Are Natural Perfumes Really Better Than Synthetic?

Illustrated By Anna Sudit.
Everywhere we turn, we hear that "all-natural" fragrances are better than those made with synthetic ingredients. But, are essential oils actually essential to having a killer fragrance game? We asked Christine Luby, cofounder of start-up fragrance brand Pinrose, to help us get to the bottom of the “natural vs. synthetic” scent debate.   

If the oldest rule of the perfume industry is “sex sells,” then a newer version might include “so does organic.” Of course, you can’t blame the marketers for their love of the “all-natural” — it’s quite hard to be too organic these days. Exhibit A: I just sampled a perfume derived from the hormones of pumas raised by a shaman in the Andes. Yes, really.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been known to scour the aisles at Whole Foods with the rest of the faithful. I like to hang at the farmers' market. I swore off nylon for 2012 after an allergic reaction to my hiking socks. The all-natural lobby has snared me in — hook, line, and sinker.

But, when it comes to fragrance — something it’s my business to actually know a little bit about — I just say no to organic orthodoxy. Here is the dirty, man-made truth: Synthetic ingredients are often better for you, the environment, and the quality of the perfume. In many cases, they should be used in creative combination with essential oils. 

Read on to find out why.

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