[READ TIME: 10 MIN.]
There is an old stigma around natural oral health care that it won’t really clean your teeth, and it will leave your breath smelling less than fresh. This was true at one point and time.
Thank the heavens for science, right! You can now get pearly whites and minty fresh breath without having to fill your mouth with harsh chemicals and surfactants that can disturb your oral microbiome and etc.
So let’s talk ingredients… our favorite subject on the Clean Beauty Compendium. As always, we start with the most pressing question;
What Should I Avoid in Oral Health Products?
Kitty says no to the 8 most common harmful oral health ingredients.
As with all personal care, people have created interesting harmful ingredients to replace natural ones over the years thus allowing companies to create a similar end result for super cheap! Woohoo for profit margins being their only concern!
So let’s talk about some of these bad boys; what are these ingredients, and why should you avoid them.
Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfates
This is an ingredient that you have probably heard a few times by now. It is just a great ingredient to avoid all the way around, but why is it bad for your mouth?
Our mouths need to be moist… again I know that I am stating the obvious, but I am going somewhere with this. I promise.
And if you’ve read even one article about why not to use SLS or any of its other anionic (negatively charged) Sulfate buddies on your face and hair, you will know that it is EXTREMELY drying. Its effect is no different on the skin of your mouth. This results in a downward spiral of increased salivation to attempt to remoisten the buccal cavity (AKA your mouth) and increasing the number of bacteria present, ending in the undesired result of bad breath. Yuck.
Not to mention that it can be easily contaminated with harmful chemicals because the ingredients must be ethoxylated (adding ethylene oxide–rates a 10 on EWG–to create ethoxylates and then ethoxysulfates) to create SLS. SLS is also found to contribute to canker sores.
Here is a list of synonyms for SLS to look for on your labels:
ALPHA-SULFO-OMEGA- (DODECYLOXY) POLY (OXY-1,2-ETHANEDIYL) , SODIUM SALT; DODECYL SODIUM SULFATE; PEG- (1-4) LAURYL ETHER SULFATE, SODIUM SALT; POLY (OXY-1,2-ETHANEDIYL) , .ALPHA.-SULFO-.OMEGA.- (DODECYLOXY) -, SODIUM SALT; POLY (OXY-1,2-ETHANEDIYL) ,A -SULFO-W (DODECYLOXY) -,SODIUM POLYOXYETHYLENE LAURYL SULFATE; SODIUM SALT; POLY (OXY1,2ETHANEDIYL) , Î±SULFOÏ‰ (DODECYLOXY) , SODIUM SALT; POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL (1-4) LAURYL ETHER SULFATE, SODIUM SALT; POLYOXYETHYLENE (1-4) LAURYL ETHER SULFATE , SODIUM SALT; SODIUM PEG LAURYL ETHER SULFATE; SODIUM POLYOXYETHYLENE LAURYL ETHER SULFATE
Triclosan is used in toothpaste to “fight plaque and gingivitis”. However, are you willing to risk future antibiotic resistance or endocrine disruption for healthy teeth, when nature has had a cure for that all along?
In a study by UC Davis, triclosan was found to cause fetal bone malformations in mice and rats. There was also evidence of cell signaling interference in the brain, heart, and lungs. Another study shows links between triclosan and breast cancer.
So if triclosan is so bad, what is the safe alternative? We answer that in a few paragraphs.
If you aren’t going to drink aspartame, why would you brush your teeth with it? You still get all of the same negative health effects from brushing your teeth with it as you do drinking it. Think about all those times you accidentally swallowed your toothpaste. Let’s be honest, it’s happened to the best of us!
What specifically makes aspartame so bad? It’s the methanol that it forms within your body. Your body cannot break it down so it is transported through your blood to areas such as your brain. There it likes to form formaldehyde. If your end goal is embalming your brain, then here is your solution.
Here is another instance where nature provides better alternatives.
Your dentist uses it on you, so you should use it too, right? Not necessarily. For a long time, the dental community has shouted that fluoride is the answer for strong healthy teeth. This was so strongly believed that the U.S. Public Health Service made fluoridation an official policy in 1951 and started adding it to drinking water in 1960. In a CDC (Center for Disease Control) Survey in 2010, a whopping 66% of the US is exposed to fluoridated drinking water.
As research continues, this is found to be less and less true. Fluoride is found to be especially harmful when swallowed because it accumulates in your tissues.
Here is a list of synonyms for Fluoride to look for on your labels:
SODIUM FLUORIDE, FLUOROSILICIC ACID, SODIUM FLUOROSILICATE
These are mineral oil derivatives that vary in application from antifreeze to paints. Its main function in oral care is a surfactant.
