When it comes to cleaning up your beauty routine, there are plenty of things to watch out for, and one that often tops the list is fragrance itself. That’s because to protect proprietary blends of juices (what fragrance houses call the scent formula), brands don’t have to disclose what makes up their perfumes (though some like Procter & Gamble are choosing to). That means that any ingredient could potentially park it under the “fragrance” label unbeknownst to anyone. Another reason they could be potentially troublesome is that they sometimes contain phthalates.
Pronounced “tha-late,” these chemical plasticizers that can be found in everything from hair sprays to nail polish, and they’re used as a solvent in perfume. The verdict is still out on what kind of damage they can do, and more research needs to be done, but according to the Environmental Working Group initial studies have shown that phthalates could potentially act as hormone disruptors.
So because of the potential risks, some fragrance companies have taken a “better safe than sorry” approach and are either already phthalate free or are in the process of eliminating them entirely.
“In the United States, it’s up to the brand to decide how strict they’re going to be in terms of what they’re providing to people,” says perfumer Anne McClain, founder of natural fragrance brand MCMC. “And so for me, it felt that it was important as the brand owner to be sure that I was providing something that I felt like was safe to put into the world. We don’t do phthalates, we don’t do BHP or any types of preservatives, and you’ll see that each of our perfumes has a natural color to them.”
Keep scrolling for 7 phthalate-free perfume brands that share McClain’s commitment.
Carta Moena 12 | 69, $295
Carta characterizes this scent as “a riot of plants sweating in the morning sun,” which is arguably how everyone will want to feel come spring. Made with more masculine notes like soaked moss, ginger, tobacco leaves, and wood, this limited-batch is only available to 300 lucky bottle buyers.
With top notes of sandalwood and cedar wood and a base note of amber wood with warm cinnamon and nutmeg in the middle, this scent will make you feel like an IRL wood nymph. All of Maison Louis Marie’s products are inspired by her family’s history, and despite being sturdier scents each transitions well from winter to spring.
MCMC Noble, made with jasmine, chai tea, burning incense, amber, and musk, is the first fragrance McClain ever created for her collection. She was inspired by her time in Nepal, and discovered the combination of scents through “toying with the sensual, intoxicating scent of Indian jasmine absolute and combining it with the fiery, earthy vetiver oil of Haiti.”
Consider this fragrance good vibes in a bottle: 2 Note Hudson Chant has notes of palo santo that will please even the most hardcore smudging addicts—plus a little myrrh, saffron and pink pepper for good measure. The brand itself was created by linking up the relationship between music and scent (get it: 2 note), and their artistry lies in blending top, heart, and base notes together to form an olfactory symphony. It’s like music to our noses!
Ellis Brooklyn’s products aren’t just skin friendly—they’re environmentally friendly, too: Everything from the packaging to the fragrances themselves are created with the earth in mind. Myth is the everyday choice of brand founder Bee Shapiro, described as “the airy beauty of jasmine petals and tiger orchid meet the sexy, undeniable warmth of liquid musks and white cedar wood.”
Kai Eau De Parfum, $76
Kai’s iconic, OG scent is basically like vacation in a bottle. Spritzing yourself with the tropical scent, which is made in single-batches, will make you feel like you’re lounging on a beach somewhere with a fresh coconut in hand. And founder Gaye Straza is expanding on the line, introducing a rose eau de parfum that’s a feminine counterpart to the original.
Lite + Cycles fragrances are designed to enhance mood (this one is “fearless heart”), and uses a blend of essential oils to elevate what you’re feeling. The scent “gets better with age,” so as you wear it, it deepens on skin, accentuating the notes of sandalwood and vetiver.
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