“Don’t judge a perfume based on the first spritz because that is not the actual smell of the perfume. A perfume has top notes, middle or heart notes, and base notes” — Vivaksh Singh, CEO, NEESH.

As French Maison Jean Patou aptly put it, “Just like men, a perfume is never perfect right away; you have to let it seduce you.”

There’s a great deal of truth right there, as perfume picking has irrefutably evolved into a mindful and detailed process, amped by the massive clean beauty boom that is poised to only get bigger over time. Sulphates, silicon and parabens aside — potent skin-enemies, which are deemed typical red flags in the arena of clean skincare and fragrances — experts believe it’s about time to take the lid off, and deep dive into the clean concept for what it really means: for your body, and for the environment.

“The clean fragrance tag can be interpreted in various ways. For some, it may mean fragrances that are made using all-natural ingredients, which are ethically sourced and tested; for others it may mean not only natural and ethically sourced but are also natural and safe methods of extraction that don’t harm the natural ingredient,” begins Sonali Vengurlekar, training head, fragrances & skincare, Baccarose. “Of course, top on the list would be brands that are cruelty-free with no animal products or derivatives, fair wages, and practice eco-friendly packaging,” she adds.

India has an ever-growing demand for fine scents and perfumes. The favourable terrain and climate also makes it one of the sought-after countries to rely on supplies of raw ingredients that are used in fragrances all over the world. “The extracts of flowers, grasses, spices, and even wood are supplied from India to be used to create earthy and fresh scents,” says Plabita Sharma, head of training and customer experience, The Body Shop India, who believes transparency is key to sustenance and the way forward in the clean beauty industry. “Until a few years back, brands did not follow any regulations, and blanketed the lists of ingredients that can lead to complications like skin irritation, sensitivity, allergies, and migraine. However, keeping the new ethical and educated customers in mind, more brands have started to become responsible and transparent towards their consumers by making it easy for the consumers to make mindful choices by listing the fragrance ingredients on the product description or website,” she explains.

For those looking to make a head start into the clean fragrance journey, Pooja Nagdev, an aromatherapist, cosmetologist and founder of Inatur, suggests paying heed to the base notes of the perfume you pick. “Clean products are made with natural ingredients with a top, middle, and base notes. These are usually made from naturally derived alcohol. The quality of alcohol used is also very important as it touches the skin and is a major component in formation of perfume. There are these propellants in spray of perfumes that are very harmful for the environment,” she states, further adding, “The ingredients and the notes derived from natural sources like essential oils, plants, fruits are the base in the formation of clean fragrances and beauty products.”

‘Natural’ doesn’t always translate to nice while picking natural essential oils, cautions Sharma. “As far as clean fragrances are concerned, one is often advised to keep an eye out for products that are not only toxins and synthetic free, but also completely natural. This is, however, just a myth, as natural essential oils can work against you, leading to skin irritation and rashes,” she avers.

Inatur Perfumes

Sejal Kapashi, CMO Embark perfumes, recommends newbies to keep an eye out for IFFRA tags — an International Fragrance Association that is a global representative body of the fragrance industry that set the boundaries for fragrance creation, ensuring that people can enjoy the art of perfumery with confidence.

Embark perfumes

Obvious tell-tale signs aside, researching and speaking to a perfumer about a brand’s ingredients sourcing is an effective way to make the right purchase, suggests Rachit Mehra, senior marketing manager, Phy fragrances. “For instance, our perfumes are all sourced ethically. Every raw material, whether it’s Tunisian Neroli or Iranian Jasmine, is sourced from the right place, stored and prepared in a way that gives our customer the best outcome possible. This is an unnegotiable step for clean fragrance brands in general — something every new age perfume buyer must be aware of.”

Phy fragrances

Singh, CEO, NEESH, implores buyers to wait before sealing the deal after the first spritz. “Don’t judge a perfume based on the first spritz because that is not the actual smell of the perfume. A perfume has top notes, middle, or heart notes, and base notes,” cautions Singh, adding, “Top notes are the scent you smell immediately after spraying the perfume. Middle or heart notes appear when top notes start dissipating. These form the body of the perfume. Base notes are associated with the dry-down period of the fragrance and so, base notes will create the final, lasting impression.”

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Buying A Clean Perfume By Plabita Sharma

1) Opt for perfumes that use sugarcane alcohol as their base and are free from harmful toxins like phthalates & paraben, which are generally used to increase the stay of the perfume

2) Look for brands that are responsible, and use either recycled packaging or promote recycling the packaging to reduce the environmental footprints

3) Research on how are these fragrances are tested. It is important for consumers to know that how unconscious choices can end risking the life of animals