When I started researching vegan fragrances for our website, I didn't realize how difficult it would be to find good information on brands or up-to-date lists. I was amazed at how many different lists I found for fragrances that were natural or organic or cruelty-free or vegan. But not any really good lists that had all of the information in one place.
First, let's get some descriptions:
Natural - Natural perfumery is the art of blending fragrance ingredients of natural origin such as botanical raw materials (flowers, barks, seeds, leaves, etc.), materials exuded from plants such as balsams and gums, animal derivatives such as ambergris and hyraceum tinctures and absolutes, minerals such as amber and soil products such as mitti with a wholly natural carrier. Natural fragrances are complex compositions of natural aromatic raw materials such as essential oils, fractions of essential oils, isolates, exudates such as resins, distillates, extracts and volatile concentrates but will never contain phthalates or petrochemicals. To people with fragrance sensitivity, synthetic fragrances can trigger a runny nose, watery eyes, or even a headache. Natural scents may be less likely to bother people with fragrance sensitivity. Of note, natural perfumes evolve on the skin over time but normally last anywhere from 2-4 hours whereas synthetics tend to hold truer to their notes and smell the same on everyone plus last for a longer time.
Organic - Organic perfumes have their own certification from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which insures consumers that they are made from ingredients that are tested, assumed safe, pure and free from harmful petrochemicals, solvents, dyes, alcohol, and pesticides. They are also certified by PETA and are considered vegan. Organic fragrances are derived from living matter and are defined as those that are grown and processed under highly controlled conditions that guarantee materials are free from pesticides, heavy metals and synthetic fertilizers. There is one important distinction to always remember with organic products. Natural fragrances are not always organic but organic fragrances are always natural.
Synthetic - Synthetic fragrances are generally made using petrochemicals. The IFRA (International Fragrance Association) provides guidelines for the safe usage of fragrance materials – both synthetic and natural – in perfume. Because of these restrictions, perfumers will use a synthetic to recreate the scent of saffron without involving the component that can pose a danger to the wearer. Synthetics are also used when something is not available as a natural material such as lily of the valley, lilac, and hyacinth which do not have enough oil to make an essential oil or absolute. Some aroma compounds such as aldehyde have no natural counterpart, yet the synthetic is able to add a new or unexpected effect to the perfume. Most commercial fragrances are made up of a combination of natural and synthetic materials. Synthetic fragrances can either be original aromas that don’t exist in nature or may be created to be nature-identical (using the same chemical formula as the natural extract). They allow the perfumer greater creative freedom. Synthetic fragrances are easier to manufacture as their components are more reproducible from lot to lot. Synthetic fragrances can be stronger, longer lasting, more complex and less expensive than natural fragrances.
Cruelty-Free - refers to companies that do no animal testing at any point during production, who purchase products from suppliers who perform no animal testing, and do not distribute on mainland China where animal testing is required. The Leaping Bunny program seeks to prevent future animal testing so companies must agree not to conduct any animal testing after a fixed cut-off date. The Leaping Bunny logo is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it. The company’s ingredient suppliers make the same pledge and the result is a product guaranteed to be 100% free of new animal testing. Many Leaping Bunny companies are also vegan but this is not a requirement. Any brand that sells its products in mainland China, where it is required by law to test on animals, is obviously not on the cruelty-free list. Some companies will instead issue statements along the lines of: We do not conduct animal testing, nor ask others to do it on our behalf, except when it is required by law” or "Our policy prohibits the testing of our products and ingredients on animals except in rare cases when required by government regulation”. So if this important to you, look for the Leaping Bunny logo or read all information on the product. For the most part, fragrances sold in North America, Europe and Australia are not tested on animals. In China, however, companies must meet government regulation which requires animal testing in order to sell all imported fragrances. So any company that sells in mainland China cannot offer cruelty-free products. While Hong Kong is technically a part of China, Hong Kong does not have the same testing laws as mainland China and has been able to maintain their own laws about animal testing. This means that brands can sell in Hong Kong and be cruelty-free.
