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We're more conscious of our environment than ever before, in virtually all areas of our lives—and that applies to all things beauty, too, from packaging to ingredients. And while you have likely heard plenty about the clean or green skin care and makeup movement, you might not have realized that a similar shift has also occurred within the fragrance sphere. There's a reason for this oversight: Fragrance companies typically do not share a list of a scent's ingredients, simply because it is not required. This means that irritants, including chemicals and synthetics, often lurk in our favorite formulas. Enter eco-friendly perfumes, which are designed to break this cycle. Made with organic ingredients, these mists actually nourish the skin and are also free of sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. Ahead, industry experts share everything we need to know about going greener with our fragrance selections.

clear rectangle perfume bottle with black cap
Credit: Getty / Piroon Nui / EyeEm

Fluid Definition

According to Phil Riportella, the co-founder of fragrance company Snif, there is no formal definition of what an eco-friendly perfume truly is—but there are parameters in place that currently measure a perfume's eco-friendliness. "Some of these are biodegradability, raw materials (that are manufactured using green chemistry principles), and the use of sustainable ingredients," he says. As a good rule of thumb, look for scents that come with ingredient transparency (they should be ethically-sourced, he adds) and are free of parabens, sulfates, and preservatives like BHT.

Packaging Matters

An integral part of an eco-friendly fragrance is its packaging, so be on the lookout for glass bottles with cardboard boxing that can be easily recycled. Stay away from "mass fragrances that come wrapped in plastic and nestled inside a secondary carton in secure foam or vacuum trays," adds Patrick Kelly, the founder of SIGIL, a fragrance company that uses recycled and recyclable rigid boards, plant-based eco inks, and no-foam vacuum trays. "This allows us to achieve a high-end fine fragrance industry standard," shares Kelly.

Natural Benefits

Switching to an eco-friendly fragrance helps spotlight sustainability, a critical part of our everyday lives. Ultimately, though, the benefits of these earth-conscious scents run skin deep. "Fragrances composed of natural ingredients are healthier, overall. They're made of ingredients that do not harm the environment," explains pioneering natural perfumer, aromatherapist, and author Ixchel Leigh. "Mainstream fragrances are typically made using synthetic chemicals, including formaldehyde, which can pollute the environment and may cause skin irritations and headaches."


There's one big drawback of these fragrances—and that's longevity. Expect fresh and bright perfumes with citrus or light and airy floral notes to lose their luster quicker, says Bee Shapiro, the founder of Ellis Brooklyn. Still interested in making this switch, regardless, but aren't sure where to start? Bookmark brands like Abel and Shapiro's Ellis Brooklyn (we're partial to her Salt Eau de Parfum ($105,, which is a best-seller!)—and when you shop, search for companies who are open about the "background of their supplies and how their ingredients are sourced and manufactured," says Leigh, who, like Kelly, emphasizes the importance of packaging. "Always look for scents that are bottled in glass with recyclable cardboard boxes," she affirms. 


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