I should start off by saying I've been using a black charcoal-containing toothpaste for almost a year (this one if you're interested). However, when Carbon Coco approached me and asked if I was interested in trying their products*, I said yes as there aren't many black toothpastes around in SA and it's always nice to try an alternative, especially since I'd previously seen Carbon Coco products on sites like Buzzfeed (yeah, I'm a guilty BF reader). Their products are available online on their website.
Before you get disappointed, there are no slightly-hideous-but-also-hilarious photos of me with a mouthful of black toothpaste in here, simply because once it's on the internet, it's there forever, and I'm not sure I want that image out there, haha!
How do charcoal toothpastes whiten your teeth? Well, like the silica in normal whitening toothpastes, the charcoal is abrasive, so it helps polish teeth as you brush and may reduce staining in the long term. Small particles of the dark charcoal also remain after brushing, which acts as a sort of colour corrector, cancelling out the yellow tones in teeth as an optical illusion, giving you the instant illusion of whiter teeth (just like your yellow concealer cancels out your dark under-eye circles)
"Activated" charcoal is a form of charcoal that has lots of little pores on the surface, so that the total surface area is very large. This means that there is a lot of space, relative to a non-porous sphere, for things to adsorp (yes, that's a real thing, I didn't misspell absorb) onto the surface.
I use my normal charcoal toothpaste twice a week in the shower (the rest of the time I use my normal Colgate), while I'm
I was sent the "Ultimate Carbon Kit", which contains a toothbrush and the activated charcoal toothpaste, as well as an activated charcoal tooth polish powder.
The first morning I tried the system, I just tried the toothpaste. The toothpaste is pitch black and has a strong (but pleasant) spearmint flavour. The foam, however, is a very pale grey, so it's not very messy to use at all. My teeth felt lovely and clean after brushing, but I didn't see a dramatic change colour-wise (although that may be because I'm used to using a black toothpaste).
That evening, I decided to try the powder tooth polish, which they recommend using at bedtime. The second step was the big wild card - that black charcoal powder! It is sold separately to the kit, in case you want to try it on its own. Carbon Coco recommends you did your (clean!) wet toothbrush into the powder, and then brush it onto your teeth for 2 minutes. Well, that went about as messily as you would expect, so be prepared! (I've only used it in the shower, while I've used the toothpaste normally). I first picked up a bit too much powder, so I spilled a fair bit of powder between the jar and my mouth, and this time I had the expected mouth of black goo! There isn't any minty flavour added to the powder, but I did feel like my teeth looked and felt cleaner after using it. After using the polish, you rinse and then go in with the toothpaste.
(They also recommend oil pulling as a third step, but that's stepping over the line into no-evidence pseudoscientific BS so I wasn't going to waste my time giving it a go, sorry.)
Overall, this kit is great for anyone wanting to try the world of charcoal-based teeth whitening. There is a bit of a learning curve regarding not making a mess, especially if you live in a water-scarce region where washing down surfaces twice a day is not something you can do, but I do find my teeth feel cleaner and look whiter since using a charcoal toothpaste. Will I switch to this system instead of sticking to my previous toothpaste, probably not, but it was nice to see what else is out there.
You can check out Carbon Coco on their website, Instagram and Facebook.
*Carbon Coco provided the products free of charge but did not pay me to write up anything. (I also had to pay customs fees for the import, FYI, so be aware that that cost may need to be factored in to your purchase)