We’ve done a lot of complaining about the lack of good—nay, great—natural perfumes out there. But truth be told, there are a few on this list from Well+Good that we haven’t tried yet! Which of these have you tested out? And what’s your absolute favorite I’ll-never-stop-wearing-it perfume, natural or otherwise?
Perfume should be a pleasurable experience both for the wearer and those around her, not a toxic one. Which is why we’ve rounded up the best new natural ones.
Our perfume picks are mostly handcrafted in small batches with plant extracts, distilled flower essences, and essential oils. So giving or getting one feels luxurious and special. Here are our 9 favorites of the season…
1. A Perfume Organic Mejica
Perfumer Amanda Walker’s small batch, botanical blends are super desirable, and “Mejica,” might be the sexiest of her five USDA certified-organic scents. It’s a delicious blend of three vanillas, rare resins, and spices. The petite bottle is actually a roll-on and, extra charming, the flower seed-embedded box can be planted.
2. Red Flower Ambrette Roll-On Oil
Aside from making exquisite natural candles, Red Flower creates masterful fragrances, like “Ambrette.” It’s the name of a seed used in Indian culture to perfume the hair and burned as an offering. When blended here with patchouli, orange, and black pepper (all certified USDA organic), it’s both alluring and restoring. Wear it to yoga to lift stress-related fatigue or anoint your pulse points with it as an aphrodisiac.
3. Strange Invisible Perfumes Black Rosette
Perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis is all about luxury craftsmanship. Her forte is creating scents with certified organic, wildcrafted, and biodynamic ingredients that focus on “aroma profile, evocative narratives, and the beauty of scent.” Black Rosette eau de parfum, for example, tells a subtle story of seduction with roses, black tea, and spearmint with a hint of bad-boy leather.
4. Lurk RSW005 Fragrance
This carefully crafted new fragrance line oozes cool factor. Lurk is the brainchild of New Yorkers Anne Sanford and Kristi Head, who met at Red Flower and created packaging and beauty products for Anthropologie and other top brands before collaborating on a fragrance collection of their own. We’re smitten with RSW005, an androgynous essential-oil-based scent with warm sandalwood, earthy rose, and a crisp citrus finish. And since the line launched just last year, you won’t be wearing (or gifting) a scent that everyone else has. Yet.
5. Tsi La Fiori D’Arancio Organic Eau de Parfum
Tsi La is a little obsessed with fun, organic freshness—and natural decadence. The collection is crafted in artisan-size batches using essential oils, active plant botanicals, and rich exotic butters. Best-selling Fiori d’Arancio is a USDA-certified mist that’s like bottled sunshine—on vacation in Italy. Its notes of orange, tangerine, and neroli flowers mixed with vanilla orchids and honey give it a playful, mischievous appeal.
6. Honoré Des Prés Nu Green Verrine Eau de Toilette
Olivia Giacobetti is a legendary perfumer, who designed fragrances for prestigious houses like Diptyque and Guerlain, before creating Honoré Des Prés. It’s the first luxury certified-organic French fragrance brand. Nu Green conjures up the feel of a fresh spring morning with green mint leaves, dewy grass, Indian botanical musk, tarragon and cedar wood. And if it’s got Giacobetti’s signature on it, you know it has to be good.
7. Tallulah Jane Aiyana Eau de Parfum
Aiyana is a feminine (okay, super girly, super heart-warming) fragrance that mixes pure Moroccan rose with vanilla and a hint of Italian lemon that gives it a boost of happy effervescence. Like all of Tallulah Jane’s perfumes, it’s made with organic and wildcrafted oils, and based on the centuries-old tradition of Bourbon perfumeries.
“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”
I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”
I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.
Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.
That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.
I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:
We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.
When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.
We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.
When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?
3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.
When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.
Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?