Vegan - fragrances that do not use any animal products such as civet (musk produced by the civet from its perineal glands and must be harvested either by killing the animal and removing its glands or by scraping the secretions from the glands of a live animal), musk (exuded from the scent gland of the musk deer that required killing the animal) or castoreum (from the castor sac or scent gland of North American beavers which was usually obtained after killing the animal). Fragrances that are free from animal by-products (such as honey, beeswax, dye from insects) and contain no known animal-derived GMOs or genes used to manufacture ingredients or finished beauty products. To be vegan is to abstain from all animal products, including silk and wool due to the unethical means of acquiring the materials. Vegans also abstain from honey and beeswax since the bees are often disturbed – sometimes destroyed – during the manufacturing process. Natural ambergris, the byproduct of a sperm whale, (whale vomit that has been hardened and repeatedly washed by ocean water and then harvested on beaches) and hyraceum (petrified dung and urine from the African hyrax) do not involve animal cruelty because of their manner of harvesting, but they are of animal origin so vegans will want to avoid these.
Parabens - essentially a paraben is a preservative. Chemically speaking, parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and are commonly listed on product ingredient labels as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben. Manufacturers began using parabens to extend the shelf life of their products and prevent bacterial contamination.
Phthalates - (pronounced THA-lates) are fixatives used to help fragrances dispense evenly. They keep all the liquid's different elements suspended and evenly distributed. Those commonly used in the cosmetic industry are: (DBP) dibutylphthalate, (DMP) dimethylphthalate and (DEP) diethylphthalate.
Following is the list of vegan fragrances I have put together. Please note, I have not been in direct contact with these companies. I have checked their websites and all the information that follows the brand name is information that I got directly from these websites. In addition, some companies are authorized to use the PETA logo or are Leaping Bunny certified. Also, a lot of these brands support companies that operate with sustainable and fair-trade practices. They source the products they use from small independent farms to larger cooperatives that obtain their ingredients from organic and/or wild-crafted sources. Plus, vegan and natural perfume companies are often involved in charitable work and donating proceeds of their sales to charities.
100Bon - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, no phthalates, no petrochemicals, no synthetics, no dyes (France)
Acorelle - vegan, all natural, certified organic, packaging and processes are sustainable (France)
Aesop - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no dyes (Australia)
Aromi Beauty - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA and Leaping Bunny certified, do not ship or sell their products in countries that require animal testing (United States)
Art de Parfum - vegan, cruelty-free, no GMOs, packaged in recyclable materials everything comes with certificates of origin for green and bio-hazard-free production (France)
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab – vegan except for oils with honey in them, cruelty-free, no petrochemicals, support fair trade and self-sustaining growers (United States)
CLEAN Reserve Line - vegan, cruelty-free, recycled and recyclable packaging, manufacturing process powered by solar energy (United States)
Dasein - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, organic, no parabens (United States)
DedCool - vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic (United States)
Ecco Bella Botanicals - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, organic, no parabens, no dyes, no preservatives, sustainable business; they source ingredients from ethical suppliers of organic materials (United States)
Florescent Botanical Perfume - vegan, 100% botanical, organic, wild-crafted, cruelty-free, no synthetics, no chemical additives and no fixatives (United Kingdom)
FlowerBeauty (Drew Barrymore) - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved (United States)
Forager Botanicals - vegan, cruelty-free, all natural, botanical essential oils (organic when possible), no synthetics, no dyes, no paraben, no sulfates, no preservatives (United States)
French Girl Organics - vegan, cruelty-free, organic (United States)
Grasse Roots Perfumery - vegan, 100% natural and certified organic essences are used whenever possible, no synthetics (Canada)
Haus of Gloi Perfumes - vegan, cruelty-free, create your own fragrance (United States)
Hiram Green - vegan (except for Slowdive which has beeswax and honey), 100% natural, organic (Netherlands)
Honoré des Prés - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, certified organic, no petrochemicals, no dyes, no phthalates (France)
Illamasqua - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved (United Kingdom)
IME Natural Perfume - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, no synthetics, no dyes, no phthalates, no parabens, toxin free (Australia)
Indie Blends - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, organic, Leaping Bunny certified, no parabens, no phthalates, gluten free, no GMOs (United States)
