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Best SLS-Free Toothpaste

Toothpaste on brush head

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a detergent. This means it has a foaming action. As an ingredient, it is added to lots of different things, from house cleaning products or shampoos to toothpaste.

There is some debate regarding the use of SLS in toothpaste, and some people prefer to avoid it.

In this post I therefore give some recommendations for the best SLS free toothpaste, but also go into more detail about why it is included in some toothpaste products in the first place.

Why is SLS included in toothpaste?

Before you decide to exclude SLS from your toothpaste, it might be useful to know why SLS is in toothpaste.

SLS is included in toothpaste because of its cleaning action, and because it helps to stabilise other ingredients found in toothpaste (for example, helping the oil based and water based ingredients to stay mixed).

There are also some known benefits of adding SLS to toothpaste:

  • SLS is antimicrobial – it can help kill bacteria.
  • SLS can prevent formation of plaque (which causes cavities and gum disease). 
  • SLS causes foaming, which is cleansing in itself, helping to loosen debris on and around teeth. 
  • SLS and its foaming action helps to spread toothpaste into hard to reach areas, for example helping to get fluoride between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.
  • People generally like the foaming sensation of toothpaste containing SLS, and it does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste (unlike some alternative detergents that could be used).

Several of the recommendations in my more general best toothpaste article do include SLS.

Why choose a toothpaste without SLS?

Despite all these known benefits, there are some known risks (and some misinformation) about toothpastes containing SLS. 

There is some evidence to show that SLS-free toothpastes are just as effective as toothpastes containing SLS despite the benefits listed above.

Why are people looking for a SLS-free toothpaste? Well, reasons to avoid SLS include possible health concerns, environmental concerns, and lifestyle choices aiming for a natural toothpaste.

Known health reasons to avoid SLS toothpaste include:

  • Repeated use of products containing SLS can lead to dermatitis, and this has been recognised by Health Canada. Although generally speaking this only applies if it is used in high doses and if it has prolonged contact (which isn’t always the case in the mouth, where saliva helps to wash the paste away).
  • SLS causes irritation to the cells of the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. This can lead to mouth sores and stomatitis. Trials have shown SLS to cause uncomfortable mucosal sloughing (when the top layer of your gum falls away from the surface).
  • Evidence shows that SLS can cause increased irritation to people who already suffer from recurrent aphthous stomatitis.  Toothpastes containing SLS can slow down healing and increase pain if you suffer from regular ulcers in your mouth. The recommendation is that you avoid toothpastes containing SLS.

An unpleasant side effect after using a toothpaste containing SLS is that it may affect your taste buds after usage. You may have noticed this yourself, in what the authors of this paper described as the orange juice effect: “when consuming a citrus juice drink just after toothbrushing with an SLS dentifrice, SLS causes an astringent and unpleasant taste sensation.”

Finally, if you are Looking for a natural toothpaste, you may want to avoid SLS. It is possible for SLS to be made synthetically or can be derived from a natural source.

3 good options for toothpaste without SLS

These are by no means the only good toothpastes that come without SLS — there are plenty of options.

To keep things simple I have listed 3 good options immediately below, but I also include other options later on in the article and a list of SLS-free toothpastes at the bottom of the page.

Burt’s Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste

Burt's Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste

Burt’s Bees has a range of toothpastes, all of which are SLS free. This one has made it on to our list because it is an affordable yet natural toothpaste that still contains fluoride. 

It is a little pricier than the normal brands, but this is a good price for a natural and SLS free product. If you are looking for the best all round toothpaste, I would recommend Burt’s Bees Clean and Fresh Fluoride Toothpaste, but avoid the fluoride free pastes which do not provide protection against cavities, and the whitening pastes which can be more abrasive. If you want to avoid the minty flavor, you could opt for the kid’s toothpaste instead.

Pros

  • SLS free.
  • Contains fluoride
  • Natural toothpaste.
  • Minty Flavour.
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Not tested on animals.

Cons

  • Not vegan (could contain animal or animal derived products).
  • Plastic packaging.

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 105mL tube
  • Approx $5 / tube
  • $

Colgate Zero Toothpaste

Colgate Zero Toothpaste

This toothpaste is the newest offering from Colgate, and aims to please the health conscious market, being minimalist on ingredients, whilst still containing important fluoride.

I have included this toothpaste due to its availability on the market, and it being a popular and well known brand across Canada. Actually, it seems to be one of the only toothpastes marketed as “natural” from the most common toothpaste manufacturers (Crest, Sensodyne, Colgate). You may be more tempted to go for this toothpaste because you are familiar with the branding, and there is no problem with that.

