Spicing up my bathroom routine in more ways than one
What’s the weirdest reason you’ve ever been late to something? I wonder if anyone would ever accept “I missed the bus because I was busy wrestling my tube of toothpaste” as a valid excuse. How I’ve managed to come in later than expected because of toothpaste trouble on multiple occasions, I’m not sure. As for the why, I guess it’s in part due to the fear of there being product left in there and the guilt of allowing yet another plastic tube to join the ever-growing garbage pile that is our planet, but it mostly boils down to me being too lazy to open up a new box like a normal, sensible person would when faced with the same dilemma.
Tired of both being late and having to spend what little energy I have in the morning fighting an inanimate object, I decided to test a more user-friendly and environment-friendly alternative: toothpaste tablets. Enter: LUSH’s Toothy Tabs. My first encounter with them had been months before, on one of the many nights I’d been binge-watching those viral Facebook videos on sustainable products and I’d been curious ever since. Now, I finally had an excuse to try them out myself.
After checking out LUSH’s website (yes, they’re now online), I found that the brand’s take on toothpaste tablets comes in four flavors: Miles of Smiles, Dirty, Boom! and Limelight. One of the immediate downsides was that they cost a pretty penny at P525 per bottle. LUSH has never been the most budget-friendly, especially for college students with just-enough allowances, but that much for toothpaste? That needed some consideration.
Deciding it was worth shelling out for, I chose to test Boom! for a month, mostly because I’d never heard of heating toothpaste before. The cooling, minty feeling after brushing your teeth was something I looked forward to regularly, so I wanted to see if I’d like spicy heat, too. Plus, it was cola-flavored. I couldn’t say no to that. I placed my order on the site and, two days later, it was at my doorstep.
Upon first sight, I noticed the product contained less than I expected. I guess it’s one of the cons of not being able to see something in person first. The clear plastic bottle, unlike LUSH’s trademark black jars, could not be traded in for reuse. However, LUSH does mention that all their packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic and advises Toothy Tab users to give new life to each and every bottle.
Going into it at first, I thought the tablet would be something you dissolve in water before use. Apparently not. You’re supposed to chew on them like you would a piece of candy, before brushing your teeth with a wet toothbrush. My toothy tabs were made from a mix of charcoal and gunpowder tea, so it was pretty interesting to see my mouth foam to a dark shade of gray. After those two steps, you brush, rinse and gargle as you would with regular toothpaste.
I’ve used the tablets for a month and it’s definitely spiced up my mornings, both literally and figuratively. While they use cola as a main flavorant, LUSH also uses pepper oil and chili for the Boom! tablets––and you can definitely taste it. It isn’t a burning hot sensation, but I can see why they call it a heating toothpaste. There’s a mildly unpleasant salty undertone that you can pick up while brushing, but once you’ve gotten past that, it tastes like a chalky cola tablet. A mild, warm sensation stays even after you’ve finished gargling and it’s surprisingly just as pleasant as the cooling one that comes with regular toothpaste.
One of the best parts about Toothy Tabs is how travel-friendly they are. I’ll admit that most days, I end up brushing my teeth twice instead of the recommended three times, but it isn’t like dental hygiene is my top priority after lunch when I’ve got class to get to. In the few times I’ve brought them with me to school, I came to appreciate how they wouldn’t leak onto the contents of my bag like some of my mini toothpaste tubes have. Its dry formula also gives it a longer shelf life, without the use of preservatives. LUSH proves this with a video showing how the the tablets go from Yay for convenience! Yay for no extra baggage! Yay for good ingredients!
It’s a whole thirty-something days after I switched to tablets and I think they’ve done me more good than bad. They don’t advertise it as a whitening product, but I do think my teeth have gotten brighter, probably due to the charcoal. I came in with a mild case of plaque buildup––probably from all the iced coffee and green tea latte runs I make––but now that problem has been visibly diminished.
|Before Toothy Tabs
While I didn’t get the zero-waste experience I was hoping for, I think Toothy Tabs are still the better choice for the environmentally conscious. Again, there's LUSH's recycled bottles––which is plastic, yes, but are recyclable after use unlike tubes. LUSH also makes sure to remind users to recycle their bottles with a note on each bottle. Their dry formulation and compact size also contribute to the brand’s ethical efforts. On a bigger scale, it means that the tablets are easier to manufacture, process and transport, so less fossil fuels are wasted. Not the best, but definitely better than your run-of-the-mill, mass-produced tube toothpaste.
When it comes down to it, would I be willing to make the switch? I actually think I might, once I’m not living on a college student's allowance. They’re still a bit pricey and are definitely out of my budget at P525 for a bottle that lasts a little over a month, so it’ll be a while before I buy them again. I can’t say I’m anyone’s sustainability life goal personified––especially since I still live under my parents’ roof and depend on them for my groceries––but I do want to make slow, small changes in my life that are better for the environment, even though they tend to cost more. Who knows, maybe once I’m financially ready to get on board that (self-funded) sustainability train, maybe Toothy Tabs will be my start.
If you wanna test Toothy Tabs out yourself, you can order them on their official website.
Words and Photos Giuliana Treñas
Art Alexandra Lara