Non-Toxic Perfumes: How to Stay Safe While Smelling Good

Eva Hagan - Author

Jul. 25 2023, Published 2:06 p.m. ET

Your favorite perfume may contain more than its promised hint of sandalwood, floral notes, or fresh citrus. Most perfumes contain synthetic fragrance — a largely unregulated catch-all phrase that can refer to thousands of different synthetic ingredients — which can be harmful to the body and also pollute the environment.

Perfumes are not regulated by the FDA, so you could be using the same perfume for years and be blissfully unaware of its possible damaging effects, because the bottle can hide all kinds of things behind the word "fragrance."

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If you've never had a bad reaction to your perfume, you may not need to worry — we're just here to share a few of our favorite non-toxic, cruelty-free, and synthetic fragrance-free perfumes.

Close up photo of the hands of a woman wearing a white coat holding a brandless bottle of perfume.
Source: iStock

The Nue Co

The Nue Co was founded with a mission of bringing sustainability to the supplement industry, including fragrance supplements, focusing on the connection between the health of the people and the planet. It lists all the origins and sourcing of its product scents and topical and ingestible ingredients that it will never use such as parabens, synthetic fragrances, and aspartame.

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The Nue Co's Functional Fragrance Set: Calm + Reset ($60) is one of its many perfume bundles. Each of the fragrances on the company's website is cruelty-free, paraben-free, non-toxic, and made with traceable ingredients.

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Abel is a perfume company founded by former winemaker Frances Shoemack because she could not find an all-natural perfume. Her company has blossomed into a perfumed brand that differentiates itself from others by using only natural, plant-derived, biodegradable ingredients, and full ingredient transparency.

Abel's Discovery Set ($35) is a great start for someone who doesn't want to spend a fortune on a perfume they may get tired of, or might not like at all.

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For Strange Women

For Strange Women is a women-owned perfume company based in the Midwestern U.S. All of its products are made in a single studio, using vegan, synthetic-free, cruelty-free ingredients, aside from the beeswax in wax perfumes and lip balms. For Strange Women commits to using no parabens, phthalates, PFAS, formaldehyde, BHA, BHT, and PEGs.

The Perfume Oil Sample Set ($39) allows you to pick three perfume oils to try in a 1.5 mL sample vial.

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One Seed

One Seed is a fragrance brand backed by its self-created standard called Nothing to Hide, promising full ingredient transparency, and synthetic-free, and 100 percent plant-derived ingredients.

One Seed's high quality is reflected in its prices, with the Tides eau de parfum 1 fl oz going for ($75).

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Maison Louis Marie

Maison Louis Marie is a clean beauty brand that commits to creating products free from toxic ingredients that could harm the planet or people. Its products are cruelty-free, and when it comes to synthetics, the company says on its website: "We only use synthetic ingredients in order to protect the planet from the over-harvesting of endangered plants, to avoid animal products, and to protect against known natural allergens."

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That being said, with full ingredient transparency you are able to choose products on Maison Louis Marie's website that contain zero synthetic ingredients, such as the Hinoki Wood Patchouli Cedarwood Perfume Oil ($65).

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Heretic Parfum

Heretic Parfum is another fragrance brand making products that are vegan and cruelty-free, and without phthalates, parabens, synthetics, and formaldehyde. The company uses natural or naturally-derived ingredients.

Florgasm ($65) is one of the brand's 100 percent natural, gender-neutral, floral perfumes.

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Wild Coast Perfumes

Wild Coast Perfumery is a perfumery dedicated to respecting nature and people. All of its perfumes are free from synthetics, artificial fragrance oils, dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, and parabens, and they are hand-blended at the perfumery on Vancouver Island.

Abkhazi eau de parfum ($50) is one scent inspired by the scents in Victoria's Abkhazi Gardens.

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