Again, surfactants are not a necessary part of oral hygiene. On top of that, it is just another version of mineral oil that is a known skin irritant. Nature provides so many better alternatives.
DEA’s main function in products is foam enhancement and is a huge no-no! EWG gives this puppy a 10 for the presence of nitrosating agents (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) when it reacts with other ingredients and the high risk of organ toxicity.
This is a non-essential ingredient and function in oral health products.
Alcohols serve many purposes in personal care products, and not all alcohols are bad. Specially denatured (SD) and sometimes denatured alcohols are extremely common in mouthwash. We all know that alcohol is great at killing off bacteria. It’s also great at drying out skin… similar to SLS.
An added bonus of SD Alcohol is that people have been using it to get drunk for as long as it’s been in existence. The average modern day mouthwash is around 20% alcohol. The average beer has around 5% alcohol. Hmm.. does this seem odd to you too? Especially since SD alcohol is typically mixed with other chemical derivatives to make it “unpalatable” such as thymol, menthol, eucalyptol, and methyl salicylate (from wintergreen oil).
Oh… and there are always those sneaky additives that can be even more dangerous than the carrier itself. Some products also contain unlisted ingredients like methyl alcohol (wood alcohol), which is also found in hand sanitizer.
There is absolutely no need for microbeads, and there is no reason for their inclusion in oral health products other than for marketing leverage.
Microbeads affect your gums the same way they affect the rest of your skin, they exfoliate them leaving behind tiny microtears for bacteria to move into and cause infections or sores. Your mouth has one of the highest cell turnover rates of any of your epithelial surfaces. Why would you exfoliate a surface that renews itself an average of every 10 days?
There isn’t really a natural alternative to this either, nor does there need to be one. Please don’t confuse silica as this. Silica serves many other functions than exfoliation, and silica is an important mineral in the human diet that contributes to oral health.
This is just… NO! Don’t buy a toothpaste with artificial flavor. I’m sorry, but put down the bubblegum toothpaste and opt for something like cinnamon and clove. Natural flavors are not restricted to peppermint, wintergreen, or spearmint anymore.
What Should I Look for in Oral Health Products?
Green tea is proven to be highly effective at reducing plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding of the gums.
**Something very important to note: SURFACTANTS ARE NOT NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY MOUTH! It is really just a matter of preference.**
Today, gentle oil and plant-based surfactants abound in the formulation world and at a comparable cost to traditional, harsh surfactants. Cocoamidopropyl betaine, sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, sodium cocosulfate, or decyl glucoside are some common alternatives.
There are also non-surfactant cleansers that get your pearly whites squeaky clean. Some common ones are clay, activated charcoal, cream of tartar, and baking soda AKA sodium bicarbonate.
Natural Plaque and Gingivitis Fighters
Essential oils are extremely potent and several of them are amazing for your oral health without the health risks of triclosan. Do they work as quickly? No. However, they work consistently and without risking your long-term health.
Here is a list of oils you want in your oral care for a clean and happy mouth:
- Tea Tree
Another ingredient garnering attention for its oral health benefits is Green Tea. Green tea extract is a common ingredient in natural oral products. One study found a significant decrease in gingivitis after 28 days of use. Another study compared green tea mouthwash and chlorhexidine mouthwash, showing that there was a significant decrease in bleeding as well as plaque and gingivitis in patients using the green tea mouthwas.
Nature is sweet. Do you add stevia to your coffee or tea? Why not add it to your oral health products?
Stevia is a popular natural sweetener that is easy to recognize on a label, but some other common natural sweeteners that you might not recognize off hand are xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, and monk fruit.
If you are worried about your enamel, you are prone to cavities, or you know for a fact that you have enamel hypoplasia ( a hereditary condition that leads to weak enamel), there is evidence that the cocoa extract theobromine is a safe and more potent alternative to fluoride.
Another fluoride alternative for healthy teeth is simply eating a nutrient-dense diet, cutting back on processed sugar consumption, and taking a good multi-vitamin. Remember, enamel is 90% mineral.
Propylene/Butylene Glycol Alternatives
Other oils with antibacterial properties such as coconut oil or babassu oil are ideal alternative ingredients to propylene or butylene glycol, and they contain more nourishing compounds such as magnesium. So if you do accidentally swallow it, it won’t be the worst thing you’ve put in your body all day.
Neem oil is another antibacterial oil that is popular in natural oral health products, and it has a long history of many uses in Ayurvedic treatments.
Natural Alternatives to SD/Denat. Alcohol/Ethanol
Thankfully there are several types of natural mouthwash on the market today with excellent alternative ingredients leaving your mouth just as fresh and clean without uncomfortable stinging.
