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Finding natural, organic and vegan toothpaste: ratings for 40 brands of toothpaste, with recommended brands and brands to avoid. 

We rate the big toothpaste brands like Colgate and Sensodyne, how to avoid plastic packaging, and which brands sell vegan toothpaste. 

About Ethical Consumer

This is a shopping guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

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What to buy

What to look for when buying toothpaste:

  • Is it cruelty-free? 80% of the world still permits animal testing for cosmetics, although it is technically banned in the UK. The Cruelty-Free logo guarantees that the brand is not animal testing anywhere in the world. Also look for companies that received our Best rating for their animal testing policy.

  • Is it organic? This is an easy way to avoid some of the nasty chemicals that are in so many products, which can be harmful for human health and the environment.

Subscribe to see which companies we recommend as Best Buys and why 

What not to buy

What to avoid when buying toothpaste:

  • Does it contain animal products? Surprisingly, lots of toothpaste brands use animal products. In the interest of animal rights and the environment, go for a vegan brand.

  • Is it packaged in plastic? As a petrochemical product, plastic production supports the oil industry. It also causes environmental pollution. Seek out toothpaste packaged in the infinitely recyclable glass and tin.

Subscribe to see which companies to avoid and why

Score table

Updated live from our research database

← Swipe left / right to view table contents →
Brand Score(out of 100) Ratings Categories

Our Analysis

In this guide we give the big toothpaste brands and the small independents a checkup to see if they need to brush up on their ethics. 

We reviewed and rated 40 brands and found a huge difference in overall scores, with some of the big well-known brands and high street shops barely scoring above zero, while many eco-friendly brands scoring almost full marks. 

How ethical are the major toothpaste brands?

Colgate is by far the best selling toothpaste company with its myriad of brands topped by Colgate Total. Its competitor is Haleon, which spun off from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, as a new joint venture with Pfizer. Haleon owns the second-best selling toothpaste brand, Sensodyne, as well as Aquafresh, Biotene, Corsodyl and Macleans.

Are there natural toothpaste brands?

Aside from the big players, there are a host of other smaller companies that specialise in vegan, organic, and ‘natural’ cosmetics and toiletries.

Natural products generally claim to avoid preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial colours, additives, or synthetic flavours and fragrances. But, as there is no legal definition of the term ‘natural’, it could be used to mean virtually anything (unless a product is certified ‘natural’ by a third party, such as COSMOS or NATRUE). So be sceptical!

What about finding an ethical mouthwash?

Many of the companies in this guide also make mouthwash with the same brand name, apart from mouthwash brand leader Listerine which is owned by Johnson & Johnson

There are a number of small companies in this guide that only make toothpaste: Georganics, Kingfisher, Nothing Wasted (NOWA), and Truthpaste.

Can you avoid plastic tubes when buying toothpaste?

Plastic-based toothpaste tubes have always been a problem for the ethical consumer because they are typically made of a mixture of plastic and aluminium which makes them hard to recycle.

Increasingly, the tubes are being made of HDPE plastic, which is, in theory, recyclable. Most manufacturers are working towards all their toothpaste ranges being recyclable by 2025.

That’s a lot of unrecyclable toothpaste tubes that are still being sold and sent to landfill. 300m a year in the UK, to be precise. Enough to circle the globe twice. And that’s just in the UK.

Of our Best Buys and Recommended brands that use plastic: 

  • Kingfisher has already converted all its tubes to HDPE.
  • Green People has one variety (Fresh Mint & Aloe Vera) in an HDPE tube.
  • Lush pots are made from 100% recycled polypropylene and can be returned to shops for recycling.

If your tube has a recycling symbol with the number 2 in it, then it is made from recyclable HDPE. But check to see whether your local authority recycles them. Some local authorities still don’t accept them in household recycling, even though they are made of recyclable HDPE like your milk bottles and shampoo bottles which are accepted.

If your local authority doesn’t accept HDPE tubes, take them to the Recycle at Boots scheme which takes a range of other hard-to-recycle toiletry and cosmetic products including make-up. 

Plastic-free toothpaste alternatives

While recycling is an improvement, it does not adequately address the problem with plastic packaging.