Ink + Ocean Botanicals - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, 100% plant based, 80% organic, halal (United Kingdom)
Inkling Scents - vegan, cruelty-free (United States)
Intelligent Nutrients - vegan, cruelty-free, USDA certified organic, no petroleum, non-toxic, 100% certified wind energy, sustainable (United States)
Jack Black - vegan, cruelty free, PETA approved, Leaping Bunny certified (United States)
Josh Rosebrook - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, 100% of plants are certified organic, organic or wild-crafted, no parabens, no petrochemicals, no synthetics, no GMOs, gluten free (United States)
Lake and Skye - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates (United States)
LAVANILA - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, PETA approved, no parabens, no phthalates, no petroleum (United States)
Le Labo - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, no parabens, no phthalates (United States)
Limbic Fragrances - vegan, 100% botanical (United States)
Lina Hanson - vegan, 100% natural, organic, sources ethically harvested ingredients (United States)
L'Occitane - most of their perfumes are vegan although some do contain honey (France)
Lurk - vegan, 100% organic, cruelty-free, high eco-standards for production and packaging using recycled, recyclable and reusable packaging, wind-powered printing with environmentally friendly inks and ingredients sourced from sustainable farms, no additives, no synthetics, no fixatives, no preservatives, no GMO’s, no phthalates, no parabens (United States)
Lush (Gorilla Perfume) - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, recyclable and recycled packaging (35% of their products are "naked" - no packaging), employ an Ethical Buying Team (United Kingdom)
MCMC - vegan, cruelty-free, gluten free (United States)
Malin+Goetz - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, no parabens, no dyes, no synthetics, recyclable packaging (United States)
Marks & Spencer - vegan, cruelty-free (United Kingdom)
Mbeze - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates (United States)
My Daughter Fragrances - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, non-toxic (Canada)
NYR Organic (Neal’s Yard Remedies) - vegan, 100% natural, 97% organic, cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified, PETA approved, support organic farming, sustainable wild-harvesting and fair trade program (United Kingdom)
Nemat Artisan Perfumery - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, Leaping Bunny certified (United States)
Olivine Atelier - vegan, cruelty-free (United States)
Olo - vegan, cruelty-free (United States)
One Seed - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, minimum 80% organic, they use recyclable and sustainable packaging and printing (Australia)
Organic Glam (The Organic Pharmacy) - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, 85% organic, no phthalates, no dyes (United Kingdom)
Osmia Organics - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates, no petrochemicals, no synthetics, no dyes (United States)
Possets Perfume - vegan, cruelty-free, no phthalates, have a 100% natural line (United States)
Pour Le Monde - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, Leaping Bunny certified, 100% natural, no petrochemicals, no phthalates, no dyes, sustainable, environmentally friendly, for people prone to headaches and sensitive to fragrances (United States)
Prim Botanicals - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates, 100% natural and botanical, gluten free, no synthetics (United States)
Pura Botanicals – vegan, cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified, natural, botanical, no parabens, no dyes (Canada)
Rouge Bunny Rouge - vegan, cruelty-free, no parabens, no phthalates (United Kingdom)
Sharini - vegan, certified organic (France)
Skylar - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, hypoallergenic, no parabens, no toxic chemicals (United States)
The 7 Virtues - vegan, cruelty-free, no phthalates, no parabens, they source natural essential oils from nations rebuilding after war or strife (Canada)
The Body Shop - vegan, cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified (United Kingdom)
Tsi-La Organics - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, USDA organic, PETA and Leaping Bunny certified, no dyes (United States)
Tulip - vegan, cruelty-free, natural, gluten free, no parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, Leaping Bunny certified (United States)
Twinkle Apothecary – vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, no parabens, no phthalates, no petrochemicals, no preservatives, no artificial fragrance (United States)
Vanessa Megan - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, 100% certified organic, no parabens, no dyes, 100% recycled packaging (Australia)
Vegan Tree Owl - vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved, chemical free (Australia)
Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery - vegan (except for those with honey and beeswax), cruelty-free, botanical, natural, no phthalates, organic and wild-crafted whenever possible (United States)
Vered Organic Botanicals - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% certified organic, no chemicals, no dyes, no GMOs, 100% pure wild-crafted (United States)
Walden Natural Perfumes - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% natural, no phthalates, no synthetics (United Kingdom)
Xyrena - vegan, cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified, PETA approved (United States)