In terms of healthy hormone habits, I really do try my best. I ditched the pill years ago. My husband teases me for dry brushing my body with a “horse brush” every morning and “rubbing rocks on my face” every night. I consume organ meat daily (in capsule form, but still), and I avoid seed oils. By most accounts, my habits are health conscious and hormone-happy.
But there’s one thing that I just can't give up – my “dirty little secret” that’s a blemish on my otherwise endocrine-friendly lifestyle: I cannot quit my love of perfume.
There’s something about wearing a beautiful scent that feels so feminine and elegant – the olfactory cherry on top of any ensemble that makes it feel complete. So giving up perfume – even after knowing all of its faults – has proven to be a pitfall in my hormone health journey. Maybe it has been for you too. But there’s good news: Perfumers are more aware than ever of the dangers of hormone-disrupting ingredients, which means we as consumers are being treated to a whole new slew of perfume companies that have our endocrine system in mind.
The Rotten Truth About Fragrances
You’ve probably heard it before: Traditional perfumes are full of ingredients that are harmful to our bodies, specifically the endocrine system. Just take a look at these disturbing findings:
Prenatal exposure to phthalates (a common ingredient in synthetic fragrances) has been associated with lower IQ scores in children.
Phthalates can affect the release of certain hormones.
Benzyl acetate, limonene, and parabens – all of which can be found in mainstream fragrances – are known carcinogens.
The list could go on, as there’s no shortage of studies demonstrating the link between perfume and health issues. It’s hard to fathom, but that little spritz of perfume you apply to your wrist or neck before heading out the door could have some serious consequences.
The Language Loophole
Thanks to increased consumer awareness, cosmetic and fragrance brands have started to clean up their act in recent years – or at least become more upfront about disclosing the ingredients in their products. This transparency has been helpful for determining which perfumes make it onto our bathroom counter, but there’s still some confusion when it comes to language.
There could be dozens of pesky hormone disruptors hiding under the cryptic guise of "fragrance."
The FDA requires cosmetic companies to list the ingredients in all of their products. But when it comes to fragrances, there’s a loophole. That’s because fragrance formulas are protected as a trade secret. While the term secret typically evokes feelings of intrigue and excitement, the reality is that in this case, it can be a sneaky little way of veiling ingredients that are not-so-hormone-healthy. So even though all of the ingredients might be presented at face value, there could be dozens of pesky hormone disruptors hiding under the cryptic guise of fragrance.
The confusion doesn’t stop there. Brands that sincerely do use “clean” fragrances – as in, those derived from essential oils, hydrosols, tinctures, etc. – oftentimes list that formula as fragrance in their ingredients as well. So consumers don’t really know if the ingredients included in the term fragrance are something as innocent as an essential oil, or something more concerning.
The “Clean” Revolution
With all the language loopholes and secrecy, it’s easy to see why you might throw in the towel on a quest for a clean perfume, to throw your hands in the air and stop wearing scents altogether. And for a little while, I did just that. But the allure of perfume drew me back in. A beautiful fragrance has an almost magical way of boosting your confidence and leaving a lasting impression on those around you. I truly enjoy wearing scents, so I sought out cleaner options that were easier on my body.
If you're a perfume lover like me, maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Lucky for us, there’s a renaissance of natural perfume brands on the market, so we can have the best of both worlds – artfully crafted aromas and happy, healthy hormones.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite perfumers that are hormone-friendly:
Good Medicine Beauty Lab
Inspired by the Southwest desert, Good Medicine Beauty Lab focuses on creating botanical perfumes that evoke feelings of magic and femininity. Their formulas are simple – a blend of essential oils and either almond oil (for their roll-ons) or artisan alcohol (for their sprays). The result is a line of alluring perfumes that are nothing short of dreamy.
Carter + Jane
Simplicity is at the forefront of Carter + Jane’s values, from their versatile Everything Oil all the way to their organic roll-on perfume line. Every single ingredient is listed in the product description (none under the cryptic veil of fragrance), and their perfume base is organic oil instead of alcohol.
Wit & West
If you’re looking for a new scent that’s one of a kind and a true work of art, check out Wit & West. A small-batch artisanal perfumery based in Colorado, their perfumes are 100% natural – from the organic grape alcohol they use for their base, to the absolutes, essential oils, and isolates they use to fragrance their creations.
Orchid + Ash
With its classic vibes and elegant packaging, Orchid + Ash strikes a beautiful balance between minimalism and femininity. Their ingredient list is short and sweet – and free of phthalates, parabens, and hormone disruptors. Orchid + Ash currently has just one personal fragrance, but check out their ritual sprays and candles to add some ambiance to your home. (Shouldn’t your space have a signature scent, too?)
A love of “weaving organic raw materials into beautiful compositions” is the inspiration behind Strange Invisible’s commitment to natural fragrances. The result is a lineup of perfumes that’s multifaceted and effortlessly cool.
Note that fragrance is listed in their ingredients, but don’t let that trip you up. All of the fragrances they use are made in-house from organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled essences.
In addition to being probably the most mainstream brand on the list (it’s available at Sephora), Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose is one of only a handful of perfume brands that are EWG Verified, meaning it meets strict health and transparency standards. Keep in mind, the brand does use synthetic fragrances. However, not all synthetics are created equally, meaning some are more harmful than others. Since it meets the EWG Verified standards, we can spritz away knowing that their formulas are phthalate- and hormone-disruptor-free.
Rosy & Earnest
Rosy & Earnest is another perfume brand with the coveted EWG Verified rating. Founded by two fragrance lovers who were concerned about the link between perfumes and health issues, Rosy & Earnest wanted to create scents that were every bit as luxurious as high-end fragrances, without all the junk. The brand currently has two perfumes in its lineup: Be Rosy and Be Earnest.
The world of scary synthetics and language loopholes can be difficult to navigate when it comes to fragrances. But with diligent research and a mindful approach, you can find a personal scent you love that loves you (and your hormones) right back.
Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.