It’s totally happened. I’ve become that slightly-loony-bin person: the anti-fragrance zealot. I’m not talking about the wonderful scents we were gabbing about yesterday. And like S, I too occasionally miss a phthalate, especially when I’m longing for lasting power or smell the rare incredible synthetic perfume.
But last week I went to the mall, not my usual stomping ground. It seems like every day I become a little more sensitive: to sounds, to crowds, to gross displays of consumerism (there’s so much stuff at the mall, man), but especially to synthetic scent. I honestly feel like a bit of an ass admitting this. I don’t want to sound precious, because we must live and function in the real world, and I know this is a high-class problem, quite literally, and it’s not like I have a chemical sensitivity. But, there it is. The whole experience made me kind of miserable. Then I started thinking of the people who work there.
Day in, day out, these mall employees have fragrance pumped at them from all sides: from Sephora to the Macy’s counter, from Neiman to Lush. It’s a serious assault on the senses, let alone on lungs and probably hormones. So without getting too activisty, I wanted to ask you: Is there synthetic fragrance in your work environment? And, if so, does it bother you? Have you complained?
Progress is slowly underway: You may recall that one woman actually won $100,000 settlement after suing her workplace for ignoring her chemical sensitivity to fragrance. Not surprisingly that company has since banned all fragrance use. That’s cool. I also noticed just the other day that someone’s work email footer read “this is fragrance free environment.”
As I was leaving the mall, I walked by Sephora. Having a momentary lapse of reason, I thought: Oh, I’ll just pop in and buy some waterproof mascara. Well, I couldn’t even last a minute! I walked in, got one whiff of that place and turned on my heels. Fragrance may force me to abandon my last dirty product at long last.
Confession: Sometimes I sort of miss phthalates.
Ugh, OK, I don’t really mean that. But you know that feeling when you smell something so amazing—a flower, a candle, your boyfriend’s deodorant—and then all you want to do is smell that thing all the time? Well, phthalates can help with that. They can also help bend your gender, though, so we avoid products that contain them—which means almost anything with synthetic fragrance.
As such, I’ve been on the hunt for a perfume I could love as much as my old favorites. A signature scent, if you will. My criteria has obviously changed over the years: I don’t want a perfume to last all day—I find that weird; but I’d like it to be portable so that I can reapply it before I go out at night; I’d also like it to be 100% organic, or as close to that as possible; and I want it to elicit as many or more “You smell greats” as my Chanel and Hanae Mori used to.
Tough! But not impossible.
In the last three years, I have tried many, and loved few. Alexandra and I have both experimented with using essential oil treatments as perfume. She loves Hope Gillerman’s, and we both still adore Tata Harper’s Irritability Treatment; I love Honore des Pres for its luxurious and playful packaging and nuanced scents (Vamp à NY and Love Coconut are my favorites). There have been others. And now…there’s a new favorite in town.
Lotus Wei has started making perfume! And at $45, it’s affordable! And portable! And organic! And…transformative? Ben oui!
Like all Lotus Wei’s products, these perfumes contain aromatherapy and flower essences, meaning they’re double-teaming you for best results. I have already professed my love for the Infinite Love Energy Mist, and I dose my friends with the Elixirs all the time. Now, thanks to the unbelievably delicious smelling perfume, I can wear it all day long, too.
So Infinite Love is the one I’ve been wearing. It has rose, and mandarin and honey, starting out as a mix of really bright—not heavy or musty—rose with citrus, and it quickly warms into a sexy, caramelly smell as it blends with my own skin. It’s garnered a lot of questions, comments and, yup, compliments, and because it’s got the flower essences in there, I feel like it’s working on a subtler level as well. Mmmmm!
So let’s toss this topic back to you guys. Have you found YOUR signature scent?
(And guys, get excited, because we’ve started calling in some aftershave and colognes as well. Expect some reviews from our boy testers soon!)
Welcome to a new occasional series where we’ll share with you what products real people are using in their real lives at a given moment in time. (Routines are subject to change without notice! Heh.)
