Does Charcoal Powder Whiten Teeth?
In today’s instalment of “Sara tests things from the internet”, I went to the dark side…literally. I had to know if charcoal powder toothpaste really worked for teeth whitening. In short, the answer is kind of – but it’s really annoying. Here’s the good, the bad, and the messy.
Let me start by saying I bought the most highly-rated charcoal powder toothpaste on Amazon to give it the fairest chance. It has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating and 446 customer reviews. I read through a bunch of the reviews before purchasing, and most people were raving about it, a few even included before and after photos.
I bought this 2-pack set that came with 2 bamboo toothbrushes for $18.99 (CAD). Given this amount of powder will probably last you years, that’s a really good deal compared to any other teeth whitening product I know of. I chose the set with bamboo toothbrushes because I didn’t want to mess up my good electric toothbrush, and since charcoal powder is abrasive, it’s incredibly important you use it with an ultra-gentle toothbrush – and brush lightly – so you don’t damage your teeth’s enamel.
It arrived packaged in this box, which uh…wasn’t immediately confidence-inspiring. (Spellcheck is your friend, y’all.) However, I was willing to overlook the keysmash approach to the English language if the product got my teeth pearly-white.
What I’ve tried in the past
Like most millennials, this isn’t my first attempt at teeth whitening. I’ve used Crest Whitestrips, various brands of toothpaste that claim to whiten your teeth, and another brand of whitening strips that I’ll get into later in this post. Crest Whitestrips made my teeth feel sensitive, so I stopped using those pretty quickly. And all the drugstore whitening toothpastes I’ve tried didn’t make much of a difference, so I was keen to try this activated charcoal powder.
How it (allegedly) works
Activated charcoal is the main ingredient, which works to absorb plaque and other compounds that stain teeth. The addition of coconut oil is meant to help bond to oil-based stains in your teeth. Combined, these ingredients claim to whiten all kinds of teeth stains, like from coffee, tea, wine, or cigarettes. (I partake in the first three.)
This charcoal teeth whitening powder also claims to be 100% natural, with no additives, and organic – however unless something is “Certified Organic” that word doesn’t really mean anything.
How I used it
The directions say to wet the toothbrush and dip the bristles in the powder, lightly scrubbing your teeth for 1-2 minutes. Then rinse your mouth with water or your regular toothpaste to get rid of the residue. They recommend you do this once daily, 3 or 4 times a week (but that you can use it every day if needed.)
For my test, I used this product about 5-6 days a week for 3 weeks. I used it after brushing with my regular toothpaste most of the time, though I also tried brushing with my regular toothpaste afterwards too.
It claims to be a natural product, though the actual ingredients aren’t listed anywhere on the product or the product listing – only the “key” ingredients. So that’s a bit fishy.
However, it’s just plain fun to brush with this charcoal powder and grin at yourself in the mirror with an all-black mouth, like something from a zombie movie. (Yes, I’m reaching trying to list good things.)
The price is definitely the best part. It’s absolutely more affordable than any competitor teeth whitening product, and you get a TON of it that’ll last you ages. Plus, you get two toothbrushes with it.
For me, this product barely worked. And as usual, I REALLY TRIED. My teeth weren’t super yellow to start – so maybe this would work better and give more dramatic results if that’s the starting point. I saw maybe…maybe one shade of difference, if I’m being generous. And it seemed to disappear the next day after I had my coffee, so it was a pretty short-lived result.
But since so many people claimed to see results, I’m guessing those 400+ reviews are either fake/paid for, or they started with more stained teeth, and this charcoal powder toothpaste worked better for them.
Personally, I was trying to go from regular human white-ish teeth to superhuman, Youtube A-lister white teeth, but this did not get me there. I tried brushing with the charcoal powder for longer than the recommended 2 minutes, and I even tried letting the activated charcoal powder sit in my mouth for a half hour while I did other things a few times, to see if that would help increase the teeth whitening properties. Nope.
But here’s the really frustrating part. For $18 I can live with the whitening effects not being super dramatic. What I can’t live with is the annoying black powder residue stuck under my gum line!!!! Yo ho, yo ho – I do not want a pirate’s life for me, or a pirate’s mouth.
I only used this charcoal powder before bed, because reviewers warned about this – but I thought by morning it would be gone. It wasn’t. I tried everything to get rid of it – brushing with regular toothpaste afterwards, flossing…but you just can’t reach that space under your gum line. So FYI: this is definitely not a teeth whitening product you’ll want to use right before a special event or occasion.
I knew this was going to be messy based on all the reviews, but I was a little cocky in thinking *I* could control the mess. But good god, there’s just no way. Even if you brush with your face an inch away from the sink basin, this powder is so airborne and gets absolutely everywhere. So I hope you enjoy scrubbing your sink basin and countertop – because you’ll need to, every single time you brush with this charcoal powder.
I could forgive the mess and the utter inconvenience if this product really showed me dramatic teeth whitening results. But to me, it’s just not worth all the hassle. It takes so much time, from brushing to cleaning up after, to trying to sort out your now blackened gum line…for teeth that are at best, one shade lighter? No ma’am.
So what should you use instead?
If you want to whiten your teeth without wrecking your enamel, I’m a huge fan of these Mr. Blanc teeth whitening strips.
They’re definitely pricier ($42 CAD for a “two week supply” of 14 strips), but they really do work. I’ve been using them for a few years now, and just use 2 or 3 strips in the days leading up to a special occasion, when I want extra-white teeth. I find the whitening effect really lasts, and my teeth go a few shades whiter with no sensitivity at all after. So a “two week supply” of Mr. Blanc strips pretty much last me for an entire year.
This is not a sponsored review at all, I just really like them.
If you’ve tried a charcoal powder teeth whitening product before, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!