Better Goods beauty

The Best Natural + Organic Perfumes (Based on Ingredients)

Better Goods

Feb 21, 2022

best non toxic fragrance

We love a pleasant fragrance just as much as anyone else, but the sad truth is that most traditional fragrances are full of mystery chemicals that might harm your health.

In the USA, the chemical makeup of fragrances is protected as a "trade secret" as part of two federal acts: the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). These laws allow manufacturers to hide fragrances' ingredients and give them the legal right not to disclose them.

There is a legitimate reason for perfumers to hide the makeup of their fragrances, but it shouldn't come at the cost of human health.

There's hope for fragrance lovers, though. Because we have become more aware of the potential dangers of traditional fragrances, in recent years, many brands have stepped up to offer wonderful-smelling scents that are made from natural ingredients, making them better for us, the planet, and our animals.

Ingredient Transparency

As explained above, the ingredient makeup of fragrances is not required to be listed. Because of this, very few perfume houses list the ingredients used in their fragrances.

Newer brands who lean into the non-toxic and conscious market are making the formulations of their scents public, giving us confidence in buying from them without worrying about the potential iffy ingredients lurking in many traditional fragrances.

Phthalates

Diethyl phthalate (pronounced tha-late), or DEP, is a concern in fragrances you may have heard of before. DEP isn't itself a perfuming agent; rather, it's added to fragrances to give them staying power.

The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption lists phthlates as a category 1 endocrine disruptor and identifies it as having an impact on our environment.

You won't find phthalates on an ingredient label because of the "trade secret" law. Phthalates will always hide it under the "perfume," "fragrance," or "parfum" label.

Very few studies have been performed on the effects of phthlates on humans. Animal studies have shown links to numerous health and reproductive issues, yet the US's Food & Drug Administration (FDA) still allows them.

The fragrances listed in our guide are free of phthlates, and you should assume that any fragrance that doesn't list its ingredients or state that it's "phthalate-free" almost certainly contains the ingredient.

Allergens

Most of the ingredients used in fragrances aren't exactly allergens—they're chemical substances that the body has an adverse reaction to.

Many of these ingredients are synthetics you won't find in conscious and natural brands, but don't think natural ingredients are given a pass here, either. In fact, several essential oil ingredients used in fragrances are recognized as consumer allergens.

In our product audit, we list all ingredients with potential allergic effects with an asterisk (*).

Other Concerning Ingredients

There's a laundry list of ingredients to know about in fragrances, and this guide won't cover all over the, but some of the standout examples include:

  • Aceladehyde
  • Benzophone
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Benzyl Salicylate
  • Benzyl Benzoate
  • Butoxyethanol
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional
  • Chloromethane (methyl chloride)
  • Dichloromethane (methylene chloride):
  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP):
  • Eugenyl methyl ether (Methyleugenol)
  • Formaldehyde
  • MEA, DEA, TEA – ethanolamines
  • Methanol
  • Oxybenzone (BP-3)
  • Propyl paraben (Propyl p-hydroxybenzoate)
  • Resorcinol:
  • Styrene
  • Synthetic Musks (Tonalide , Galaxolide, Musk Ketone, Musk Xylene)
  • Titanium dioxide (TiO2)
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Vinyl acetate

The Fragrance Industry is Self-Policing

We have a deep dive into the International Fragrance Associate (IFRA), the self-appointed governing body of the fragrance industry.

To make it short, the IFRA is trusted by the world to "independently" test and analyze ingredients used in perfumes to verify their safety.

There's a big problem with this, though: the IFRA is funded by eight of the biggest fragrance companies in the world. This is a clear conflict of interest, and to make matters worse, the results of their research are not made available to the public.

Because of the conflict of interest, there's no way of knowing if the results of their studies have been tampered with to serve the interests of the massive companies that fund the IFRA.

It's in the realm of possibility that numbers have been fudged in studies to deem certain ingredients "safe" when they're actually not. We believe that this makes it even more concerning to use fragrances without a transparent list of ingredients.

Our Methodology

We searched online stores, blogs and social media to find the most popular brands advertising themselves as clean and natural.

Each ingredient in every product was researched and analyzed for safety based on available public research. Where possible, sources for information are included.

A Note on Hidden Fragrance Ingredients

A large majority of the fragrances we looked at (20 out of 30) hide some of the ingredients in their fragrance formulas under the "fragrance/parfum" label. We reached out to these brands to ask them about the exact ingredient makeup of the fragrances.

Of the 20 brands we contacted, 10 of them declined our request to see their ingredient lists:

  1. Lush
  2. Good Chemistry
  3. Harvey Prince Organics
  4. Dedcool
  5. Sigil
  6. Boy Smells
  7. Pinrose
  8. Kai
  9. Nest Fragrances
  10. Strange Invisible

All of these brands refused citing confidentiality reasons.

