When you’re brushing your teeth, you may be thinking something like "Does anyone actually brush the two full minutes?" or "Who’s leaving all the toothpaste blobs in the sink?" But have you ever thought about whether you’re brushing with a cruelty-free toothpaste?
Considering how many times we’ll buy toothpaste in a lifetime (don’t ask us to do that math!), for animal lovers, we want to make sure we’re supporting companies that align with our values.
Yet figuring out if a toothpaste is tested on animals is kind of like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube – it’s not easy and there are many sides to consider. But don’t worry – we've done the heavy (brain) lifting to help you make an informed decision.
The Toothpastes We Grew Up On Are NOT Cruelty-Free Toothpaste Brands
The reality is the toothpaste giants we grew up on are NOT cruelty-free brands and cannot be certified as such.
That includes popular brands like Crest (owned by Procter & Gamble), Colgate (Colgate-Palmolive), Aquafresh and Sensodyne (both owned by GlaxoSmithKline).
But before we envision corporate minions all sinister like, toiling away in dark labs mistreating animals, it’s important to paint the real picture.
The truth is these companies aren’t big bad proponents of animal testing. In fact, Procter & Gamble, for example, hasn’t (personally) tested on animals in decades and has invested millions of dollars in alternatives to animal testing.
Here’s a snippet from their website regarding their stance on animal testing:
P&G no longer animal tests any consumer product unless required by law and we are committed to make animal testing obsolete.
And here are snippets from the other two aforementioned toothpaste giants:
Colgate-Palmolive: Animal testing is only conducted where specifically required by regulatory agencies or where alternative testing methods are unavailable.
GSK: We only test non-medicinal products on animals where there is a specific legal or regulatory requirement to do so, in order to make a health benefit claim.
Reading between the lines, testing IS still done when required by law, which is why they can’t get a cruelty-free designation.
So when IS testing required by law?
China & the Cruelty-Free Toothpaste Conundrum
In 2012, it was revealed that Chinese law required cosmetics (toothpaste is under this umbrella) to be tested on animals before they could be sold in their territory. And China is big business for cosmetics!
That put companies in a tough situation – lose profits or lose a cruelty-free designation, knowing that animals would be subjected to product testing in Chinese labs.
Fast-forward to January 2021: China made some major changes to their animal testing laws, lifting mandatory animal testing requirements for CERTAIN cosmetics (classified as "non-special" or "ordinary"), toothpaste being one of them.
But as you’ve likely learned by now, it’s not that simple!
Ordinary cosmetics can still be animal tested under certain conditions, like if it’s marketed for kids or contains a new cosmetic ingredient. (Everyone loves an innovator, right?)
Adding to the confusion is WHERE it’s sold in China, mainland China being the issue. So while we can hope for the best, we’ll need to wait and see how many toothpaste companies can 100% put the practice of animal testing to rest.
Whew! Time for some jumping jacks and a coffee refill. (But if you’d like to go down the rabbit hole and explore further, Ethical Elephant does a great job of explaining China’s animal testing laws.)
Not "Everybunny" Is Cruelty-Free ... So How Do You Know Who to Trust?
Beware of fake bunny logos and random "we’re animal friendly" verbiage when shopping around for cruelty-free toothpaste. For some brands, cruelty free is merely lip service.
For example, cruelty free may just mean that the FINISHED product was not tested on animals. It doesn’t take into account all the individual ingredients that could have been animal tested along the way.
If you want to be certain that your toothpaste brand is TRULY cruelty free, at all stages, look for them to be certified by Leaping Bunny (Cruelty Free International) or PETA.
Is Your Toothpaste Vegan?
Many people who shop for cruelty-free toothpaste also want to make sure it’s vegan, with no animal products in it whatsoever.
Wait, isn’t toothpaste already vegan?
It’s easy to make that assumption. I mean, who’s ever seen a beef jerky-flavored toothpaste? But many toothpastes, surprisingly, are not vegan because of the following ingredients:
- Glycerin: This clear liquid is found in many toothpastes to help keep it moist. Glycerin can be sourced from either plant or animal fats. The only way to be certain it is NOT sourced from animals is if the product is labeled as "vegan."
- Flavor: It always scares us to see the word "flavor" on a label, and not actually know what that flavor is made of. Yes, it’s a way to keep things a trade secret, but still. If a product is not vegan, some of those flavors, even those listed as "natural," can be either plant or animal derived.
The Parent Trap
The plot thickens as some toothpaste brands are cruelty free, but their parent companies are not.
Cases in point: the vegan and cruelty-free toothpaste brand Hello, as well as Tom’s of Maine (cruelty-free brand), are both owned by Colgate-Palmolive. This can create a moral dilemma for many consumers.
That’s why, for many animal lovers, the perfect scenario is to have a vegan AND cruelty-free toothpaste without the brand being owned by a company that’s NOT cruelty free.
Fan-Favorite Toothpaste That's Cruelty-Free & Vegan ... Across the Brand
There are lots of cruelty-free, vegan toothpastes to choose from, and it's easy to get sucked into the allure of the ones that promise unbelievable "whitening benefits."
Here's the real deal, though. Whitening formulas are waaaay abrasive. (Please be especially wary before jumping on the charcoal toothpaste bandwagon.)
Even if you're the most generous person in the world, it's time to get a little greedy about your enamel ... because once it's gone, it's gone forever!
Abrasive toothpastes wear down the enamel, which exposes the yellow-hued dentin underneath. This creates a case of not-so-cool irony ... that what we're using to make our teeth whiter can actually have the opposite effect. Not OK!
That's why more and more people are making Oxyfresh fluoride-free Pro Formula Cosmetic Toothpaste their new favorite. This vegan & cruelty-free toothpaste has one of the lowest abrasion ratings on the market – RDA 45 – so it removes surface stains and helps whiten your smile without damaging your enamel.
Fresh breath, anyone? Another benefit of Oxyfresh toothpaste that you won't find ANYWHERE else is its ability to freshen your breath all day.
You read that right ... all day! This is courtesy of our groundbreaking breath-freshener, Oxygene®, a safe, eco-friendly ingredient that oxidizes bad breath compounds on contact. So even if you're a coffee addict like us, you can have peace of mind knowing your breath will stay fresh through all those sips.
So Much to Love About Oxyfresh Pro Formula Toothpaste
- Vegan & Leaping Bunny Certified so you can feel good every time you brush
- Fresh breath that lasts all day, courtesy of proprietary Oxygene®
- Natural peppermint oil for a refreshing taste without the menthol burn
- Free of alcohol, dyes & harsh abrasives to support a white, bright smile
- USA made so you can proudly represent the red, white & blue
Hopefully you learned a bit (or a lot) about toothpaste tested on animals and are ready to try your new-favorite brand ... ahem, Oxyfresh. We promise you'll love it ... or you can have your old toothpaste tube back. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have a Rubik’s cube to solve ...