For the uninitiated, shopping for natural perfumes can be overwhelming. You used to spend hours trying on every single perfume in the perfume aisle of department stores and you knew the brands and your favorite scents. But with natural perfume where do you start? What criteria is most important? Ingredients? Formulations? Certifications? Sustainability? Who knew perfume shopping was a whole new process? If you are ready to let go of your inhibitions and muster up enough courage to ask a shop assistant a question, what are the right questions? How do you figure out what you should look for when buying natural perfumes? In case no one is there to help, which seems more then likely in most stores these days, here are the questions we want to share to help you find the best essential oil perfumes online or at retail:
When buying natural perfume most brands highlight the top notes. The fragrance makes up around 2 to 30 percent of a fragrance, depending on whether it is cologne, eau de parfum or perfume extract. Regardless, before you buy a perfume, check the type of fragrance that it contains. Does it contain natural isolates or synthetic ingredients that mimic the real thing? Just because a perfume is natural does not mean it is chemical free or breathable. There is no right or wrong, it just depends on what you want: Clean, green, sustainable, chemical free, alcohol free, there are many choices to consider. How do you read the label? Online check the ingredient section; In a store turn the box around. If it says fragrance and does not list individual ingredients this does not tell you if it is clean or natural. Brands that don’t share ingredients do so for a reason, they say it’s to keep their formulas secret, but it also might be so that you don’t know what’s inside the bottle. Brands that tout a clean and natural approach will always be transparent. If you are shopping at a well-known retailer like Ulta, Sephora or Credo, they will publish their clean guide and let you know how rigorous they are at reporting and sharing each brands formulations against their standards and guidelines.
Every perfume is made with a carrier. Natural perfume uses different grades of alcohol. Perfumers generally use denatured, cosmetic-grade alcohol, or cane alcohol. The benefit of alcohol-based perfume is evaporation. This allows scent to linger longer. If choosing alcohol as the perfume carrier you must know, the goal is to smell good. Any essential oils used will have no functional benefit once mixed with the alcohol. Oil carriers are also used and can vary from almond, coconut, and jojoba. Each has its unique qualities. Oil based perfumes will usually be roll ons. Look for oils you are not likely to be allergic to and have a long shelf life. Natural perfumes do better in dark bottles where sunlight is avoided. Water based perfume is a newer category. What makes this category tricky is that water and oils don’t mix, so emulsifiers and preservatives are needed. Since the goal of water-based perfume it to have a natural spray perfume that is breathable, look for clean chemistry and ingredients. Water based and oil-based perfumes are functional meaning the essential oils retain their therapeutic benefits, allowing you to not only smell good but feel good.
Perfume does not come cheap, especially natural perfumes. This is because the ingredients used to create natural perfumes generally cost more than their synthetic counterparts. Essential oil perfume brands that use a high percentage of natural ingredients have to source each oil from all around the world, which means there are various factors that can drive up the production costs, and in turn, the price of the perfume. In some cases, the branding and packaging also leads to a high price. However, it is up to you to decide if you are willing to pay more for a beautiful scent. The important thing to know here is that price and quality aren’t always commensurate. A lot of a perfume’s price goes to marketing it. Finding niche and indie brands with great quality might offer you the best price- quality value.
Natural perfume color
If you are attracted to the sparkling pinks and blues of synthetic perfume, natural perfumes may seem underwhelming. These colors are often derived from synthetic additives, something which is almost impossible for a natural perfumer to do. The most common natural perfume colors are usually murky. They range from light yellow and green to deeper golds. Water based perfumes can be cloudy and milky. If a spray perfume looks like its darker on the bottom and lighter on top, and requires shaking, be wary. The oils are not mixing with the carrier. Each spray will bring up a little of this or a little of that, and you might be under or overwhelmed each time you spray it. Since oils and water don’t evaporate like alcohol-based perfumes you may worry that the color will be an issue once applied to your skin or sprayed on your clothes. Worry more about your skin which is your largest and most sensitive organ. You skin likes hydration, so water and oils work well. Alcohol is drying. You choose in the end what matters most to you.
The sillage, or the perfume trail, if you will, is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of judging a natural perfume. It is, in simple terms, the lingering trail of scent left by someone wearing a perfume. Natural ingredients used to make natural perfumes contain a myriad of complex scents, which is why they need to be used sparingly. Perfumes with too many ingredients can have a heavy, overbearing sillage. The benefit of essential oil perfume is the absorption of the oil’s tiny molecules into your skin. This is not only healing but likely to create your own signature scent as your body oils and nature’s combine to create a signature blend. Scent as nature intended it, where you are the star of the scent show, not a celebrity.
When shopping for natural perfumes always take a breather, smelling too many scents can make you dizzy or stuff up your nose. So start with some research online and if possible find a location to sample scents. Use a scent strip or apply on your skin to see how it smells. If you are not able to sample in person, brands are eager to sell you sample kits to try.