CLEAN BEAUTY AWARDS 2022: NATURAL FRAGRANCE REVIEW

Natural fragrance is a category I’d been itching to judge ever since I started working with CertClean 5 years ago on their annual Clean Beauty Awards. I’m well versed in the world of natural skincare, can hold my own on natural haircare and have dabbled in natural cosmetics, but natural fragrance is a bit of a grey area for me. How does a perfume achieve natural fragrance status? What makes it different to standard perfume?

Naked Botanica BAHAR Solid Perfume

Offering plant-based plastic-free everyday essentials, Nakedeodorant specialises in, you’ve guessed it, natural deodorants. But you’ll also find a few other products under the sub-brand name Naked Botanica, including solid perfume available in 3 scents.

What makes this a natural fragrance: made with only 6 natural and organic ingredients including jojoba oil, almond oil, waxes and essential oils.

Pros: alcohol-free, it’s actually also hydrating thanks to its rich oil content. Its solid format in a small tin makes it super handy for travelling or on the go application, plus it’s one of the most sustainable options as it’s compact (resulting in a lower carbon footprint than the traditionally over packaged perfumes) and the tin is easily recyclable. 

Cons: it’s more of an aromatherapy blend rather than a traditional fragrance, so application, fragrance strength and longevity will differ. And I just can’t get on board with the scent! It’s supposed to smell of lavender and jasmine, which sounds lovely, but on my skin for some reason I get whiffs of laundry detergent…  

Vahy Ember Haze

This Australian niche brand offers premium natural genderless perfumes, diffusers and candles.

What makes this a natural fragrance: cruelty-free, vegan, 100% natural ingredients (no synthetic materials), of which 80% are organic (they use organic sugarcane alcohol).

Pros: if you’re used to traditional perfumes then this will give you the desired experience, with the product presented in a generous box and sleek black bottle. Now this is entirely based on personal preferences, but if you’re after a rich smokey scent like you’ve just walked out of Dubai Mall, this is it!

Cons: for me, the scent. A warm, rich woody and smokey scent, this is the polar opposite of the green fragrances I tend to go for. Also the product imagery on website really doesn’t do it justice!

Valeur Absolue Harmonie Essentielle

Valeur Absolue is the first perfume brand I’ve come across that focuses so strongly on the mood enhancing properties of fragrance. Everything is built around the principle of positively impacting your wellbeing: through scent, but also uniquely, through gemstones that are nestled at the bottom of the bottle.

What makes this a natural fragrance: cruelty-free, vegan, locally made in France (this is a French company), traceability of raw materials, contains natural ingredients, the semi-precious stones contained in the bottle can be re-used to make jewellery, all packaging components are recyclable.  

Pros: my absolute favourite from the line up and the one that took up permanent residence on my dressing table. An elegant and subtle floral that doesn’t veer into bland or granny territory, you’ll get fresh notes of neroli and bergamot softened by base notes of vanilla. This is all lovely, but what makes it stand out from any other fragrances I’ve tried are the amethyst stones settled at the bottom of the bottle, in the actual juice, known for their calming properties. Hence this fragrance being called Harmony.

Cons: you may find the scent too subtle if you’re used to punchier notes, and you’ll need a generous spritzing if you don’t want it to fade within minutes, reapplying throughout the day.

Wild Coast Perfumery Tobermory eau de parfum

A niche Canadian perfumery that creates scents using traditional methods, fragrances are hand-blended, aged, filtered and bottled in-house, so perfumes take up to 8 weeks before they’re ready.

What makes this a natural fragrance: all natural (they use Alcohol Denat., Canadian grain based alcohol), handmade and bottled on Vancouver Island, vegan, free from synthetics, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance oils, dyes, parabens, phthalates.​

Pros: An unusual green scent with notes of grapefruit, jasmine tea, basil, neroli and fir, it’ll make you stand out from the crowd. Not a hint of girliness here. Also Wild Coast donate a portion of their sales to Ancient Forest Alliance, an organization calling for science-based protection of endangered old-growth forests and a shift to sustainable second-growth forestry jobs.

Cons: oddly this scent reminds me a bit of hairspray! And if you’re after the full ingredient list you’ll have to hunt around for it, as the INCI on the bottle only gives you two ingredients: alcohol and parfum. Brands are not obliged to list what ‘parfum’ is made up of as it’s classed as top secret information – the only detail I’ve found is a full ingredients list of all the natural oils they use across all their fragrances.

Raw Nature Soft Rose + Sandalwood Natural Perfume

Launched in 2017, Raw Nature claims to be the first New Zealand company to develop deodorants and moisturisers in cardboard push up tubes – which is a pretty big deal!

What makes this a natural fragrance: all natural ingredients, alcohol-free, plastic-free, palm oil-free, no artificial fragrances

Pros: the most eco-friendly format I’ve come across for perfume, not only is this a solid (and therefore more compact than liquid versions), but it’s also packaged in a cardboard push up tube, so this product gets 10/10 on green credentials.

Cons: quite an odd scent, I’m not picking up the feminine top notes of rose or the warmth of the sandalwood base. The formula also leaves a bit of a greasy feel on skin, which might be fine for dry skin but not something I’d expect from a perfume.

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