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Innovations in Oral Care

This year’s Cosmoprof North America tradeshow was a good place to be if you’re curious about the future of oral care.

Today’s Oral Care Innovations Align Neatly with Beauty Trends

Over the past few years as wellness and hygiene have become meaningfully entwined with beauty, oral care brands have been showing up at events once reserved for makeup, skin care, and hair brands. And innovations in the category have brought oral care into conversations about environmental sustainability, clean beauty, CBD, the human microbiome, vegan formulation, and more.

Brands like Terra & Co., Better & Better, Colgate’s acquisition of hello, and that line’s launch of CBD toothpaste all come to mind here. And novel product formats, like Rip Pak tooth powder that promises to clean teeth not only without water but without a brush as well, are changing the way consumers see oral care too.

Still, when it comes to market share, oral care has been a challenging category to disrupt.

“We see more oral care companies breaking out into other categories; It’s harder to break into the oral care space because it’s so well dominated by well-known names.” That’s Jordy Pickle, Director of Marketing at a Pennsylvania-based consumer goods manufacturing company called Accupac. I spoke with Jordy at this year’s Cosmoprof tradeshow in Las Vegas.

“We’re a full-service, turn-key contract manufacturer….The three pillars of what we do is hair, skin, and oral. And we do a large collection of different toothpastes and mouthwashes.”

And he’s seen the shift toward at-home oral care treatments accelerate over the past year and a half. “We’re seeing a lot of at-home kits, so like step processes or specific products that deal with a certain type just enamel whitening or like 12-hour protection type of things.”

Not only are targeted treatment products and at-home kits popular now in oral care; it’s true what he said earlier: oral care has long been dominated by household name brands owned by major multinational companies.

This hasn’t dissuaded entrepreneurs and startups, however, from making a real effort to disrupt the consumer oral health and dental care space.

Smile Care is a New Category Where Skincare and Oral Care Meet

In fact, before I move on, there’s one brand that was not at Cosmoprof that I want to talk about: Spotlight Oral Care.

Just last month (in September), the 5-year-old brand founded and led by dentists Lisa Creaven, Venessa Creaven, and Barry Buckley debuted what they’re calling a Smile Rejuvenation System. And I am inclined to say that this is THE standout oral care launch of 2021.

Most of the Spotlight Oral Care products fall under fairly conventional headings: they sell toothpastes, toothbrushes, dental floss, and several teeth-whitening products.

But this new Smile Rejuvenation System is a 3-step skin care and lip treatment routine, comprising a micro needling roller, a serum, and hydrating lip sheet mask.

As doctors Lisa and Vanessa explain, "Your smile is so much more than just your teeth. Our new system supports and nourishes the skin and muscles around your mouth, for complete smile enhancement."

In keeping with this category stretching product bundle, Spotlight is now being described as an oral health and beauty care brand.

Multifunctional Oral Care Formulations Show Great Promise

So getting along to what I saw at Cosmoprof, the essential oil – centered skincare and wellness brand called You&Oil, founded by Birutė Nastaravičiūtė was making it’s US debut at the show.

The brand’s line of toothpastes are distinctive for many reasons, including the fact that essential oils are the hero ingredients and that some varieties are being promoted as aphrodisiacs.

Now while sexual wellness is important in life and in beauty right now, what I found most enchanting were the You&Oil toothpastes formulated specifically for use either in the morning or in the evening. It’s a concept that closely mirrors the commonplace AM and PM skincare routines many consumers follow. And one that I think the consumer oral care market is ready for on a much larger scale.

“The entire premise of the company, all the products are built around essential oils.” That’s Linas Klimavicius, one of the You&Oil team members who was at Cosmoprof, introducing the Lithuania-based brand to attendees.

“Her background—the founder’s background is in biochemistry and she decided that she can create something that will be much healthier for her family and that’s how You&Oil was born.”

