Wednesday, 10 December 2008


I was walking with A., the niece of a friend in Los Angeles. We were looking for a place to have coffee. She's from California and mentioned that her mom ships her her toothpaste. I asked why, and she answered, "Well, I use Tom's and you just can't find it here."

I looked at her with alarm. "Do you know why you can't find it here?"


And then I had to tell her. I felt horrible having to tell her, wanted to leave her in ignorance, but sharing my own recent disappointment was so heartening.

I ran out of toothpaste pretty soon after arriving in London. I went to the local Whole Foods, aka Fresh and Wild, and saw that they carried Tom's, but not my flavour. I scouted around some more, and couldn't find Tom's ANYWHERE. I bought some German brand somewhere to tide me over. It seemed natural. Was sort of minty (they are much more adventurous with flavours here, perhaps too adventurous), and reasonably okay.

Then I happened upon the Homeopathy Shop in Covent Garden after a meeting. I asked them why the didn't carry Tom's. The woman swallowed and said, "well, it seems they are owned by Colgate." "What???" I said. "And, they use sodium lauryl sulfate." "What's that?" "It's a toxic chemical found in many products that is a cheap foaming agent." "Now what am I going to do?"

I researched and found that both sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate are though to be incredibly toxic. They are found in shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, shower gels, etc. As I was looking for substitute products for things I was running out of, I noticed that even the "natural" products at most chains contained one of these chemicals. It was really upsetting.

So far, I've tried 3 different toothpastes. The first one was actually the best. The one I have now tastes okay, but I have to brush my teeth twice in a row for them to feel almost clean.

What to do? Go back to Tom's just to feel clean and possibly poison myself? Go for some corporate toothpaste? Is Tom's really owned by Colgate?

A. was tremendously disappointed. She has been using Tom's for 15 years. I think I've been using it for 20. All the time thinking we were using something natural and healthy and effective.

How closely do we need to look at every single thing we bring into our lives? Is it true that what you don't know can't hurt you?

p.s. Tom's is owned by Colgate. And they do use SLS, however they have several SLS-free tothpastes now available.

1 comment:

Susan said...


My name is Susan and I work at The Natural Dentist. We make natural oral care products (toothpaste and mouthrinse) and I just wanted to let you know that our entire line of toothpaste is SLS-free.

If you're interested in trying it or finding out more you can drop me an email: