From ingredient suppliers to beauty behemoths to tiny niche perfume brands, sustainability is increasingly on the fragrance industry’s mind. In the past year alone, IFF merged with Frutarom in a massive $7.1 billion deal, fragrance house Firmenich invested in Guatemalan natural essential oils producer Nelixia and Givaudan purchased Expressions Parfumées in June to bolster its naturals business.
Sustainability concerns expand beyond the ingredients supplied by the French fragrance houses — issues of note run the gamut from using creation methods that don’t damage the environment to packaging recyclability and reusability to carbon footprint reduction.
Demand for sustainability in fragrance is only apt to grow, said Linda G. Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation. “The consumer is driving it,” said Levy. “I think we all know with every product that a consumer is interested in purchasing these days, the theme of life is transparency — they want to know what something is, how it is made and how it affects Planet Earth.”
Here, in time for Earth Day, a selection of fragrance brands approaching sustainability in a significant way.
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Sigil Scent is a newly relaunched brand of genderless, natural fine fragrance from self-taught perfumer Patrick Kelly. A collection of four fragrances — Solutio, Amor Fati, Anima Mundi and Prima Materia, $120 each — is said to be 100 percent natural, meaning the ingredients are all organic and wild-crafted plant oils, absolutes and homemade tinctures. The brand’s packaging is made without the use of customary foam and vacuum trays often used in fine fragrance, with the goal of long-term minimization of waste. Sigil, initially debuted in 2015, relaunched on April 15 on sigilscent.com.
California-based vegan fragrance brand Skylar launched its monthly subscription service Scent Club on April 1. For $20, subscribers receive one new fragrance a month. The club’s debut scent, “Magic Bloom,” has notes of pear, yuzu and magnolia. Cat Chen, a former chief operating officer at Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co., founded the brand two years ago with the goal of producing natural and sustainable luxury scents. Skylar’s packaging is recyclable and shipments are encased in packing peanuts made from 100 percent organic vegetable starch. Ingredients are sourced from sustainable suppliers — for instance, Skylar’s sandalwood comes from a farm in the Pacific Islands that does not overharvest.
Now under L’Oréal’s ownership, niche brand Atelier Cologne is playing up the naturality of its fragrances that has existed since Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel founded the fragrance company 10 years ago. New marketing focuses on ingredient transparency — Atelier Cologne’s fragrances now contain a naturality seal delineating the percentage of renewable natural origin notes that comprise each formula, from 89 percent to 95 percent. The brand denotes an ingredient as naturally derived if it is unchanged from its natural state, or has undergone processing yet still retains 50 percent of its molecular structure from a mineral or plant source. No synthetic stabilizers are used, and any alcohol in the fragrances is beet-derived. The brand also has a tree-planting initiative, ensuring 50 percent more trees are planted than the amount used to create its scents. The latest, Pacific Lime, $135 for 3.4 oz., is a blend of lime and coconut notes.
Sustainability drives packaging decisions for Ellis Brooklyn, beauty reporter Bee Shapiro’s line of natural perfumes and body care. Eau de parfums, like new scent West, $105 for 1.7 oz., are bottled in Ecocert glass, and all products are housed in glass as the main component. Said Shapiro, “We have not made a shower gel yet because we have not found a shower-safe packaging option that isn’t plastic.” Ellis Brooklyn is sold at ellisbrooklyn.com, Sephora, Credo Beauty and revolve.com.
Perfumer Douglas Little is responsible for the Goop’s scented candles, but he also has his own line of natural fragrance, Heretic, which was a hot commodity on the retail floor at the In Goop Health Summit last month in New York. Little handcrafts the scents entirely with naturally derived materials, and he is known for using ingredients not commonly found in fragrance, deriving materials from homeopathy, ayurveda and herbology. Pre-sales for Heretic’s newest scent, Dirty Grass, formulated with hemp-derived CBD oil, launched on April 20, $185 for 50 ml.
Lafco founder Jon Bresler is a stickler for sustainability — so much so that he removed palm oil from the formula for his brand’s signature perfume-grade luxury soaps, $17 each. Palm oil, a common ingredient used in many beauty products, has been said by climate experts to have a direct effect on climate change. Palm oil was removed from Lafco’s soaps, Bresler said, because he “couldn’t trust the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil [a nonprofit industry organization that implements global standards for palm oil] to guarantee the sustainability of its palm oil.” The new formulation, out this month across Lafco’s six soap scents, is 75 percent olive oil and 25 percent coconut oil.
New fragrance brand Kierin NYC, launched in November, is bringing sustainable fragrance to the masses with a shop on Amazon Luxury Beauty. It considers its fragrances, like gardenia and fig-infused 10 a.m. Flirt, $78 for 1.7 oz., to be “clean, conscious and cruelty-free.” The formulations are made without synthetic stabilizers and the brand works with supplier Robertet, said founder Mona Maine de Biran, because of its commitment to using sustainable raw materials. The juice is housed in recyclable bottles using only natural paints. Said de Biran, “Decorated glass bottles or bottles covered in paints that are not natural often can’t just be rinsed out, separating glass from metal or plastic, and deposited in a recycle bin. Responsible recycling may require dismantling, which could be too hard a task for the consumer to do themselves.”