If you’re looking for a perfume that’s just as safe as it is enchanting, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll be covering why it’s important to consider natural non-toxic perfume, how to go about shopping for natural perfumes on your own, and some of the best brands we can trust to provide the best natural non-toxic options.
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Why do we need to consider Natural non toxic perfume
Their mixtures involved ground aromatic plants, resins and herbs combined with oils to create therapeutic and everyday fragrances that could be applied to the skin.
Later, Ibn Sina, a Persian Muslim doctor and chemist, revolutionized perfume manufacturing by introducing the process of extracting oils from flowers through distillation.
Highly prized throughout history for its intoxicating powers or simply for its ability to cover up bad smells, perfume is now more widely available than ever.
Unfortunately, since the 19th century, most perfumes have been manufactured using synthetic blends. Fast forward to the 21st century, a single scent can contain anywhere from 50 to 300 distinct chemicals, none of which have to be disclosed to regulators.
These formulations, simply labelled ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’, are protected by law and considered “trade secrets”.
From personal care products like face wash to cleaning products, and perfume, “no state, federal, or global authority is regulating the safety of fragrance chemicals” or “even knows which fragrance chemicals appear in which products”.
In a study of personal care products conducted by the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) three-quarters of the toxic chemicals found came from fragrance. These chemicals were also linked to chronic health issues including cancer.
Most common among them are phthalates, a group of petroleum-based chemicals used in perfumes and other liquids to help keep all the different elements in the liquid suspended and evenly distributed.
Some phthalates like diethyl phthalate are linked to several health concerns including hormone disruptions, lung function issues, and reproductive issues.
Fragrances can also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the same level as petroleum emissions from cars, which can react with proteins in the body and result in immune responses like respiratory issues, asthma attacks, migraine headaches and skin sensitivities. In the long term, exposure to VOCs can also lead to adverse health effects.
How to shop for natural perfumes
To shop for natural perfumes, we skip the toxic chemicals and secrecy by opting for brands that disclose their ingredients. I also use the following criteria to safely select all of the green beauty brands and products I use at home or feature at the Eco Hub:
Is it Canadian? Or Is is Local?
If you’re located in Canada, shopping for products that are made in Canada is most sustainable. By buying products that are manufactured as close to us as possible we reduce the carbon emissions associated with the shipping of our products while supporting our local economy. Shopping from countries with higher labour and manufacturing practices like Canada also ensures better labour and production standards. The local the better!
Is it made of natural ingredients?
The ingredients used in our beauty products are crucial because our skin absorbs a lot of what we apply to it. Even perfume. So here we look for products that are made using the best, all-natural, non-toxic ingredients that are safely produced for our skin and our bodies.
Is it certified organic?
Organic certification means that the ingredients used are made without any toxic pesticides or chemicals that may be harmful to us or to the environment, as verified by a third-party entity where possible. Brands can also be certified organic.
Is it vegan?
Here we consider whether products include any ingredients derived from animals be it honey, beeswax or milk sourced from animals for example.
Is it cruelty-free?
Cruelty-free products are products that are not tested on animals.
Palm oil is unfortunately used in many beauty products for hydration purposes but it is still mostly non sustainably farmed and causing grave deforestation problems in the regions where it is produced. That's why I look for products that are palm-oil-free. Look out for palm oil in your food as well.
Are ingredients sustainably sourced?
It is important that the ingredients used to make our products be safely farmed and sourced under ethical and environmentally responsible conditions in order to ensure sustainability. That is avoiding poor labour, agricultural and production processes including things like essential oils that are synthesized with petrochemicals. We want good, clean practices at every step of the supply chain.
Does the company use environmentally-conscious packaging?
Like many other products, green beauty or blue beauty products often come packaged in plastics which can be very difficult to recycle. So I also look for products in packaging that can either be easily recycled, composted or reused wherever possible.
Non toxic perfume that is scent-sational!
