Fragrance was one of last ways I went eco-chic. It was hard because I really grew to love the perfumes I had worn for years. I was devoted to these wonderful smells and now I had to get rid of them! The horror! But I eventually did, and would never go back to synthetic fragrance.
This post isn’t about WHY you should go natural/organic with your perfumes. For the why – there is some info on my Ingredients I Avoid page, and here is a great report on the health dangers of synthetic perfumes too if you don’t know and are interested to learn more.
This post is for women (and men) who want to start buying natural/organic fragrance (perfume or cologne) – but haven’t yet. Or maybe you have but haven’t had much luck. Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the past few years.
1 – Don’t get discouraged
So here’s the deal with natural/organic perfumes – they are natural. That seems like a duh moment but I think people forget (I certainly did) that natural and organic perfumes are not going to smell like traditional, synthetic perfumes. They just aren’t. They are made with real essential oils and real extracts so will smell like the real thing. This can take some getting used to.
Also, it may take sniffing a few perfumes before you find one you like. Fragrance can be very personal, and make take awhile before you find some you love.
When I first smelled samples of natural perfumes, I didn’t like ANY of them. Literally, none. I was very discouraged and actually gave up for about a year. I wish I hadn’t. Because really, as it turns out – I just had to train my nose to appreciate the nuances of natural perfumes vs. synthetic smells. Which leads to….
2- Your nose will change
As as I have tried and used natural perfumes over the years – my nose changed. Not the actual shape of course, but how it smelled things and what I liked. When I first started smelling natural perfumes, I didn’t like any of them. Now, I can appreciate all of them – even if I don’t personally like them on me. When I smell synthetic – I just think it smells……fake.
I have recently been trying some of Osmia Organics perfumes (will have a review soon!) and love the nuances of them all. I had a friend over and was having her smell two different fragrances on each of my arms and she stated that they smelled the same to her, they just smelled “earthy.” These two scents smelled nothing the same to me! But as I thought about it, I can see why they just smelled ‘earthy’ to her. They were natural, she was smelling scents that you would find in nature. I don’t necessarily smell ‘earthy’ any more – but I certainly did at one point in time.
On the flip side, and as I mentioned above, when I smell synthetic perfumes now – I really don’t care for them. It just smells fake, and a little overpowering. I much prefer natural fragrance now.
I don’t mean this to sound judgmental – as I fully believe people have the right to like whatever they wish. But I do know my nose changed over the years, and I appreciate fragrance much more than I ever did.
3 – Figure out what types of scents you like
When it comes to a synthetic perfume, rarely are people able to break down the perfume components. Sure, there may be an overarching scent (like vanilla) but synthetic fragrances can literally contain dozens(or more) of different chemicals that make it hard for the untrained nose to decipher what they are smelling. It’s easy to be accustomed to just smelling perfumes and then saying “I like this one – it smells floral.” You may not know why you like it beyond it being ‘floral’ – you just know you do.
For natural fragrance, I have found it very helpful to learn a variety of scents to see what I like. Lavender, geranium, rose, jasmine, ylang, patchouli, vetiver – the list goes on and on. I have actually taught myself to know these scents, which ones I really like a lot (lavender, ylang, jasmine) and which ones are ok in smaller amounts (geranium, patchouli, vetiver).
This has not only helped me appreciate natural fragrances, but narrow down the list of which I may like and which ones I won’t. Most natural fragrance will list what scents they include – making it easy to find ones you like.
4 – Don’t try to exactly match your synthetic perfume
Now, of course – if you like DKNY Fresh Blossom, then of course you’ll want to find a nice floral alternative. There’s nothing wrong with that. But will you ever find an EXACT match for that? Probably not. And that’s ok. You can find a natural, floral fragrance that is beautiful and you will love.
This goes with any perfume. You may never find an exact match, and that’s ok. There are lots of great alternatives out there.
5- Start small
Like number 4, if you like a particular perfume – figure out what is the main smell of that. Is it vanilla, floral, spice? Then find some samples of perfumes that contain these particular type of scent. It probably won’t match your original one but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it for what it is.
Start with one perfume, and then move to the next, then the next. I have a variety of perfumes depending on my mood. I have floral, vanilla, green, fresh – you name it. But I slowly accumulated these one by one over time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to find/replace an entire perfume collection all at once.
6 – Determine if you want 100% natural or synthetic-but-safe
I guess this could be #1 as it is an important question to ask yourself. Some perfumes are 100% natural (even organic), while some are natural-ish. They may contain some natural ingredients but do contain some synthetic ingredients, but at least safe ones (phthalate free). This one is really up to you, but it’s important to know where you stand as you begin your eco-fragrance journey.
Well that’s it! I hope this was helpful.
For those who have already made the switch to natural perfumes, any tips to share? What did you learn along the way?