How to shop for a clean perfume
Did you know that the gifting of perfume goes back to ancient times? In Ancient Rome, perfume was viewed as a symbol of wealth and power. Therefore, giving perfume as a gift was a tradition that indicated great respect, affection and honour.
Most people today wear perfume to please others, to leave a good impression, to surround ourselves with a pleasing, lingering scent. Although our world has gotten more sensitive (think of recent workplace rules on “scent-free” environment), the botanical perfume industry continues to soar. Perfume is STILL one of the most popular gifts to give on special occasions and around the holidays and for a good reason - it can evoke pretty powerful emotions.
I'm not a fan of the ingredients found in synthetic fragrance or the lack of transparency that goes with them. However, I believe that perfume is a beautiful thing as a long as you know who to shop for it. This blog gives you tips on how to shop for a clean perfume, so you don't have to go without.
The power of fragrance on our senses
Fragrance, whether in a clean perfume or synthetic, has the power to evoke a range of sensory experiences and emotional responses in individuals. Perfumes are not just about creating pleasant scents; they can profoundly affect our senses in various ways:
Olfactory Sensation: The most obvious sensory impact of perfume is on the sense of smell. Perfumes can create a wide range of olfactory sensations, from pleasant and inviting to exotic and intriguing. The choice of fragrance notes, the intensity, and the composition of the scent all influence the way it is perceived by the olfactory system.
Emotional Response: Perfumes can evoke strong emotional responses. A particular scent may remind you of a cherished memory, a loved one, or a special place, leading to feelings of nostalgia, happiness, or even sadness. Fragrances can also influence your mood, helping you feel more confident, relaxed, or energized.
Memory Trigger: The olfactory sense is closely linked to memory, and certain scents have the power to trigger vivid recollections. This phenomenon is known as the "Proustian effect," named after the French writer Marcel Proust, who famously wrote about how the smell of a madeleine cookie dipped in tea brought back a rush of childhood memories. Perfumes can similarly transport you to the past.
Personal Expression: Perfumes allow individuals to express their personal style and identity through scent. Your choice of fragrance can communicate your mood, personality, and even cultural or social affiliations to others.
Therapeutic and Relaxation Benefits: Some perfumes, particularly those containing natural essential oils, are used in aromatherapy for their potential therapeutic effects. Certain scents are believed to promote relaxation, reduce stress, or improve concentration.
What are the differences between synthetic and clean perfume?
Clean perfume and synthetic perfume are two distinct categories of fragrances, each with its own set of characteristics and production methods. Here are the top 3 key differences between the two:
1) Source of Ingredients:
Clean Perfumes: These fragrances - also known as botanical - are made using natural ingredients derived from plants, flowers, fruits, and other organic materials. Common botanical perfume ingredients include essential oils, absolutes, and natural extracts. What I love the most is that on a bottle of a "clean" botanical perfume, I can clearly see the ingredients it contains. This does not happen in the synthetic perfume industry where the "recipe" for the fragrance is protected by law because it's a "trade secret". Some 3,000 chemicals are used as fragrances.
Synthetic Perfumes: Synthetic perfumes, also known as "fragrance oils" or "chemical perfumes," are composed of entirely synthetic compounds created in a laboratory. These compounds attempt to replicate the scents found in nature but are not derived from natural sources. Think of creating the scent of natural ingredients such as fruit and flowers, without extracting them from nature itself. This goes for candles, body sprays, perfume and the thousands of other scented products out there. The sources of these synthetic ingredients are from byproducts of the petroleum and natural gas industries. Imagine seeing this on their labels!
2) Allergenic Potential:
Botanical Perfumes: Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to certain natural fragrance components found in botanical perfumes. Just because something is “natural”, it doesn’t mean you could not react. Common allergens include essential oils like lavender, rose, or citrus oils. Pay attention to which smells tend to irritate your sinuses and steer clear! Check for certifications from trusted organizations that verify the fragrance is free from harmful chemicals. Additionally, a true fragrance that is “clean” will have a shorter ingredient list and avoid commonly used toxic chemicals like phthalates and parabens.
Synthetic Perfumes: Synthetic fragrances can also trigger allergies or sensitivities in some people due to the chemicals used in their composition. Some synthetic fragrance compounds have been associated with skin and respiratory irritations such as eczema and asthma attacks. Not to mention that the phthalates present in synthetic perfumes (also hair sprays, nail polishes, deodorant, and soaps), makes them evaporate slower and last longer, have been linked to all kinds of health problems beyond allergies. Learn more about ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics on my blog.
3) Sustainability and Environmental Impact:
Botanical Perfumes: Botanical perfumes are often considered more environmentally friendly because they rely on renewable resources, and the cultivation of aromatic plants can support local ecosystems and communities. However, there are concerns about over-harvesting and the impact of agriculture on natural habitats. Will we have enough rose petals for rose oil in 50 years? Should we destroy an entire tree in order to possess sandalwood oil? This is not a post about the environmental impact of our consumerism, but just wanted to give you some food for thought. If you're concerned about the environmental impact of your choices, then do a bit of research to see where your favourite oils come from. It's good to know whether you're choosing a clean perfume or not.
Synthetic Perfumes: I touched a bit on this in the previous section. The production of synthetic perfumes can involve the use of various chemicals and petrochemicals, which may have environmental and health implications. Additionally, the disposal of synthetic fragrance compounds can be a concern. Check with your city's disposal and recycling programs if you have old perfumes you're looking to get rid of.
Shopping tips for choosing the right clean perfume for you!
Now that you know a bit more about the difference between synthetic and botanical fragrance, how do shop for a clean perfume?
- Do your research! Which brands are trusted for their transparency and reputation in the clean beauty industry?
- Does their transparency extend to all their products like their perfume ingredients?
- Pay attention to scents that you're attracted to - are you into floral, sweet or warm scents? Look for these in your fragrance!
- Pay attention to scents that overwhelm you or make your eyes water. Stay away from these.
- After you test the perfume on a paper strip, you need to apply it on your skin! This is the only way to know what it will smell like on YOU!
- Never rub your wrists together after spraying your fragrance! Spray using a downward motion and simply press onto the other wrists or neck.
- Scent it very personal. Just because your friend liked a fragrance, it doesn't mean you will too. It might also not smell the same on you.
As a small business owner, I ask similar question to bring beauty products into my shop. The perfume brands that I have chosen to work with can be found in Green Beauty Curator. In the past, I trained for perfumes with Versace and Dolce Gabbana to learn things like to never rub my wrists together after spraying my perfume. If I can help you choose the right one, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Wear your clean perfume with confidence but also carefully, especially when you're around others who are sensitive. Happy spraying!