It wasn’t until the early 1900s that synthetic perfumes began to replace natural fragrance blends, the likes of which had been used by doctors, priests and the upper classes for millenniums. These days, though, it’s hard to find anything but synthetic perfumes. After writing about the pesticides in Bath & Body Works’ products last week, I asked a friend of mine who works in an New York perfume lab for tips on choosing a non-toxic fragrance. Here’s what she had to say:
- Finding truly “all natural” fragrances is hard (unless you are buying a perishable item from a local vendor). It just doesn’t last long enough that way, and the profit margin is small; companies want perfumes to have a 1-2 year shelf life. Even Aveda is not 100% natural (though the company’s founding was a big step in the green-beauty-products movement).
- Essential oils have a shelf-life too, and shouldn’t be used after they’re 1-2 years old. Beware of the straight essential oils that people sell—many are years and years old. Make sure you smell before buying.
- If you’re using an all-natural fragrance and want to keep it good longer, store it in the refrigerator.
One completely all-natural fragrance is Cote d’Amour from L’Artisan Parfumeur. She and her perfume-expert colleagues still recommend it, but it’s super-expensive and only sold at Barney’s and Aedes de Venustas.
Here are six other natural, organic and botanical perfume brands she recommended:
- Aftelier Perfumes: Mandy Aftel, ‘queen of green perfumes’ and founder of the Natural Perfumers Guild, makes fragrances for this company using only natural botanical essences. Her celeb fans include Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, Alice Waters, David Lynch and Rosanna Arquette.
- Intelligent Nutrients Aromatics: Founded by the same guy who founded Aveda, Intelligent Nutrients makes 100% plant-based, organic fragrance, aromatherapy sprays and essential oils (at reasonable prices).
- Anya’s Garden Perfumes: Founded by Anya McCoy, current president of the Natural Perfumers Guild, Anya’s Garden Perfumes literally come from the flowers, trees and herbs cultivated in her garden.
- Ayala Moriel Parfumes: Perfumer Ayala Sender uses only natural raw materials, and also blogs about her process at AyalaSmellyBlog.com. Her natural artisan and bespoke perfumes are inspired by “her deepest emotions and memories from her childhood landscapes of the Mediterranean.”
- Ajne Organic Perfumes: Founded by Jane Hendler and her husband, Ajne Organic Perfumes sells plant-derived fragrances made with ingredients from the couple’s organic farm in Carmel, California.