I’ve never been really big into perfume.
I got a few bottles as gifts through the years, but I never really got into them like some people do.
I suppose I’m glad I didn’t because it wasn’t until I got older that I found out all of the toxic effects fragrances can have on our bodies. In fact, one of the few I did wear when I was a teen turned out to be one of the worst offenders.
About a year ago, however, I started looking for a non-toxic perfume that I could put on for special occasions and date nights. Read on to see what I found!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
The Best Non-Toxic Perfume Brands
I absolutely adore this perfume! Henry Rose was founded by Michelle Pfeiffer, who wanted to use something safer around her children.
She was so determined to come up with a safe, non-toxic perfume that she actually brought the EWG in to help her with development.
These perfumes are Cradle to Cradle certified, and you can purchase a sample set of all of the scents to find your favorite.
What we really love about them though is that they’re completely open about every single ingredient that they use in their formulation. You can read the ingredients of each scent here.
PHLUR has 10 different scents for you to choose from, and they contain no parabens, no phthalates, and no sulfates. In fact, you can see each and every one of their ingredients on their website. Even the ingredients that they use in their actual fragrance!
What’s more is that PHLUR never tests on animals!
You can purchase a sample set from the brand to find your favorite scent, and you’ll get a $15 coupon to use on the purchase of a full bottle.
While they admit that their scents don’t last as long as some conventional perfumes (which are loaded with toxic chemicals in order to sustain that smell), they recommend spraying the perfume in your hair or on your clothes where it will last longer.
Made in California, by Rosie Jane perfumes contain no parabens, phthalates, or other hormone disruptors, and they’re open and honest about every ingredient that they put into their formulas too.
Plus, they’re vegan and cruelty-free!
You can get a sample set of their 7 fragrances to settle on a favorite, or jump right in and try a full bottle.
When you receive your fragrance, it will be in eco-friendly recyclable packaging, which is a double win!
Abel unisex fragrances are made with 100% natural, plant-derived ingredients (which you can view on the brand’s website).
Since all of their ingredients are natural, their perfumes are fully biodegradable too, which we love!
You can choose 3 samples to test out, and then you’ll be sent a unique code to purchase a full-size bottle at a discount within 30 days. The code is worth the price of the samples!
Skylar isn’t quite as open about their ingredients as the other brands on our list (they don’t disclose their “proprietary” ingredients), but we really wanted to include them because they’re so easy to find in stores, and their prices are very competitive.
They do promise that there are no harmful chemicals and none of their fragrances contain any parabens, SLS, phthalates, synthetic dyes, musk, or other animal products. They say that everything is entirely hypoallergenic too.
You can get a new scent each month for only $20.
Of course, if you find a favorite, you can also purchase a full-size bottle.
What Makes Perfume Toxic?
I’ve been kind of excited to talk about perfumes because I so often mention how toxic fragrances can be.
Mostly because, thanks to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA does not need to approve them before they’re placed on the market, and the “fragrance” itself is considered proprietary and is not regulated at all. This is due to a loophole in the Federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act of 1973.
While there may be some ingredients listed on your favorite perfume, the company can lump hundreds of chemicals into the word “fragrance.”
In fact, the International Fragrance Association has approved over 3,000 chemicals for use in perfumes, and one perfume alone can contain 50-300 chemicals.
What’s more is that the EWG and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics did a study and found that the average fragrance had 14 hidden chemicals that weren’t in the ingredients list.
Not only is the customer in the dark on these hidden ingredients, but according to the EWG, “the federal government is equally uninformed. A review of government records shows that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not assessed the vast majority of these secret fragrance chemicals for safety when used in spray-on personal care products such as fragrances. Nor have most been evaluated by the safety review panel of the International Fragrance Association or any other publicly accountable institution.”
No matter how you look at it, that’s scary.
Harmful Ingredients that Could Be Hiding in Your Perfume
Unfortunately, many of the hidden ingredients in perfume include petrochemicals that are made from petroleum. No wonder some people have a bad reaction to the way a certain fragrance smells! Here are some other harmful chemicals to look out for:
Phthalates are very commonly used in fragrances because they’re a binding agent (they help the ingredients stick together without separating). I’m sure you’ve heard of phthalates though, even if you haven’t read all of our previous posts.
They’ve been used since the 1920s, but now we know a lot more about their harmful effects.
You can read more about phthalates here.
Musk ketone, tonalide, galaxolide, and musk xylene are often used in fragrance products in order to create that… well, musky scent.
Unfortunately, they accumulate in the body over time and can affect the reproductive system and cause hormone disruption. Synthetic musks have even been found in cord blood, and they’re believed to cause developmental problems in unborn children.
Acetaldehyde is actually a naturally-occurring ingredient found in milk, bread, fermented foods (and alcohol), and even coffee.
In perfumes and other fragrances, it gives off a fruity scent, which many people love.
When your body gets too much of it, however, it can be extremely toxic (which proves that just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe).
Acetaldehyde is a group 1 carcinogen (it’s known to cause cancer), and it can also have detrimental effects on the kidneys, brain, and reproductive system. Some research shows that it may even lead to Alzheimer’s.
Here’s another ingredient that we go on and on about around here. Typically used as a preservative in various cosmetic products, parabens can be quite harmful.
They are a known endocrine disruptor. They have the tendency to mimic estrogen, which can lead to a buildup of cells and ultimately lead to cancer (specifically breast cancer).
Formaldehyde & formaldehyde releasers
Though it’s known to cause cancer and is on California’s Prop 65 list, formaldehyde (and various formaldehyde releasers) are used quite often in perfumes — and other cosmetics as well. This is because they act as a preservative.
Unfortunately, they’re damaging effects on our health are not worth the benefit they provide because there are other ways of preserving products more safely.
Methanol is a type of alcohol that’s used in perfumes in order to make the ingredients come together a little better.
Methanol is extremely toxic though. This report published on the National Institutes of Health website can take you through all of the detrimental effects of methanol poisoning, which can occur by inhaling or swallowing it.
After reading this article, I hope you’ve found a new perfume that you love! Be sure to read the ingredients of your perfumes, and avoid any that vaguely list “fragrance” as an ingredient. You can learn more about some of the hidden ingredients in fragrance products by visiting Safe Cosmetics.
Now that you’re smelling great, want your house to smell good too? We’ve found some of the best non-toxic scented candles on the market!