They smell great, and no animals were harmed to make them! Check out our picks for the best natural vegan perfumes
By Lora O’Brien
They say you’re never fully dressed without perfume! Adding a spritz of your favourite fragrance can be the final stage of your grooming routine. But do you know what’s in that bottle?
Quite often, that heavenly liquid can contain literal animal parts. And if not, it may have been tested on animals. Think: torturing cats and rabbits by dripping stinging perfume in their eyes. Or shaving their fur and spraying their skin with corrosive chemicals. NO beauty product is worth that!!
And get this: some brands that claim to be vegan are actually owned by a larger parent company. That ‘parent’ may sell their ‘child’ brand in China where animal testing is required by law. Which means your ‘vegan’ fragrance isn’t that at all!
But there’s good news, too. With veganism on the rise and the demand for ethical beauty products greater than ever, there’s now a tonne of vegan and cruelty-free options available! Here’s what you need to look for when buying natural vegan perfumes.
Non Vegan Perfume Ingredients To Avoid
If you’re vegan, halal, or even just want to use cruelty-free beauty products, then you’ll know the hardship of navigating the maze of non vegan perfume ingredients. They’re often sneakily hidden by companies, especially when it comes to scents.
For example? You may think dairy is only found in food, but get this: it’s also found in cosmetics and perfume! Alongside other non-vegan ingredients, such as honey, leather, beeswax and the secretions of animals, which are famously used to make the fragrance last longer.
You’ll want to be sure your natural vegan perfumes don’t have any of the following:
Civet: This comes from an African cat-like animal. The secretion is (very painfully) collected from the wee beastie and is used in perfumery to give the scent a velvety, floral scent. The act of obtaining the ingredient is often carried out using incredibly cruel methods, and the animals are kept in dark, depressing cages. (Note: These animals are often also used for so called ‘civet coffee’. Avoid that, too!)
Musk: Another hugely popular ingredient in mainstream perfumes, this one comes from a male musk deer. The odour is obtained from their glands. Due to the popularity of perfume, the population of musk deer is dangerously low due to them being hunted to the point of near extinction to produce the scent for fragrances.
Ambergris: This one is super gross, but is also used in synthetic and natural perfumes. Ambergris is a substance that is produced by the digestive secretions of sperm whales. Whales used to be caught to collect the substance, but these days it’s found at sea and collected as ocean waste. Or so they say! It’s still pretty grim!
Castoreum: Never short of gross ingredients, perfume also includes castoreum. This oil is extracted from the castor sacs of a beaver. It resembles a musk-like scent, which sadly results in beavers being caught and killed to extract this ingredient.
Kasturi: This is a secretion from the male deer, that can be sourced from a gland between the deer’s back and rectum. To obtain Kasturi, the gland is removed entirely from the deer to be used as a fixative in perfumery. Not nice.
Vegan perfume ingredients that you should still avoid:
Even if an ingredient is vegan friendly, it could harm your health, if not that of animals. In fact, perfume is notoriously one of the most toxic cosmetics around. And the worst part is, due to ‘industry secrets’, brands are not always required to reveal each ingredient that’s in the bottle. Buyer beware! Buying natural vegan perfumes or organic perfumes is the only way to steer clear of the toxic chemicals, below.
Parabens: Used as a preservative in cosmetics, parabens have been connected to a variety of health issues, including cancer.
PEG: Polyethylene Glycol is used for a variety of reasons in the cosmetics industry. For example, it can be hydrating. But because it has an accumulative, toxic effect on your health, and is easy absorbed through the skin, it’s best to avoid this ingredient.
Synthetic musks: There is a flower seed that produces a ‘musky’ scent. And that’s fine. But a lot of synthetic musk scents, especially cheap ones, are VERY bad for you, and for the planet! These are lipophilic compounds and tend to deposit and persist in fat tissues. They have low biodegradability and accumulate in the environment. Fake musks found in perfumes, body sprays and air fresheners have been linked to allergic reactions, hormone disruption and possibly even autism in children.
Phthalates: I saved the worst ingredient for last. Phthalates are VERY common in perfumes. And that’s bad news, because they are a powerful hormone disruptor, and can cause everything from infertility and birth defects to cancer.
