Who doesn't love to smell good? Having a signature scent can be a powerful anchor. Scents are engrained in our memories; my grandmother wore Shalimar and it still reminds me of her, 30 years after her death, if I get a whiff of it.
Sadly, most perfumes on the market today are not safe to inhale or apply to our skin on a regular basis. Long ago, rare essential oils and fancy plant extracts were commonly used as fragrances by the upper class. While it's hard to know for sure that they were pure and safe, there were fewer synthetic ingredients available at that time.
Today, the goal for the big perfumers seems to be profit at any cost, potential health consequences be damned. More and more evidence is showing that hormone-disrupting chemicals are interfering with our reproductive and immune systems. Yet, the major players dial up the fragrance boldly and shamelessly—from perfume to air fresheners to laundry products. They are chock full of phthalates, known endocrine disruptors, and should be avoided as much as possible.
The good news is that many companies are popping up with nontoxic perfumes. I have tried a lot of them and, in my experience, it's hard to find the right scent and the lasting power is definitely less than traditional fragrances. My signature scent (prior to becoming enlightened on ingredients) was Chanel No. 19. I looked up the notes in Fragrantica to see if I could find something similar—a tall task!
Here are a few I've tried or have my eye on:
PHLUR — tried three samples for $18 and didn't like any of them so they sent me two more at their expense (great customer service!). I haven't settled on one yet; packaging and concept make it worth checking out.
CLEAN — does not say phthalate-free on the website, but I reached out to them and they said they are. This brand is also focused on sustainability with regard to its packaging and raw materials sourcing, which is terrific.
Lavanila — this is still my go-to after several years. I use Pure Vanilla in rollerball and spray and just simply love it. I get a lot of compliments, and while it's a straightforward, uncomplicated scent, other variations are available.
Strange Invisible — tried some samples of these and was intrigued but the scents did not speak to me. Very beautiful articulation of their brand and they offer body products as well for layering.
French Girl Organics Parfum — I tried the stick perfume in Madame Blond (of course) and liked it. I don't see that on the site now, but they do offer five scents, which look to be very complex. Those are on my list to try.
Daniela over at Drops of Lemon and Honey wrote a great post with her favorites—most of which were unfamiliar to me. I did try LURK and didn't find a scent I liked (got samples through Integrity Botanicals).
Treehugger also covered 12 natural perfume companies, only one that Daniela or I mentioned (LURK), and there look to be some excellent options here as well.
What have you tried...and what do you recommend? I would love to hear!
P.S. If you're interested in identifying other hormone-disrupting chemicals, EWG provides a list of the top 12 — where they commonly show up and how to avoid them.