Shiny, black toothpaste is about as counterintuitive as it gets.
Counterintuitive is just what sisters Amra and Azra Hajdarevic were aiming for when they started Terra & Co. in 2017. The woman-owned, Los Angeles-based company was founded by the pair, who immigrated to the US after the Bosnian war, and have a combined two decades of experience working for beauty and cosmetics brands like Chanel, Dior, and Bobbi Brown before opting to create their own venture.
As green beauty enthusiasts concerned about the way packaging, chemicals, and consumerism are impacting both the planet and our bodies, the Hajdarevic sisters considered starting a business together plenty of times before, but never landed on a concept until Amra’s pregnancy helped them pinpoint the lack of an all-natural toothpaste that also whitened teeth. That, plus the amount of waste created by the oral care industry, and routine inclusion of harmful chemicals in those products, spurred Amra and Azra to action.
Piecing together the company’s ethos, products and packaging at night — while still working their day jobs — the foundational element of their Brilliant Black collection is an activated-charcoal, vegan toothpaste with no fluoride or SLS and other all-natural ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil, peppermint and tea tree oils. Along with this, they created an eco-friendly bamboo-handled toothbrush with BPA free nylon bristles infused with, you guessed it, activated charcoal.
Their description is also quick to note that bamboo is the world’s fastest growing plant, and a renewable, natural source — a totally different situation than the harmful plastic used in most toothbrush handles. These two items come together as a set at the very affordable price point of $32, or can be purchased separately: $25 for the 4 oz toothpaste tube (or a 2 oz travel size at $15), and $12 for the toothbrush on its own. Though these items are available at a variety of retailers, for every tube of toothpaste bought directly through the Terra & Co. site, the company donates one to the Downtown Women’s Shelter in LA.
While those two products are the most popular, the sisters also created a zero waste dental floss (for $10) that’s made out of bamboo fiber infused with activated charcoal and coconut oil, and an Ayurvedic oil pulling formula ($35 for 6.75 oz) designed to “naturally reduces inflammation and bacteria that cause bad breath and dry mouth.” The main ingredients, are, of course, coconut oil and activated charcoal. The charcoal is the most powerful ingredient in all of Terra & Co.’s products, because negative ions in the charcoal are antibacterial and antifungal, so they easily bind with bacteria, plaque, or tartar, effectively removing stains ad creating a healthy pH balance.
I discovered the company earlier this year while at a wellness retreat in Malibu, the kind of event that sometimes drives me batshit, but also can lead to discoveries like this one. As I attempted to navigate a weekend filled with million-plus influencers and overly thirsty brand reps, one woman stood out. She was the only one whose eyes lit up when I mentioned I was a writer, instead of dismissing me as a non-celeb, and she was more than eager to tell me the story of the brand she started with her sister.
Gifting me a Brilliant Black set and a box of floss so I could try them out, she also spoke passionately about the harmful chemicals in most toothpastes that are easily absorbed into our gums, and the incredible amount of waste created by the oral care industry. Honestly, toothbrush and toothpaste waste was never something I’d considered, but as soon as I started thinking about how many toothbrushes I go through a year — about three — the impact of my own consumerism began to add up.
Using the kit at own, the color was a little shocking at first, but putting it on the black bristles of my new toothbrush made it stand out less. The taste and texture of the toothpaste were both on par with other pastes, maybe even better taste-wise since it was less overpowering and more subtle. After about a week of use I noticed a significant change in whiteness, so the charcoal system actually does work, and even the floss was less painful on my fairly sensitive gums than others I’ve used, without immediately breaking at the slightest pressure.
Currently, the sisters are selling a complete set of every product they’ve created, the Sustainability Is The New Black kit, for $80 — including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a bottle of the oil pulling formula. All the items are packaged together in a toiletry bag made 100% out of recycled bottles and stamped with eco-friendly ink. Not only do the products actually work, but buying from them means supporting a local, woman-and-immigrant-owned business hellbent on green beauty and sustainable packaging. There’s no downside here: get sparkling teeth, a complete oral hygiene routine, and help shut down Big Dental in one fell swoop.