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s get to the fun stuff. Here are my favourite clean beauty brands for natural non-toxic perfume:
Obakki offers a natural solid perfume made out of 100% natural and organic beeswax. It is firm, sits on the skin like a balm and is scented with Omumbiri; a resin sourced from the Kunene desert. Its fragrance is golden and honeyed with notes of nutty caramel toffee.
Your Omumbiri solid perfume will come in a reusable porcelain compact which is also handcrafted in Cape Town, South Africa.
Though it is not vegan, Obakki’s Omumbiri solid perfume still makes for a great option for non toxic perfume.
Also featured as one of our top picks for home decor, Obakki is a female-founded brand created by Treana Peake. An influential speaker in the field of social entrepreneurship she set out to create a purpose-driven lifestyle brand that connects people through modern design.
Everything at Obakki is handcrafted and produced in partnership with their network of world-class artisans; only featuring ethical, high-quality products from traditional artisans and rural co-ops.
To form lasting relationships and ensure that artisans are treated with the highest levels of dignity, respect and social responsibility Treana meets with every one of Obakki’s artisan partners.
She’s also launched the Obakki Foundation which invests in vulnerable areas in Africa through clean water, educational support, medical care and livelihood initiatives.
If you happen to be looking for organic cotton apparel, be sure to check out their apparel section as well.
Rahua’s Palo Santo Oil Perfume provides a lush and uplifting aromatic experience made from a blend of Palo Santo, frankincense, geranium, and gardenia oils.
This plant-based unisex option makes for a great mood booster throughout the day and comes in an elegant rollerball that can easily be applied anywhere.
Rahua founder Fabian Lliguin and his wife Anna Ayers work with over 500 Amazonian families to bring us Rahua’s Amazonian-inspired hair care and skin products.
Rahua is Symbiotic® Certified which means it follows stringent rules and regulations designed to preserve and guarantee the forests, ancient cultures and medical plants of the Amazon where they work and source their ingredients.
All of the ingredients used to make their products are rainforest grown from self-sustained forests and gathered right alongside the Indigenous People of the Amazon.
Their products are created using clean formulas that help to prevent water pollution where they work, and all of the plastic packaging used is #1 PET which is 100% recyclable.
Rahua is also carbon neutral and undertakes a continuous environmental clean-up project making it a great blue beauty option if you’re looking for a brand that’s also committed to reducing the negative impact of waste on aquatic ecosystems.
A great option for natural perfume, Honoré des Prés offers several liquid perfume options made using only ECOCERT certified organic ingredients, and no colouring agents, phthalates, or synthetics.
Their selection includes the Vamp a NY Eau De Toilette Parfum featuring head notes of Tuberose and Rum, heart notes of Bourbon Vanilla and base notes of Benjoin, Perou Balm and Tolu Balm.
You could also go for their Love Coconut Eau De Parfum or any of the other titillating options in their line.
Honoré des Prés is the first entirely organic perfume brand. Created by Olivia Giacobetti, all of their products are also 100% vegan, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly; containing absolutely no petrochemicals.
They also ensure that none of their ingredients are harsh on skin and pride themselves on providing an entirely organic line of perfume without compromise.
Their collection features several unisex fragrances to chose from including a best-seller described as watery clean freshness encountering honeyed neroli. Their selection also includes a similarly honeyed scent meeting bright grapefruit and bergamot with notes of soft earl grey tea, which certainly has us dreaming.
In terms of packaging, all of their enticing options are packaged in bottles made of 90% recyclable glass with a cap made of soy.
Created by Michelle Pfeiffer, Henry Rose is a 100% transparent fragrance brand, offering cruelty-free and hypoallergenic products containing no parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, known or suspected carcinogens, or any known or suspected endocrine disruptors.
Living Libations offers a Sweet Sleep Pillow Spray designed to help you unwind and relax your mind, subduing the body with swirls of serene scent crafted to lull you into slumber.