Colgate are making a move towards environmentally friendly packaging by making the tube recyclable, but unfortunately there is still some single use plastic in the tube

Pros

  • Contains fluoride
  • No artificial flavours, sweeteners, preservatives, colours
  • Organic ingredients
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Vegan
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies

Cons

  • Still some single use plastic

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 75ml tube
  • Approx. $6.50 / tube
  • $$

Sensodyne Daily Care

Sensodyne daily care toothpaste

Sensodyne is one of the most widely available and affordable brands of toothpaste out there. What’s more, many of their products are SLS free. 

The Sensodyne Daily Care toothpaste has made it to the top of this list due to the variety of additional benefits and different tastes available, it comes in Fresh Mint, Multi Action, Multi Action Whitening, Ultra Fresh, Deep Clean, and any of these would be suitable.

This is also the best SLS free toothpaste if you suffer from sensitivity.

Pros

  • SLS free.
  • Widely available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
  • Contains fluoride for protection against cavities.
  • Also helps relieve sensitivity.
  • Protection against erosion from acids.

Cons

  • Use of single use plastics
  • Not vegan

Where to buy

Price comparison

  • 135mL  tube
  • Approx $5 / tube
  • $

Best SLS free toothpaste without fluoride

Whilst I don’t recommend fluoride free toothpaste, as you miss out on the known anti-cavity properties of fluoride, I respect that some people may still wish to avoid toothpastes containing fluoride. 

In which case, there are two main options available to you:

  • An SLS free fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and no major source of remineralizing agent. Whilst ingredients like xylitol have a small anti-cavity effect, it would not be enough to be remineralizing in the same way as fluoride.
  • An SLS free fluoride free toothpaste that contains no fluoride and which does contain an alternative remineralizing agent. Calcium phosphates (such as hydroxyapatite) help reharden the tooth surface in a similar way to fluoride. These ingredients are newer than fluoride and are still undergoing long term studies, but have not yet been CDA approved. They are normally more expensive than fluoride, but there is lots of evidence supporting their effectiveness.

I have listed some fluoride-free and SLS-free options in the list of toothpastes below.

Best SLS free toothpaste for kids

Some toothpastes are branded specifically for kids. In some cases this may be because they have a more child friendly flavour, but it might also be because of a lower fluoride content. 

If you are considering an SLS toothpaste for your child, you could in fact pick any of the recommended toothpastes in the list of best options above or the list of other SLS free toothpastes below, so long as they do not swallow the toothpaste, and that it is used under supervision. 

Best SLS free toothpaste for gingivitis / receding gums

If you have sore gums you may consider an SLS free toothpaste to prevent further irritation, especially if you already have ulcers. Some toothpastes may also include further ingredients to help reduce the amount of gum disease causing bacteria, as explained in my post on the best toothbrush for gum disease

FAQ

Are there any other names for SLS?

Yes, SLS may also be called sodium dodecyl sulfate; dodecyl sulfate, sodium salt; and sodium n-dodecyl sulfate.

Is SLS a natural ingredient?

Sodium lauryl sulfate can be made synthetically or naturally. SLS can be derived from either petroleum based or vegetable based sources.

Is SLS in toothpaste safe? 

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association Limited (CTPA) state in the booklet Confidence in Cosmetics:Whilst prolonged or frequently repeated contact with high concentrations may cause irritation, this is not normally seen at the low concentrations used in cosmetics and personal care products, and they are safe to use in cosmetic products. “

What are the links between SLS and cancer?

There are no known links between SLS and cancer. The American Cancer Society does not list SLS as a cancer causing agent, and there is no scientific evidence to support claims that regular use of SLS in toothpaste can lead to cancer. 

Are there alternatives to SLS?

Yes, some alternatives to SLS include: cocamidopropyl betaine (tego betain), sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (adinol), stearate 30, sodium N-lauryl sarcosinate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Lauryl glucoside

Is Colgate Toothpaste SLS Free?

No, most toothpastes from Colgate contain SLS. They consider SLS as a safe ingredient. They have SLS free baby toothpaste. 

Is Sensodyne Toothpaste SLS Free?

Most Sensodyne toothpastes are SLS free as they believe it can “irritate sensitive teeth and gums”.

Other SLS-free toothpastes

In the table below, I have included some brief notes and a comparison of other SLS-free toothpastes.

Unless stated otherwise, the SLS-free toothpastes included on this page have been selected using the following criteria:

  • Contain fluoride or other remineralising ingredients
  • Contain no sodium lauryl sulfate

If you are choosing your own toothpaste, I recommend factoring the above points in as well as the general advice from our toothpaste hub page.