Plastic is a petrochemical product which cannot be infinitely recycled, so virgin plastic will continue to be produced, thereby maintaining demand for the oil industry.

Single-use plastics need to be banned, but until that has happened you could choose plastic-free toothpaste:

  • Toothpaste in a glass jar.
  • Toothpaste in aluminium tubes or tins.
  • Both glass and aluminium are widely recycled and can be recycled indefinitely.

Our Best and Recommended Buys from our Toothpaste guide in plastic-free packaging were:

  • Dr Hauschka – 100% recycled aluminium tubes.
  • Georganics – toothpaste, powder, and tablets in glass jars, toothsoap (solid toothpaste) in an aluminium tin.
  • NOWA – toothpaste tablets in a refillable tin.
  • Truthpaste – toothpaste in a glass jar.
  • Weleda – aluminium tubes.

All these brands, marked with [S] on the scoretable, received an extra point for Product Sustainability because they are plastic free.

The three brands using glass and aluminium tins – Georganics, Truthpaste, and Nothing Wasted – are expensive relative to some of the major brands. This is partly because they are very small companies and are not yet benefiting from economies of scale. But also because the low price of plastic products does not properly reflect the wider cost of plastic production and use, such as environmental pollution and carbon emissions.

Powders and tablets also have the additional benefit of being waterless, just like solid shampoo bars, so there are fewer carbon emissions linked to their production and transportation.

Person holding wooden toothbrush and small tin of tooth tablets
Tooth tablets in tins or jars avoid plastic packaging

Vegan Toothpaste

The most common animal by-products found in toothpaste are:

  • Glycerin. Also listed as glycerine or glycerol, this sticky liquid helps keep the toothpaste moist. Glycerin can be derived from both animals and plants but and it's almost impossible to know the source unless the product is clearly labelled as ‘vegan.’
  • Bee products. Propolis, bee pollen, and beeswax are all common ingredients used in natural oral care products.

The only way to be sure that you are avoiding animal products is by buying vegan products. Fortunately, there are lots more vegan brands out there. These are marked on the scoretable with [Vg] and get an extra Product Sustainability mark. 

Few of the market-leading brands are vegan. Sensodyne Nourish is vegan and Colgate launched Smile for Good in 2020, but it has since disappeared. However, Tom's of Maine, an independent brand now owned by Colgate, mainly makes vegan toothpaste.

Arm & Hammer toothpastes are all vegan. Superdrug sells six own-brand varieties which are vegan but, though Boots used to sell a vegan one, it no longer does. None of these companies score very highly on our scoretable, and some are owned by companies that might use animal products in their other toothpaste brands or other parts of their business.

To avoid supporting these companies, all the toothpaste varieties of the following brands are vegan. The table below also shows whether the whole company group is vegan, vegetarian, or neither.

Company type Brands
Vegan company Georganic, NOWA (Nothing Wasted), Truthpaste 
Vegetarian company Kingfisher, Green People, Lush
Neither vegan nor vegetarian Arm & Hammer, Dr Organic, JASON, Lavera, Urtekram

Cruelty-free toothpaste

Animal testing is a key issue in the global cosmetics and toiletries industry.

EU/UK regulation should mean that no cosmetics products, nor the ingredients that go into them, are tested on animals, though this legislation has some loopholes. We have a separate article which explores animal testing policies and legislation. 

The following brands received our Best rating for animal testing policy for being certified as cruelty free or operating a ‘fixed cut-off date’ (FCOD, a date after which none of their products or ingredients will have been tested on animals):

A couple of companies get a middle rating for having a cruelty-free policy and stating they do not test ingredients or products on animals, but they are not certified and don't have a FCOD:

Organic toothpaste brands

To ensure that the ingredients used to make your toothpaste have been produced in a way that minimises damage to the environment and biodiversity, opt for a toothpaste that is certified organic. Organic certification ensures that the agricultural ingredients are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and GMOs. We have a separate article on ethical labels for organic certification schemes.

The following brands sold certified organic varieties:

Fluoride in toothpaste

Health authorities in the UK such as the British Dental Health Foundation and the NHS are unequivocal in their recommendation to use fluoride toothpaste as a way to prevent tooth decay. Adults should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day and spit out any excess, but don’t rinse to maximise the fluoride’s effects on your teeth.

