What are Natural Perfumes?
With so many companies putting marketing spin on words like ‘natural’, ‘clean’ and ‘non-toxic’ it can be hard to work out what natural perfume truly is. Natural perfume is fragrance that has created using ingredients that are from vegetal, animal (rest assured, not in Vahy products) or microbiological origin as per International Standard ISO 9235. What does this mean? It means that various plants, flowers, fruits and other organic flora are distilled, pressed and fermented to obtain the fragrance notes. Unlike synthetic fragrance, no petrochemicals or similar lab made ingredients form part of our natural fragrances.
Why we use naturally derived ingredients in our perfumes rather than their synthetic chemical counterparts is that natural essences possess a bioactive power, a vibrational energy, or ‘compressed vitality’ to quote Mandy Aftel, which just cannot be replicated in a chemical lab. We’re not just being ‘woo woo’ with this statement, it was discovered by Semyon Kirlian in 1939 that the same energy field that surrounds natural living organisms was present when essential oils were tested, despite the energy fields ordinarily dissipating when flora dies.
Synthetics can replicate some of the dominant notes of a natural essence but they cannot capture the complexity, subtlety and nuances of natural notes. Natural fragrance notes evolve over time and evolve differently with each different wearer and there is such beauty in this lifecycle. The same way reconstituted orange ‘juice’ does not taste as full bodied and delicious as freshly squeezed orange juice, synthetics are an imitation of scent notes
Outside of this, each natural note used in our scents brings its own aromatherapy benefits to the wearer. Some natural perfume notes calm and relax, others uplift and inspire joy.
How do I know if a perfume is natural?
The only way to guarantee a perfume labelled as natural is actually free from synthetics and actually naturally is to ensure it states it is 100% natural and check the ingredient listing to ensure it is transparently made. A lot of brands use sneaky marketing spin like ‘made with natural ingredients’, ‘green tech’, ‘clean’, ‘safe synthetics’ and ‘non-toxic’ to hide the fact that their perfumes have mostly synthetic ingredients. Even fragrances that say they are 97% natural perfume are often disguising the fact that 30% of the scent component of their fragrance is synthetics when you take the base ingredient out of the picture.
Some things you can do to see if your desired perfume is 100% natural are:
- Check the ingredients list to ensure all the ingredients are listed (tell-tale signs that they aren’t are terms like ‘parfum’, ‘denatured alcohol’ and ‘fragrance’ which don’t actually mean any one chemical).
- Verify the ingredient list on a clean detector App like Switch Natural.
- Ask the brand whether they are actually 100% natural as per ISO 9235 and ask them to support the claim by disclosing their ingredients.
- Look out for scent notes listed that simply cannot occur naturally (although you have to mindful here that some very senior perfumers have access to natural ingredients that use patented distilling techniques to create 100% natural fragrance notes from ingredients that were not previously able to be turned into essential oils, these are scent notes that other perfumers do not have access to).
At Vahy we hope that one day labelling laws will change and all brands will have to disclose their ingredients. Until then we hope that this can help you decipher the truly natural perfume from the not.
Benefits of natural perfume?
The key benefit of Vahy’s natural perfume is that not only 100% natural premium ingredients are used but also that these ingredients are listed on the packaging and on our website. Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs and brings into your bloodstream the chemicals you put on it. You have a right to know what you’re putting on your skin and it should only be the best.
So what are the benefits of natural perfume? In our view these are:
- Smell wonderful: First and foremost, these days natural perfumes can be developed in such a sophisticated way that the scent is as complex and stunning (if not more!) than any synthetic on the market. In addition, scents can be carefully crafted to ensure they can be classified as long lasting (being 6hrs plus strong scent). We use the best master perfumers in the world to achieve this in Vahy scents.
- Better for the environment: Like all organic matter, natural perfume notes have a natural lifecycle and biodegrade over time. Conversely synthetics are lab designed not to biodegrade from petrochemicals and other similar chemicals and therefore the molecules remain in the environment for very, very long periods of time. One note here, sustainably sourced ingredients are of paramount importance to natural perfumes. There are some fragrance notes that should not ever be used in perfumery unless they are obtained from suppliers to sustainably farm. Please see our hero ingredient series for all the wonderful sustainability profiles for the Vahy ingredients.
- Better for your body: As natural perfume notes biodegrade over time there is less chance that they will be stored permanently in your body. As an example of what can happen with synthetics, the Environment Working Group when looking into synthetic fragrances found synthetic musks stored in the cord blood of new born babies when the mother was wearing synthetic fragrances.
- Aromatherapy benefits: For centuries natural fragrance notes have been used as traditional medicine to enhance your mental health and mood amongst other things. For example, citrus notes are used to spark joy and uplift while sandalwoods of other woods are used to relieve stress and calm.
In addition to the above, scent has just such a wonderful link to memory. I’m sure you can recall a certain scent that immediately transports you to another time and place. Whether this is Jasmine for a memorable evening in summer, neroli to whisk you to the Italian coastline or even Cuban tobacco leaf to take you back to moments with a grandfather or uncle.