Today, around two thirds of modern fragrance is synthetically derived and the remaining fraction naturally sourced. Some prestigious fine fragrance brands can however go up to 50% natural or even higher. But how do you choose?
Here are 4 key questions to ask when shopping for natural home fragrance.
- Where can I buy it?
- How 'natural' is it?
- Are the ingredients sustainable?
- Does it smell any good?
When you choose to buy natural and organic, there are certain limitations you have to accept. First, forget the big department stores and shopping malls. If you are looking for natural fragrances, you will need to search elsewhere, mostly online or at small boutiques.
Choice can be limited but this is no bad thing. Shopping beyond the mainstream means you avoid the latest media endorsed, over-hyped brands and products. It is such an easy trap to fall into - up to 95% of the cost of producing a bottle of perfume, diffuser or candle goes into marketing, packaging and advertising. The actual fragrance in the bottle can represent as little as 3% of the total production cost.
Natural and organic are 2 overused words in the fragrance and cosmetic industry. To avoid all doubt, check the ingredient list. You should find the botanical name or INCI of the ingredients. Organic also does not necessary mean better and is sometimes a product of inefficient farming, thus not sustainable at all.
The Delicate Nature of Natural Fragrance
If you are used to mass market fragrance, you will find natural fragrance a little mute and earthy. There is no rocket science involved here; essential oils are basically natural extraction of flowers and leaves. These scents tend to be fleeting and softer whereas synthetics are stronger, sharper and more consistent. Do not let your nose fool you. Often the lavender you are expecting to smell is actually linalool, an isolated fragrance ingredient and a potential allergen that breaks down, oxidises and cause allergic reactions.
The other challenge with natural and organic fragrance is its staying power. You do not get the same diffusion as chemically engineered fragrance and the majority of people are looking for a strong fragrance that is consistent and long lasting, usually achieved by formaldehyde in synthetic fragrance.
And if you, like some of our customers, ask why you should buy a natural fragrance over the fancy versions - in my opinion, it is all about lifestyle choice and expectation management. But think again. Do you really want to function daily in a space where the air you breathe has been artificially enhanced ? Perhaps not.