A Fragrance without the Fragrance: Organic Perfume Review


Do you sprint through department stores? I do, and it’s always through the makeup section. I have bad allergies and walking through rows and rows of fragrances is akin to demons waving perfumed-drenched pitchforks at me. Fragrance means an instant headache, sniffling nose, and a possible asthma attack. To me, perfume is utterly toxic. To everyone else? Yeah, actually it looks like it is toxic as well.

At the start of the movement for safe cosmetics, way back in 2002 when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a report called “Not Too Pretty” discussed the dangers of perfume. A full page ad ran in the New York Times with the release of this report, featuring a pregnant woman sniffing what looked like the perfume brand, Poison. The ad ran, “For baby, it could really be poison.” The report found that 72% of tested beauty products contained phthalates, a chemical linked to birth defects and hormone disruption. And Poison contained the highest levels of the chemical.

This report launched the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which is responsible for much of the safer products on the market today. But a recent analysis by the Campaign shows that top-selling fragrances still contain at least 12 ingredients not listed on labels. What’s more, these “chemicals that can trigger allergic reactions or disrupt hormones. Hormone-disrupting chemicals are linked to a range of health effects including sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer.” Fragrance receives one of the highest hazard ratings from the Skin Deep database.

Second-hand fragrance is also a concern. Anne Steinemann is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of public affairs at the University of Washington. According to Dr. Steinemann, “One person using a fragranced product can cause health problems for many others.” Some of the health hazards associated with second-hand fragrance are asthma, headaches, and even contact dermatitis.

So do we protest by throwing our perfumes into the sea like some kind of Boston Tea Party? (Heck no, because it is way too toxic for the fish!) We found at least one healthier option on the scented market. A Perfume Organic offers up fragrances with more certifications than a Star Trek neurosurgeon (aka TONS).  This brand is certified USDA Organic, Oregon Tilth, cruelty-free and vegan – it even gets Greenpeace’s approval.


The line was founded by Amanda Walker, a vegan, organic, local, and raw food advocate. After a career in the perfume industry, she decided to create a healthier option for those seeking scent. Her perfumes contain certified organic botanicals and are hand-poured locally in Manhattan in small batches to maintain purity.

A Perfume Organic offers four scents, each for $65: Green, Urban Organic, Perfumed Wine-Rose and White Magik. Green is rose with hint of chamomile; Urban Organic is lemon with ginger and grapefruit; White Magik has white flowers with spearmint; and Perfumed Wine-Rose is berry, crisp apple and peppers. I have to be honest – with my history of fragrance headaches, I approached these perfumes as one might approach a root canal. You know you gotta do it, but you just want it to be over with. Commence crushing headache, right?

Cue the ringing of church bells and throwing of confetti! Nary a headache did I have with these scents. They smelled fresh and botanical. If you want to smell like fruit, you smell like fruit. If you want a hint of floral, it’s there. My favorite was White Magik for its sage and spearmint “aftersmell.”

And just what are they made of? Amanda supplied me with a detailed list of what goes into her perfumes. Her scents contain pure ingredients like lavender, bitter organic, spearmint, white pepper, lemon, and more. As she told me, “I never use any solvent extracted ingredients. This is very important as solvent extraction use petrochemicals and phthalates (such as absolutes and concretes). Also, I’m very careful to never use any endangered ingredients – my sandalwood is from Australia.”

Best of all? You can actually wear her scents without smelling like a broken perfume factory just rampaged by 1000 cats. You can find them at Futurenatural.

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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.