An Overview of 100+ Natural Perfumery Brands
Many brands claim to use natural ingredients. And many do. But when it comes to 100% natural perfumes, it's a whole different story. I can't count the times when an engaged sales person was praising their pure nature fragrances until I checked the INCI list and found plenty of unpleasant chemistry inside.
Now, disclaimer first: All-natural fragrances are not necessarily better or even healthier than their synthetic counterparts. They can be, and synthetic perfume manufacturers still enjoy ludicrous exceptions when it comes to ingredients, e.g. of not having to label dangerous ingredients. But there are plenty of allergenes, toxics, etc. to be found in nature as well. And synthetics are easy to produce whereas unethical sourcing of natural ingredients can be quite problematic. Natural ingredients are also way, way more expensive. Real vanilla is pricier than gold. So don't be surprised when all-natural perfumes cost 4$/ml. It may mean that they actually do it right.
That being said, I love natural perfume when it's done well. Rich aromas and, I suppose, a good feeling. Besides, this niche in the niche isn't exactly big and I enjoy supporting these small perfumers, many of them working as a one-person or family business.
The good news is that there are big amounts of all-naturals on the market. It's less than 1% of all perfumes, but that's plenty to keep you engaged for years! I've been exploring natural perfumes for the last 2 years, here on Parfumo, together with about 10 other fragrance aficionados. We shared the cost of buying and exchanged our impressions after passing the samples around via mail. During these two years, we made plenty of great discoveries. Unfortunately, most of them are on the German site and I cannot translate them all. But here are some general conclusions:
Longevity + Sillage: These are often considered low for natural perfumes. And for the majority I agree, compared to synthetic ones, in particular with regards to sillage. Personally I found plenty that are just great for me. I don't need to mark my territory with perfume and find longevity for one day sufficient.
Variety: Gone are the day where all-naturals only have to smell like lemon & lavender. We found audacious experiments with bitter smoke, fruity peaches, rich amber, soothing pines, dusky woods, spiritual incense ... I prefer gathering perfume impressions over bottles and found them plentiful!
Favourites: Tricky, as that varies with personal taste also among our group. Let me state some that I can recommend in alphabetical order: Aftelier, Anna Zworykina, Annette Neuffer, Aromantik, For Strange Women, KoRo Perfumes, One Seed, Phoenix Botanicals, Providence Perfumes, Saint d'Ici, Sweet Anthem. For cool hardcore real nature scents Barnaby Black, Juniper Ridge and Firn Fragrances. But please, this is just a small selection of an incomplete set that we've tested. We only explored about half of this list and I'm convinced that there are heaps of gems to be found all around! If you know some German or don't mind using Google Translate, head over to my German parfumo profile, as we I have more detailed blog review summaries of this project.
Another disclaimer: I cannot check if the listed brands really sell all-naturals. I did check for some aspects (e.g. German laws are stricter than those of the US, Natural Perfumery Guild is a plus, etc.), but eventually I rely on uncertain marketing and some INCI lists. Also, not all of the listed brands below sell only natural perfumes, but also traditional ones. Please have a careful look yourself.
I don't plan to maintain this blog with new additions because the editor doesn't allow table edits and because I rather want to reduce my activites here after the zealous testing of the recent years. In fact, I reckon that some links are even outdated as of now, but I didn't want to check all of them again. You are very welcome to add your own knowledge below and please, share wherever and with whom you like to.
Closing words: Even the most ethically sourced, fairest traded, most animal-protective perfume is still a waste product to our world. Perfume is a non-essential good. I don't want to be hypocritical as I obviously spend on and enjoy it as well. But please keep it in mind when you are doubting whether to invest here. I personally donate 10% of my salary to offset for my negative impacts and believe that most persons who can afford expensive luxuary products are able to as well. It's your call.