After hearing about the potential health effects associated with perfume, you may be wondering if there is that one miracle perfume that is totally safe to use. Well, I will provide you with a guide to help you select the safest products possible on the market. I have selected products from every price range to accommodate everyone’s budget.
There are two criteria that I mainly follow when choosing perfumed products:
- When choosing products, I look at the ingredient list and avoid any product that has the general term “parfum” or “fragrance” because these groups could encompass a vast number of chemicals for which we will never know the identity, some of which may be extremely harmful (Environmental Working Group & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2010).
“A rose may be a rose but that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer” (Environmental Working Group & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2010).
2. Secondly, I look for products that explicitly claim that there are no phthalates and other synthetics. Research has shown that phthalates can significantly trigger the proliferation of MCF-7, a human breast cancer cell line (Hong et al., 2005). Another study showed the effects of prenatal phthalate exposure and shortened anogenital distance in male children (Swan et al., 2005). If you would like a full recap of the health effects associated with perfume, visit this article HERE. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration still claims that there are no risks associated with diethylphthalate (DEP), a very common form of phthalate used in perfume, but it suggests that consumers who do not want to DEP in their products to exclude products that contain the word “fragrance” (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, n.d.).
“Consumers who nevertheless do not want to purchase cosmetics containing DEP may wish to choose products that do not include ‘Fragrance’ in the ingredient listing” (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, n.d.).
NOTE: if you have a skin or respiratory allergy, I would strongly suggest re-evaluating the ingredient lists yourself in case you are allergic to any of the natural products in addition to following the above criteria.
French Lilac Spray Perfume — $22 for 1 fl oz. (29 mL)
Is it even possible to find a “natural” perfume that is less than $100? Well, fortunately, yes! French Lilac Perfume is a product by Pacifica. French Lilac is a soft blend of lilac, magnolia leaves, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, and nectarine to give you the sweet scent you need to start the day (Pacifica, n.d.). Pacifica claims that the product is made of grain corn-based alcohol and other natural essential oils (Pacifica, n.d.). Furthermore, the company advertises that this product is phthalate, paraben, and petroleum free in addition to being 100% vegan and cruelty free (Pacifica, n.d.). You can purchase this perfume from Target, Amazon, or Pacifica. There are many other perfumes sold by Pacifica and they are all natural.
Vanilla Coconut Perfume — $48 for 1.7 fl oz. (50 mL)
Vanilla Coconut is one of the items from the fragrance collection produced by Lavanila. Vanilla Coconut has a soft blend of the classic vanilla with coconut and Tahitian tiare flower (Lavanila(b), n.d.). The solvent consists of organic sugarcane alcohol and essential oils (Lavanila(b), n.d.). It is extremely rare to find an affordable product that is also healthy but Vanilla Coconut is does not contain phthalates, parabens, and other known skin allergens; it is also vegan and cruelty-free (Lavanila(b), n.d.). As a commitment to preserve the planet, Lavanila will plan a tree through The Nature’s Conservancy Plant a Billion Trees Initiative with every order purchased through their website (Lavanila(b), n.d.). This product can be purchased from Sephora, Ulta Beauty, or Lavanila. All products from Lavanila.are healthy and natural so feel free check out other scents available on their website (Lavanila(a), n.d.).
“As a mother with two small children, I wanted products made from skin-loving, vitamin rich ingredients and products free of harsh, potentially toxic chemicals that seemed dangerous to the body and the planet” (Lavanila(a), n.d.).
— Danielle Raynor, Founder of Lavanila.
