Sustainability is a word we’re hearing more than ever, in discussions about fragrance (and the world of beauty at large) – but what does it actually mean, and why should we care? Here, we highlight some of the houses who have an eco-conscious ethos at the heart of everything they do, and showcase some of the planet-friendly perfumes we love best…
Fragrance du Bois
Putting themselves at the forefront of condemning the use of oudh from illegal sources – and, beyond that, making it their mission to educate the perfume industry and fragrance buyers alike, Fragrance du Bois assure us that ‘…only pure oudh oil, produced from trees nurtured and managed on our own plantations, is used in our fragrances.’ Considering the fact that oudh is a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, illegal logging has resulted in natural supplies being severely depeleted, so since 2004, all species of the Aquilaria tree have been protected under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species], and ‘This means that we can absolutely guarantee that it is from a sustainable and ethical source.’
We love: Fragrance du Bois Oud Jaune Intense
A sparkling fruity floral mélange of exotic monoï, elegant ylang ylang and juicy pineapple, subtly gives way to a white floral heart of jasmine and orange blossom. The pervasive oudh adds richness and a beguiling quality to a long-lasting milky, vanilla and musky base. You’ll soon see (and smell) why this is a worldwide best-seller, even among oudh-avoiders!
Try it: Fragrance du Bois Discovery Set £20 for FIVE samples
For CLEAN Reserve, sustainability ‘…is more than a trend – it’s what we work towards every day. We consider it an honour to partner with companies that support small farming communities around the world, whether they’re offering fair-trade prices, funding for schools or clean drinking water.’ With a way-ahead-of-their-time record of 100% recyclable packaging (and even using a solar-powered production line!) the fragrances are chic, minimalistic and pared-back, using wooden caps sourced from forests that are sustainably managed, the glass is recycled and the ingredients in the bottles are entirely sustainable.
We love: CLEAN Reserve Sueded Oud
The warm intensity of oudh, olibanum, patchouli, suede and amber at the fragrance’s core is balanced with resinous balsam, sweet praline and honeysuckle, plus dreamy white flowers, while a little pinch of spiciness from cypress, birch and pepper awakens the senses. Sueded Oud is a study in carefully crafted opposites, and we love the creamy-fresh result.
Try it: Luxury Layering Discovering Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members) for THIRTEEN fragrances, including two CLEAN Reserve 10ml bottles, worth £20 each!
It isn’t just the fragrances which are strikingly innovative – a thoroughly modern take on fabulous florals – but the packaging. Each bottle showcases a stunning, sometimes decadent flower artwork by renowned fashion photographer Matthew Donaldson – but the packaging itself breaks boundaries: simple, clean, minimalist and (a fragrance industry first) entirely recyclable/compostable. (We’ve repurposed ours, as Floral Street suggest, as a tray for seeds and plants). What’s more, they have a refill station in the Covent Garden London store, so re-use and rfill to your heart’s content!
We love: Floral Street Chypre Sublime
An utterly modern take on this sophisticated fragrance family, blending incense with velvety Damask rose absolute, the hauntingly beautiful midnight violet, a fizz of pink pepper and woody geranium. And you’ll swoon for the dry down, too: a stunning base of benzoin, labdanum and olibanum which – as Floral Street nails it – ‘offers a resin-soaked wood table for the flowers to perch on. A fragrance for musicians, painters and poets.’
Try it: Floral Street Discovery Set £14 for EIGHT fragrances
Founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed went above making a sustainable brand – creating the Beyond Sustainability Movement, powering tangible, measurable change for low-income women – starting with the Moroccan women who pick the orange blossoms for Sana Jardin’s creations. To help them flourish independently, a small co-operative has been set up – with the women now creating products repurposed from waste created during flower harvest and distillation. Locally, they market orange flower water, candles made from flower wax, and compost made from the waste flowers discarded by the factory – a fantastic and truly life-changing achievement.
We love: Sana Jardin Berber Blonde
A shimmering haze of Moroccan magic, orange blossom diffused by dusk, a languid sigh of inner contentment, here perfumer Carlos Benaïm harnesses the power to awaken us to our divine spirit. Embrace Berber Blonde’s rare and shimmering notes of orange blossom flowering on a Moroccan tree, captured with orange blossom water, Moroccan neroli oil and musk. Inhale its pure warmth and twinkling magic.
Try it: Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30 for EIGHT fragrances
We hugely admire a brand who comes at the sustanability debate with honesty and true integrity. ‘We’re aware that what we are doing is not perfect, but we are making daily changes to prioritise the planet,’ they say, and have recently completely overhauled their entire bath and body range to reflect this. With all plastic bottles in the range made from recycled post-consumer product, and fully recyclable; they’ve avoided shrink wraps, coverings and wraps whenever possible. What’s more, they are only using responsibly sourced palm oil, and all cartons are now foil-free, which is better for the environment and more easily recyclable as it’s a single material.
We love: Miller Harris Tea Tonique
A zingy and zesty little opening leads us into unexpected smoky tea notes, then balanced with spicy sweet nutmeg. A combination of maté, birch tar and musk at this fragrance’s base is then the final masterstroke in what is an utterly sophisticated yet cool, modern and approachable scent. What an incredible way to start any day with this enlivening but soothing lather that softly moisturises with vitamin E and coconut extracts. Your skin is left revitalised in a gentle haze of fragrance.
Try it: Miller Harris Tea Tonique Body Wash £20 for 300ml
Using some of the best noses in the world, founder Nathalie Vinciguerra ensures that each key ingredient used is sustainably sourced. And it’s a hands-on approach, too. Every year, Nathalie travels the world to visit the fields where these precious ingredients are grown – the rose, for example, is grown in Grasse, and Anima Vinci support a local farmer with one of the very last independently-owned Rose de Mai fields in the country. ‘Doing something environmentally friendly and saving the world is a big part of my brand,’ says Nathalie – along with creating evocative scents that enhance and uplift your mood as you wear them. Better for us and the planet, then.
We love: Anima Vinci Tudo Azul
Bahia orange encourages happiness and spiritual wisdom, and we can believe that – from the first spritz your heart simply soars as lime and mandarin oil work their zingy magic to revive and refresh. Cachaca, brown sugar, saltiness and rum add a boozy kick to the heart before ambery woods and vetiver make you feel grounded just as vanilla bean and labdanum soothe the spirit. Invited to this impromptu beach party, you’ll learn to feel alive again!
Try it: Anima Vinci Discovery Set £20 for EIGHT fragrances
If you’ve been inspired to dig a little more deeply into the fragrances you’re wearing – and discovering where they source their ingredients, and what they’re doing to address wasteful packaging – we suggest contacting the house via their website or Instagram account. The more we ask questions, the further the fragrance houses will go, and the better off we will all be, so far as the survival of the planet goes.
And if you’d like to go one step further and re-use or up-cycle your empty bottles and boxes in innovative ways, do check out our inspirational guide to find new uses for those items too good to throw away…
By Suzy Nightingale