However, there are consumers who are concerned about the health effects of excessive ingestion of fluoride, especially because fluoride is added to the water supply in certain parts of the UK. The concern is that people, especially children under seven whose teeth are developing and who might swallow toothpaste, might be getting too much fluoride. Too much fluoride during tooth formation can cause dental fluorosis, an aesthetic issue which is a mottling of the enamel.

The NHS says dental fluorosis is uncommon in the UK as fluoride in the water supply, where it is added, is carefully regulated.

But only 10% of the UK population get fluoridated water that is sufficient to benefit oral health, so toothpaste is the most common way people get their fluoride.

You can obtain a free copy of the water quality test results for the water supply to your home or workplace by contacting your local water company. 

In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, no public drinking water is fluoridated.

Very few of the brands sell only fluoride-free toothpastes: only A Vogel, Dr Hauschka, Truthpaste, and Weleda. Many more of the smaller, alternative companies sell both fluoride and fluoride-free toothpastes.

Are there palm oil free toothpastes?

Palm oil and its derivatives are found in a vast number of cosmetics and food products. In toothpaste it is often used as a dispersant, and can appear under many names.

The unsustainable production of palm oil is one of the biggest threats to the forests and wildlife of areas where it’s grown, like Borneo and Sumatra. Palm oil production is continuing to spread to other countries like the Philippines, Nigeria, and throughout South America.

Deforestation is a major environmental crisis and a leading cause of climate change globally. Some organisations advocate for a complete boycott of palm oil while others point out that it has the highest yield of all oils, therefore whatever it is replaced with will require larger areas to grow.

We rated all the companies in this guide for their palm oil policies. 

Palm oil free companies:

Best rating for palm oil policy:

All the other companies scored a middle or worst rating. See the full list on our palm oil free toothpaste brands page.

You can read more about palm oil and the cosmetics industry in our separate article

Older man and young boy brushing teeth

Price comparison of toothpaste brands

We have compared our Best Buy and Recommended brands to the brand leaders Colgate, Sensodyne and Oral-B. The table shows cost per day if used by one person twice a day. For toothpastes, the calculation was based on using 0.5ml of toothpaste per day and for tablets, 2 tablets per day.

The stand-out observation is that Best Buy, Kingfisher, is cheaper than all the brand leaders. You don’t always have to pay more to buy ethically!

Brand Cost per day
Kingfisher mint fluoride 1.4p
Oral-B Pro-Expert 1.5p
Colgate Total  1.8p
Lavera fluoride Complete Care 3p
Sensodyne Nourish (vegan) 3p
Weleda Plant Gel 3.46p
Sensodyne Repair & Protect 3.8p
Dr Hauschka Mint fluoride free 4.3p
Georganics toothsoap 4.9p
Green People fluoride  5p
Lush Cool with fluoride toothpaste 5.4p
Georganics refill 720 tablets 6p
Truthpaste toothpaste 10p
NOWA tablets 13.3p
Georganics fluoride toothpaste and
toothpaste powder
Georganics Mineral toothtablets jar* 16.5p

Prices are from Co-op, Boots, Unicorn (Manchester organic and vegan grocers), and company websites.

* Georganics toothtablets jars are refillable with a bulk purchase which works out at only 6p a day. 

Making your own toothpaste

If you want to spend less, be in control of the ingredients going into your toothpaste, and generate less packaging waste, making your own toothpaste might the answer.

There are loads of recipes available but the most basic is a mix of bicarbonate of soda and water, with perhaps some peppermint oil for flavouring.

Making your own means it will be fluoride free, so make sure you get your fluoride dose elsewhere – tea, coffee, drinking water, supplements etc. A good, easy to read source of information on dietary fluoride is

This guide appears in Ethical Consumer Magazine 206

Abbreviations in the scoretable: [O] = organic [S] = plastic-free packaging [V] = vegan

Company Profile

Colgate-Palmolive, the massive multinational also behind brands including Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Sanex Personal Care, owns Tom’s of Maine too, which therefore scored lower than expected given its eco-friendly branding and focus on natural ingredients.

Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

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