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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. 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 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.
Best Drugstore: Colgate Essential Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
Price-wise, this tried-and-true toothpaste is hard to beat. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the efficacy department. The addition of activated charcoal means you 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 when it comes to 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 works to polish away surface stains. It’s fluoride-free, so might be worth chatting to a dentist if you’re wanting 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 brushing experience that’s both highly effective and good for you—albeit a little messy. It whitens, brightens, and detoxifies while remineralizing your teeth, fighting cavities and plaque, and rebalancing the pH levels in your mouth for fresher breath. 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.
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 can expect a fresh, brighter smile over time.
While we’re fond of all the above for different reasons, the overall favorite from team Bydie 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 when buying a charcoal toothpaste
Charcoal is black in color, meaning it can be very messy. If you take pride in a pristine vanity, you might want to weigh the pros and cons.
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.
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.
When it comes to dental health, the understanding is that charcoal can absorb odors and surface stains (think coffee, berries, and red wine). It’s reportedly been used for hundreds of years, but recently the ingredient has gained serious traction in the beauty sphere, so it’s popping up everywhere, especially in our toothpaste.
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 regards 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?
Following on from the above, the main point to consider is if the charcoal is combined with other ingredients proven to care for the teeth. For example, some charcoal toothpaste doesn't contain fluoride, which can have detrimental effects long term (especially if you’re prone to decay).
So overall, yes, charcoal toothpaste is totally safe, even beneficial! But speak to your dentist about specific products if you’re confused or concerned.
Does charcoal toothpaste whiten teeth?
There's no concrete scientific evidence to prove that a charcoal toothpaste will whiten teeth, but there’s 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.