Vegan Perfume: It’s Not Just Patchouli Anymore

Grasse Roots Perfumery

Grasse Roots Perfumery

…unless you really love patchouli, in which case you should just keep rocking it, as you undoubtedly smell fantastic.

As mentioned in previous posts, going vegan doesn’t mean that one suddenly has to eschew all personal comforts and luxury items. Those of us who have been loyal to particular brands for years and then discover that they test on animals can feel not only disappointed in these purveyors, but also a bit lost at the thought that our tried and true personal style practices are now a thing of the past. When I decided to only buy cruelty-free products, I didn’t have the slightest clue where to look, mistakenly assumed that there were few, if any, ethical beauty products to switch over to, and resigned myself to a bleak future where I’d use kaolin clay in lieu of foundation, and mashed cherries as a lipstick alternative.

Fortunately, such drastic measures didn’t have to be taken, as there are many cruelty-free beauty products available around the world, and one of the most sought-after items is a product that has been used by women to enhance mystique for thousands of years: perfume.

Most perfumes on the market today have some measure of animal product involved in their manufacture, and the final products are generally sprayed on lab animals to ensure that they’re safe for human use. The ambergris that’s used as a fixative in many perfumes is harvested from the intestines of sperm whales (whales!), and another fixative called castoreum comes from the genitals of beavers and muskrats. I’d rather not go into detail about how musk is harvested, but it’s from various wild cats and/or deer, and it’s not pleasant. Fortunately, many companies are now using synthetic musks in their perfume products, but it’s still important to do some digging for extra info.

Though many high-end fragrances still use animal products, you’ll be happy to know that the entire Puig line is cruelty-free! Hailed by PETA as an exclusively cruelty-free company, it is the parent organisation behind several popular perfume lines such as Prada, Carolina Herrera, and Commes des Garçons. You can check out PETA’s list of fragrance companies that don’t test on animals to see whether your favourites are named there, but it’s a good idea to do some extra research to see if their scents contain animal ingredients.

Smelling perfume

If you’re interested in trying out some new scents that are absolutely assured to be vegan/cruelty-free, consider checking out some of the following:

Grasse Roots Perfumery, located in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, derives its name from Grasse, France, the center of the perfume world since the 19th century. Many years in the creative arts combined with a love and respect for natural perfumery, led founder, Claire Lautier, to develop a line of perfumes using rare, precious botanicals and certified organic essences whenever possible. She believes that the most beautiful perfumes are completely natural.

Lavanila specialises in… yes, you guessed it, vanilla-based scents. Combinations like Vanilla Blackberry, Vanilla Grapefruit, Vanilla Lavender, etc. will have anyone smelling like a delectable vegan dessert in no time. These oils are also infused with Goji berry and Kakadu plum for a boost of essential vitamins and minerals.

Based in the UK, Florame has a line of certified organic, vegan eau de toilette perfumes in a variety of different scents, ranging from sweet vanilla or amber, to citrus, florals, and even the ubiquitous patchouli.

Pacifica fragrances are also vegan and cruelty-free, and come in floral, fruity, herbed/spicy or wood/resin notes. They have an extensive array of scents to choose from, and with names like Tuscan Blood Orange and Indian Coconut Nectar, the entire line sounds absolutely luscious.

Four words: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. These perfume oils may be geared toward the gothy folks out there, but with their many scents inspired by mythology, folklore,  literature, and graphic novels, I have no doubt that anyone could find a treasure among the bottles there. All BPAL products are totally vegan (with the exception of a few honey-based scents), never tested on animals, and they refuse to source ingredients from companies that utilise any form of animal testing.
I haven’t bought anything from there yet, but between the line of scents inspired by Neil Gaiman’s writings and the Alice in Wonderland collection, I’ll be sending off my order soon.

So, whether you want to channel Cleopatra and douse yourself in rose oil from an independent company, or splurge at the perfume counter of the local luxury boutique, there are many options for the compassionate consumer to choose from. As with any other product, it helps to do research beforehand, and once you find a great vegan product, spread the word!

Do you have a favourite vegan perfume? Tell us about it!


  1. Amy

    Awesome, i love vanilla scents, 212 from carolina herrera have a little bit of it.

  2. katie

    I use pacifica from my local Whole Foods. The mango scent smells amazing!

  3. Kathy

    I absolutely adore KARMA by Lush Cosmetics. It is truly addicting – in a very good way!

  4. Eric

    Le Labo is awesome and the owners are vegan, but it’s a bit pricey for most. Although, almost no other fragrance are made while you wait. It’s very much like you’re you’re visiting a wonder mad scientist of scents.

  5. Elizabet

    I really like Auric Blends. From what I can tell their oils are vegan and cruelty-free.

    Lush’s Karma and Pacifica’s Waikiki solid perfumes are some of my favorite, too.

  6. Megan G

    I use lavender essential oil with a little bit of water in a 2 oz spritzer bottle, or Jurlique’s Rose Balancing Mist.

  7. Juicy

    I’ve just discovered your site,
    I can’t find Comme de Garcons on any of the Peta list, and I wish it would be as I love their Luxe: Patchouli.
    … I would also be surprised if Prada holds any anti-cruelty standards as they have no problems in using fur and leather….

  8. Eve

    As of March, 2013 PUIG is no longer considered to be cruelty free:

    PETA has also repeatedly contacted a number of other companies that refuse to reveal their animal testing policies. These companies—which should not be considered cruelty-free until they make a clear statement on animal testing—include the following:

    Elizabeth Arden
    Hello Kitty
    Puig (Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, and Nina Ricci fragrances)

    Read more:

    • Cat

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention! As with so many products, ingredients and manufacturing processes seem to change almost constantly. This is just another example of how important it is for vegans to do our research before voting with our dollars!

  9. wildflower

    This is a great post and I love everyone’s comments and suggestions here. I’m going to mention some companies that haven’t been mentioned here.

    A Perfume Organic: All natural and all vegan:

    Tallulah Jane: Natural and all vegan:

    Rich Hippie: organic perfumes. Contact company about vegan products:

    Dupetit Bernardi: 100% natural perfume company, not all vegan (some stuff contains beeswax), but you can contact them for a list of vegan fragrances.

    Acorelle plant based fragrances. Contact the company for specifics:

    Sharini Perfumes. Another all natural perfumer, with lots of vegan goodies (again, contact them for specifics. But I can tell you that their 4 bottled fragrances Iris, Ambre, Musc and Jasmin are vegan.)

    Sadly many natural perfumers will use ambergris and beeswax/honey so beware of that and always ask (nicely) about the content and source.

    A quick tip: a product that is labeled with the “ECO CERT” certification (like Sharini for instance) is not tested on animals. (Of course that doesn’t mean the ingredients are vegan, but it’s still helpful.)

    Phew! Hope this helps! :)

  10. Another source for vegan fragrance that is also 100% natural (no synthetic ingredients) ~ Drift Perfume’s new liquid line. Samples available :)

  11. Nicole

    There seems to be conflicting info on your website regarding Puig being cruelty free. In one area it says their entire line is cruelty free yet in another it lists Puig as a company that hasn’t said definitively that they are cruelty free. Could I pls email me about this so I know if I should purchase Prada perfume.


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