Written by Liz Cook, ONE SEED founder & CEO + functional nutritionist
There’s been a real buzz around vegan beauty lately. Most natural skincare brands are choosing to banish any animal-derived ingredients, and very few remain that still use animal testing. Gradually, a range of vegan cosmetics have emerged that use alternative waxes and other ingredients. But when it comes to vegan perfume, the move has been much slower.
The history of animal ingredients in perfume
Animal ingredients have been used in perfume for centuries.
Some were (and occasionally still are) obtained using cruel methods that harm animals.
● Musk: attained by removing glands from a male musk deer to obtain a musk odour (which was used as both a fragrance note and a fixative in perfumes).
● Civet: the civet (an African cat-like animal) is held in a tiny cage purely for the purpose of collecting the excretions for perfumery.
● African stone: derived from the aged excrement of the African hyrax, a small mammal. While the practice of obtaining African stone is cruelty-free, vegan perfume buyers will still want to avoid this one.
● Castorueum: beavers were caught and killed to remove their castor sacs and obtain a musk scent.
● Ambergris: ambergris (a substance derived from sperm whale digestive secretions) is still commonly used in both synthetic and natural perfume. In the past the whales were often caught and killed for this purpose, but nowadays the ambergris is collected as ocean waste and not actually removed from the animal.
Thankfully, the barbaric practices that harm animals for perfumery are all almost completely eradicated, and similar-smelling ingredients are mostly synthetically manufactured. However, if you are choosing to live a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle, it can still be difficult to find organic perfumes that contain no animal ingredients.
For the most part, skincare companies now frequently use vegan and cruelty-free statements on their packaging, but not so much when it comes to perfume brands. This means the buyer often has no idea about the ingredients that go into the fragrances they love.
What is vegan perfume?
In order to be classified as vegan, a product must contain no animal-derived ingredients whatsoever. (Some natural perfumes may contain ingredients such as beeswax or honey and so may be classified as vegetarian, but not vegan.)
How to find vegan perfumes
Many perfume and beauty companies have been known for having questionable practices around animal testing and animal ingredients, so it can be difficult to determine what is an ethical product and what is not.
Furthermore, research suggests that most perfume companies may only be declaring around fifty percent of their ingredients on the label, so it’s likely there are many ingredients in the bottle you will never be aware of.
The best way to ensure your perfume is cruelty-free is to choose a product that makes clear statements around its use of animal ingredients or animal testing. Ideally, the brands you choose would also be registered cruelty-free as an added layer of transparency.
You should also look for a transparent policy and statement of ethics and ingredients on both the products labelling and on their website.
Many of these companies are natural perfume brands, but not always. If you prefer a fully natural product, carefully check for those statements, too.
If there is nothing on the label to state that the perfume is vegan, or made entirely from botanical ingredients, chances are the perfume still contains some animal-derived ingredients.
There are so many beautiful natural perfumes out there, and more being launched each year. By choosing to buy natural, vegan perfumes you are not only contributing to a more friendly planet, but a healthier one too.
To see more on Liz’s incredible brand One Seed, visit them here and see all of the amazing vegan products they have on offer.
To read more about vegan beauty, visit our beauty section here.