What is a Cruelty Free Perfume?

There has been a real buzz around vegan beauty lately. Thankfully most natural skincare brands are choosing to avoid animal derived ingredients, and there are less and less that use animal testing.

Animal ingredients have been used in perfume for centuries. Some were (and occasionally still are) attained using cruel methods that harmed animals.

These include:


Ambergris – ambergris (a substance derived from sperm whale digestive secretions) is still commonly used in both synthetic and natural perfume. In the past the whales were often caught and killed for this purpose, but nowadays the ambergris is collected as ocean waste and not actually removed from the animal.

Musk – attained by removing glands from a male musk deer to obtain a musk odor (which was used as both a fragrance note and a fixative in perfumes)

Civet – the civet (an African cat-like animal) is held in a tiny cage purely for the purpose of collecting the excretions for perfumery. I have seen via social media that this cruel act still occurs.

African stone – derived from the aged excrement of the African hyrax, a small mammal. While the practice of obtaining African stone is cruelty-free, vegan perfume buyers will still want to avoid this one.

Castorueum – beavers were caught and killed to remove their castor sacs and obtain a musk scent.

Thankfully nowadays the barbaric practices that harm animals for perfumery are all almost completely eradicated, and similarly smelling ingredients are mostly synthetically manufactured. However, if you are choosing to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, it can still be difficult to find natural perfumes that contain no animal ingredients. Typically, perfume companies don’t label their products with such details, so the buyer often has no idea about the ingredients that make up their fragrances, whether they be natural perfumes or synthetic.

The best way to ensure your perfume is cruelty-free is to choose a product that declares itself to be vegan and cruelty-free, and preferably is registered cruelty-free. Look for a transparent policy on labelling and ingredients. For the most part, these companies are often natural perfume brands, but not always.

If you need more assurance than that, ask for a positioning statement on animal testing, or make sure they are registered with a cruelty-free certifying organization. If you are looking for a perfume that is not only cruelty free but also vegan, be sure to look for that information on the label. If there is nothing on the label to state that the perfume is vegan, or made entirely from botanical ingredients,  the perfume may still contains some animal-derived ingredients.

There are so many beautiful natural perfumes out there, and more being launched each year. By choosing to buy natural, vegan perfumes you are not only contributing to a more friendly planet, but a healthier one too.


The above article was written by Liz Cook, posted by Miriam Young

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