I’m going to go first ’cause I’m a trooper, but there will be more! And bear in mind, I think of cosmetics sort of like an outfit: I wear underwear (almost) every day, but on top on that, sometimes I feel like wearing a sundress, and other days I feel like wearing jeans and a T. I treat skincare the same way. There are a few everyday items, and then there are some I swap in and out depending on my mood or the mood of my skin.
Now, without further ado… Here’s my morning skin and haircare routine.
Age: How dare you! (32)
Current weather: Really hot, muggy, humid, northeast, generally gross
Hair: Mostly not dyed anymore, thick, wavy, long, occasionally frizzy
Skin: Pale, sensitive, Irish, burns easily, irritated easily
In the shower…
I don’t wash my face in the morning. I figure it can’t get that dirty between washing it right before bed and waking, and my skin seems to best tolerate a light hand, so I keep it simple. Instead of wash, I use a muslin cloth I got from Pai to wipe down my face. It’s gentle but still slightly scrubby, which feels great. In the tub, I use bar soap from Leap Organics, C Tonics Tantra shampoo, and C Tonics Milk conditioner. The soap is simple, and it’s from a brand I really love to support, but the hair stuff needs some ’splaining: This shampoo smells super intense, which Spirit Demerson warned me about, but it’s a treatment for “stressed scalps,” which mine certainly is right now, mainly because I got a trim the other week and with it, a really sweet rash. The rash comes and goes with stress, but there is no more extravagant a trigger than SLS/SLES-based shampoo. The conditioner, meanwhile, is the best-smelling conditioner I’ve tried in eons. It smells amazing! And it leaves my hair soft and shiny and not frizzy, even in August in New York.
Outside the shower…
I am using and loving Soapwalla’s body oil some days of the week (too lazy to moisturize daily) and depending on how many bruises I have, I also use Chocolate Sun self-tanner in light on my legs, and maybe my arms. I apply the fake-sunner before the oil, obviously. Then I apply Soapwalla deodorant.
For face, I spray Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist all over, then on the lower part of my face only—which is where I’m prone to spots—I use Organic Apoteke Active Face Gel, which I live and die by. [Now here's a problem: My bottle is half-empty and the line seems to be on hiatus or out of business. HELP!!!! I am freaking out on the inside about this. I have used this for three years, and I'm terrified about what is going to happen when I run out, so suggestions welcome.]
On the rest of my face, I use Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm. I’m not really repairing anything, but I freaking love this cream. A tiny amount goes such a long way, and it gives my skin a nice glow. If my skin feels really hydrated already, I use the much lighter Pai Chamomile and Rosehip Lotion. Then I roll on a Bella Figura eye treatment, which I am still experimenting with but will review soon, and finally, my 100% Pure Argan Oil Sunscreen follows.
I do not use leave-ins on my hair. I dry it with a sweet blowdryer if I have time, or let it go naturally wavy.
I still love Laura Mercier’s loose minerals and use it, applied with a clean finger, on places where I need it. I managed to find a color that matches my skin perfectly, so I can use it like a spot cover for the places that are a little uneven (nostrils, sometimes my undereyes, any spots I might have). Then I curl my lashes and apply some 100% Pure mascara in navy or black, really just depending on which one is closer to the top of my makeup bag. That’s basically it. If I’m feeling fancy, I might sweep on some NVey Eco or Josie Maran eyeliner on the corner of my eyes, and sometimes some lip color, too—usually Vapour or RMS these days, in pinky colors. And finally, a spritz of Honore des Pres perfume in Vamp, which I will also review soon.
And that’s it! We’ll do night routines too, but separately, since those are usually different from mornings.
So we ask you:
What on earth should I do when Organic Apoteke runs out? And second, whose routine (other than Alexandra’s, who I will strongarm into doing this, too) do you want to know about? We can’t promise anything, but we can try! If you’re a reader and you have a routine you want to share, please let us know in the comments.