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Fragrance can be found on the ingredient list of just about every beauty product you use. And there's no denying that a perfume can instantly elevate one's mood or add a pleasant sensorial element to any skincare routine, but what exactly is in said fragrances?

That's a tricky question. Brands can add "fragrance" or "perfume" to their labels without being obligated to disclose the ingredients in these scents, making fragrance the black hole of beauty ingredients. Many of these ingredients include synthetic chemicals, which have been linked to allergies and health conditions. While the FDA requires products to list every ingredient, under the Fair Packaging and Label Act, brands can't be forced to disclose trade secrets. The components that make up these scents are likely to be considered "trade secrets." However, a new bill passed in California will require cosmetic makers to disclose the fragrant and flavor ingredient information to California's Environmental and Occupational Disease Control division from January 2022. In an effort to make the category more transparent, a number of clean fragrance brands have created options for people who want to enjoy perfumes, but are concerned about what's possibly in them.


In Style Magazine features three perfume bottles

So, What Makes a Fragrance "Clean"? Like the rest of the clean beauty space, there are no regulations on what defines a "clean fragrance." For many brands, this means incorporating naturally-derived notes like essential oils and plants, and using alcohol made from recycled sugar cane.

While essential oils can be great alternatives to synthetic-derived notes, they can be irritating for some people, because there is no regulatory definition by the FDA for "essential oils". Clean beauty retailers and brands should monitor how the oils are processed and the percentages in the formulas they sell and make. If they don't disclose these details, ask, or look for options that do. The safest course of action is to always buy essential oil products from reputable retailers and brands. Sustainability is another focus for many clean fragrance brands. Using ingredients that cause little-to-no environmental impact are important, but so is sourcing ingredients from places that practice ethical labor. In addition to the juice, these brands also tend to use recyclable materials to make their bottles and packaging. Some take things one step further by using compostable boxes.

Click HERE to see the full list of clean perfumes recommended by In Style, including Henry Rose, Maison Louis Marie, Ellis Brooklyn, and 7 Virtues.


This calming perfume by Heretic is created with CBD lovers in mind. In addition to 150mg of full-spectrum CBD oil, it includes other naturally-derived ingredients such as nutmeg, vanilla, amber, and black pepper. All of Heretic's fragrances are made with essential oils, absolutes, and concretes that are blended in organic, non-GMO grape and sugarcane alcohols.