What are the main differences between traditional fragrances and clean/natural/nontoxic fragrances?
First, to set the record straight, all fragrances are created within the safe regulations that are set forth within IFRA (International fragrance association) and RIFM (research institute for fragrance materials) in which all fragrances houses, who develop the fragrances, must adhere to. Every raw material is tested and used within safe levels in all fragrances. As with anything in life, it’s all about balance and moderation. You can take multi-vitamins everyday and drink water, but overdosing on vitamins and water could be detrimental to your health. Same with any kind of ingredient.

Now, more specifically, clean fragrance brands are taking a stronger stance on what it means to be “safe” and non toxic. Depending on the respective brand’s core values and what they stand for, it’s about the omission of certain ingredients that are known to be potentially hazardous to your body like endocrine disrupters, certain dyes and the sustainable sourcing of the materials, using vegan and cruelty free raw materials. Some brands go a step further and claim hypoallergenic as well for anyone who can’t wear fragrance due to allergies. All of this falls under clean as well. But it doesn’t stop here. Being a clean fragrance brand is as much about lowering the brand’s carbon foot print by not using up too many natural resources, the minimal, recyclable, upcyclable packaging in addition to the ingredients. It’s really about the holistic approach versus just one thing.

What should consumers look for in a clean fragrance?

First, see if you can relate to what the founder’s values are to build trust. That way you can trust that whatever is being created ties into the values that resonate with you. Educated consumers will weigh out many options when choosing a clean fragrance.

First thing, does it smell good and how does it make me feel? Next how does the brand source their ingredients? Do they only use natural or do they have more of a balanced approach, so that the environment is thought of. Is it over packaged or were they conscious in their packaging choices and perhaps offer ways to lower their carbon foot print by upcyclable ideas and using recyclable materials or programs?. Did they list all of their ingredients on their website? Are they helping me understand why they created the fragrance in the way that they did to build trust. In the fragrance industry it’s hard to show the full-on fragrance recipe to avoid knock off fragrances, but how is the brand addressing this to ensure trust? Do they show you enough of the key ingredients in the fragrance?

What should consumers know to avoid in a traditional fragrance?
The best approach is to see what brands resonate with you. If the brand holds the same values as you do then great. Everything in life is about balance. You can go about your day eating clean, working out, drinking your green juice, but once in a while you’ll have fries and a milkshake. Same holds true to anything in life. It’s all about balance.

What makes up a clean fragrance? What is it made of? How is this different from what makes up a traditional fragrance?
The question is more what’s it made without? When I design fragrances for my brand ASCENTION, with my fragrance parter Mane, I give them a strict dirty list of what I don’t want in the fragrance. This includes no endocrine disrupters, no dyes, it 100% needs to be vegan and cruelty free and batches in organic sugar cane alcohol, while smelling like a fine fragrance! This is hard! Being clean and naturally derived limits the perfumers pallet immensely and it waters down the experience and wears down our natural resources. I love that fragrance houses can mimic natural ingredients in a safe, non toxic way so that we don’t use up our resources and we can control how the fragrance performs. To me, it’s all about being responsible, transparent and smelling good to uplift our soul, because that’s what good perfume does. We aren’t drinking this stuff ya know :).

Maybe most importantly, as a non-fragrance expert, is there anything I missed that you think we should know?
I think the biggest opportunity as a fragrance industry is to unite and educate consumers on all that I’ve just mentioned. There are so many whistle blowers on what’s clean and what’s not, and theres this chemical phobia going on with everyone being scared of chemicals! But guess what, H2O is a chemical and it’s water and our bodies are made up of 70% of it, so we are walking chemicals! If you’re using the right amounts that are safe and non toxic, it’s all good. I’m hoping that many will join me in educating the public on this and I’m excited to do so with my brand as well.