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The rise of 'clean' fragrance - but which ones are worth your money?

“Clean” beauty is becoming mainstream and it applies to your fragrances too
“Clean” beauty is becoming mainstream and it applies to your fragrances too Credit: GettyImages

Now that “clean” beauty is becoming mainstream (if Victoria Beckham’s doing it…) it’s time to talk about “clean” or synthetic free scents.

There’s an increasing choice. And once you’ve sniffed them, it’s hard to walk through Duty Free without feeling a bit queasy.

But that’s a small price to pay for the joys of discovering these softer, more nuanced scents from small labels such as Ila, Neom Organics, Sana Jardin, The Organic Pharmacy and  Alexandra Soveral. These aren’t like the hair-shirty hits of unneutered patchouli you used to find in health food shops back in the 80s, but luxurious, sophisticated formulations that lift the spirits of all those who come into contact with them.

I have a favourite jasmine-steeped sample from Ila that both Stefano Gabbana, and Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele went mad when I wore it to interview them each recently – and these are people who churn out hugely successful scents for their own brands.

I have nothing against synthetics in scent per se. I love Chanel No 5, one of the first perfumes to use high grade synthetics. Some cherished notes – lily of the valley, the base of Miss Dior – can only be achieved with synthetics. The problem is when they’re low quality and obliterate every other ingredient. 

Inner Peace Aroma Roller, £29, Ila 

I’ve had people stop me in the street to ask about Soul Medicine’s Inner Smile, £40, another jasmine- rich scent that’s actually a room spray. There’s nothing in it that can harm your skin, but if you’re cautious, do as the boys on Queer Eye do: spray, delay, walk away. (i.e. squirt some into the air in front of you, walk into it and pause for a few moments to allow the drops to settle on you). 

Soul Medicine was developed to raise spirits and soothe. I know for a fact that its sister scent , Inner Calm, is a permanent fixture in the London office of the Jimmy Choo team. 

When Alexandra Soveral does a bespoke organic perfume consultation (prices from £450) she always takes the health of her client into consideration. “Inhaling aroma is a highly effective way to feel the benefits of oils and herbs,” she says. “Jasmine and frankincense are calming. Citrus can clear the mind and boost the immune system. Ylang ylang is calming and also an aphrodisia and anything alpine is purifying.” Mind altering liquids that smell gorgeous. Who’s in?

Tried and tested clean fragrances

Camille, £95 for 50ML edp, bamford

Camille, £95 for 50ML edp, bamford
Inner Smile, £40, Soul Medicine 
Scent to Boost Your Energy, £40 for 30ml edp, Neom 
Berber Blonde No. 1, £95 For 100ml edp, Sana Jardin
Tuberose, £150 for 100ml, The Organic Pharmacy