Sandalwood Vanilla Perfume Oil — $18 for 1/3 fl oz. (10 mL) roll-on
Sandalwood Vanilla is a natural perfume produced and sold by Dancing Dingo. The Sandalwood and Madagascar vanilla flavors are blended to give you the creamy and sweet scent that will keep you calm all day (Dancing Dingo, n.d.). The perfume comes in a roll-on bottle which is perfect for traveling, work, or school. The ingredient list includes Helianths Annus Oil, Alpha Tocopherol, and other essential oils that were not disclosed as they are proprietary information (Dancing Dingo, n.d.). There is no explicit mention that this product is phthalate free; however, this product has a rating of 1 (low hazard) based on reviews conducted by scientists from the Environmental Working Group (Environmental Working Group, n.d.). The full report can be found HERE. On top of that, this product is vegan, gluten, and cruelty-free (Dancing Dingo, n.d.). You can purchase this product from Dancing Dingo. Dancing Dingo claims that all of its products are made from non-toxic ingredients but since this is a bit ambiguous, I highly suggest checking each product with the database compiled by the Environmental Working Group.
Charmed Lavender Rose Essential Oil — $20 for 1/3 fl oz. (10 mL) roll-on
This 100% essential oil is manufactured by Tulip Perfume Oil. The oil gives a calm flowery and herbal scent that is suited for every occasion. It is a natural blend of French rose and lavender oil (Tulip Perfume, n.d.). Most importantly, the product is paraben, phthalate, and dye free. The product comes in a roll-on bottle which makes it perfect for any size purse. As a bonus, this perfume is also vegan and cruelty-free (Tulip Perfume, n.d.). This perfume can be purchased from Target or Tulip Perfume. There are many other products from Tulip Perfume that are also free of the chemicals mentioned.
Together Natural Perfume — $82 for 1.7 fl oz. (50 mL)
If you are looking for a light, refreshing, and elegant floral scent, Together is the perfume for you. It is a blend of vanilla base with Jasmine, Lilac, and citrus top among other natural floral scents (Pour le Monde(a), n.d.). Part of the profit from the product goes towards supporting the Cancer Support Community/Gilda’s Club (Pour le Monde(a), n.d.). Another important thing to note is that the founder of Pour le Monde, Wendi Berger, is well aware of the health effects of synthetic perfume. Berger shared that when her obstetrician-gynecologist told her to avoid perfume during her pregnancy because of the potential chemical effects, she began to explore potential alternatives (Pour le Monde(c), n.d.). Today, Pour le Monde is the only fragrance company that is certified by the Natural Product Association (Pour le Monde(b), n.d.). Some of the criteria for this certification includes that the product must contain at least 95% natural ingredients (excluding water), the product must not contain ingredients that have suspected human harms, and that the production process must not involve synthetic or harsh chemicals (Natural Product Association, n.d.). Below is a video of Berger sharing her journey with Pour le Monde.
“After fragrance houses closed their doors to me, citing that an all natural perfume couldn’t exist, I found a source that said yes” (Pour le Monde(c), n.d.).
— Wendy Berger, Founder of Pour le Monde
You can purchase this perfume from Pour le Monde, Macy’s or Amazon. There are two more items in the collection, Empower and Envision.
Blossom Trail Eau de Parfum— $120 for 1 fl oz. (30 mL)
If you are looking for a more dominant citrus scent with a soft floral blend, this perfume is for you. The refreshing scent will make you feel like you are walking down a blooming orange orchard trail (Los Feliz Botanicals(a), n.d.). The perfume is made with corn and/or lychee alcohol and 100% natural fragrance so you do not have to worry about other harmful additives (Los Feliz Botanicals(a), n.d.). Blossom Trail Eau de Parfum is produced by a company named Los Feliz Botanicals. The company claims that their products do not contain any synthetics, preservatives, or fillers (Los Feliz Botanicals(b), n.d.). Although the price is a bit high, the health trade off will be completely worth it. As a bonus, for every bottle sold, Los Feliz Botanicals donates $1 to Charity: Water (Los Feliz Botanicals(a), n.d.). You can purchase the perfume from the Los Feliz Botanicals website.