10 of the brands did not respond to our request for ingredient lists whatsoever:

  1. Clean Beauty
  2. Ellis Brooklyn
  3. Lavanila
  4. Le Labo
  5. Pacifica
  6. Pour Le Monde
  7. Sana Jardin
  8. Non Gender Specific
  9. Floral Street
  10. Honoré des Prés

Products are ranked from best to worst with an internal score based on the ingredient rankings.

We reviewed 30+ of the most popular fragrance brands that advertise themselves as being clean, eco-friendly, or otherwise conscious, and rated them as follows:

Best  – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.

Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.

Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.

Fragrances Rated: Best

These fragrances were the best we reviewed based on ingredients. They're all 100% natural, and fully disclose the full list of ingredients

Pour Le Monde

Envision Natural Perfume
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $82 ($48.24 per oz)

This fragrance is formulated with 100% natural essential oils, as are all of the fragrances made by Pour Le Monde.

Ingredients:

Pacifica

French Lilac
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $22 ($22 per oz)

We reached out to Pacifica regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response. However, since the fragrance consists of only an essential oil blend, we give their fragrance line a top rating.

Ingredients:

The 7 Virtues

Vanilla Woods
Rating: Best🌟
Price: $97 ($57.4 per oz)

Made from an essential oil blend and with full ingredient transparency, we gladly give The 7 Virtues a top rating. The brand’s entire line of fragrances follows this philosophy, and any of them are a safe choice.

Ingredients:

Fragrances Rated: Good

These fragrances have a good list of ingredients, but don't go above and beyond like the scents rated "best".

Skylar

Salt Air
Rating: Good
Price: $85 ($50 per oz)

Skylar is 100% transparent with the chemical makeup of their fragrance formulas, and you can find them all listed on their website.

While not a 100% natural scent, we give their products a rating of “Good”.

Ingredients:

Abbott NYC

Big Sky
Rating: Good
Price: $78 ($45.88 per oz)

Abbott NYC is 100% transparent with the ingredients of their fragrances. They use a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients, none of which should be avoided.

Ingredients:

Heretic

Dirty Hinoki
Rating: Good
Price: $165 ($97.63 per oz)

With a complete and transparent list of ingredients, it’s worth checking out the line of fragrances from Heretic. No ingredients stand out as being unsafe, and are a good choice for anyone looking for a clean perfume.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

by Rosie Jane

Dylan
Rating: Good
Price: $65 ($38.24 per oz)

By Rosie Jane is 100% transparent about the ingredient makeup of their fragrances. With a clean list of ingredients, they get a good rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Henry Rose

Jake's House
Rating: Good
Price: $120 ($71.01 per oz)

Henry Rose is 100% transparent about their fragrance ingredients. While they contain a large number of synthetics, none stand out as being ingredients to avoid.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 4*

Maison Louis Marie

No. 12 Bousval
Rating: Good
Price: $88 ($51.76 per oz)

Maison Louis Marie is 100% transparent about the ingredients in their fragrances. The list of ingredients isn’t 100% natural, but none stand out as being ingredients that should be avoided.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 11*

Abel Odor

Cobalt Amber
Rating: Good
Price: $150 ($88.24 per oz)

Abel Odor is 100% transparent with the ingredient makeup of its fragrances. With a clean list of ingredients and none that stand out in a negative light, we give this product a good rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 9*

DedCool

Fragrance 01 "Taunt"
Rating: Good
Price: $90 ($52.94 per oz)

Dedcool declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients. The brand claims that they’re made from 100% organic and natural extracts, and because the rest of the ingredients are organic, this is most likely true. Although we would usually give an “iffy” rating to a fragrance that doesn’t disclose the ingredients, we give this brand a good rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 3*

Fragrances Rated: Iffy

These fragrances are rated iffy because they hide their fragrance ingredients, or have ingredients that are questionable.

Phlur

Améline
Rating: Iffy
Price: $96 ($56.8 per oz)

This fragrance from Phlur unfortunately is non-transparent with their fragrance ingredients. It also includes two synthetic musks with limited safety research available. For these reasons, we give this product an iffy rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Lavanila

Vanilla Lavender
Rating: Iffy
Price: $48 ($28.24 per oz)

We reached out to Lavanila regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance but did not receive a response. Although the brand claims that its fragrances are all naturally-derived, our standard is to not recommend brands without full transparency, so we must give the product an iffy rating.

Ingredients:

Good Chemistry

Queen Bee
Rating: Iffy
Price: $24.99 ($14.7 per oz)

While this brand claims to be natural⁠—and has the name “Good Chemistry”⁠—they choose to hide the ingredients of their fragrances. While it’s likely that the hidden ingredients are essential oils, and the brand claims that the fragrances are phthlate-free, they don’t claim to be 100% natural.

