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Charcoal has been popping up everywhere in the beauty sphere from cleansers to face masks. Though it might seem like a new ingredient, activated charcoal has actually been around for centuries and has more recently found its way into toothpaste, promising to help remove surface stains for an overall whiter smile.
But of course, as is the case with most trending ingredients, a few questions are surrounding why and how (or if) it works. It's wise to consider your toothpaste needs, preferred flavoring, and tooth health before deciding to use charcoal toothpaste. To help, we broke down some of the details and gathered up our favorite charcoal toothpaste options out there that will brighten your smile every day.
Read on for the best charcoal toothpaste.
Best Overall: Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
If you’re wondering how much charcoal is actually in here, the hue might give you a hint: This toothpaste is actually black. Though it can make a bit of a mess at your sink, the results are worth it. Activated charcoal made from sustainable bamboo is the hero ingredient in this toothpaste, which claims to naturally detox and remove odors for polishing and whitening. This formula also freshens up your breath with coconut oil, mint, spearmint, and peppermint, all while fighting plaque.
Best Drugstore: Colgate Essential Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
Price-wise, this tried-and-true toothpaste is hard to beat. But that doesn’t mean it lacks in the efficacy department. The addition of activated charcoal means you may get a subtle brightening effect, while fluoride and micro-cleaning crystals keep teeth strong and white. The light grey paste foams nicely and leaves breath super fresh, too.
Best Whitening Effects: Crest 3D Whitening Therapy Charcoal Deep Clean Toothpaste
Crest is undoubtedly a hero when it comes to DIY dental care, and this charcoal version of its famed whitening toothpaste is no different. Unlike other toothpaste formulas, this is white with a black stripe, so you get the surface cleaning benefits without the mess. It contains fluoride and has a powerful minty flavor. Because it utilizes Crest’s whitening technology, rest assured you’ll get subtle but noticeable results over time.
Best Experience: Moon Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
We’re the first to admit our skepticism regarding celebrity-backed beauty brands, but Kendall Jenner’s Moon dental line is actually pretty great. This charcoal-spiked toothpaste foams nicely and tastes great, while the charcoal itself may help to polish away surface stains. It’s fluoride-free, so it might be worth chatting to a dentist if you want to use it long-term, but in regards to a quick, subtle brightening product, it’s a good boost to your regular routine.
Best Powder: Dirt Don't Hurt Tooth Powder with Activated Charcoal
Powdered toothpaste is definitely a change from the gel formulas we’re used to, but trust us, it’s worth making the switch. This natural tooth powder features activated charcoal and a blend of clays, herbs, and essential oils for a unique brushing experience. It claims to whiten, brighten and detoxify while remineralizing your teeth, fighting cavities and plaque, and rebalancing the pH levels in your mouth for fresher breath. It's wise to consult with your dentist about these claims before making the switch since it can be abrasive and lacks fluoride. And don’t be fooled by the size—each jar packs in a full six-month supply.
Best Vegan: Cali White Activated Charcoal & Organic Coconut Oil Toothpaste
Even those with the most sensitive teeth can reap the rewards of this charcoal toothpaste without worrying about any tooth or gum pain. That’s because this formula skips the harsh ingredients that can trigger pain and instead features natural elements like activated charcoal, organic coconut oil, and baking soda to whiten and clean. Vegan and fluoride-free, it contains peppermint oil for flavor and to freshen breath. Speak to your dentist about whether a fluoride-free toothpaste is a good choice for you.
Best Natural: Schmidt's Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
Formulated with CoQ10, goji, pomegranate, aloe leaf juice, magnolia bark extract, and vitamin E, think of this as toothpaste with added botanical benefits. Of course, it contains activated charcoal, too, so you may get a fresh, brighter smile over time.
While we’re fond of all the above for different reasons, the overall favorite from team Byrdie is the Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste. Another no-fail favorite is the Crest 3d Whitening Therapy Charcoal Deep Clean Toothpaste— foams beautifully, freshens breath, and visibility whitens teeth over time.
What to Look For in a Charcoal Toothpaste
If your teeth are sensitive or have enamel damage, you should speak to your doctor before using charcoal toothpaste. The abrasive nature of some charcoal toothpastes could potentially wear down the enamel, leading to increased sensitivity and enamel damage that is irreparable.
Fluoride vs. Fluoride-Free
The concept of charcoal toothpaste is often synonymous with fluoride-free products. This is not necessarily a negative thing, but we recommend chatting to your dentist to decide if fluoride is an important ingredient for you personally.
Charcoal toothpastes often use essential oils for flavor while others rely on artificial flavors. Check the flavor and ingredients list to see if it is compatible with your preferred tastes. Essential oils can be strong and some might find them too intense.
What is charcoal?
According to Restorative Dentist and oral care expert Dr. Brigitte White, activated charcoal is a fine black powder derived from certain natural resources (like wood or coconut) and heated to an extremely high temperature. This process makes the powder porous, enabling it to absorb certain toxins and contaminants from the body like mouth odor and surface stains (think coffee, berries, and red wine).
Does charcoal toothpaste work?
Dr. White explains that there are no long-term studies to determine whether activated charcoal products are safe or effective in regard to dental hygiene. Her advice is to be cautious when using them for prolonged periods of time, and seek the advice of a dentist if you’re unsure.
Is charcoal toothpaste safe?
Overall, yes, charcoal toothpaste is safe, but speak to your dentist about specific products if you’re confused or concerned. Some research suggests the claims made by charcoal toothpaste brands can be misleading and the products ineffective.
Does charcoal toothpaste whiten teeth?
There's no concrete scientific evidence to prove that charcoal toothpaste will whiten teeth, but there are a lot of positive testimonials from users. Charcoal is often combined with other whitening ingredients as well for added benefit.
How we test charcoal toothpastes
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.
Why trust Byrdie?
After a not-so-great professional teeth whitening experience a few years back, Celia Shatzman swore off in-chair whitening experiences for good. That being said, she is an avid coffee drinker who also enjoys a nice glass of red wine, so she loves anything that will gently (and safely) lighten and brighten her teeth from the comfort of home.