. Once dry, it initially feels pretty noticeable to the wearer; imagine the fuzzy feeling you have on your teeth when you first wake up in the morning, only white, not grody. You can drink water immediately after applying, and you can eat or drink anything else after 30 minutes. I did my second application this morning with much more success than my first, and within the hour I was eating a bagel and drinking OJ.

HaloSmile is marketed as being able to last all day, even through drinking things like wine or coffee. (I can attest to the coffee and will update this post this evening after a nice glass of red wine.) In addition to covering existing stains, HaloSmile claims to help prevent new ones from forming by acting as a barrier between your natural enamel and the food and drink you consume.

You can wear HaloSmile until it wears off naturally, but I prefer to brush my teeth with the included removal toothpaste before bed. The company doesn’t make claims about lasting effects of the product due to lack of research—it’s still pretty new to the scene—but I did feel like my teeth seemed a bit whiter even after removing the product. Whether that’s a result of fewer stains building up while I wear it, the deep scrub I gave myself to remove the product, or just my own brain tricking me into thinking my smile was whiter remains to be seen.

“Depending on the biochemistry of one’s mouth, some people have experienced additional benefits where their teeth looked whiter and felt cleaner since using HaloSmile, but HaloSmile does not market those benefits yet and is conduction additional research to further investigate these effects,” Delaney told me via email, when I asked about long-term benefits.

The overall verdict? Breaking the cost down to $10 per application (or, with the Party Pack, $6.50 per application) still feels a little steep for a temporary whitening solution. But I think it’s a worthwhile alternative to peroxide-based home whitening solutions, and it’s certainly less expensive than what your dentist will provide.

The effect looks great in photos and from a conversational distance (think: engagement photos, bachelorette party, bridal shower and even the wedding day itself), but can look a little strange when viewed extremely close-up. And to be fair, I’m sure some of the strangeness is due to my own inexperience applying the product; I think with practice, I can get a much more natural look.

You can see my before-and-after, as well as two provided by HaloSmile, by clicking through the photos above.

Want to try it for yourself? Make sure you use code CWBLOG15 at HaloSmile.co to get 15 percent off your order. And let us know what you think! We’re eager to hear how this local brand works for you.