In the clean beauty world, there are few categories as bemoaned as fragrance. Some of that ire comes from the fact that beauty brands can slap “fragrance” on their ingredient label and don’t need to disclose the ingredients in said fragrance—making it a murky, less-than-transparent category. And up until recently, there just weren’t many choices for people who wanted a safer fragrance. There is still some catching up to do as far as the market goes, but here is a good place to start.
Henry Rose Last Light Eau de Parfum
This clean brand was started by Michelle Pfeiffer and launched last year; it was the first EWG-verified luxury perfume collection and, given the fact that it’s become so celebrated in the industry, likely won’t be the last. Last Light smells like it’s named: Those finishing rays of sunshine, the end of a good day.
Last Light Eau de Parfum, Henry Rose ($120)
Skylar Arrow Eau de Toilette
This is how you do a seductive, clean scent. Arrow combines jasmine, rose, neroli flower, vanilla, and patchouli, and the result is mesmerizing. So often when you see a “warm” fragrance, as this is described, it leans vampy or overdone, but this is sophisticated. Entirely daytime wearable yet perfect for a nightcap.
Arrow Eau de Toilette, Skylar ($78)
Abbott NYC Telluride Eau de Parfum
I’m biased—because Telluride, Colorado, is one of my favorite places on earth—but this unisex fragrance is what I want to smell from November to February. It’s leathery, woodsy, and strong but not in the Oh-I-can-tell-you’re-wearing-something way. This is strong, like a personality trait.
Telluride Eau de Parfum, Abbott NYC ($75)
PHLUR Fragrance Sandara Eau de Parfum
This is truly like you’ve stepped into a forest, with notes of oakmoss and sandalwood. This is how the brand describes it: “It’s about drawing power and energy from the healing elements of nature and reconnecting with self as a respite from the constant chatter of our digital lives.” And whether or not a single spritz of fragrance can transform your mood (I personally believe scent can), this calming aroma is a good reminder to take a moment to breathe.
Sandara Eau de Parfum, PHLUR Fragrance ($96)
Ellis Brooklyn Myth Eau de Parfum
With a name like Myth, of course this invokes a little curiosity: It’s one of those perfumes that if you spray it on your wrist, you have to keep revisiting it to see how it’s evolving. The first note of flirty bergamot gives way to tiger orchid and jasmine, which gives way patchouli and cedarwood. By the end, you feel l like you’ve been on a journey with it.
Myth Eau de Parfum, Ellis Brooklyn ($100)
Clean Reserve Rain Eau de Parfum
Scents inspired by rain tend to run “fresh,” which this is as well, but this option is a little more nuanced; it’s multidimensional and more complex. That’s likely due to the hero note, a responsibly sourced Haitian vetiver, which is a warm, naturally occurring fragrant root. It almost smells like sitting on a beach but on a late November day.
Rain Eau de Parfum, Clean Reserve ($98)
Kai *Rose Eau de Parfum
This is one scent I keep coming back to; Rose, as a fragrance, lost its luster for a time. To many, it was equated with dusty, grandma-like perfumes. But when rose is done right, it smells like a garden, not an attic. This is decidedly the former. Spray it on, and you almost can’t believe you didn’t just roll around in a bed of petals.
*Rose Eau de Parfum, Kai ($78)
Abel Golden Neroli Eau de Parfum
Ah, neroli. My personal favorite note (yes, I have a favorite fragrance note; it’s a beauty editor thing). This is a very complex fragrance, with the aforementioned neroli, matcha tea, Jasmin sambac, vanilla, and East Indian sandalwood. Bonus: 1% of all Golden Neroli revenue goes to global nonprofit Pollinator Partnership.
Golden Neroli Eau de Parfum, Abel ($150)
The 7 Virtues Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum
Another neroli-based fragrance, this is more of a classic citrus scent. Orange blossom (neroli) is actually quite known for its aromatherapy uses: It’s said to ease anxiety and boost your mood. Let me tell you, this scent just smells happy.
Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum, The 7 Virtues ($79)
Osmia Cedar Smoke Natural Perfume
This brand is beloved for its natural bar soaps and skin care. They also make impressive unisex perfumes as well. Cedar smoke smells like a cabin in October: Just as warm and earthy, just as inviting. It also has just the right amount of “smoke” note, like a campfire in the distance.
Cedar Smoke Natural Perfume, Osmia ($75)
Rahua Palo Santo Oil Perfume
While this brand is typically known for its effective, natural hair care, this Palo Santo oil is not to be missed. Basically they took their signature hair care scent and turned it into a fragrance. Of course, Palo Santo in its own right is a deeply beloved aroma: It is believed to protect, heal, promote well-being, and clean your energy.
Palo Santo Oil Perfume, Rahua ($32)
by/ Rosie Jane Leila Lou Leila Eau da Parfum
The brand describes this as a good pair of jeans, meaning: wearable and a go-to. I’d have to agree. It has pear and jasmine, so definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum but not saccharine.
Leila Lou Leila Eau da Parfum, by/ Rosie Jane ($65)
Cultus Artem Poeticus Eau de Parfum
In the world of ultra-high-end fragrance, where bottles and tonics can run into the thousands, there has never been a brand like this: The just-launched Cultus Artem is radically transparent with its ingredient list and is independently vetted by a toxicologist. And in a space where formulations and recipes are a perfumer’s prized secret, this is no small feat. Given the price tag, this won’t be for everyone, but it’s at least impressive to see change coming at all levels of the industry. Poeticus is wildly opulent.
Poeticus Eau de Parfum, Cultus Artem ($580)
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