When you’re brushing your teeth, you might not think about the ingredients that you’re actually putting in your mouth.
Of course, all ingredients used in toothpastes have been tested and are regarded as safe, not that you’re eating your toothpaste… if you are, stop!
One commonly used ingredient though has been the topic of a lot of discussion Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or SLS.
There are many questions surrounding the use of SLS in certain hygiene products including shampoo, mouthwash and toothpaste. But why is this?
What is SLS and why is it in toothpaste?
SLS, also known as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, is an anionic detergent and surfactant.
Effectively, it is used as a foaming agent.
The reason SLS is used in products such as toothpaste is because it alters the surface tension of water to assist with more efficient cleaning.
This chemical will break down in water and cause frothing or foaming, creating the lather which we all associate with getting something really clean.
Can SLS be harmful?
Sodium Laureth Sulfate has been used in hygiene products for many years and has been deemed safe at the levels which are used in products. It is also less irritating than similar chemicals.
The fatty acids in SLS are derived from natural oils (coconut for example).
However, they are then treated with sulfated oxyethylene which is actually petroleum-based – not so natural sounding now.
Tests are still being carried out as to whether SLS can cause or trigger cancer, however, there is still currently no scientific evidence of this.
The main reason SLS has a bad reputation is due to the fact that is can be an irritant, causing skin complaints in some people after prolonged use of products containing a higher percentage of SLS.
In toothpaste, it could cause irritation to your gums, which is why some companies offer SLS-free toothpaste. Below we’ve reviewed some of the best SLS-free toothpastes in the UK.
Best SLS-Free Toothpastes in the UK
1. Green People Fennel & Propolis Toothpaste
This fennel-flavoured toothpaste from Green People is 100% natural, made from plant and vegetable derived products.
With natural antibacterial action, this toothpaste is suitable for those with sensitive teeth and gums as well as for those who may suffer from bleeding gums.
No fluoride or SLS is used in the making of this toothpaste and is also mint-free, which is great for anyone using homeopathic healing.
The key plant actives used to make this toothpaste are clove, fennel, myrrh and propolis.
- 100% natural
- Vegetarian friendly
- Suitable for sensitive teeth and gums
- Good cleaning results
- Not tested on animals
- Relatively expensive
- Not mint flavoured (this could be a pro for some)
- Fennel flavour could take getting used to
- Contains propolis – making this product unsuitable for vegans
Green People Fennel & Propolis toothpaste is relatively expensive in comparison to regular toothpastes and seems slightly more expensive than other SLS-free, natural toothpastes.
The natural ingredients and suitability for sensitive mouths mean this toothpaste is great for the whole family – adults and kids alike.
Kids under 3, however, should use children’s toothpaste as strong essential oils are present in this toothpaste.
The fennel flavour may take some getting used to if you are making the transition from a minty toothpaste, but it is still a refreshing flavour which should leave your mouth feeling clean.
2. Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste with Black Charcoal & Teavigo
Ecodenta’s SLS-free toothpaste uses the whitening effects of activated charcoal as well as the protective and antibacterial properties of Teavigo.
What is Teavigo, you ask?
Teavigo is a caffeine-free green tea extract which has been developed to contain a high percentage of EGCg, meaning a high level of antioxidants.
This toothpaste effectively removes plaque and feels refreshing.
- 96% of ingredients are of natural origin
- Whitening effect on teeth
- Tastes fresh and minty
- Can make your toothbrush look a little dirty
- May need to clean the sink after every use
- Doesn’t froth up (but this is due to being SLS-free)
This Ecodenta toothpaste is a little expensive in comparison to “normal” toothpaste, but is one of the cheaper options in this list.
The unique charcoal black formula may be a little strange to most, but the taste is still minty, so shouldn’t take too much getting used to.
This is a good toothpaste to try out if you’re hoping to whiten your teeth without the use of a bunch of chemicals.