Hydrogen peroxide is a very popular ingredient in mouthwash. It foams naturally to remove harmful bacteria and oxygenates the gums helping to keep them bright pink and healthy!
And as we mentioned above, green tea is a proven, highly effective mouthwash! It’s also significantly cheaper and easier to get your hands on than most truly natural mouthwash formulations.
Now that You Know
Natural oral health care isn’t just associated with hippies and patchouli oil anymore. It is well-researched, and now it’s widely available for the same price as your favorite tube of Colgate or Crest.
You no longer have to worry about it not being effective enough to freshen your breath or prevent cavities, and you no longer have to worry about what your kids are swallowing all those times they didn’t listen when you told them not to.
And now that you know what you want in your oral care, the challenge of navigating all of the products on the market today begins. But no worries! We’ve got your back and are talking about the best products the rest of the week; everything from toothpaste to oil pulling!
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What They Have to Say
A multifunctional, translucent veil of non-nano, broad spectrum SPF 30 and moisturizing botanicals to prime skin for daily radiance.
Let’s Talk Sunscreen
Sun care is everywhere this year! So here is another sunscreen to add to the list for consideration; the Kyrpis Pot of Shade: Heliotropic. It is a physical broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen and primer – so it won’t contribute to photoaging as it wears away like it’s chemical cousins.
This particular sunscreen uses 20% non-nano zinc oxide… so if you know that zinc oxide clogs your pores, better check out a different sunscreen.
Also avoid this if you hate white cast because this one will give you hardcore white cast if you are any darker than printer paper! We’re talking at least two shades lighter than your natural skin tone. You will definitely want a different one for days that you don’t plan to wear foundation.
White cast aside, it is a really good sunscreen and primer, and it wears BEAUTIFULLY under almost any foundation! It is an emollient cream formula that is GREAT for prepping skin, but I have noticed it only extends the wear time of my foundation in drier climates where my skin is significantly less oily.
In a nutshell, if you have drier skin this will leave your skin dewy and hydrated for foundation, and it works best if you give it about 5–10 minutes to sink in before applying foundation.
IMPORTANT: This is not waterproof! Please use a waterproof sunscreen for the swimming or sweating.
This is by far my favorite sunscreen I have tried this summer. Yep, even more than the Glossier one people are raving about. Every time I wear it, my skin looks so radiant no matter which foundation I wear. If glowy skin is your jam, then this is what you need in your life.
What You Get for Your Money
Kypris Pot of Shade: Heliotropic retails for $68.00. For your hard-earned cash, you get 0.91 fl oz (27 mL).
That rounds out to roughly $74.73 per fluid ounce/$2.52 per milliliter.
pH = 8
Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide – 20% Inactive Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isoamyl Laurate, Coconut Alkanes, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Silica, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lecithin, Rose (Rosa Damascena) Flower Extract, Algae, Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Isostearic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Seed Oil, Sweet Iris (Iris Pallida) Leaf Cell Extract, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Sodium Chloride, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Kukui (Aleurites Moluccanus) Seed Oil, Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo) Seed Oil, Squalane, Xanthan Gum, Tamanu (Calophyllum Inophylum) Seed Oil, Pomegranate (Punica Granatum) Extract, Chaparral (Larrea Tridentata) Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Bisabolol, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citric Acid
(Ingredients of Low Concern)
multiple, additive exposure sources; contamination concerns; use restrictions
Which sunscreen have you been loving this summer? Comment below!
[READ TIME: 6 MIN.]
What They Have to Say
A nourishing cleansing balm that erases makeup and gently lifts away impurities caused by pollution, it leaves the skin hydrated and silky smooth.
This Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser easily dissolves makeup and pollutants from the skin. Infused with argan oil, rose extracts, seed oils, and vitamin C, this cleanser leaves your face moisturized with each use.
The battle of the cleansing balms has begun!
Cleansing balms have become an important part of cleansing routines worldwide, 365, 24/7… all of that. No matter if it’s Summer, when you need to thoroughly remove stubborn SPFs, or in Winter, when you may wear a little bit more makeup.
BUT which cleansing balm is the one… the almighty… the all powerful one that will clean off all the makeup, dirt, etc., without stripping your skin?!!
That’s why tCBC started this series! We will do all of the hard work and save you from the decision fatigue that can be comparing the hundreds of cleansing balms on the market today. So, on to our first match up!
e.l.f. Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser vs. Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm with Echinacea GreenEnvy™
Obviously Farmacy takes the cake for in the naming department (insert hysterically laughing emoji face).
