Eco-Friendly Perfume: A Comprehensive Guide to Finding Sustainable Scents

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When it comes to adopting a “natural” skincare routine, there are several simple swaps you can make: shampoo, skincare, deodorant, makeup, and makeup remover. However, one category that often poses a challenge for many is non-toxic and eco-friendly perfumes.

In this article, Madeleine of The Wise Consumer explores the world of fragrances, whether we should avoid all perfumed products, and how to choose an eco-conscious and natural perfume.

Understanding Fragrance

For a long time, I avoided perfumes, eau de toilettes, and sprays because I intentionally wanted to stay away from anything fragranced. But in reality, perfume is simply “fragrance.”

So what exactly is “fragrance”? It’s a chemical mixture that adds smell or odor to products, masking unwanted odors or giving them a pleasant scent. Fragrances can be made from natural aromatic materials obtained from plants or synthetic materials, and they are everywhere – in our shampoo, deodorant, candles, cleaning products, detergent, and even certain menstrual hygiene products. Sometimes, even “unscented” products may contain fragrances to cover up unpleasant smells.

While fragrance itself is not necessarily bad (imagine how dull life would be without scents!), it’s important for conscious consumers to know what ingredients are in the products they use. Unfortunately, many fragranced products do not disclose their ingredients, including some that are labeled as “naturally” fragranced.

The Opaque Nature of Fragrance Ingredients

Under US regulations, fragrance and flavor ingredients can simply be listed as “fragrance” or “flavor.” This is because fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of various natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, often regarded as trade secrets.

While this makes sense from a business perspective, it can be problematic for individuals with skin sensitivities or allergies. Without knowing the specific ingredients in a fragranced product, it becomes challenging to identify and avoid potential allergens.

The lack of ingredient transparency also makes it difficult to understand the extent to which our health may be compromised by fragrance ingredients. Fragranced products, even those labeled as “green” or “organic,” can emit hazardous air pollutants, adding to indoor air pollution.

Furthermore, certain fragranced products have been found to contain potentially harmful ingredients such as phthalates, synthetic musks, formaldehyde, and allergens. These substances have known negative health impacts, especially on pregnant women.

Are “Natural” Fragrance and Essential Oils Non-Toxic?

Even “natural” extracts like essential oils can trigger allergic reactions and skin sensitivities. For example, some essential oils have been categorized as established allergens and can cause allergic reactions over time. Additionally, certain essential oils, like synthetic fragrances, can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are potentially hazardous.

Interestingly, a synthetic ingredient may sometimes contain fewer allergens than a “natural” ingredient. The term “natural” doesn’t always equate to being better.

Considering this, it’s important for perfume companies to prioritize safer alternatives and disclose all ingredients used, whether natural or synthetic. This transparency allows consumers to make informed choices and avoid potential allergic reactions and other health consequences.

Fortunately, there are now more perfume brands creating products that are not only free of potentially harmful ingredients but also eco-friendly, ethically manufactured, and transparent about their ingredients.

Choosing a Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Perfume

To ensure you’re selecting a non-toxic and eco-friendly perfume, take these steps:

1. Check the brand’s website for a list of ingredients and assess their safety, including whether they are phthalate-free.

2. If you have any concerns about a specific ingredient, you can find more information on the EWG Skin Deep Database.

3. If the brand doesn’t disclose its ingredients, contact them directly and ask for a list of ingredients. If they’re not transparent, consider exploring alternative brands.

Additionally, look for perfume brands that prioritize low or zero waste packaging and ethical manufacturing practices.

Now, let’s explore some eco-friendly perfume brands that meet these criteria:

1. Henry Rose

This sustainable perfume brand offers a range of fragrances that are EWG and Cradle to Cradle Certified. Henry Rose perfumes are made from a combination of safe synthetics and natural ingredients and are free from harmful substances like phthalates, formaldehyde, and styrene. They also use 90% recycled and 100% recyclable packaging.

Conscious Qualities: 100% Ingredient Transparency, EWG-Verified, Cradle to Cradle Certified (Gold), Eco Packaging, Gives Back

Scent Types: Clean, Smooth, Spicy, Earthy

Eco Friendly Perfume from Cultus Artem

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