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Charcoal has been popping up everywhere, and we’re not just talking about your grill. The unexpected ingredient has taken the beauty world by storm, cropping up in everything from cleansers to toothpaste. But just to be clear, this isn’t the same stuff you use to barbecue—this charcoal is a black powder made from natural ingredients and coconut shells to be used as a detoxifier. Though it might seem like a new, trendy ingredient, activated charcoal has actually been around for centuries. Also known as activated carbon, it has found its way to dental products, promising a whiter smile. But activated charcoal can do more than just whiten your teeth. It can also help prevent cavities, balance your oral microbiome, freshen up bad breath, and remineralize teeth.
Activated charcoal is made in a high heat process, creating millions of tiny pores that trap chemicals and toxins. Since it’s negatively charged, substances with positive charges bind to it, including chemicals, toxins, free radicals, and gases. When it comes to oral health, that translates to removing surface stains from the teeth caused by the likes of wine, coffee, tea, smoking, and berries. Charcoal toothpaste can help remove acidic plaque from the teeth, getting rid of buildup and bettering your breath in the process. Using a charcoal-based toothpaste may also help balance the oral microbiome by boosting your oral immune system.
However, there are a few precautions to take when using a charcoal toothpaste, especially if you’ve had enamel issues in the past. Don’t brush too aggressively, since that can damage teeth. Instead of scrubbing, brush gently in a circular motion and make sure to rinse your mouth of all traces of toothpaste.
Ready to give it a try? Here are the top charcoal toothpastes for a brighter, whiter smile.
Best Overall: My Magic Mud Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
This pick is full of plenty good-for-your-smile ingredients beyond activated charcoal. It contains Bentonite clay, an absorbent powder that also picks up stains and odors; coconut oil to ward off bacteria, detox teeth, and decrease plaque buildup; and mint essential oils to leave your mouth feeling fresh. It’s completely safe for sensitive teeth. There are no toxic ingredients and the brand never tests on animals, so you’ll feel good about using this toothpaste, too.
Best Budget: Schmidt's Activated Charcoal Tooth and Mouth Paste
This natural option will leave your mouth feeling crisp and light courtesy of the refreshing Wondermint flavor. The combination of activated charcoal, goji, and pomegranate extracts, organic aloe leaf juice, magnolia bark extract, and vitamin E work together to whiten teeth, refresh breath, and fight plaque. Plus, it’s free of SLS, SCS, PEG, artificial sweeteners, and dyes.
Best Powder: Olivia Care Activated Charcoal Tooth Polish
This little jar contains exactly what you need to get whiter teeth the natural way. The combo of activated charcoal and peppermint essential oil team up to bring you fresher breath, fight cavities and gum disease, and remove surface stains, leaving you with a whiter, brighter smile. It also contains white clay to polish and scrub teeth while gently stimulating gums. Plus, the vegan formula is cruelty-free and doesn’t contain any artificial coloring.
Best Whitening: Hello Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
If you’re wondering how much charcoal is actually in here, the hue might give you a hint: the toothpaste is actually black. Though it can make a bit of a mess at your sink, the results are worth it. Sustainable bamboo is the hero ingredient in this toothpaste, which naturally detoxes and removes odors, making it great for polishing and whitening. This formula also freshens up your breath with coconut oil, mint, spearmint, and peppermint, all while fighting plaque. The toothpaste is free of fluoride, sulfates, artificial sweeteners and flavors, microbeads, parabens, gluten, and triclosan.
Best Flavor: Carbon+ Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
There are no unnatural, fake-tasting flavors here. Instead, Carbon+ uses actual peppermint essential oil for a fresh taste that lasts long after you’re done brushing. It contains tea tree oil, a natural antibacterial and antifungal, to fight bad breath. The whitening formula removes surface stains caused by drinking coffee, tea and wine, and smoking. Plus, it’s free of fluoride, SLS, additives, microbeads, and dyes. Made in the USA, it even has a money back guarantee if you’re not happy with the product.
Best for Sensitive Teeth: Cali White Advanced Charcoal 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, instead using natural ones 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, and Diatomaceous Earth and tea tree oil for their antiseptic and remineralizing abilities.
Best Natural: Fine Vine Triple Action Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
No need to worry about icky ingredients here! The natural formula whitens and cleans teeth naturally with organic activated coconut charcoal, peppermint oil, and Xylitol. The latter prevents bacteria growth, meaning it’s a huge help for bad breath. The formula removes surface stains gently, so it’s safe for sensitive teeth. There’s also baking soda, tea tree oil, coconut oil, and Diatomaceous Earth to detox and get your mouth extra clean. What’s missing is the bad stuff like SLS and parabens.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular charcoal toothpaste on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different charcoal toothpastes overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 25 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 2 of the toothpastes themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.