A few years ago, the internet was abuzz with talk of activated charcoal. People were serving it in juice bars, using it as a detox or hangover cure and even adding it to make bath bombs that turn your water an inky black (so fun, you should try it!). At that point, I was starting to become conscious of what was in the products I was putting onto my body. As a wave of natural beauty products flooded the market, my goal was to incorporate a few into my routine as long as it didn’t mean sacrificing results.
When choosing oral hygiene products I’ve always been drawn to anything geared towards whitening. I’ve done at-home kits before and still touch up every now and then, but due to increased sensitivity I’ve been trying to stretch the time between touch ups. When I heard about activated charcoal as a natural tooth whitener, I figured I should switch out my regular toothpaste for something more natural since it’s a product that you’re literally ingesting. Plus, at least it would be fun to try right? If I thought charcoal bathwater was fun, giving oreo-mouth smiles each time I brushed sounded too funny to pass up.
What exactly is it and how does it work?
According to the ever-helpful Wikipedia, activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is produced when carbonaceous source material (such as nutshells or coconut husks) are processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.
Kate from Wellness Mama explains:
“Activated charcoal is a highly absorbent substance. It removes toxins when they adhere to the surface of the charcoal… Further research I’ve done on this showed that activated charcoal can actually be helpful in changing the pH and health of the mouth, and as such is effective in preventing cavities and killing the bad bacteria present in tooth decay and gingivitis.”
Finding the right one
If you know me, you know that I’m very particular. I wasn’t just going to buy the first thing that popped up on Amazon and call it a day. Here’s exactly what I was on the hunt for:
- A pre-mixed toothpaste/charcoal tube ::: I knew powdered charcoal would be too messy and that a trail of black powder from the jar to the sink would drive me crazy. Also, I’ve tried toothpaste dipped in baking soda and could never stick to the extra step… or the taste.
- Something that tastes fresh and pleasant ::: Common sense. If it tastes gross, you won’t want to use it. I was also adamant about it not being spearmint, but that’s personal preference.
- A BLACK toothpaste ::: I wanted something with A LOT of charcoal in it. Pitch black, not a wimpy light grey like this Colgate toothpaste I previously tried.
After researching and combing through reviews, I settled on this gem: Twin Lotus Herbaliste Active Charcoal Toothpaste. Coincidentally, it was also recommended by one of my favourite bloggers, Lauryn of The Skinny Confidential (whose opinion I have come to blindly trust, credit card bill be damned :S)
But does Twin Lotus Herbaliste Active Charcoal Toothpaste work?
It’s been 2 years since I started using this toothpaste and I’ve been very happy that I made the switch. Here’s what I’ve found:
Flavour ::: It’s more of a milder, herbal mint (slight menthol with a hint of clove). It tastes nice and leaves your breath fresh.
Cleaning-power ::: There are no special instructions, so just use it like you would a normal toothpaste. I visited the dentist a few times since I started using this and have gotten zero comments about my teeth or gum health changing.
Whitening :: A lot of Amazon customer reviews depict very dramatic results, but TBH I feel like my teeth haven’t changed much. To be fair, I was already using products focussed on whitening before switching over—specifically, the Crest 3D White Toothpaste and the Colgate 360 Max White One toothbrush. So I guess that this toothpaste is at least as effective as that, but more naturally based.
Don’t make the switch until you read this!
I 100% suggest that you also buy these activated charcoal toothbrushes. Imagine a white bristled toothbrush with black specks at the base of the bristles…it would look like your toothbrush is moldy. Eww. Plus, these toothbrushes surprised me upon first use because they are so supple that brushing feels like you’re massaging your gums.
You should know that you’ll have to get used to doing a quick rinse of your sink basin to avoid grey toothpaste residue. Although a little annoying at first, it’s now a 1-2 second habit that is well worth the effort.
Before hitting that checkout button, bonus points if you add a tongue scraper to your basket. Tongue scrapers are LIFE CHANGING when it comes to oral hygiene and fresh breath. My mouth never feels fully clean without doing that last step. You’ll be surprised at how much gunk comes off of it even after you’ve brushed your tongue. You know I’m super particular, so get this one and don’t bother with any others. You’ll thank me later! 😉