One month ago I switched to charcoal toothpaste, and I’m never, ever going back.
For the uninitiated, activated charcoal has a long and well-documented history in the wellness space. It’s been successfully used in hospital emergency rooms for years to treat patients who have been poisoned or who have overdosed, and is a key ingredient in skin-clearing face masks and cleansers. The reason is pretty simple: This special form of carbon can bind to nasty, toxic substances, and stop them from being absorbed by the body. You can understand then, why natural health advocates believe a little activated charcoal on your toothbrush can lift surface stains and whiten your teeth.
DIY charcoal mouth rinses abound on Pinterest – and these home remedies go much further back than the internet. However, it’s 2016 and now you don’t have to go around mixing your own sooty solutions – brands have formulated, packaged, and now sell far convenient options. One such product is Curaprox Black is White Toothpaste ($29.99 with toothbrush), which I’ve personally been trying, loving, and recommending to everyone for about four weeks.
I first learned about Curaprox while noticing a beauty editor and close friend’s smile was looking particularly bright. After wondering out loud where she got her teeth professionally whitened, she told me about her new charcoal toothpaste. “I really think it’s made a difference in just a couple of weeks,” she added. Fueled by equal parts cynicism and curiosity, I decided to order a tube for myself.
You should know that I’m no rookie when it comes to pursuing a pearly-white smile. While I haven’t tried a professional treatment, I have used (and, TBH, abused) drug store bleaches for years. And while the formulas certainly worked in the short-term, I always thought the effects wore off after a week or so. This cycle of over-bleaching in my early 20s has now left me with sensitive teeth – and a hatred of over-the-counter whitening products.
Activated charcoal, however, appears to be different. “The charcoal acts as a magnet by ‘pulling’ stains off the teeth to restore a natural white smile,” a spokesperson for Curaprox told me over email. They promised results in just two weeks after using the black paste twice a day – and assured me it’s safe to replace your regular toothpaste as it contains many of the same effective ingredients such as “sodium fluoride and non-hydroxyapatite,” which helps “strengthen teeth, decrease the effects of acid, bacteria, and plaque buildup, and can also even fill in incipient cavities.”
They had me at “natural while smile,” so I ignored the funky-looking black paste and got started. I’m nothing if not a guinea pig for beauty trends.
Within a week I started noticing a difference, but it took at least three before my boyfriend admitted my teeth were looking particularly white. Being a total cynic, I sadly didn’t bother taking a before picture (I never really expected this to work!), however dug up a pre-charcoal photo that, when contrasted with a snap from last weekend, really shows off the progress. Yes, the red lipstick and lighting probably helps, but I really think this stuff is effective. Even if it is messy.
Some dentists do warn that the abrasive substance could damage teeth or gums, so it might be a good idea to go and chat with a trusted medical pro if you have concerns. However, if you’re excited to try a charcoal toothpaste, there are other brands also getting into the oral charcoal business that you might like to test. One competitor, My Magic Mud Whitening Tooth Powder ($25), has great online reviews and comes in cute packaging (important). Alternatively, you might be into something less extreme, like Boka, a healthy oral care subscription service that sends you a new brushing kit every three months. While the toothpaste isn’t charcoal-based (although it is devoid of potentially harmful triclosan, parabens, and fluoride), the brush’s bristles are made with activated charcoal, which proponents claim can be effective too. And hey, you never know; I’m such a fan that I might even double up with charcoal paste and the brush.