Good Chemistry declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients.

Ingredients:

Nest

Sunkissed Hibiscus
Rating: Iffy
Price: $76 ($44.71 per oz)

This fragrance hides its ingredients, giving it an instant iffy rating. The brand doesn’t claim to be clean in any way, so that fact along with the hidden ingredients makes us unable to recommend it.

Ingredients:

Strange Invisible

Black Rosette
Rating: Iffy
Price: $210 ($123.53 per oz)

Strange Invisible declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients. The brand does, however, claim that its products are 100% natural and made from certified organic plants. Because the list of ingredients isn’t transparent, we cannot recommend it.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 7*

Honoré des Prés

Love Coconut
Rating: Iffy
Price: $98 ($57.65 per oz)

We reached out to Honoré des Prés regarding the ingredient makeup of its fragrance but did not receive a response. This could be due to the fact that it’s a French brand, however.

The brand claims that the fragrances are 100% natural, but since they don’t disclose their full ingredients, we cannot give them a good rating.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 7*

Harvey Prince

Temptress
Rating: Iffy
Price: $57 ($33.53 per oz)

Harvey Prince declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients. However, the brand claims that their fragrances are free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and benzene and that they use eco-friendly and organic ingredients. Because they don’t disclose the ingredients, we cannot recommend the brand, however.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 5*

Floral Street

Arizona Bloom
Rating: Iffy
Price: $78 ($45.88 per oz)

We reached out to Floral Street regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response. The brand also makes no claims that the fragrances are clean or natural.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 2*

Clean Beauty

Radiant Nectar
Rating: Iffy
Price: $68 ($40 per oz)

Although this brand’s name is “Clean Beauty”, they are not transparent about their ingredients, opting to hide many of them under the “Fragrance/Parfum” black box.

It also contains Butylphenyl Methylpropional, which is categorized in the EU as being a known human allergen with limited evidence of toxicity.

We reached out to Clean Beauty regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 3*

Lush

Lord of Misrule
Rating: Iffy
Price: $49.95 ($49.95 per oz)

Lush opts to hide the ingredients of their fragrances under the “Fragrance/Parfum” label. While it’s likely that the hidden ingredients aren’t necessarily bad, the fact that they hide them requires us to give them an iffy rating by default.

Lush declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 10*

Sana Jardin

Sandalwood Temple
Rating: Iffy
Price: $145 ($85.29 per oz)

We reached out to Sana Jardin regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response. The brand does claim that the fragrances are free from phthalates, artificial colors, parabens and formaldehyde.

However, because of the lack of transparency and because they do use unknown synthetic ingredients, we can’t recommend them.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 6*

Sigil

Amor Fati
Rating: Iffy
Price: $130 ($130 per oz)

Sigil declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients. The brand claims that its hidden fragrance ingredients are organic, but since they keep them hidden, we unfortunately cannot give the brand a rating higher than “iffy”.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 5*

Non Gender Specific

Flooid
Rating: Iffy
Price: $125 ($36.76 per oz)

We reached out to Non Gender Specific regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance but did not receive a response. Oddly, the brand claims “ingredient transparency” on the website—a direct contradiction to the lack of transparency in their fragrance blends.

Although the brand seems to be focused on natural and clean products, we cannot recommend them due to their lack of transparency.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 7*

Ellis Brooklyn

Salt
Rating: Iffy
Price: $105 ($61.76 per oz)

We reached out to Ellis Brooklyn regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response. The brand does seem dedicated to creating clean fragrances, but because we don’t know which synthetic ingredients are in the perfume, we can’t recommend it.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 14*

Le Labo

Santal 33
Rating: Iffy
Price: $196 ($115.29 per oz)

We reached out to Le Labo regarding the ingredient makeup of their fragrance, but did not receive a response. Le Labo makes no claims about their fragrances being clean or natural, so along with the lack of transparency, we cannot recommend this brand.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 10*

Pinrose

Secret Genius
Rating: Iffy
Price: $77 ($45.29 per oz)

Pinrose declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 11*

Fragrances Rated: Bad

These fragrances are rated bad because they have ingredients we recommend avoiding.

Boy Smells

Rose Load
Rating: Bad
Price: $98 ($44.55 per oz)

With hidden fragrance ingredients and two must-avoid chemicals, we recommend avoiding this product.

Boy Smells declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 9*

Kai

Kai
Rating: Bad
Price: $78 ($45.88 per oz)

Kai declined our request to disclose their fragrance ingredients. Along with other ingredients we would recommend avoiding, we cannot recommend this product.

Ingredients:

Potential irritants: 9*

 
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