“Also, we have an entire line of toothpaste. Our toothpaste has been sort of very popular in the marketplace because we created a dual-purpose product. So, not only is it completely clean ingredients, fluoride-free; so, it cleans your teeth, it strengthens your teeth but it has a secondary purpose, which is (for example) essential oils added to the toothpaste that will energize you in the morning so that’s the toothpaste you’d use to brush your teeth in the morning. Or there’s a certain mixture of essential oils that are blended with toothpaste that has a calming effect, relaxing effect that you would use in the evening to help you fall asleep.”

“First and foremost, it’s a very functional, very high quality toothpaste that is very natural and organic. And we have categories that specialize in either whitening your teeth or anti-cavity or strengthening your gums, things like that. But then as a bonus, it is infused with essential oils that have that functionality of either calming or energizing.”

“The receptors in your mouth are accepting the essential oils much easier. It really sort of amplifies that effect.”

“For the toothpaste line, we are planning to introduce new functionalities of the toothpaste, simply because the demand is just so great. It’s really early on in the marketplace for this type of idea.”

Wellness and Skincare Benefits Cary Over into Oral Care

Another brand confident that there is space for change in the oral care category is kosette.

“So our brand is kosette. We made our products with salt and bamboo charcoal. The salt is dried on top of a mudflat.”

“It absorbs the nutrients from the mudflat; so that’s why when the salt and the charcoal come together it’s a huge benefit. It maximizes the benefit to its full limit.”

This is Nicole Kim, Senior Sales Associate with StyleKorean, an online beauty and personal care marketplace selling K Beauty products direct from Korea to consumers around the world.

“The mudflat is in South Korea, what I believe is the East side of Korea. It’s pretty well-known for having mudflats.”

The tidal flats of Sinan are world renowned as a notably biodiverse ecosystem, supporting both aquatic life and migratory birds. The area is also very well known for salt. Salt produced on the islands is used as a food seasoning, for home remedies, and now for toothpaste.

“People always say why toothpaste? I say why not toothpaste!”

Nicole Kim tells me that the kosette SALT toothpaste is remarkably mineral-rich. It contains a low concentration of sodium chloride and notably high amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sulfuric acid ions. With this prized salt as part of the formulation, kosette toothpaste is effective at removing both the build-up of bacteria and stains on teeth.

“The toothpaste is black. Once you use it, it kind of has a salty taste but it has a little peppermint oil in it. So it’s actually a little bit more refreshing than what you think it will taste like. It feels a lot more cleaner than an actual toothpaste.”

And that distinctive cleaner feeling is just the sort of difference that can begin to shift consumer expectations about oral care.

Toothpaste Gets a High-Tech Update from Fluid Dynamics Pros

There’s one more innovation from this year’s Cosmoprof North America tradeshow that I want to cover here.

And if you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ve likely already heard about LiquiGlide.

I’ve been writing about this technology since 2014, just a couple of years after the company got its start. So at Cosmoprof, I sat down with the consumer goods guys at LiquiGlide to find out how the company’s Colgate partnership is going.

Colgate teamed up with LiquiGlide in April to change the way toothpaste is dispensed and, in doing so, up the recyclability of toothpaste packaging.

LiquiGlide is essentially a surface technology framework that uses a product’s own molecular makeup to interrupt the physics of adhesion just enough to allow, in this case, toothpaste to cleanly and completely empty the container one dose at a time.

To introduce and showcase the technology, Colgate launched its Elixer line of premium skincare-inspired toothpastes in transparent tube, giving consumers an unobstructed view of the magic of LiquiGlide. And the response has reportedly been quite positive, the team at LiquiGlide telling me that further Colgate launches featuring LiquiGlide tech are in the pipeline.

Personal Care and Hygiene Categories are Disruptable too

So, while conventional drug store toothpastes aren’t going anywhere, these innovations in oral care suggest that the category is already changing.

In recent years, we have seen notable disruption in everyday hygiene categories like hand sanitizer and deodorant. I fully believe that the same thing is now happening in oral care and that the category will continue to be impacted by disruptive innovation for the foreseeable future.

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