The results may be slower, but it is much better to whiten naturally. Charcoal also helps to get rid of odours, so it leaves your mouth even fresher.
3. Georganics Natural Toothpaste
This toothpaste comes in a jar rather than a tube and has a coconut oil base, which is a great natural cleaner often used in pet toothpaste since it kills bad bacteria.
Georganics is mineral rich with potassium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate which help to naturally remineralise your teeth while cleaning.
All ingredients included in this toothpaste are food grade certified and organic, so it is a quality and healthy product.
The package includes a wooden spatula to help apply the toothpaste to your brush and of course, the glass jar is recyclable and the seal is made from biodegradable cellulose.
- 100% pure and safe formula
- Peppermint flavoured
- Mild toothpaste
- Vegan & cruelty free
- Handmade in the UK
- Pretty expensive
- Using toothpaste from a jar could be unhygienic/awkward
- Taste may not suit everyone
- Texture is very different from usual toothpaste – oily
We love the push to use non-plastic packaging, though this could be one of the reasons why the price is higher than other natural toothpastes. Another reason could be the fact this product is handmade in the UK.
This is a suitable toothpaste to use for all ages and would be a great choice for a family who are conscious of their carbon footprint and like to protect the environment whenever they can.
4. Optima Australian Tea Tree Fresh and White Toothpaste
Optima Australian Tea Tree Fresh and White toothpaste offers natural protection for healthy teeth and gums whilst having a lightly whitening effect.
Ingredients include aloe vera, extracts from horse chestnut and antibacterial/antifungal Terpinen-4-ol (primary active ingredient in tea tree).
The minimum of 38% Terpinen-4-ol in each tube is a guarantee of quality and purity of the product, and tea tree is also a great ingredient for sensitive gums.
- Tea tree is a good for gum health
- Peppermint flavoured
- Helpful for those who suffer from regular mouth ulcers
- Tea tree may cause a sour flavour
- Taste could take some getting used to
- Does not froth (effect of being SLS free)
- Anti-inflammatory ingredient may not suit sensitive mouths – it may cause a burning sensation
This might not be the best toothpaste for little ones as the flavour can be a little sour or overpowering.
If you have issues with sensitive gums, then using a tea tree-based toothpaste is a really great option – it helps to keep your teeth protected and clean.
This tea tree toothpaste would also be great if you suffer from mouth ulcers regularly.
5. Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste
Himalaya Botanique toothpaste is completely vegan friendly and contains no artificial ingredients.
This toothpaste comes in a spearmint flavour as well as a peppermint or whitening mint version, so you can choose which suits your needs the best.
- Spearmint flavoured
- Vegetarian and Vegan friendly
- Cruelty free
- 100% natural ingredients
- Minty flavour may not be what you expect – slightly medicinal
- No lathering (effect of being SLS-free)
- Whitening effects might be limited
Himalaya toothpaste is great for sensitive mouths and can help improve gum health, so may be a good choice for those who suffer from sore gums.
The refreshing taste of spearmint means your mouth feels clean as well as smelling great.
If carrageenan is an ingredient that you like to avoid, this toothpaste is proudly made without this thickening agent.
If you’re hoping to make the transition to an SLS-free toothpaste, then hopefully one of the above products will strike your fancy.
If whitening is a big deal for you, you may want to try the Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening toothpaste, or if you just want a minty toothpaste to replace your usual, then Himalaya offers 3 mint flavoured products to choose from.
Many people have found benefits to going SLS-free with their self-care products as well as fluoride-free when it comes to toothpaste.
If you’re suffering from strange side effects using “normal” toothpaste, then always consult your doctor or dentist and find out if they have any recommendations.
Changing your toothpaste to an SLS-free version does not mean you have to sacrifice cleaner teeth, although the lack of frothing may take some getting used to.
Naturaler is a UK website full of tips and recommendations for living a more eco-friendly, chemical-free and natural lifestyle.