Michelle Pfeiffer is paving a new route in the celebrity fragrance world.
The actress has been quietly working for the past seven years on a line of fine fragrances that complies with the Environmental Working Group’s strictest health and safety standards. The line, Henry Rose, debuts today with a five-scent range, making it the first fine fragrance collection to be EWG Verified.
In an interview with WWD, Pfeiffer said she began paying closer attention to ingredients after the birth of her children. Her research led her to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database — which eventually led her to reach out to the organization directly. She is now a board member.
“I utilized [EWG’s Skin Deep database] for many years and one of the things it kept pinging was fragrance,” said Pfeiffer. “I took that to mean that fragrance was really toxic, so I started looking for fragrance-free products and I stopped wearing perfume. Cut to many years later, I decided I would see if it were possible to develop a fragrance. I thought I would do the typical celebrity licensing deal, [but] I was told, ‘Nobody’s going to be 100 percent transparent with you.'”
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In 2012, she reached out to Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder, to see if the organization would develop a fragrance line with her.
“She was super interested in our Skin Deep Database and was incredibly well-informed about it,” Cook recalled of Pfeiffer. “She knew everything about how we scored personal-care products, a number of products that were in our database, how we looked at ingredients. She was kind of a black belt in EWG at that point.”
Cook said he politely declined to work with Pfeiffer on a fragrance line at that time, but he changed his tune in 2016, when EWG developed its verification program. The process, he said, is similar to attaining organic certification and involves “35 pages” worth of paperwork on top of compliance with EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
“Everyone can get in, they pay a nominal fee to license, but they have to meet our criteria,” said Cook. “Most products don’t. And it’s product by product, not brand by brand or company by company. Each and every product has to meet [the criteria].”
Henry Rose’s five scents — Last Light; Dark Is Night; Jake’s House; Torn, and Fog — are available online only. They retail for $120 each, and a sample set is available for $20. The collection’s name is comprised of the middle names of Pfeiffer’s two children, John Henry and Claudia Rose.
“Honestly, if I’d never had children, I’m not sure that I would have become so enlightened about ingredients and safety,” said Pfeiffer. “I kept thinking back to the genesis, and it was my kids. Children open your eyes.”
In addition to being transparent, Henry Rose is sustainable: Every bottle is made using recycled glass, the caps are made from sustainably sourced soy and the boxes are made using recycled cardboard. It is Cradle to Cradle Certified.
In January, Pfeiffer joined Instagram. Famously private, she had previously been reluctant to join the platform, but has been enjoying it so far and is planning to use it to market Henry Rose.
“You can’t have a direct-to-consumer business without having Instagram. It’s such an important part of telling your story and being able to engage your consumer,” she said. “I was shocked to see how many of my friends [are on the platform]. I had no idea what people were doing. I’m like, there’s Susan Sarandon, there’s Jeff Goldblum, all these people I know really well and they all seem to be enjoying themselves. I’ve been joining in and it’s been fun. I get scared, still, but I never would have thought I would be not only having an Instagram, but having a little bit of fun with it.”
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