Toxic chemicals policy of toothpaste brands (scores are based on whole company group)
When rating companies for their policies on toxic chemicals, we looked specifically at policies relating to the use of triclosan, parabens and phthalates.
||JASÖN, Weleda, Lavera, Kingfisher, Georganics, Truthpaste, A.Vogel*, Green People*, Colgate*
||Sante*, Euthymol*, Listerine*, Urtekram*, Lush*, Signal*, Mentadent*, Logodent*, Oral-B*
||Pearl Drops*, Sensodyne*, Aquafresh*, Arm & Hammer*, BlanX*, Clinomyn*, Theramed*, Superdrug*, Macleans*, Corsodyl*, Eucryl*, Sarakan*, Polygrip*, Dr Organic*, Biotene*, Boots*.
* These companies also lost half a mark under Pollution and Toxics for having inadequate policies on microplastics and liquid polymers
Is it the end for triclosan in toothpaste?
Triclosan is an anti-bacterial agent, first used by surgeons to sterilise their hands, which is still in use in health settings. Triclosan and other antibacterial agents have been in widespread use in a surprising array of consumer products including sports clothing, children’s clothing, soft toys, mattresses, deodorant, make-up, skincare lotions, chopping boards, pencils, and kitchen tools.
It has also been commonly used in toothpaste. Concerns over their impact on the environment and on increasing microbial resistance to antibiotics led to calls to remove triclosan from products.
The controversy over triclosan was inflamed in September 2016 when the US Food and Drug Administration effectively banned a range of antimicrobial agents including triclosan from hand and body washes. The FDA ruled that the evidence submitted by the manufacturers “were not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective”.
GlaxoSmithKline removed triclosan from its Aquafresh, Sensodyne and Corsodyl toothpaste ranges in 2010 in response to consumer concerns. Proctor & Gamble’s Oral-B toothpaste is also triclosan-free.
In 2017 Time magazine described Colgate as the only brand still using triclosan in its toothpaste. Despite continuing to insist that triclosan is safe, Colgate stopped using triclosan in its products in January 2019 (although be aware that the last of the old formula still seems to be available in some shops).
A search of the Superdrug and Boots websites, which sold a lot of brands and listed ingredients, appeared to suggest that triclosan in toothpastes is indeed a thing of the past! However, that does not mean that companies are not still using it in other products.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
SLS is a foaming agent, that dissolves and disperses dirt, widely used in toothpastes. Its use has been controversial as a number of consumers have voiced concerns over its alleged effects on human health.
This is mainly related to things like skin-irritation, and the potential to worsen some mouth conditions such as ulcers or ‘dry-mouth’. SLS-free toothpastes are available from, for example, Green People, Georganics, and Kingfisher. It is important, however, that concerned consumers check the list of ingredients. SLS and other detergents can often be products of palm oil.