Image via Instagram.
I’m no stranger to bizarre health and beauty treatments popping up on my Instagram feed. Girls slathered in coffee bean scrub? Sure. Fitness models sipping detox tea? Yawn. But there’s a new health trend that’ll stop you in your Instagram-trawling tracks: women, mouth dripping black, brushing their teeth with charcoal.
Legions of women and health and beauty bloggers are posting selfies of their teeth coated in jet-black charcoal, all in pursuit of a natural, pearly white smile. Apparently.
But before you head out to the BBQ for some DIY tooth whitening, not all charcoal is created equal. When charcoal is exposed to certain gases, it becomes activated (yes, like almonds).
Activated charcoal is highly absorbent and removes toxins it comes into contact with. It’s used in mainstream medicine to expel unwanted chemicals from the body, such as after someone swallows poison and has their stomach pumped.
Admittedly, water filters also use activated charcoal to remove impurities so it’s not a far stretch. So far, so good.
New Australian brand Warpaint is leading the forefront of activated charcoal for tooth whitening. Founded in by paramedical aesthetician (aka skincare expert) Petra Konig, Warpaint has amassed a cult social media following and ships to 40 countries around the world. Not bad for a brand that hasn’t even turned one. (Post continues after gallery.)
“Warpaint was created out of my own frustrations,” explains Konig.
“We have too many chemical-based teeth whitening products on the market. I wanted a natural product to clean, polish and whiten teeth.”
Like a handful of activated charcoal products on Etsy and Amazon, Warpaint claims to remove stains, kill bacteria and naturally whiten teeth without chemicals and added nasties. All by simply dipping a wet toothbrush into the fine, odorless and tasteless black dust and brushing it onto teeth in small, gentle circles for two minutes. Spit it out, rinse and you’re done. Apparently.
So does this weird alternative whitening treatment actually work?
“It’s possible the trend has validity but there is no conclusive scientific evidence,” says Dr John Hagiliassis, dental lecturer at University of Melbourne and principal dentist at Freedom Dental.