Love-In-A-Mist Eau de Parfum — $175 for 1.7 fl oz. (50 mL)
Love-In-A-Mist gives the natural sweet and dedicate floral aroma. Close your eyes and imagine taking a deep breath in a blooming field of wild flowers; Love-In-A-Mist possesses the same gentle yet rich mist of a wild flower field (Providence Perfume Company(b), n.d.). Some ingredients include pink peppercorn, sweet clover, and of course love in a mist (Providence Perfume Company(b), n.d.). This perfume is produced by Providence Perfume Company. The products from Providence Perfume Company are 100% natural and they do not contain synthetics, petrochemicals, parabens, or phthalates (Providence Perfume Company(a), n.d.). Note that Love-In-A-Mist has a darker color compared to other perfumes you may see at a department store; however, the color came from the natural ingredients so you do not have to worry about that part (Providence Perfume Company(a), n.d.). You can purchase this perfume from the Providence Perfume Company website.
Note that these natural perfumes may not last on your skin as long as the synthetic ones would; however, would something that lasts for a couple more hours worth the risk of developing cancer? I think we can all agree on the answer. I hope you found this product selection guide useful. For more products, you can explore the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and look at additional fragrance products that are EWG verified.
Dancing Dingo. (n.d.). Sandalwood Vanilla Perfume Oil. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.dancingdingo.com/Sandalwood_Vanilla_Perfume_Oil_p/pm-sv.htm
Environmental Working Group, & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. (2010, May). Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.ewg.org/research/not-so-sexy
Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). Dancing Dingo Sandalwood Vanilla Natural Perfume Oil. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/760464/Dancing_Dingo_Sandalwood_Vanilla_Natural_Perfume_Oil/
Hong, E.-J., Ji, Y.-K., Choi, K.-C., Manabe, N., & Jeung, E.-B. (2005). Conflict of Estrogenic Activity by Various Phthalates between In Vitro and In Vivo Models Related to the Expression of Calbindin-D9k. Journal of Reproduction and Development, 51(2), 253–263. https://doi.org/10.1262/jrd.16075
Lavanila(a). (n.d.). Our Story-Lavanila. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.lavanila.com/pages/our-story
Lavanila(b). (n.d.). The Healthy Fragrance Vanilla Coconut. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.lavanila.com/products/the-healthy-fragrance-vanilla-coconut
Los Feliz Botanicals(a). (n.d.). Blossom Trail Eau de Parfum. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from http://www.losfelizbotanicals.com/faq/
Los Feliz Botanicals(b). (n.d.). Together Natural Perfume. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://pourlemondeparfums.com/collections/pour-le-monde/products/together-natural-perfume
Natural Product Association. (n.d.). Natural Seal Home Care. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.npanational.org/certifications/natural-seal/natural-seal-home-care/
Pacifica. (n.d.). French Lilac Spray Perfume. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.pacificabeauty.com/collections/spray-perfume/products/french-lilac-spray-perfume
[Pour le Monde]. (2015, July 15). The Pour le Monde Story [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/s39RPVQUaXU
Pour le Monde(a). (n.d.). Blossom Trail Eau de Parfum. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://pourlemondeparfums.com/collections/pour-le-monde/products/together-natural-perfume
Pour le Monde(b). (n.d.). Certifications and Awards. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://pourlemondeparfums.com/pages/our-certifications
Pour le Monde(c). (n.d.). Our Founder. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://pourlemondeparfums.com/pages/the-pour-le-monde-story
Providence Perfume Company(a). (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.providenceperfume.com/pages/about-us
Providence Perfume Company(b). (n.d.). Love-In-A-Mist Eau de Parfum. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.providenceperfume.com/collections/eau-de-parfums/products/love-in-a-mist-eau-de-parfum?variant=20201457543
Swan, S. H., Main, K. M., Liu, F., Stewart, S. L., Kruse, R. L., Calafat, A. M., … the Study for Future Families Research Team. (2005). Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(8), 1056–1061. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.8100
Tulip Perfume. (n.d.). Lavender Rose Oil. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from http://tulipperfume.com/charmed-collection-perfume-oils-by-tulip/lavender-rose-oil
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Ingredients — Phthalates. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128250.htm