natural isolates

Natural isolates are single fragrance molecules derived from a plant source. As a natural fragrance house, using natural isolates affords us more precision in our creative process and gives our fragrances more balance and finesse, as well as (often) ensuring our fragrances last longer on skin.  

There can be confusion around what is a synthetic molecule and what is a natural isolate as they are often the same molecule and share the same name. The difference is in the source material.

Ambrettolide (a musk molecule) is a great example of this. It is very widely used in the industry as a replacement for the original Deer Musk (which has been illegal to use for decades).

While 99% of Ambrettolide used in the perfume industry is synthesized from petrochemicals, our Ambrettolide is produced using renewable plant sugars through a sustainable and efficient combination of microbial fermentation and downstream processing. Why don’t more fragrance houses use this sustainable, modern option? Because it’s approximately 15 times more expensive than it’s synthetic counterpart.

Many fragrance houses talk about “Natural” or “Clean,” however as these are totally non-regulated terms (unless you can see an ingredients list) there is no guarantee that there are any natural ingredients in the formula. Some houses also talk about a percentage of natural ingredients. Don’t be misled by this number unless it explicitly excludes the volume of alcohol from the percentage. An eau de parfum is typically 14-20% parfum oils, the remainder (plant derived) alcohol. So technically a fragrance could be “85% natural” but only include one natural ingredient – a plant derived alcohol!

lack of transparency

synthetic molecules and why we avoid them

Fossil fuels are a nonrenewable resource: Fossil fuels and the resulting petroleum products make up about 99% of the ingredients used in the perfume industry. We are desperately trying to decrease our petroleum consumption when it comes to travel and plastic use, but most of us wouldn’t even consider it when it comes to our perfume.

Non-biodegradable pollutants: A review backed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency describes polycyclic musks and (the now banned) nitromusks as “toxically significant” and “bioaccumulative pollutants” meaning they don’t biodegrade in the food chain. Instead they have been shown to build up in waterways and accumulate in the fatty tissue of marine animals. A study by Greenpeace was one of the first to voice the concerns around synthetic musk bioaccumulation. The downstream effect on animals is rarely talked about when it comes to Vegan or Cruelty Free where only the production chain and finished product is taken into account.

Links to health concerns: There is a growing body of research that links various synthetic fragrance molecules to skin and respiratory irritation, migraines and asthma attacks, as well as more serious issues that includes endocrine disruption, potential carcinogen exposure, neurotoxicity and birth defects. If you want to read more about these, we recommend referencing the Environmental Working Group where much of the research has been compiled.