http://www.sweetanthemperfumes.com is a Seattle based perfume store that's pretty ethical as far as I know, but I ordered a bunch of their perfume samples and I personally didn't like them. Lush also has ethical and natural perfumes in a limited variety.
One thing we can breathe a sigh of relief on, is that natural animalic notes are now so prohibitively expensive, that nearly every perfume house that lists them in their blends, uses as synthetic impression instead of natural. However, when you get into the higher price ranges and fragrance concentrations, there's still a danger of actual animal notes being used. Here's what to look out for:
- "Civet". Origin is an excretion from the civet cat and these animals are often kept in cages while the excretion is milked from a sac located in their nether regions. While the animal is not killed for the ingredient, I think we can all agree that the practice is cruel and unnecessary. Most modern scents and reformulations of older scents, have replaced "Civet" with the synthetic "Civit" or "Cybet". It will smell like a musty-powdery saltiness and slightly metallic and it is sometimes used as a fixative (something that keeps notes on your skin for longer and in a more pronounced way, as well as helping to disperse the molecules) and not just a note, so be sure to ask. I was in contact with Jean Patou, which makes the famous "Joy" regarding their civet and musk use. They claimed their musks were synthetic but I'm not sure if they use civet or not as a fixative.
- "Castorum or Castoreum". Origin is from beavers.
- "Tonka musk". Not to be confused with "Tonka Bean". Tonka musk is very hard to come by, now but it once originated from the musk deer.
- "Leather". Most modern leather notes are synthetic and space captures of the chemicals used in leather making. But if it's a high-end scent, be sure to investigate a little further.
In 2007, European standards began the process of prohibiting animal testing for cosmetics products and also prohibit the use of certain known allergens (certain kinds of oakmoss, mace) and levels of endocrine disruptors -- like parabens and phthalates -- allowed in blends. Not everyone has an allergic reaction to certain ingredients and we don't know the full extent of the dangers of high exposure to parabens and phthalates, but they decided to err on the side of safety and limit their inclusion. These changes began in 2003 and were supposed to be fully in place by 2007.
So, you'd think most fragrances made in Europe would now be safe for vegans and vegetarians, right? Many were, up until companies started entering the Chinese market, which requires that all personal body products including fragrance, must first be tested on animals, before they are allowed to be sold in China. This is despite tons of past animal testing studies and standards in Europe and The USA which have already approved of the safety of certain ingredients for personal use. In addition to this, China is also requiring that the companies pay for the testing, themselves.
Personally, I think this is a way for China to get free testing done for purposes other than the safe sale of cosmetics. And while it would be honorable if they were truly concerned about public health and environmental safety, with pollution levels at almost 800 pm, it's hard to think their motives are sincere. Anyhow, that's my own personal gripe, but this is what vegans need to know: If a product is being sold in The Chinese Market, it is being tested on animals. This no includes once safe brands, like "Chanel", "Stella McCartney" and "Urban Decay". I feel bad for Stella's brand and the giant devouring animals of global capitalism because this is not her personal philosophy, at all and corporate law concerning shareholder's rights, might've required that they enter the market now -- before the animal testing requirements change.
So, we're back to thinking small brands. Here's what I wear and if I hear any bad news about these brands, I'll update all of you:
- A Perfume Organic
- Lavender aromatherapy Spray from Vermont Soap
- Tallulah Jane
- Providence Perfume Company
- Paralux brands (Jessica Simpson, Rhianna's new fragrance, etc. However, I don't know what their new stance on selling in China, is)
I like "Pacifica", but I'm leery about where they're selling. I also wonder why they chose to include pearl dust in some of their new body butters. They could be pearl material made without the help of mollusks, but I don't know. And, of course, some brands use milk and honey notes in their blends, so unless you're deeply opposed to any association with animal origin notes, you could choose from those blends that don't list dairy or honey notes in the mix. I know it's a bummer to hear all of this, but it's better you're informed than to later feel you were deceived and misled into unknowingly buying products tested on animals in 2013.
I'm a hardcore "perfumista" and I write fragrance reviews and will track down information from perfumers and parent companies -- like "Creed" and "Jean Patou" -- so if you have any questions, just feel free to ask me and I'll do my best to answer them!
...and also, look for the "Leaping Bunny" logo on products. They're usually very good at keeping up with any changes that companies do behind the scenes and those companies that allow the strict evaluation process are usually committed to remaining cruelty-free.
No problem! I'll do the best I can. I also typed "Paralux", when I meant to type "Parlux". They're still PETA approved, o as far as I know, they are a standout in mainstream brands. Watch to see which different scents might be sold in markets that require animal testing. I wasn't trying to pick-on The Chinese, either --- it's just that these requirements are redundant, unnecessary and archaic and it gets me flustered.
If and when I come upon brands that seem to pass the muster, I'll be sure to post them on here :)!
- "Ecco Bella" is another safe brand that I forgot to add. They have an excellent lavender scent, as well as a rich vanilla scent, lemony lemon verbena blend and a blend called "Ambrosia", which is spicy and resinous, with the long lasting earthiness of something that smells like a clean patchouli.