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Watch any perfume advert and there are so many powerful narratives at play around luxury, feminity, desire and wealth. They simultaneously tap into our deepest insecurities about who we are and feed our wildest fantasies about who we could be.

But behind all the marketing hype and pretty packaging, that tantalisingly innocent little phrase ‘parfum’ can hide a toxic cocktail of hidden chemicals.

There’s a fine line between being intoxicatingly attractive and, well… literally doused in toxic chemicals.

I’ll admit that when I first started looking into natural fragrances, I wasn’t 100% sure about their staying power or whether they could realistically compete with the synthetic, mass-produced concoctions we’ve all become so accustomed to.

Honestly though? Once you make the switch to natural, non-toxic perfume brands, I guarantee you’ll never look back!

My Top Picks

Floral Street

The Nue Co

Review Summary

Here are the best clean perfume brands in the UK

To delve into more detail on what to look out for in natural perfumes, then skip to the bottom of this post for more info. But for now, let’s discover my favourite ethical and sustainable non-toxic perfume brands that are shaking up the industry and choosing to do things a little differently.

1. Floral Street

We’ve got some pretty strong beliefs about being a clean, vegan and sustainable lifestyle brand.

Price: ££

Boasting sustainably sourced ingredients and non-toxic formulations that are lovingly made in the UK, Floral Street are a female-led, vegan and cruelty-free brand on a mission! Certified by The Vegan Society and PETA, their award-winning fragrances contain a luxurious 20% perfume oil fragrance.

Ingredients are traceable from seed to scent, using only eco-friendly and natural raw materials. Plus, they have conscious partnerships in place to offset their carbon emissions and plastic pollution.

I’m a massive fan of the Floral Street x Van Gogh Museum collaboration ‘Sunflower Pop‘, which is so zesty, upbeat and expressive that it can’t help but brighten your mood (key ingredients include mandarin, bergamot and bellini accord). If you prefer, try before you buy with a handy Discovery Set.

Packaging: Okay, so I am a teensy bit obsessed with this packaging – seriously, how darn cute is it?! Even better is that their clean perfumes are tucked into innovative reusable, recyclable and biodegradable pulp packaging (which includes at least one up-cycled coffee cup!).

2. Vyrao

I believe that in the future more of us will come to understand and accept the influence of energy as part of our overall well-being… Vyrao is at the heart of that purpose.

Price: £££

For the dreamers and manifesters out there, try raising your vibration with Vyrao. I absolutely adore the energetic and healing ethos of this brand. Each bottle comes with its own energetically charged Herkimer crystal, a suggested affirmation, as well a little piece on how each note heals the body.

Vyrao use a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients in their non-toxic perfumes. 88-89% of these are naturally-derived ingredients from plant extracts, of which 80% are certified organic, while the remaining 11-12% are synthetic compounds used to protect plants that need to be sustained in nature. They stand firmly against animal testing, as well as being vegan, gluten-free and ethically sourced. Find out more in my full Vyrao perfume review.

Packaging: Vyrao’s beautiful glass bottles can be recycled and repurposed, although they’re not yet refillable – something they say they’re currently working on, so watch this space! The outer packaging is deliberately pared back and uses 100% FSC recycled and recyclable paper.

3. The Nue Co

The Nue Co. was born out of a dream to positively impact the health of humankind and the planet.

Price: ££

Leading on nicely from Vyrao, The Nue Co is interested in the health benefits of perfume. For starters, their scents are called ‘Fragrance Supplements’ – not overly sexy, but for those of you who are more interested in your overall health and well-being, this is actually quite refreshing. Their primary concern is driving conversations around the interconnected health of body, people and planet – and their recent B-Corp certification proves that they’re walking the walk, too.

At the moment, you have the choice of 4 unique scents, all of which are free from harmful chemicals and certified cruelty-free (organic, vegan and gluten-free ingredients are used where possible). The Nue Co explain that their products are meant to be used long-term to get the full benefits, which is why they offer a 20% Subscribe + Save offer (if you like). There’s also a Discovery Set to get you started.

Packaging: Currently, 95% of their packaging is recyclable. Whilst they’re figuring out the other 5%, the good news is that you can send it back to them as part of their internal recycling program. They are a climate-positive and plastic neutral business, partnering with Earthly.

4. Bon Parfumeur

We are committed to creating responsible and cruelty-free products.

