Green Glossary

The 12 ethical and sustainable fragrance brands to know

With natural ingredients and a conscious ethos, these luxury brands offer irresistible fragrances that don’t cost the earth

As we all look for ways to combat today’s throwaway culture, it’s important to consider your choice of fragrance. While most perfumes come in recyclable glass bottles, many also use lids made from mixed materials, cellophane-wrapped packaging and synthetic ingredients that come with a heavy ecological cost. Thankfully, a number of luxe fragrance brands are opting to put sustainability first, considering the impact of every step of the production process and embracing recyclable packaging and responsibly sourced natural ingredients. Here, discover the luxe sustainable fragrance brands whose bottles you can display with pride on your dressing table. 

Laboratory Perfumes
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Inspired by the great outdoors, Laboratory Perfumes blends the all-natural oils of flowers, herbs and aromatic botanicals for its vegan, paraben-free fragrances that are designed to react to your skin, the aromas gradually developing as the day goes on. Working with a small, UK-based supply chain, the socially conscious fragrances are all made in the UK and are presented in gender-free packaging that is sustainably sourced and widely recycled.

Floral Street
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 Beauty industry powerhouse Michelle Feeney – who made her name at brands including MAC and Crème de la Mer – took a career sabbatical before launching Floral Street, a sustainable and vegan fragrance brand that has won numerous awards thanks to its groundbreaking approach to packaging. The London-based brand is known for its contemporary spin on floral fragrances – all created by star perfumer Jérôme Épinette using sustainably sourced ingredients. Each eclectic scent is packaged in a biodegradable pulp carton – a first in the beauty world – with an embossed lid made from recyclable paper packaging. The minimalist container can then be repurposed as a sleek storage box. The expertly trained ‘Floralista’s’ in the Covent Garden store offer Scentschool consultations and a fragrance refill service.

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Everything about Ffern perfumes is special. The London based perfumer only produces fragrances on a seasonal basis, releasing a limited batch of unisex fragrances blended especially for that time of year. The number of bottles produced are based on the number of names who sign up in advance on the production ledger. The commitment to small batch production ensures that nothing is wasted, and those on the ledger are sent a sample of the new perfume in advance to make sure they want the latest release. Ffern is also the first perfume brand to commit to completely plastic-free packaging, instead using a mushroom-derived material to create a compostable bottle tray and fully recyclable glass and metal bottles.

Clean Reserve
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As its name suggests, Clean Beauty Collective is passionate about protecting the planet – and its customers. Since it was set up in 2003, the fragrance brand has promised to be transparent with its simple list of ingredients, which are always simple, vegan, cruelty-free and non-toxic. The brand only works with partners who use green manufacturing processes, and it gives back to them by funding projects that provide clean water in their communities. Fragrances are packaged in a recyclable glass bottle with a cap made from sustainable wood, wrapped in compostable cellophane derived from corn. Ever mindful of warning consumers about the dangers of toxic ingredients in fragrances, the website has a helpful A-Z list of ingredients it promises never to use.

Timothy Han
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A former design assistant to John Galliano, Timothy Han takes inspiration from renowned works of literature for his small-batch vegan fragrances. Working with mostly natural materials, the scents (or ‘editions’) are seasonal, each edition carefully handcrafted and released in small production runs. Each scent tells a story through specific aromas, and Timothy aims to use 100% natural ingredients, unless ethical reasons prevent it – for example, using a synthetic alternative to natural musk (that isn’t obtained from the Himalayan Musk Deer).

Sana Jardin
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Sana Jardin bills itself as the world’s first socially conscious, luxury fragrance house, and it has the credentials to prove it. Created by social campaigner Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed as a vehicle for social change, the company’s Beyond Sustainability Movement has changed the lives of the low-income women in Morocco who hand-pick the floral ingredients for Sana Jardin’s perfumes. To achieve economic independence, the women are taught how to create products to sell from by-products of the harvest, as well as learning financial, business and marketing skills. They keep 100% of the proceeds from selling these upcycled products, with the added bonus that the amount of waste is reduced.

Le Labo
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This New York-based boutique fragrance house has the feel of a laboratory or apothecary about it, which fits with the brand’s commitment to fine craftsmanship and doing everything by hand. Each Le Labo scent is freshly hand-blended to order, using natural, responsibly sourced ingredients, and is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. All packaging, including the bottle carton, box and bag, is made from recycled or recyclable materials, and if you bring your bottle back once it’s empty, Le Labo will refill it, giving you 20% off the price of your new fragrance.

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Unable to find a natural perfume that was also chic, modern and long-lasting, Abel founder Frances Shoemack set out to create the world’s best natural fragrances. The former winemaker knew only too well that nature’s finest raw materials could produce something powerful and distinctive, without the need for chemicals. Abel’s unusual, unisex fragrances work with your natural body chemistry to create a unique scent that will continue to evolve throughout the day. All ingredients are organic, vegan and mindfully sourced, and the company gives back 1% of its revenue to environmental causes.

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Heretic is a brand that likes  to follow its own path – in this case, finding nuances and character in natural ingredients that can’t be achieved with synthetic versions. Its 100% natural, hand-crafted fragrances blend natural essential oils with organic (non-genetically modified) grape and sugarcane alcohols, exploring homeopathy, Ayurveda and herbology practices in its blends. For those who want to know more about the potentially damaging effects of synthetic components, the website helpfully lists common perfume ingredients alongside their associated health risks.

Henry Rose
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Not your usual ‘celebrity fragrance’, Henry Rose is the brainchild of the actor Michelle Pfeiffer, who decided to launch her own collection of five fragrances after being unable to find a perfume she could wear – let alone endorse – due to a lack of sustainability credentials. Dismayed at how many perfume brands don’t disclose their full list of ingredients, Henry Rose (the middle names of Pfeiffer’s two children) is transparent with its list of ingredients, and is the first fragrance line to be certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a not-for-profit that researches and rates consumer goods for safety and environmental impact. The five fragrances come in bottles made from 90% recycled glass, with lids made from soy.

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At the heart of socially responsible clothing and lifestyle brand Bamford is a philosophy that rejects today’s throwaway culture. Its mindfully created collection is inspired by our connection to the earth, respecting nature’s resources and considering the environmental impact of the ingredients, fibres, dyes and water it uses. Bamford’s two handcrafted scents, Gray and Camille, are made from 80% organic ingredients and inspired by founded Carole Bamford’s personal memories. The vegan-friendly fragrances are packaged in artisanal glass bottles, finished with sustainably sourced mango-wood caps and organic ink. The outer carton is biodegradable, while the bags are made from upcycled offcuts from Bamford fabrics.

Buly 1803
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Named after the perfumer Jean-Vincent Bully, who helped establish French perfumery in 1803, Paris-based L’Officine Universelle Buly has revisited traditional fragrance-making techniques and draws on the virtues of natural ingredients for its water-based perfume range, Eau Triple. Free from dehydrating solvents and chemical preservatives, the delicate fragrances, which come in plastic-free packaging, are kind to your skin, while the surprisingly vibrant aromas will continue to evolve throughout the day.

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