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.
Here’s the rub with natural face care lines: They can feel a bit samesame after a while. A non-foaming cleanser, an amazing oil, and maybe a lovely hydrosal toner or spray…
Don’t get me wrong, we love this formula—less is more, and it’s precisely this simple well-executed combination of pure ingredients that made us first fall for the likes of Kahina, Stark, and Evan Healy. But once you have your faves, it’s hard to justify trying 20 other brands that offer something similar. That’s why this May Lindstrom line jumped out at me on first use.
My intro to the line came from natch beauty glamour girl Spirit Beauty. “You have to try it,” she said in a Facebook message. And within a month of her sending it my way, I got an email from Evolue inviting me by for a facial with May. Hmm, a new line so quickly available at two of our favorite retailers? This was boding well.
The products are really special, in many ways. First the packaging: Done in a beautiful black glass with gold lettering, it brings all kinds of glamour to this line, that could easily have felt a bit crunchy given its ingredients. Instead, really beautiful. May herself is also a vision. At the risk of sounding like some silly magazine article about a celebrity, I will anyways: This woman is gorgeous, with the kind of skin so impeccable and glowy that it’s almost hard to look at. Like the sun!
But looks can be deceiving. When May and I met she described the horror stories of her various environmental sensitivities and the problem skin she had. A country girl at heart—who’s been mixing her own products since childhood—when she first came to LA (to be a chef) the city wreaked a debilitating havoc on her skin from head to toe. Through diet and natural products (and fewer products), she eventually found her way, and ended up reticently becoming a model. It was on set one day that she had her a-ha moment to start her own brand.
“I’d very quickly mixed an oil one morning to bring to the shoot,” she told me. And lo, everyone there was trying it and begging her to make them some.
So the line. I’ve tried everything at this point other than the body oil, and there’s nothing I don’t like. Her Youth Dew serum is a beautiful oil blend that competes with faves and smells amazing—I’m a sucker for geranium I’ve come to learn. Here are the ingredients:
persea americana (avocado) oil*, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam seed) oil*, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil*, olea europaea (olive) oil*, prunus spp (plum kernel) oil, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) oil*, rosa rubiginosa (rosehip seed) oil*, punica granatum (pomegranate) oil*, calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) oil*, borago officinalis (borage seed) oil*, aleurites moluccans (kukui nut) oil, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium rose) essential oil*, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) essential oil*, citrus sinensis (sweet orange) essential oil*, citrus limon (lemon) essential oil*, rosa damascena (rose absolute) essential oil*, rosa damascena (bulgarian rose) essential oil*, citrus aurantium (neroli) essential oil*, daucus carota (carrot seed) essential oil***, ubiquinone (coenzyme q10).
But for me the standouts are The Clean Dirt “cleanser” and The Problem Solver mask.
The Clean Dirt: This cleansing clay comes dry, which I love because it never goes bad. You pour a little into the palm of your hand and add a few drops of water then begin mixing. You can also mix it with a brush, as May did when she gave me my facial. It’s hard to describe this stuff, it doesn’t actually foam but science happens and the mixture expands into an airy kind of paste. It’s consistency is definitely exfoliating by nature so you don’t need to scrub it too much. Just smooth it over your face, let it sit for a minute and then rinse. It feels great, and gives an instant glow. Here are the ingredients:
white halloysite clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), sodium bicarbonate, althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*,rosa centifolia (pink rose)*, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower*, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, curcuma longa (turmeric)*, zingiber officinale (ginger)*, vanilla planifolia bean*, theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**.
The Problem Solver: This product feels like the cleanser’s more intense cousin. The process is the same, but the idea is to leave on this jet-black clay mask for up to 45 minutes (I personally don’t go that long though, 15 is fine by me). Note: This product feels very active, and sting-tingles a little on the skin. But I’ve done it numerous times and the flush only lasts a few minutes for me, and it really feels like it’s jump-starting my circulation. I don’t use it that often, but when I do I feel like my skin has a new lease on life. I also use it to spot treat incoming pimples. Here are the ingredients:
fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, vanilla planifolia bean*, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower*, althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*, boswellia carteri (frankincense)***, centella asiatica (gotu kola)*, archangelica (angelica) root*, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, curcuma longa (turmeric)*, capsicum annuum (cayenne) pepper*.