Price: ££

French brand Bon Parfumeur offer a boldly minimalist selection of ten fragrance families. Up to 99% of ingredients are of natural origin, with the remaining 1% carefully examined to ensure they meet the highest health and safety standards. Plus, there are no synthetic dyes or UV filters added. For ease and transparency, the three most important ingredients are listed on each bottle.

They aim to create inclusive unisex perfumes that are suitable for everyone, regardless of gender, and take a gender-neutral approach both when formulating and naming fragrances. A truly sustainable model is made possible due to the local sourcing of all components of Bon Parfumeur fine fragrances – if you’re feeling sceptical, there’s even a map that shows where everything is made in France!

Whether you prefer fruity, spicy or woody notes, there is sure to be a fragrance you’ll fall head over heels for.

Packaging: Bon Parfumeur’s natural perfumes are housed in gorgeous 100% recyclable glass bottles, with outer packaging made from virgin and recycled pulp, plus an FSC-certified label.

5. Abel

For nearly a decade, our mission has been to create the world’s best 100% natural perfume without compromising on ethics or aesthetics, and in doing so, inspire positive change.

Price: ££

Organic perfume brand Abel was born in Amsterdam when winemaker Frances Shoemack met master perfumer Isaac Sinclair. Amazingly, every single ingredient in an Abel perfume bottle started its life as a plant – from essential oils, extracts, and cutting-edge scent molecules, to the base of organically-certified, food grain alcohol.

They are campaigning for better regulation of perfume packaging and believe in full transparency, so you can read their full ingredients and origin list for each fragrance. Certified by The Vegan Society, they source fair trade and organic ingredients where possible, with a focus on sustainability and community-driven initiatives.

Try their Discovery Set for an introduction to their most popular scents, including the lovely Pink Iris (a contemporary, classic floral) and unisex Green Cedar (a velvety, rich wood), amongst others.

Packaging: Abel boxes are made with FSC-certified paper that can be recycled or composted. They’ve also thought about all the little details, and only use vegetable dyes and soy ink in their packaging.

6. Aesop

We believe unequivocally that well-considered design improves our lives.

Price: £££

Another B-Corp certified company, Aesop value no-frills functionality, modesty and minimal impact. Their ethical formulations are Leaping Bunny and PETA-approved, vegan, and all ingredients are researched thoroughly before use. They also have some stunningly designed stores around the world – there is one in Cambridge in the UK, if you’re in the area!

The Aesop Foundation partners with charities that work with underrepresented communities – going beyond purely monetary means and establishing real relationships. So for beauty products with social impact and positive climate action, look no further than this clean and sustainable perfume brand.

Packaging: Aesop’s plastic perfume bottles are made from recycled PET – these have a much lower carbon footprint than using a vessel made of purely virgin material (e.g. glass). They also recently achieved their carbon neutral status, with certification from South Pole.

7. Sana Jardin

I wanted to create a fragrance house with a strong sustainability ethos that contributed to the economic empowerment of women. This is Sana Jardin.

Amy Christiansen, Founder

Price: £££

From a spicy yet subtle scent like Vanilla Nomad to the the smouldering patchouli base of Tiger By Her Side, Sana Jardin’s range of stunning fragrances centres around the healing power of plants. With clean ingredients that are free from chemical nasties and a formulation of at least 15-20% essential oils, get ready to be effortlessly transported to faraway lands.

Coming back down to earth for a sec – this is a brand that is also on a social and economic mission to empower women workers in their supply chain at a grassroots level. Take a look at the fantastic Orange Blossom Project for more info on this circular business model, supporting local women in Morocco to upcycle production waste and run their own businesses.

If you’re umming and arring, you can purchase a Discovery Set to suss out your fave scent before splashing out on a full-size product.

Packaging: Sana Jardin’s glass bottles are currently made from 30% recycled materials, and their packaging materials are also recycled. They offer a recycling program for your empties via TerraCycle.

What to Look Out For in Your Perfume

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of my favourite perfume brands, here’s an insight into how I sniffed them out!

Clean & natural ingredients

Let’s face it – loose marketing terminology aside – most of the time you have absolutely no idea what you’re spraying onto your skin. Your skin is the largest organ and forms an important barrier against the outside world – but always remember that chemicals can be absorbed through your skin, too.

