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Scents and Sensibility: the return to all-natural fragrances

Scents and Sensibility: the return to all-natural fragrances

Having spritzed our way around department store and airport perfume counters, most of us have a ‘signature’ scent or at least one favourite perfume; we feel underdressed if we forget to put it on and somewhat disloyal if we opt for an alternative.

But what if you discovered that familiar fragrance contains hidden toxins that are potentially damaging to your health and the health of others? A host of ingredients typically found in synthetic perfumes have been linked to various ailments, ranging from skin irritation to hormone disruption and even cancer. Discussions around the need for clear labelling and transparency throughout the industry, are raging internationally. Luckily, as the green beauty market blossoms, a growing array of all-natural fragrances are proving that Mother Nature really does do it best.


Each Haeckels eau de parfum bears the GPS coordinate for the place of ‘outstanding natural beauty’ where its ingredients originated. Allowing their unusual formulas to be dictated by their natural seaside surroundings, the team behind this rare brand explore and select indigenous plants and algae with powerful antioxidant properties. As they harvest along the south east coast, they “clean and protect it as well as take from it so that its beauty will be respected and remain for future generations”.

Back in their clifftop lab, as well as meticulously documenting their botanical findings, they create entirely natural products that “help to heal, care and scent the body”, with high concentrations of active extracts. Product testing is only ever carried out on themselves, never on animals.


Agonist creates unisex fragrances with 100% natural ingredients in close collaboration with celebrated perfumers. Each scent is seeded with a multifaceted concept in the minds of founding creative couple Christine and Niclas Lydeen, in their atelier in the Swedish Archipelago. Once the making process is complete in Grasse, “the perfume capital of the world”, each fragrance is presented in uniquely handcrafted Swedish glass bottles. The finished product, found only on the shelves of the most esteemed shopping destinations, is a cool and sophisticated lesson in design thinking.

Working in collaboration with a diverse range of creatives from artisans, sculptors and writers to musicians and filmmakers, the Agonist team merges art and fragrance, expressing scent in limited edition products, installations, and projects. It is perhaps exemplified in their surrealist book, ‘Scent is a Silent Language’, created in collaboration with fashion photographer Julien Boudet, which combines the sense of smell with impressive imagery and detailing.

Timothy Han Editions

Another refreshing antidote to the synthetic sea of mass-produced perfumes, Timothy Han makes small batches of all-natural blends for those who want to smell completely unique. With the selected raw ingredients varying from year to year, a limited amount of each ‘edition’ is crafted, and each bottle embossed with thought-provoking artwork from a collaborating artist is numbered to ensure easy identification.

Beyond scent, inspired by iconic literary works, this niche east London perfume house aims to encapsulate multisensory experiences, the first of which, ‘She Came to Stay’, won the Tatler Beauty Award in 2015 and is said to have become the best selling perfume ever at Brown’s boutique. His latest release, ‘The Decay of the Angel’ (see Yukio Mishima‘s 1971 novel), is described as a “rich and exotic burnt floral fragrance with a subtle headiness that comes from desire infused by flowers on the wane”.

Eve & Daphnée

The natural perfumery experts behind Eve & Daphnée, named after the two legendary feminine figures, consider the making of their unisex fragrances an art rather than a production process. Using traditional methods, they blend raw materials and botanical essences such as rose, bergamot, geranium, mandarin, Damask rose, patchouli and cedarwood (some of which are sourced from the Grasse-based Charabot ‘living heritage company’, with full commitment to fair trade and environmentally friendly business practice). Each of their French glass bottles is then filled, packaged and tied with a silver string; handmade to last and diffuse “a sense of wellbeing”.

Proudly part of the slow lifestyle movement, having launched with Tentation 1: Contre Lui, in collaboration with the esteemed parfumeur Delphine Thierry, this elegant, Parisienne brand continues to master scents that are imbued with “a celebration of love and nature”.

Odeur De Sainteté

This month, visitors to the gallery of Orléans garden of the Palais Royal, were invited to ‘Exposition Subodore’, an olfactory installation, based on 10 scents created to depict historic characters and traits of significance from the history of Palais Royal. Made entirely from plant materials, themed essences of solitude, passion, money, sex, power and revolution are enclosed ‘floating’ in 10 spheres of baked clay. With a nod to emblematic characters, such as Louis XIV, the princess Palatine, Camille Desmoulins and Philippe Egalité; those who breathed in these monumental gardens.

Creator, Chantal Sanier, is the nose behind Odeur De Sainteté, a brand that celebrates the perfumes of old, before the days of synthetic fragrance. Resins, roots and ancient balms form the basis of compositions that are “alive and vibrant, moving, sensitive, flowing and undulating”.