One note that I failed to mention in the first draft of this post: These two products come in HUGE containers. The cleanser is nearly 7 oz. and the mask is over 8 oz., which is about 4x the size of comparable products. Just wanted to clear that up since there have been many comments around price. At $60, the cleanser is actually on the more reasonable side at that size.
May herself is a major product minimalist, so she says some people use the cleanser every day, while others only use it a few times a week. I’m in the second camp, and I have a feeling she might be too. That’s another thing I really love about these two products: While they’re not inexpensive, they will probably last me for close to a year. And if there’s any confusion about how to use, you can watch May’s videos on her site and on the sites that carry the line.
Have you tried this line? What do you think??
I’ve never really liked eye shadow. It’s always made me think of either young girls trying to look older, or older women just trying to do too much. Because of this admittedly unfair Tammy-Faye-Baker bias, it’s the one product category I’ve never played with. Until now.
Call it the holidays, or boredom, or the fact that lately I only want to dress in black and white, but I’ve been feeling that familiar ache to change up, and amp up, my makeup look. So a few weeks ago I took a trip to my friend Jean’s store, Evolue—it had been ages since I made the journey across town for a visit—and had a little makeup shopping spree.
First I stocked up on old faves, like my Jane Iredale’s Active Light Concealer in both number 2 and 5. Then I decided to buy some brushes. Siobhan has one at her place that I use when we have sleepovers a few times a year—and because we usually stay up late into the night gabbing (OK, and drinking), I tend to need the extra concealing help. So I got one like hers: mid-size, a bit stiff, great for spot applying Laura Mercier mineral powder. Still a fave, as her new routine attests.
Then I surprised myself. For the first time ever I tried RMS’s karma shadow. I love RMS—who doesn’t here?—but I’d never given those eye pots a second glance despite the fact that S reviewed karma here, and many a Morning Routine has mentioned it.
At first I used it (with my other new small flat brush) more like a smokey eyeliner, which is no departure for me at all. But this past week I’ve been throwing caution to the wind and straight up covering my lid with it! And I love it. It’s more intense than what I’m used to, but it’s not in the least bit garish.
Are you adventurous with your eye makeup?
My next big move is going to be to try a cat eye with it—as demo’d here by Spirit of Spirit Beauty Lounge. I also came across this Refinery 29 video of Kate Moss’s makeup artist showing how to do a cat eye with a regular old pencil—has anyone tried this? Just as soon as I find a pencil sharpener I’m going to…
Ideally your answer is something like…. “My partner who thinks I’m awesome no matter how ridiculous I am at times.” Or maybe it’s “My sense of my own natural beauty, radiating from within.” (But seriously, if you’re going with number 2 and that’s your default feeling, maybe you can explain us your secret over wine and macarons some time?)
For me, it depends on the day. One of the cool and completely frustrating things about being a woman is that these things can vary depending on your mood, on the weather, on the state of your skin, on where you are in your cycle, on how things are going at work and at home, on how nice you’re being to yourself.
Because these things can fluctuate quite a bit, I’ve always thought it important to have certain emergency procedures in place for the days when you want to bring your A game but you woke up feeling like a giant bag of trash.
When that happens, you have to, in the words of Rachael Ray, take a little help from the store. The help I’ve been taking lately is my fancy Vered body oil.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the ayurvedic ritual called abhyanga, a form of daily self massage that involves oils, starting at your feet and ending at your crown. When you consider all the crazy stuff I’ve done over the years—shall we revisit the time I had soup spoons scraped over my back to release blocked energy? Or the astrologers I’ve paid many hundreds of dollars to help me with various peccadilloes?—it seems amazing that I’ve never done tried this simple, soothing technique. Inspired by Alexandra, who has raved about it, and Dr. Claudia Welch, who swears by it, I tried it last night before bed. And I used this incredible body oil by Vered.
Here’s what makes the oil special. The one I have is for achey bodies. As such, it contains the homeopathic standby arnica, as well as calendula, oregano, lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile in an organic jojoba and sweet almond oil base. As you can imagine, it smells unreal. And like no other oil I’ve used—including pure coconut oil, which I still adore—this stuff absorbs readily into the skin, moisturizes so thoroughly, and leaves behind a kind of touch-my-skin-no-really-touch-it softness that looks and feels amazing.
