Every fragrance has its own story – one that you can’t see by looking at the bottle alone. Some are infused with natural botanicals that are grown halfway across the world. Others feature savvy lab-grown ingredients – like citral and synthetic musks – that mimic our favourite notes, allowing us to enjoy vegan versions of our favourite perfumes.
Whether you embrace a vegan lifestyle or want to make more informed, conscious shopping choices, being able to spot a cruelty-free and eco-friendly vegan fragrance has never been more important. Let’s dive into the world of vegan perfumes to help you choose your next go-to scent with complete peace of mind.
WHAT ARE VEGAN PERFUMES?
If you’re thinking, ‘aren’t all perfumes vegan?’ you’re not alone. But, similar to the skincare world, many of our favourite scents feature animal-derived extracts, like honey, milk and beeswax, making vegan fragrances a little hard to find. Basically, when a fragrance is marked as ‘vegan’, it means that the formula doesn’t contain any animal products.
Vegan perfumes are also not tested on animals, meaning they’re 100% cruelty-free. This is important. While many perfumes contain only vegan-friendly ingredients, they can’t be considered a truly vegan fragrance if they’re tested on animals. Similarly, some perfumes – like those containing beeswax and honey – can be vegetarian. But even though they’re not obtained through cruelty, they’re not the same as vegan perfumes.
Vegan fragrances tend to be sustainable and eco-friendly, too, and often shout about how their formula is made and tested to keep things super transparent. Plus, many of the bottles used can be taken into store and recycled at the end of their life, boosting their sustainability credentials.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR ON THE LABEL
If a fragrance doesn’t specify that it’s vegan and cruelty-free, it’s better to assume that it isn’t. Keep a lookout for the universally recognised cruelty-free bunny logo and any vegan claims on the packaging.
While they’re used very rarely nowadays, there’s a handful of animal-derived ingredients that you’ll want to avoid. Here’s a quick history lesson:
Civet: The civet is a small, nocturnal mammal with cat-like qualities, whose excretions have been used to add musky aroma to perfume since the 1910s. The animal is usually captured in a cage for the process to work, so its wellbeing is thought to be unethical. Civettone – a synthetic aroma – is a warm and sensuous replacement.
Ambergris: Popular in the 19th century, but less so today, this is the secretion of a sperm whale, which gives a fragrance a fresh, earthy aroma. While obtaining ambergris from a sperm whale purely for its pungent properties is unethical, it can also be gathered in a more sustainable way (once a whale washes up on shore). The synthetic alternative ambroxane is today more commonly used.
Castoreum: A liquid substance produced from the castor sacs of beavers, which is used to mark their territory and waterproof their fur. Beavers are no longer hunted for this, but in the 19th century, the demand was so high that North American beavers nearly became extinct. It’s now banned – perfumers prefer to use synthetic versions instead.
Top tip: If you’re having a hard time finding a vegan perfume, look for natural, vegan-friendly ingredients with their botanical names written in Latin followed by the English name in brackets. This is an easy way to see that the fragrance you’re buying is more likely to be vegan – though always do your research, just in case.
OUR FAVOURITE VEGAN PERFUME PICKS:
1. PEPPERED EARTH BY THE PERFUME EDIT
Available exclusively at The Perfume Shop, this warm and fruity scent is vegan, certified cruelty-free and made from a 100% recyclable bottle and box. This fragrance doesn’t just smell good – it’s good for the planet too!
2. PHANTOM BY PACO RABANNE
Phantom by Paco Rabanne is more than just a perfume. A bold vegan fragrance invigorated by fresh lemon, floral lavender and rich vanilla; you can connect the futuristic bottle to your phone to unlock exclusive content. When you’re done with it, there’s no need to throw your bottle away. Thanks to the innovative, user-friendly refill, you can refuel it over and over again, making it the perfect sustainable gift!
3. TO BE GREEN BY POLICE
‘Green’ by name, green by nature. This invigorating perfume by Police is dedicated to all those who care about the world around them. Not only is the glass, aluminium and box fully recyclable, but it’s Eco Design Fragrance certified, which means this fresh, energetic fragrance has been made with as little impact on the environment as possible.
4. D BY DIESEL
Refillable, eco-designed and made without cellophane to reduce plastic waste, D by Diesel is made from two sustainably-sourced ingredients exclusively crafted for Diesel, including a vanilla bourbon infusion from Madagascar and a diva lavender heart from Provence. It doesn’t just smell divinely comforting and spicy – this vegan formula contains absolutely no animal-derived ingredients. Here’s to a more responsible future!
5. EROS BY VERSACE
Eros by Versace embodies four key concepts: desire, beauty, love and passion. Fresh, woody and oriental, it’s not afraid to flaunt itself, revealing a stark contrast between the extremely citrusy and extremely delicate notes. But best of all? This vegan fragrance is made without any animal-derived products, including eggs, bees, dairy and animal enzymes.
6. A DROP D’ISSEY FRAICHE
A Drop D’Issey is a refreshing floral fragrance that captures the smell of raindrops in spring. Containing 85% natural origin ingredients, this vegan perfume is made in France using carefully-selected raw materials that have minimal impact on the environment. The lilac accord is created using green chemistry to reproduce the flower’s natural fragrance. The result? Nature’s protected, not harvested.
7. GOD IS A WOMAN BY ARIANA GRANDE
Airy, fresh and on the mature side of sweet, Ariana Grande has hit it out of the park with her amber-floral creation God is a Woman. Made from 91% naturally-derived ingredients and completely vegan-friendly, this bright and beautiful scent opens with a burst of vibrant pear before settling down into creamy, warm undertones. Get this on your wish list for ‘everyday wear’. Trust us; you won’t be disappointed!
8. GOOD FORTUNE BY VIKTOR&ROLF
The embodiment of a new positive lifestyle, Good Fortune by Viktor&Rolf is bewitching, powerful and 100% vegan. It opens with lively fennel and gentian flower before blooming into a heart of jasmine and a creamy, captivating bourbon vanilla base. And good news for eco-conscious perfume fans – the lid can be unscrewed and refilled as much as you like.
9. ROSE NATURELLE BY CHLOE
There’s a lot to love about Chloe Rose Naturelle! Not only is it vegan-friendly, but it’s also made from 100% natural origin and ethically-sourced ingredients, making it a no-brainer addition to the fragrance wardrobe of any eco-conscious shopper. The beautiful bottle’s refillable, but it’s also pretty enough to be upcycled into a vase, diffuser or candle holder, too.
10. FAME BY PACO RABANNE
Bursting with precious ingredients, FAME is unique, playful and as covetable as the 1969 bag. Made from exceptionally pure jasmine, succulent mango and sensual creamy incense, this unapologetically addictive fragrance is fame in a bottle. The ingredients are 90% natural origin, 100% sustainable. It’s everything you could want from a vegan fragrance – and more.
FIND YOUR FAVOURITE VEGAN FRAGRANCE
Discover vegan perfumes online at The Perfume Shop
Lorna is a Freelance Copywriter with a passion for fragrance, beauty and skincare, sustainability and outdoor adventure sports. She famously quit her office job to spend more time with her cat and counts her favourite perfumes as Mugler Alien and Ralph by Ralph Lauren.