Names aside, let’s get down to what really matters… what does the product look, smell, and feel like, because to quote Juliette, “What’s in a name?” Not a damn thing!
Farmacy’s Green Clean Cleansing Balm
Farmacy Green Clean – Inside
- Cost = $34.00 for 3.2 fl oz (90 ml)
- Cost per ounce = $10.625 per fluid ounce
In the jar, the Green Clean cleansing balm is a pastel kind of aqua color and it has a very subtle, bright citrusy scent. It does contain the citrus essential oils; lime, bergamot, and orange. Please note that they do not specify if the bergamot is bergamia-free (the compound that can sensitize your skin to sunlight), so if you have sensitive skin keep that in mind.
The product is hard to the touch but starts to melt on contact with skin. The balm suddenly becomes this luxurious feeling oil that glides easily over skin and doesn’t tug at the eye area or irritate the eyes. It also emulsifies and rinses clean with minimal pressure or tugging. So all A+’s for feel and performance!
As far as ingredients are concerned, it contains a lot of great ingredients such Turmeric, Ginger, and Moringa oil and extract. However, the Moringa extract appears very low on the ingredient list which just makes us wonder how concentrated it is or did they have to use less to keep at a certain price point.
Speaking of pricing; it’s not cheap, and it’s not outrageously expensive. $34 is pretty middle of the road as far as cleansing balms go and, for the amount of plant extracts and oils, isn’t too steeply priced for what’s in the jar.
As far as packaging goes, the outer box, as always, is beautiful and an enjoyable way to learn about Farmacy as a brand, but the jar itself is simply thin plastic. They counteract the cheap jar by adding a lid and spatula to help keep the product sanitary.
Oh.. and it lasts quite a while, using on average four times a week, it lasted about 3 1/2 months. So… it’s about $10.00 a month…
Cleansing Skin with Green Clean (R) and Melt Cleanser (L)
Side cleansed with Green Clean after rinsing
Green Clean EWG Rating
Green Clean Ingredients
Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Peg-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Peg-10 Isostearate, Polyethylene, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Amino Esters-1, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Amber Powder, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract, Solanum Melongena (Eggplant) Fruit Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Water/ Aqua/ Eau, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Echinacea Purpurea Root Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid
Green = Low Risk | Yellow = Moderate Risk
Turns into a light oil texture
Doesn’t tug around or irritate the eyes
Contains a variety of cleansing plant extracts and oils to help keep pores from clogging
Comes with a second lid and spatula to help keep the product sanitary
It’s not exactly a budget-friendly initial investment
It’s only readily available if you live near a Sephora
e.l.f. Melt Cleanser
e.l.f Hydrating Gel Melt Cleanser – Inside
- Cost = $10.00 for 1.41 oz (40 g)
- Cost per ounce= $7.09 per ounce
e.l.f. did a surprisingly good job with this cleansing balm as far as clean ingredients. It is a clear balm that kind of smells, looks, and feels like petroleum jelly, but isn’t petroleum jelly… that’s the most apt description we could come up with. ;D
This balm features a lot of rose ingredients and Argan oil. It melts down on contact with skin but still keeps more of a balmy texture than the Green Clean cleansing balm. Sadly, it doesn’t perform QUITE as well as the Green Clean either. It does tug at the eye area a bit (so maybe don’t use for removing eye makeup), and it can leave some mascara/eyeliner residue behind after rinsing. The residue wipes away, or washes away easily if you double cleanse. I did notice a difference in how hydrated my skin felt when not double cleansing.
Ingredient wise, the Melt Cleanser has a simpler, over all cleaner ingredient list. The packaging is nice and beautiful in it’s simplicity. I appreciate that e.l.f. took the time to use outer packaging, and the jar is a sturdy double-walled frosted blue jar. Aesthetically, e.l.f. wins.
Again averaging four uses per week, it lasted one month… so again, you’re paying $10.00 a month to use this product.
Left side cleansed with the Melt Cleanser Cleansing Balm after rinsing
Melt Cleanser EWG Rating
Melt Cleanser Ingredients
Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Water (Aqua), Sucrose Stearate, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate
Green = Low Risk | Yellow = Moderate Risk
It’s well priced for most budgets
Ingredient list is simple
It does what it says; removes your makeup and leaves the skin hydrated.
The amount of product is a little on the small side
It tugs at the eye area a bit and doesn’t completely rinse away eye makeup
Who takes the win?!
Farmacy Green Clean – Inside
We have to give the win to Green Clean. It works out to be the same cost per month as the Melt Cleanser, and it’s easier to keep the product sanitary, but what really won it for Green Clean is how easily it removes eye makeup without tugging!!