Use it on your linens and pillows as you get ready for bed or take it with you when you're travelling to sweeten hotel room sheets. It is also safe to use on your hair and on your pulse points making it a good option for affordable ethical perfume.
To make their products, they ensure that all of the ingredients used are distilled only from the named plant matter in the ingredients list. They also ensure that plants are only sourced from their natural habitat rather than from farms.
Living Libations is the brainchild of Nadine Artemis, a Beauty philosopher and aromacologist with a long-standing passion for perfumes. We now get to enjoy this fragrance as well as balms, hair care products and oils she’s created using botanically-powered ingredients that are as effective as they are harmonizing for the mind, body and soul.
The 7 Virtues offers a wide selection of non toxic perfumes that are hypoallergenic, vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably sourced, packaged using recycled packaging.
Their selection includes options like a Vanilla Woods Eau de Parfum spray or a Blackberry Lily Perfume Oil in a gemstone roller.
Founded by Canadian author Barb Stegemann, The 7 Virtues is a social enterprise born after her best friend, a soldier serving in the military, was wounded on his mission to liberate women and girls in Afghanistan.
Taking on his mission, she decided to source orange blossoms and rose essential oil crops from Afghanistan. From there the first organic fragrance in their line was born using these orange blossoms; in turn, providing Afghan farmers with an alternative to illegal poppy crops while empowering young Afghan women vulnerable to becoming opium brides.
Using this model, The 7 Virtues works to empower nations rebuilding after war or strife by sustainably sourcing ingredients from suppliers in countries like Haiti and Rwanda as well. With that, the company also prioritizes fair wages, support programs for workers and their families, and visits to farms where it is safe to do so.
Made in California and packaged in 100% eco-friendly and recyclable materials, By Rosie Jane is yet another great option if you’re looking for non toxic perfume brands. Their fragrances are hand mixed in Los Angeles using only natural ingredients, hold the parabens, phthalates or hormone disruptors.
Their line includes the Leila Lou, a pear, jasmine + fresh cut grass fragrance, or the Madie, a jasmine, sea spray, coconut + vanilla scent; with lots more to choose from.
Like all of the brands featured in this list, By Rosie Jane is transparent about all of the ingredients used in its products.
Founded by Rosie Jane, a celebrity makeup artist, the brand is also vegan, cruelty-free, single-use plastic-free, and opts for vegetable-based inks and sustainable paper as well.
Also featured as one of our favourite Canadian green beauty brands that are killing it, Cocoon Apothecary also offers a 100% botanical perfume called Persephone.
Named after the ancient goddess of spring, this layered and nuanced captures the scent of blossoms, green leaves, and the air after a rainfall to transport you on an olfactory journey. Beginning with bursts of jasmine, violet and pomegranate, and mellowing into a honeyed floral with soft powdery notes, this airy Eau de Parfum may be just what you are looking for.
On a mission “to bring nature into people's lives so that they can escape from the stresses of their day”, Cocoon Apothecary is a botanical skincare company using biodegradable plant-based ingredients that pose no threat to our health or to the environment.
As part of their efforts to minimize their impact on the environment, Cocoon Apothecary also opts for glass as a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Glass containers from their products can either be returned to the company for reuse through their bottle recycling program or reused in the home.
If you’re looking for eco-friendly hand sanitizer, they also offer a great option for that as well.
Bottom line when shopping for natural perfume
Whether you’re looking for more eco friendly perfume and cologne options or for something specific like non toxic vanilla perfume these brands are definitely worth checking out.
If you cannot find what you’re looking for, have a go at using the criteria described in the ‘how to shop for natural perfumes’ section to vet other brands on your own. And look out for greenwashing, there is a lot of it going on in this space!
We are not looking for perfection here so if what you find does not tick all the boxes, consider what your priorities really are and make a choice from there. Opting for a more sustainable option is always better than nothing at all.
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