Toothpaste: we all use it, but should we be ignoring well-known household names like Colgate or does it have vegan ingredients?
Colgate has sensed the tone and decided to embrace the fact that veganism is spreading, and not just for 31 days in January. Rather, this is a global ethical shift towards animal-free living and every company needs to get on board, hence Colgate’s certified vegan offerings. “But wait,” I hear you cry, toothbrush dangling from the corner of your mouth. “Isn’t all Colgate Total toothpaste vegan anyway? What could possibly be in it to prevent it from being suitable for vegans that love their pearly whites?” Let me tell you.
Ingredients to watch out for in Colgate toothpaste
There are a number of common ingredients that you need to be mindful of, if you want to avoid consuming animal products in the form of a minty mouth freshener. Toothpaste brands have been able to slip under the radar for a while, mostly because there have always been weird and wonderful alternative options out there that don’t have fluoride in them. Now, the focused gaze of vegans old and new is turning to even the most basic household products, like Colgate, with active toothpaste ingredients being seen for what they are, including:
Glycerin: Often animal-based, though vegan alternatives are freely available.
Calcium phosphate: A nicer way of saying bone char.
Propolis: Produced by bees and, like honey, this is not vegan.
It’s also worth noting that Colgate is sold in China and as we all know, that means it is subject to being tested on animals. Even if Colgate does have vegan products in its portfolio now, there is still an ethical question mark hanging over the company in terms of cruelty-free policies.
Is Colgate vegan toothpaste good?
This is a weird question and can be answered in two parts: whether it functions well as a plant-based oral care product and if it does good for the wider world too. Let’s start with the first issue.
In terms of fighting gum disease, cavities and bad oral health, the vegan toothpaste Colgate has launched is a success. It does everything it should, uses both active and inactive ingredients to clean well and look after your teeth. Fluoride has been included for dentist-standard protection and The Vegan Society has given it the seal of approval in terms of being totally animal derivative-free.
When it comes to being a more eco-friendly product, Colgate’s Smile for Good range comes into its own. Colgate supplies it in recyclable toothpaste tubes and boxes, offers a transparent ingredients list and claims that over 99% of the inclusions are from natural sources. Proudly carrying the vegan trademark, it stands alone in a sea of household names as a mainstream alternative to natural toothpastes that dentists have long chastised for negating fluoride. But there is a snag with this ‘recyclable toothpaste’. It costs £5 a tube.
No, you didn’t just go blind, this really is a tube of toothpaste that costs more than double that of more regular options. This in itself has put many vegans off buying it, as it has left them feeling exploited and their ethics taken advantage of.
Read how other companies are upping their sustainable packaging game.
What are the alternatives?
Pay a visit to your local health food shop or go online to Holland and Barrett to find plenty of non-Colgate alternatives, if you’d prefer to spend your money with a company that aligns with you ethically. Don’t forget that vegan and cruelty-free are not the same thing, and nor does one guarantee the other, so you’ll need to do your research into potential brands. To get you started, here are some relatively easy to find options:
Ecodenta: Offering a full spectrum of minty, whitening and even kid-friendly toothpastes, this is a brand that is unequivocally suitable for vegans. It also offers a range of mouthwashes too, which are alcohol and chemical-free.
Aloe Dent: Made using aloe juice in place of traditional water, Aloe Dent claims to give natural cleaning and extra freshness.
Dr Organic: Clearly labelled as suitable for vegans and vegetarians, Dr Organic is popular because of the range of flavours to choose from. If mint isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps pomegranate will be.
If in doubt as to your toothpaste choice, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist or hygienist for their advice. They should be able to point you in the direction of a brand that they can safely recommend that won’t compromise your ethical beliefs.