Convinced you need an all natural vegan perfume? Are are some of the best we know of, below.
The Best Natural Vegan Perfumes
1. Eden Perfume No.007
Once you discover the wonder that is Eden perfumes, you will never again splurge excess amounts on designer perfume again. At a fraction of the cost, the cruelty-free brand has created dead ringers for classic perfumes – minus the added parabens, preservative and animal-derived ingredients which have all been ditched in favour of essential oils.
The brand is run by a vegan family in Brighton who is vocal about the fact they scrimp on packaging and marketing to be able to produce quality perfume at a fraction of the cost to mainstream brands. All Eden perfume is styling and housed in refillable bottles, making them environmentally friendly, too.
The brand has uncanny dupes of brands such as Chanel, plus a range of their own specialised scents. The inspiration behind Eden’s No.007 fragrance is the 1930’s, and is a timeless classic that can be enjoyed as much now as it can ten years down the line.
Perfect for: Those who appreciate a timeless, sophisticated floral scent.
For the last decade, Abel has been one of the most prolific natural vegan perfumes brands. They’re on a mission to create the world’s best 100% natural perfume without having to compromise on ethics and aesthetics.
The eco-friendly brand’s range of unisex fragrances is perfect for someone still looking to splurge on a designer fragrance. The price tag may be steep, but it highlights founder Frances Schoemack’s own struggle to find a natural perfume. Her brand Abel uses only the finest ingredients from the most ethical suppliers, including a plant-derived ‘musk’ scent taken from the seeds of hibiscus flowers.
My pick: There are several fragrances to choose from, but Golden Neroli is the perfect scent for the warmer seasons. The luscious floral scent has balanced notes of neroli and matcha tea, jasmine, ylang ylang and vanilla. One spritz of this delicious scent, and the ‘golden hour’ quickly transforms into a golden day, month and year.
Perfect for: A green, unique unisex scent that is truly scent-sational.
Le Labo makes some of the most iconic natural vegan perfumes. Their Santal 33 scent may have a celebrity fan base, and is likely the reason you’ve already heard of the brand. But beyond this scent, the brand has a lot to offer the perfume world. Their minimalist scandi-style fragrances are unisex, and layered with an intoxicating blend of notes. One spritz of the oil-based scent can last all day, making the high-end fragrance worth every penny!
Free from phthalates and parabens, the luxury bottles are made to order meaning they’re made in small batches, so each time you buy from them, you know your scent is freshly handmade.
My pick: With lots of scents to choose from, I personally love Le Labo’s Baie 19 for its celebration of crisp, fresh and heavy rain after a long dry spell. United with juniper berry, patchouli and green leaves, this particular fragrance is uplifting and refreshing.
Perfect for: The perfect scent to wear every day as it felt ultra-versatile.
When it comes to fragrance, KIERIN NYC is a bold brand that is disrupting gender norms. Unlike conventional natural vegan perfumes, KIERIN NYC invites people to be inspired, not defined, by the fragrance they choose to wear. Therefore, each scent is genderless and individualistic; diverse and inclusive.
Inspired by the energetic vibes of an urban lifestyle, KIERIN NYC fuses personal experiences with story-telling to create scents inspired by real NYC stories.
My pick: As inspired as the brand is by the city, I prefer their Santal Sky scent. This is the perfect fragrance to connect the wearer to nature. Woody, intimate and serene, the fragrance is fused with an earthy vibrancy that will refresh the soul and evoke a sense of calm in the fast beat of city streets. The cruelty-free brand is also proud to produce vegan fragrances that are clean and made without toxic extracts, such as sulfates, parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde.
Perfect for: Those who love nature. This will transport you to a woodland wonderland.
The saying you get what you pay for really does apply when it comes to natural vegan perfumes. If you buy cheap, often the ingredients will either be harmful to your health, or simply won’t allow ther perfume to last.
Chantecaille may cost a bit more, but it’s worth it. This is a philanthropic French brand that is famous for its use of unique high concentrations of natural botanicals in their whole range. And their fragrances are the epitome of luxury. All Chantecaille products are free of phthalates, sulphate detergents, mineral oil, petrolatum, palm Oil, synthetic colours, synthetic fragrances and GMOs.
