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The reality is, toothbrushes can produce a lot of plastic waste — over 400 million manual brushes are sent to landfills in the U.S. in a single year alone, according to Colgate — and unfortunately, these plastics often end up in waterways and harm all the little and not-so-little sea creatures. More sustainable options, like bamboo toothbrushes, have definitely gained popularity within the last few years. Now, Colgate is adding another option to the bunch with its Keep toothbrush that's composed of 80 percent less plastic than its traditional tools.
How did the brand do it? This brush comes with two parts: a recyclable aluminum handle shaped like an infinity symbol and a soft-bristled disposable brush head with a tongue and cheek scraper, made of plastics and other materials. Therefore, the plastic is solely located in the head instead of taking up the whole body of the brush.
Whitening on the left and Deep Clean on the right
There are two options for heads: deep clean and whitening. The deep clean head has "floss-tip bristles", meaning that they are tapered rather than flat to help reach small crevices (but they aren't meant to replace actual flossing). Similarly, the whitening head has "spiral-polishing bristles," which are designed to help remove stains and brighten teeth. I put both to the test to see how well they could clean my teeth.
I've used bamboo toothbrushes before but sometimes felt the bristles weren't firm enough for the level of clean I wanted. Oftentimes, after a few weeks or so, the bristles would look bent and worn out, so I was curious to see how this brush would perform.
When shopping for a toothbrush, New York City-based dentist Lana Rozenberg says there are five things to consider: shape and type of bristles, length of the brush head, manual versus electric, and if it has the American Dentist Association (ADA) Seal of Approval, though this is not a requirement. The ideal toothbrush should have soft bristles (too hard and you can damage your teeth) with rounded tips made of nylon and a brush head about an inch long and half an inch wide.
Thankfully, this manual toothbrush hits those requirements, but it doesn't have the ADA seal. However, Rozenberg shares that you can still use a brush without the seal but that the approval helps certify that "the product does what it says."
Once I received the brushes, I immediately noticed the physical difference in the two heads — the deep cleaning has white and blue bristles with neon green cups, as the brand calls them, while the whitening has blue and white striped bristles alongside white cups. The cups are the only part of the brush that aren't bristles and they help hold the toothpaste in place, according to the brand. When I used each brush, I actually didn't notice any difference between the two's performances, however, my teeth felt much cleaner using either one in comparison to my electric brush.
The soft-bristle brushes do provide a thorough clean, unlike some of the other sustainable toothbrushes I've used. The tongue and cheek scraper is great for removing any buildup of food or dead cells sustained through the day. All in all, I was happy with the results from both brushes.
What's great about this toothbrush is the fact that the handle's infinity shape is actually symbolic of the fact that it's designed to last a lifetime. Meanwhile, the brush heads are made to be disposed of after three months, to be exact. The brand has created a partnership with Terracycle, which has a service you can use to recycle these heads. You hold onto the handle and add new heads infinitely, hence the name Keep.
For $10, you can get a starter kit — including one handle and two heads — in navy blue or silver with either the deep clean or whitening head at target.com. Refill kits with two heads each retail for $5.
A version of this story originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.
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