What’s in your toothpaste?
Ever since starting to eat vegan food, I’ve been on a learning curve of progressive knowledge absorption, finding out so many products I din’t consider to have any animal ingredients, in fact, may have (sweets, alcohol…).
Except from food, I have also been choosing health&beauty products that are vegan, such as face creams, deodorants, body lotions, shower gels, soaps and toothpaste.
I once got a toothpaste from Holland and Barrett and researched one of the ingredients which had a baffling name: it turned out to be an ingredient derived from shellfish…! So not only quite unusual, but definitely not vegan and perhaps not suitable for those who get bad reactions from shellfish (not sure about it being possible from toothpaste quantities, but still…). It certainly made me want to know what’s in toothpaste even more.
I have tried a few vegan brands so far, here are their main features…
According to the box: Dr. Organic Aloe Vera toothpaste is with silica (natural whitener) , Icelandic moss (natural whitener) and horse chestnut (for natural gum health) – but that is the only horsey ingredient, as it’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike “beef” burgers a while ago…
In addition, all Dr Organic products are against animal testing.
The Aloe Vera is a natural soothing gel and peppermint and menthol are added for a natural mint flavour.
Its formulation combines polysaccharide-rich organic aloe vera with plant extracts and it’s free from parabens, SLS, articial colours, fragrances or harsh preservatives.
Taste: nice, minty.
Price: £4.59 from Holland and Barrett for 100ml, which is quite pricey, but they regularly have BOGOF offers on.
Packaging: tube and cardboard box, it says “recycle or discard of responsibly”.
It is not tested on animals and contains no animal products, no artificial flavourings, colourings, preservatives or whiteners. It is also GMO free, gluten free and made in the British isles.
The back of the box, which I should have taken a picture of, shows a list of the ingredients, where they come from and what they’re for – I don’t recall Colgate doing that on their tubes…
Calcium carbonate, comes from chalk and is a gentle abrasive;
Glycerin, vegetable, moisture retention;
Aqua, purified water, moistener;
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, palm oil (which isn’t stated as sourced sustainably, if that is even possible), as a dispersant;
Hydrated silica, from natural ore, as a structuring agent;
Cellulose gum, from plant fibre, as a thickener;
Foeniculum Vulgare, anethole and limonene from fennel, for fresh taste.
Taste: it took me a couple of times to get used to it, it’s slightly aniseedy but not overly so, you’d like it if you like Sambuca though.
Price: £3.59 for 100ml at Holland and Barrett.
Packaging: tube and cardboard box, the a box that states is made from sustainably managed forests.
Phyto Shield botanical oral care toothpaste.
I was positively biased from the start as it’s made in New Zealand. Positively because some of my best friends are from NZ, not because of the air miles, obviously. I don’t think I will purchase it again while on this side of the world…
Benefits listed on the box include:
Anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant Totarol from a New Zealand Totara Tree;
Essential oils of aniseed, basil, clove buds, eucalyptus, orange, peppermint, rose, rosemary, spearmint and thyme;
Enamel-friendly chalk and ore of zinc oxide help remove stains, prevent plaque build up and tartar deposit;
No added fluoride – as we should get all the fluoride we need from dietary sources – interesting, huh?
It also added: “Brush whenever you want your breath to feel at its most intimate best”. Ha! Toothpaste with personality!
Chemical-free (NO parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, added fluoride, sugar and artificial sweeteners);
Low foaming and mild mint flavour;
Suitable for children, vegans and vegetarians (they listed vegans first, ahh)
Not tested on animals (cause they’d rather we left them the f*** alone) :)No petrochemicals and chemical bleach – oh my, do they really put all this utter crap in ordinary toothpaste? 😐
Taste: I can’t remember it so it must have been nice 😛
Price: £3.89 for 100g, though it seems it’s out of stock in the UK.
Packaging: tube and box.
Benefits listed on the box:
Fluoride free, SLS free, minty flavour. Whitens, cleans and protects. Including Aloe Vera and silica to keep teeth naturally white. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Aloe Vera to soothe gums;
Tea tree oil as natural antiseptic;
Silica for natural whitening;
Peppermint and menthol for natural flavour
Taste: strong minty flavour
Price: £3.99 for 100 ml at Holland and Barrett
Packaging: tube and box, sign with round arrows that does not necessarily mean it’s recyclable.
Since last year I actually stopped buying toothpaste (this post has been a mental draft for a long time).
As part of my gradual transition to a zero-waste life, I have in fact been making my own toothpaste at home. And, as you can tell by the prices of toothpaste such as those I tried, it saved me a considerable amount of money.
I first heard about making toothpaste at home from Lauren Singer’s TIFT = Trash Is For Tossers, my guide for picking up habits to produce no polluting waste.
If you’d like further information about the horrible chemicals you can avoid by making your own toothpaste, as well as a video showing how easy and quick it is to make, check Lauren’s blog post “Why I make my own toothpaste“.
The ingredients are very accessible and easy to find: coconut oil, which can be used in sooo many ways, so buying some is definitely worth it; baking soda (which apparently is what bicarbonate of soda is in the UK) and essentail oil of choice – I have been using mint.
I use the recipe from Trash is for Tossers:
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1½ tbsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
- 25-30 drops of essential oil
Put the ingredients into a reusable jar – I reused one that was given to me with jam in as a present – mix. That’s it. You have made toothpaste.
Spoon your money-saving, no-odd ingredient toothpaste onto a toothbrush.
Brush your teeth.
Taste: sometimes slightly salty, though easy to get used to, minty (or whatever the flavour of essential oil you choose: spearmint, cinnamon…)
Price: a small fraction of the price of shop-bought toothpaste.
Packaging: potentially packaging-free, in my case a lot less compared to buying tubes and boxes of toothpaste over and over.
I have also been using bamboo toothbrushes – I tried ones from savesomegreen – as part of my attempt to minimise my use of polluting plastic.
I told my dentist I have been making my own toothpaste and he said that’s fine, though he added “it would be good if you used a fluoride toothpaste a couple of times a week”. It seems like dentists’ opinion will differ according to their training and personal views.
I’ve been happy about the switch, would you give making toothpaste a go?
What do you think about fluoride being added in water?
Did you know what ingredients can be found in ordinary toothpaste?