My pick: If you can’t help stopping to appreciate the finer things in life, then this Darby Rose parfum may be the scent for you. This sophisticated perfume is a fresh, modern take on a classic rose scent. Nothing ordinary or ‘old lady-ish’ about it! It oozes beauty and femininity in every spray.
Perfect for: Capturing the scent of summer all year round.
Clean by name, clean by nature! This is a brand whose ethos is all about creating a better world for both us and the planet. When it comes to transparency, this is a brand with nothing to hide. From their trusted formulas to transparent ingredients, everything is laid bare.
Each perfume is created with responsibly sourced ingredients as well as green manufacturing and packaging. Featuring farm-to-fragrance ingredients, each scent is ethically sourced and blended into unforgettable fragrances.
Perfect for: Experiencing the exhilarating touch of a hug. The perfect perfume to wear on a date!
When it comes to the best natural vegan perfumes, you don’t need to look for something fancy or expensive. Bloomtown has a range of super affordable scents with a handy roll-on so you can apply it as and when you need to. The perfect size to pop in your purse, the roll-on fragrances are infused with skin-loving oils. They’re available in 6 signature scents.
Free from sulphates, parabens, PEGs, SLS, synthetic colours and phthalates, the perfume will nourish skin without clogging pores, and will even work to soothe dry patches of skin. This fragrance can even be applied to soothe split ends and make your hair smell amazing. How cool is that?
My pick: I’d suggest The Grove. Take an energising walk through Bloomtown’s aromas of blood orange and pink grapefruit. Its sharp, citrusy notes evoke freshness and summertime. And this perfume shows that good things do come in small packages!
Perfect for: Bring calmness to your day and pulse.
Founded in 2011, Laboratory Perfumes are British scent specialists, and craft unique, gender-free fragrances. Scientifically formulated to react to the wearer and evolve over the day, this is one fragrance you will never grow tired of wearing.
All Laboratory Perfume scents are made in the UK using socially conscious, environmentally friendly and cruelty-free ingredients. Everything in the bottle is kind to the skin and free from parabens. The company has dreamt up a range of fragrances based on an association with the English coast and surrounding countryside.
My pick: Samphire harnesses the vibe of an autumnal walk in the woods. A pinch of spicy juniper berries, citrus oil and an intoxicating trio of lavender, rosemary and basil join verbena to layer over white amber and oak moss to evoke fresh, coastal air in a perfume.
Perfect for: An alluring perfume that suits both men and women.
9. PHLUR Hanami
Spotting a gap in the market, PHLUR co-founders created their brand to bridge the gap between poorly made fragrances and overpriced scents that the average person couldn’t afford. Thus born was a sweet-smelling fragrance, in more ways than one!
Setting out to create a clean middle path between luxury and purity, everything about PHLUR, from their ingredients to their practices, is transparent and transformative. The brand’s natural vegan perfumes use botanical ingredients, as well as thoughtfully selected synthetic ones. Rest assured that all are kind to both skin and the planet. PHLUR eau de parfums are always free of BHT, phenoxyethanol, parabens, phthalates, and polycyclic and alicyclic musks.
My pick: PHLUR’s Hanami is a minimalist scent that features aquatic and floral tones and is both subtle and warm. The perfume has top notes of fig and bergamot, mid notes of hazelnut and white florals and bottom notes of sandalwood and vetiver.
Perfect for: A subtle, aquatic floral for all genders
Walden perfumes are made from only the finest natural absolutes, resins and essential oils. Handmade in small batches in the UK, this brand makes some of the best clean perfumes for women. Walden is a throwback to how perfumery started before cheap synthetic substitutes were added.
Continuing the traditions of high perfumery when master perfumers blended the finest natural extracts into fragrant masterpieces, the price of this perfectly reflects the cost of the ingredients used to make it.
My pick: A Little Star-Dust is one of my favourite natural vegan perfumes. It’s a whimsical fragrance featuring a sensual bouquet of ylang-ylang, iris and jasmine and is enriched with hints of creamy amyris and exotic tonka bean to produce a floral scent that is both soft, but deep.
Perfect for: A lovely perfume that you can wear day and night.