Name of ProductAnti-cavity protectionAlso good forPrice Range
Hello toothpaste sensitivity relieffluorideNatural
Sensitivity
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Hello activated charcoal epic whitening fluoride toothpastefluorideNatural
SLS free
Whitening
Vegan
$$
hello activated charcoal fluoride free toothpastenoNatural
SLS free
Whitening
Vegan
$$
hello toothpaste naturally whitening without fluoridenoNatural
SLS free
Whitening
Vegan
$$
Hello kids toothpaste with fluoridefluorideKids
Natural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Hello Oral Care Kids Fluoride Free ToothpastenoKids
Natural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Tom’s of Maine Botanically FreshnoNatural
SLS free
$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste with Fluoride fluorideNatural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste noNatural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride – Baking sodanoBaking soda
Natural
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Kingfisher Natural toothpaste without Fluoride – Naturally whitening charcoalnoNatural
SLS free
Vegan
Whitening
$$
DoTERRA On Guard® Natural Whitening ToothpastehydroxyapatiteSLS free
Vegan
Whitening
$$$
Radius USDA Organic ToothpasteNoNatural
Organic
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Auromere Ayurvedic ToothpastenoNatural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Himalaya Botanique Complete Care ToothpasteNoNatural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Dr Bronners Peppermint ToothpasteNoEco-friendly
Natural
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Jason Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Anti-Cavity Toothpaste fluorideGum disease
Natural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Jason Simply CoconutnoNatural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpasteNoNatural
Non-mint available
Organic
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Redmond EarthpowdernoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
Organic
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Colgate ZerofluorideNatural
SLS free
$
Lush Toothy TabsnoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Lush Toothpaste JellynoEco-friendly
Natural
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
The Natural Dentist ToothpasteFluoride (fluoride free available)Gum disease
Natural
SLS free
Whitening
$$
The Humble Co Toothpaste in a JarfluorideEco-friendly
Non-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
The Humble Co Natural ToothpastefluorideNon-mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
The Humble Co Natural Toothpaste Tablets with FluorideFluoride (fluoride free available)Eco-friendly
SLS free
Vegan
$$
Green BeavernoneNatural
Non mint available
Sensitivity available
SLS free
Vegan
$
Green Beaver Naturapeutic ToothpasteHAPNatural
Non mint available
Sensitivity available
SLS free
Vegan
$
Biomed Superwhite ToothpasteHAPNatural
Non-Mint
Organic
SLS free
Vegan
Whitening
$$
Biomed Propoline Natural ToothpasteHAPGum disease
Natural
Non-Mint
SLS free
Organic
$$
Biomed Sensitive ToothpasteHAPNatural
Non-mint
Organic
Sensitivity
SLS free
$$
Sensodyne Rapid Relief: Original, Extra FreshfluorideSensitivity
SLS free
$$
Sensodyne Daily Care: Fresh Mint, Multi Action, Multi Action Whitening, Ultra Fresh, Deep CleanfluorideSensitivity
SLS free
Whitening available
$
Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Protection: Gentle Whitening, Mint Essence, Fresh Wave, Multi ActionfluorideSensitivity
SLS free
Whitening Available
$
Sensodyne Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair: Extra Fresh, Clean MintfluorideSensitivity
SLS free
Whitening Available
$$
Sensodyne Pronamel Strong & Bright Enamel: Mint, Extra FreshfluorideSensitivity
SLS Free
$$
Ultradex Whitening ToothpasteFluoride
HAP
Bad Breath
SLS free
Whitening
Vegan
$$
GC MI Paste OneFluoride
HAP
Sensitivity
SLS free
$$$
GC MI PasteHAPNon mint available
Sensitivity
SLS free
$$$
GC MI Paste PlusFluoride
HAP
Non mint available
Sensitivity
SLS free
$$$
Green BeavernoneNatural
Non mint available
SLS free
Vegan
$$
ReminxylitolSLS free$$$
OrajelFluoride (Fluoride free available)Non mint
SLS free
$
Nelson naturalsnoneNatural
Non mint
SLS free
$$
Burt’s Bees Enamel CarefluorideNatural
SLS free
$
Burt’s Bees Clean and FreshfluorideNatural
SLS free
$
Burt’s Bees Purely White ZennoNatural
SLS free
$
squiglefluoride
xylitol
Sls free$$
Jack n Jill Natural toothpastexylitolKids
Natural
Non Mint
SLS free
Vegan
$$

About Dr. Gemma Wheeler, BDS (Hons)

Gemma qualified from Cardiff University School of Dentistry in 2015. She went on to complete her Foundation Training and a further two years in the Armed Forces, primarily based around Wiltshire. She now works in a private practice in Plymouth.

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