Colgate has unveiled a line of vegan, gluten-free products that have no artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors. It may sound like the latest natural food trend … but the products are toothpaste, mouthwash and toothbrushes.
Colgate-Palmolive (CL) on Monday announced the launch of Colgate Zero products, which appear to be aimed at the same younger, more health- and eco-conscious crowd that buys from niche, smaller competitors like Dr. Bronner’s. It could also help Colgate better compete with Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crest oral hygiene products, which is also Colgate’s largest competitor. P&G owns natural brands Burt’s Bees Purely White and Native Toothpaste.
The new Colgate Zero products are clear in color, which the company believes will signal that they are free of artificial ingredients. The Colgate Zero toothpastes for adults and children are free of artificial preservatives.
The company also introduced alcohol-free mouthwash. The ingredients may be different, but the company said its products deliver “all the protection you have come to expect from Colgate.”
Colgate did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how removing preservatives from toothpaste will affect the product’s shelf life. The health benefits of using vegan oral hygiene products is also unclear: The Colgate Zero toothpaste for kids ages two to six has earned a stamp of approval from the American Dental Association, but the group could not confirm if vegan toothpaste is any better for a person’s oral health than traditional cavity-fighting toothpaste.
Consumers have rebelled against artificial ingredients in recent years. Food producers, including Kraft Heinz, and restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Panera, have pledged to free some of their food from preservatives and artificial flavors. Colgate’s new line of toothpaste suggests the trend is making its way to non-food products as well.
Colgate-Palmolive recently announced its plans to acquire Hello Products LLC, a self-described “natural-friendly” oral care company that emphasizes its use of eco-friendly ingredients in its marketing.
Last year, Colgate released recyclable toothpaste tubes into the marketplace after developing the product packaging for five years. The company’s leaders said they want to become a sustainability leader in the consumer goods.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described Colgate Zero products as "organic" and "all-natural." It also incorrectly identified a Colgate-Palmolive-owned company as a competitor. And the story mischaracterized some of the ingredients in Colgate Zero toothpaste.