The good, the fine, and the painful
EC: We Tried 5 Fancy Toothpastes and Here's the Best One
Credit: Illustration by Lauren Kolm

In the past few months, we've noticed a whole bunch of new and different toothpastes hitting the market. They were part of oral care subscription programs, or were "disrupting the dental hygiene industry," or did not look at all like the ubiquitous turquoise tubes of yore. Before that, it hadn't really occurred to us that our typical toothpaste choices needed some interrogation: Do I really enjoy the blue goop I squeeze onto a toothbrush every day? Or do I want something mintier? Something greener? Something goth? Do I want to color-coordinate my toothbrush and my toothpaste tube? Do I want something that looks good in Instagrams?

It was a lot to consider. So we gathered the toothpastes we had seen pop up most frequently, and took them for a spin over the course of a week. Here's what we found out.

Best for When You Like a Minimalist Aesthetic: Tulip

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Credit: photo by kate welsh

Let’s get it out of the way: Tulip’s packaging is adorable. It’s white, with colored accents noting the flavor. The cap is wide and seems like it would be at home on an apothecary shelf. What I’m saying is that it would look great in a #TopShelfie. Tulip also comes with it’s own toothbrush, that is similarly white and color-accented. All this adorableness comes as no surprise when you try the toothpaste itself. The mint flavor I tried was as sweet and gentle as the packaging. It’s a lovely light blue. It’s really nice to use in the morning, when you’re just waking up and don’t necessarily want to be shocked awake, but it’s kind of disappointing to use at night, when you’ve just had something garlicky or spicy and you want the taste out of your mouth. Still, I dug that this toothpaste had some great, velvety foaming action. Go for this one for a gentle wake up call, or just to freshen up.

Tulip Toothpaste, $6,

Best for Going Green: Hello

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Credit: Photo by Kate Welsh

I’ll admit to being already into Hello toothpaste before I tried it. Both the packaging and the toothpaste are designed with the planet in mind: So the boxes are recyclable and printed with soy ink; the tube is BPA-free; the paste doesn’t have microbeads or potentially harmful chemicals like triclosan in it; and it isn’t tested on animals. Hello also speaks to food-conscious consumers: it doesn’t use artificial dyes, sweeteners, or flavors, and it’s gluten-free. So far, so good! As for the product itself, though? It’s fine. It’s not very exciting. It’s white. The mint flavor is there but not powerful. The foam is minimal. I didn’t notice any real change in my teeth, but it did it’s job.

Hello Toothpaste, $4.99,

Best for Trying Out a Trend: Curaprox

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Credit: Photo by Kate Welsh

I never hopped on the activated charcoal trend, so I went into trying the Curaprox Black is White toothpaste with a bit a skepticism. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite toothpaste. The pitch black, activated carbon toothpaste turns gray as you brush and creates a liquid-y, chalk-tasting foam. The Lime Mint flavor is odd and underwhelming. What it really tastes like is vaguely mint-flavored charcoal. I didn’t feel like my teeth were any whiter, and I didn’t feel like my breath would stay fresh for very long. It’s not a paste that I would feel confident using right before a big presentation or a date. The Swiss brand claims that their “very-trendy” toothpaste intended for “young-minded self confident people who are eager to know what’s good” removes stains (from coffee or a “cigar or two”) without the abrasive agents and bleaches that are present in most brands. Judging by the other ingredients (sodium fluoride, hydroxyapatite, and naturally-occurring enzymes), the paste is also supposed to help with enamel. It probably tastes and feels better than just brushing your pearly whites with activated charcoal from a block (yes, people do that), but it still doesn’t make me feel as satisfied as using other, cheaper brands.

Curaprox Black Is White Toothpaste, $29.99,

Best for Once-a-Week Deep Cleaning: Crest HD Daily Two-Step System

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Credit: Photo by Kate Welsh

I am no stranger to, uh, rough beauty treatments. I genuinely enjoy exfoliating my skin with something that feels like a near cousin of sandpaper. So believe me when I say, Crest HD Daily Two-Step System is not for the faint of heart. As the name suggests, the system comes with two different tubes to promote teeth whitening and mouth health. The first tube is the “purifying cleanser,” which is basically a slightly gritty toothpaste that apparently strips away plaque. The second tube is a “perfecting gel”—a clear, thin gel—which “polishes and whitens.” You’re supposed to brush with each for a solid minute. I tried really hard to make it that long, but after 30 seconds with Step 1, my whole mouth ached, as if my teeth and gums were enduring a brain freeze. Step 2 didn’t necessarily help matters. Maybe I’m just a big wimp, but I’d only bring this one out occasionally, when I really need the deepest of the deep cleans. (That said, it has over 1,000 five star reviews and pretty amazing before-and-after photos on Amazon, so you do you.)

Crest Pro-Health HD Two Step System, $13,

The Overall Winner: Marvis

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Credit: Photo by Kate Welsh

If I’m being completely honest, I was super excited to try the Marvis brand (which can run you upwards of $10 for a seemingly gimmick-free paste) because people seem to really like it. Call it toothpaste bias. My only fear was that I would be disappointed by the self-proclaimed trendy toothpaste that boasts that its art-inspired, luxury product is “capable of capturing and involving a spellbound public, who is curious and open-minded.” Much to my pleasure, I found the thick, ointment-like toothpaste to be revelatory. The Classic Strong Mint is indeed very strong, it almost burns your tongue with a sensation similar to Listerine that makes me feel equally satisfied that my mouth germs are being effectively exterminated. After brushing for a generous amount of time, the product creates a fine-textured, silky foam, and, after you rinse and spit, your teeth feel freshly minted (as it were). They feel so clean that I swear if you were to grind them they would make little, hair-raising squeaks. Not to mention it makes my gums feel like they are in a 5 Gum commercial.

Marvis toothpaste, $10.50,