Gone are the days when non-toxic perfumes meant a haze of patchouli oil. These luxe and modern non-toxic perfumes will have you wishing you made the switch to clean scents much sooner.
Many of us who switch to clean beauty don't really think about perfumes until later. But, I think there's a strong argument for switching over to clean perfumes sooner. Did you know that 'perfume' or fragrance' as an ingredient actually contains a cocktail of up to 3,000 hidden ingredients which get absorbed and inhaled daily when applied to the skin?
Fragrance companies don't have to list the ingredients they use because formulas are protected as 'trade secret'. This means you have no idea what ingredients are in a perfume, or what triggered the quarantine-worthy sneezing and coughing seizure when walking by the perfume counter. It's not you, it's your perfume.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the US Food and Drug Administration has not assessed the vast majority of these 'secret' fragrance chemicals for safety when used in spray-on personal care products like fragrances. Nor have most been evaluated by the safety review panel of the International Fragrance Association or any other publicly accountable institution.
Did you know that 'perfume' or fragrance' as an ingredient actually contains a cocktail of up to 3,000 hidden ingredients which get absorbed and inhaled daily when applied to the skin?
95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum, and contain a variety of carcinogenic chemical additives like benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene and a myriad of other toxic substances which have been linked to birth defects, allergies, cancer, and endocrine disruption, nervous system disorders and more. Less sexy than the ad with the buxom orgasmic red-head spraying herself with a narcotic perfume would suggest, right?
If you're looking to make the switch to clean perfumes, natural, organically produced essential oils—which you can customise yourself —are a great option, although they can cause skin irritations in some people. Always test them out first, and make sure they are high quality and not extracted, diluted, or synthesized with petrochemicals. But, there is also a generation of new clean perfumes to explore. While the fragrance industry has been slow to change many of the leaders in non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan fragrance are smaller indie labels.
Here are ten leading the way with cool, clean and modern perfumes that will make your breakup with conventional scents so much easier.
Created in 2016 in New York by Douglas Little, Heretic is a natural, cruelty-free, artisanal line of perfumes made in small batches and a limited run. Fragrances delve into the esoteric world and the realms of homeopathy, ayurveda, and herbology. Little made the choice to work with entirely natural materials—essential oils, concretes and absolutes (blended in non-GMO, organic grape and sugarcane alcohol) using traditional perfumery techniques. The perfumes are 100% natural essential oils and/or naturally derived materials—with full ingredient and fragrance transparency for anyone to see. Modern, sexy and unique scents that will leave a lasting impression. I love Smudge, which smells like bottled smudge stick, with a blend of herbs and resins such as Clary Sage, Juniper, Labdanum, and Frankincense. And Pistil Whip will leave you just that—an unforgettable and confusing scent that is addictive and leaves you feeling like you've had a floral fuelled whip lash.
LA-based fragrance, DedCool was created by 21 year old Carina Chaz who is disrupting the world of fragrance by introducing her line of vegan, non-toxic and unisex scents that shun the usual gender-biased marketing. These are sustainable scents with an edge. There’s also a range of scented natural candles and body lotions. We love Fragrance No.3: Blonde, with notes of black violet, saffron, and rose.
Actress Michelle Pfeiffer is paving the way for non-toxic scents vetted by the Environmental Working Group and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Her brand, Henry Rose, uses both synthetics and plant-based oils that are considered to be safe compounds for long term use—and for total transparency, each product lists out all ingredients used.
Founded in 2015 PHLUR Eau de Parfums are a collection of modern, luxe and affordable scents that are free of BHT, phenoxyethanol, parabens, phthalates, and polycylic and alicyclic musks. Packaging is designed to maximize recycled materials, utilizing only low-impact coatings and paints, integrating innovative rapidly renewable materials, and ensuring eventual recyclability or reuse. The collection of gender neutral eau de parfums, candles, body lotion and body washes bear names inspired by music and locations. We love Hepcat, a smoky fragrance with notes of saffron, leather, tobacco and incense, inspired by the original hipster, used to describe jazz aficionados back in the 1940s and 1950s.
Founded by beauty columnist for The New York Times, Bee Shapiro, this luxe fragrance and bodycare line features sophisticated hand-blended scents that are free from phthalates, parabens and animal-testing and are also vegan. Partnering with sustainable business all along the supply chain, the perfume is bottled in recycled lead-free glass and the company uses carbon-neutral shipping so as to offset their carbon footprint. Made in small batches in New York, from the biodegradable and petrochemical-free Bakelite compression cap, to the environmentally-friendly glass bottle sourced from an EcoCert supplier. Sci-Fi, an unusual mix of vanilla and citrus, is a fave.
Strange Invisible Perfumes
Founded in 2000 designed, decanted and bottled in Venice, California, Strange Invisible Perfumes are crafted with certified organic, wildcrafted essences, and are completely botanical-based, and unfiltered. Limited batches are hand-blended, set into a base of custom-distilled esprit de Cognac and aged for a minimum of six months. Their zodiac scents have a cult following.
These natural, uni-sex perfumes founded by New Zealander Frances Shoemack and created by master perfumer Isaac Sinclair are chic, modern and long-lasting. Each fragrance is composed of a highly concentrated mixture of natural oils and absolutes (organically certified where possible). Red Santal is a spicy clove and pepper opening softens on the skin when the shimmer of Calabrian bergamot meets the warmth and elegance of classic East Indian santal. Perfect for the winter season. 1% of Red Santal revenue goes to supporting nonprofit Plastic Soup Foundation.
Maison Louis Marie
Maison Louis Marie was built upon the rich and illustrious botanical history of founder Marie du Petit Thouars' family with a line of luxury candles, skincare and perfume oils focused on unique floral fragrances. These mindful products are made without toxic or environmentally harmful ingredients—whether naturally sourced or manmade—and are never tested on animals or made with animal-derived ingredients.
Designer Behnaz Sarafpour's scents are a modern take on the ancient Persian tradition of flower scented water. With a small capsule of three scents —Neroli, Rose and Jasmine—each perfume is a blend of pure flower essences and distilled water. That's it. No alcohol, no oils, no dyes or preservatives. Spray it on your skin, spritz it in your hair, or even around your room (if you're feeling particularly extravagant).
This Aussie made perfume brand uses a minimum of 80 percent organic ingredients in its cruelty-free and vegan women's and men's perfumes, and is packed in sustainable packaging. You can even create your own bespoke perfume using their online scent bar. Mindful of social responsibility, One Seed also donates 10 percent of proceeds to organisations whose values align with theirs like Collective Shout.