If you’ve ever suffered from sensitive skin or been plagued with a nasty rash when liberally spritzing yourself with a product for the first time, this is a common side effect of many perfumes because it disrupts your skin barrier. In severe cases, it can even cause migraines and respiratory issues.

The problem goes deeper still. More than any other sector of the beauty industry, there is a distinct lack of transparency as to what actually goes into that little glass bottle. Secret ingredients are protected by trade industry laws. Worryingly, this means that many popular perfumes are a mystery combination of hundreds of potentially harmful synthetic chemicals.

Hidden chemicals in your cosmetics

Hidden nasties lurking in your perfume

Like ultra-processed junk food in the supermarket aisles, you’d do well to stick to a general rule of thumb – be wary of anything with a hidden or else long list of ingredients you don’t recognise. Traditional perfumes often contain ingredients that likely aren’t going to do your health any good, including:

  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Styrene
  • Benzlyl acetate
  • Musk ketone
  • Methylene chloride
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Many of these toxic chemicals are known hormone disruptors and carcinogens. When you are exposed to them in small amounts, it’s arguable that you won’t see any adverse effects. However, consider that your signature scent is, by definition, one that you likely reach for daily. This build-up of toxins over months and even years cannot be effectively tested in a lab – so why put your long-term health at risk?

*I should pop a quick note here to clarify that synthetic doesn’t always equal bad. Whilst this is a list of natural perfume brands – all of which prioritise natural plant extracts – some of those featured here do use a small percentage of safe synthetic ingredients.

Beware of greenwashing

To put it plainly, anyone can use the terms ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ because there are no regulations as to what they actually mean. They are great marketing tools to get people to buy products, so it should come as little surprise when they are often backed up by some pretty dodgy claims.

In particular, don’t be misled by the alcohol content in your fragrance. Plant-based alcohol can easily account for 80-85% of your perfume’s composition, while the remaining 15-20% is entirely made up of artificial chemicals. Make sure to look for brands that prioritise natural and organic ingredients in the remaining non-alcoholic portion of your perfume.

A rabbit being sheltered from harm

Vegan & cruelty-free ethos

The fragrance industry is sadly one of the worst when it comes to the mistreatment of animals. If your perfume isn’t cruelty-free, then know that there may have been many silent victims that suffered (and even died) in the creation of this non-essential cosmetic product.

To understand more about why lab testing on animals is so abhorrent, have a read of Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. And in the meantime, make sure to check for Leaping Bunny or PETA certification.

Remember that ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ also mean different things. Just because something is cruelty-free doesn’t mean that there aren’t animal-derived ingredients in your perfume. Beware in particular of musk (usually from animal secretions), lanolin and beeswax.

You can rest assured that all of the perfume brands I’ve featured are vegan and cruelty-free.

Sustainable sourcing & thoughtful packaging

When it comes to the ethical and eco-friendly sourcing of ingredients, it’s worth noting that synthetic ingredients usually have to undergo heavy chemical processes and are made of petrochemicals. This effectively supports the oil industry and means that they won’t biodegrade.

You should also be aware of the use of palm oil, which is a leading cause of rainforest deforestation. Look for palm oil-free products or those which are RSPO-certified (and if unsure – just ask!).

Last but not least, careful consideration should be given to the product’s packaging and materials used – from the perfume bottle itself to the way it’s shipped to your doorstep. At the very least, packaging should be recyclable, but if it’s refillable or can be repurposed – all the better.

A sunny meadow of delicate yellow flowers

Natural Fragrances: It Makes Scents for Your Health & the Planet

All puns aside, scent is the most powerful of the senses. When you process an aroma, it uses the same area of the brain that processes emotions, learning and memory. So whether you’re shopping for yourself or as a gift, let’s harness this power as a force for good – something which boosts our mood, connects us to people and places, and actively contributes to our health and well-being.

Remember that when you’re accustomed to ultra-processed junk foods, your tastebuds need time to adapt and appreciate the taste of real whole foods. And it’s exactly the same process when learning to appreciate natural scents. However, once you get past the synthetic mass-produced fragrances your nose has grown used to, you’ll start to appreciate the subtleties and strikingly individual notes of natural perfume.

The more we shop consciously as individuals, the more we drive large-scale change. For ethical smellies that will make you feel beautiful from the inside out, check out my suggestions for:

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