This is not an ordinary body oil. And at $74 a bottle, it also costs a small fortune, so there’s that. Will I buy more when I run out? Probably not, but that’s why I’m not recommending you buy it for yourself: This is, I’ve decided, the absolute perfect gift. I received mine as a gift—from the lovely Spirit Demerson, no less—and it was the perfect thing because it’s not something I would ever buy myself. But having it around makes me happy, it feels super-luxurious, and after I’ve applied it—either through elaborate self-massage or just with a quick and dirty rub onto my legs before work in the morning—I feel completely amazing in my own skin.
Oh, and yes: As the name suggests, it works wonders on sore muscles.
So we want to know: Have you ever done abhyanga? And what makes you feel amazing in your own skin? Have at it, folks.
Meet Krystal, everybody. Full disclosure: I know this gal! But finding her routine in our inbox was a total surprise. See, a long time ago we worked for the same company, and I actually tried stealing her from another department to come help me with copy. They wouldn’t let her go—so I’m happy to finally be putting her writing skills to use. Plus, it’s a great routine—we’re clearly singing from the same songbook on favorite brands—with some stellar tips. Enjoy!
Current Weather: Coming out of California “June gloom.” Cool mornings, hot, dry days, and somewhat sticky nights.
Hair: Extremely fine and silky (with a few skin weft extensions – my one and only dirty secret!)
Skin: Prone to breakouts, larger pores around my nose.
Favourite star or icon from the past: Candice Bergen in the 60s
In the shower…
When I’m not half-asleep, I dry brush first. I use Bronner’s liquid almond soap on the areas that require de-funking, and Skin and Bones oil (smells SO good) on the rest of me. I wash and condition my hair with Acure Organics duo in Pure Mint and Echinacea (the volumizing one). I was on a baking soda, ACV and dry shampoo kick for a while, but even after a few months, my hair always looked wet or greasy, and smelled unpleasant. If I need to shave something, I use coconut oil, which is lovely, but you need to use really hot water when rinsing the razor to melt away any oil and hair caught in between the blades.
Outside the shower…
Before I blow dry or braid my hair, I mix a tiny amount of argan and jojoba oil in my palm to moisturize the ends. I spritz my face with the lovely aloe and rosewater concoction I whipped up after reading this DIY and dab a bit of jojoba oil around my eyes. While that’s soaking in, I spread a little Soapwalla on my pits. I was using Lavanila for many months, and ended up quitting it, not for the controversy, but because it stopped working. Soapwalla is working out quite nicely, though I do miss that super sweet Lavanila scent.
What some call finishing touches, I call the main show! I’ve always been one of those gals who likes to wear a lot of makeup, but look like she’s not wearing any at all. I start with some RMS un-cover up (the price tag kept me from trying it for some time, but a sample from Spirit Beauty Lounge persuaded me that the price is well worth it) around my eyes, and in the redder areas around my nose and chin. I then sweep on a light dusting of W3LL People’s altruist foundation, and set it with Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love Energy Mist. I sweep on 100% Pure’s Pot Rouge on my cheeks, their satin eye shadow on my lids (I try to use as few brushes as possible) and, if I’m feeling dramatic, their eye brow powdered gel on my dirty blonde brows. I finish off the eyes with Jane Iredale’s pencil eyeliner and Longest Lash mascara (which does require several passes to get the same volume and lengths as commercial mascaras). For my lips, I use Josie Maran’s Magic Marker Lip Stain with Argan Color Stick (it’s so easy to get nice, sharp lines with the marker end!) Of course, no natural makeup look would be complete without that subtle glow, best achieved with RMS’ Living Luminizer.
When I went clean, the absolute hardest thing to give up was my Burberry London perfume, which I had worn dutifully for years and it had become so identifying that when I stopped wearing it people immediately began telling me I smelled different (“Oh, no, no, no, not bad just…different”). I went through SO many different natural perfumes that just smelled like old ladies or cooking ingredients, I thought I’d never find a new signature scent, forever smelling “different.” Then, I tried out Tsi-la’s Fleur Sauvage. Floral and sweet, but with a woodsy quality that gives it substance and weight, I can’t smell my wrists without closing my eyes and smiling. It’s that good. Trapped-on-a-desert-island-and-can-only-bring-one-thing good.
That’s it! Thanks for letting me share! It’s been a long and crazy journey from dirty to clean, but after finding what product works best for me, I’m happier with the quality and performance of the products I use far more than I ever used to be with conventional junk.
A clean story after our own hearts. Just for fun, are there any readers out there who like their clean products less than the conventionals? Which ones, and why?