Dumplings, I am having to take a deep breath because I just discovered that Michelle Pfeiffer has launched her own fine fragrance line that’s completely clean and transparent. And it looks incredible. *Inhale*Exhale.*
Pfeiffer, like many health-oriented individuals with a penchant for perfume, found herself with a conundrum—the vast majority of commercial perfumes do not fully disclose their ingredients, making them an exception among beauty products thanks to trade secret laws. Essentially, fragrance firms are allowed to staunchly guard their formulas to ensure that their perfumes aren’t copied by other firms–but this also means keeping them a secret from the consumer. The average bottle of perfume usually lists a few ingredients (like water and alcohol) followed by “fragrance.” The “fragrance,” however, can contain any combination of the roughly 3,100 chemical fragrance components available to perfumers.
While trade secret laws are economically advantageous for fragrance companies, they make perfume shopping a near impossible task for the conscious consumer. Although clean perfume brands are out there, our options for clean perfumes have been fairly limited, and those lovely brands creating thoughtful blends with thoughtful ingredients don’t always get the most visibility.
Pfeiffer, a lover of fine fragrance, was so completely frustrated with the situation that she stopped wearing perfume for 10 years. “Years ago, when I was a new mom, I got obsessed with ingredients. I started asking, ‘What kinds of chemicals am I exposing my kids to?’” she said. “Around that same time, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was a real wakeup call for me. It really changed the way I began to view health… not just what’s in our bodies, but what’s on and around them. The problem was, the products I found that were 100% organic just didn’t work.”
Pfeiffer turned to the Environmental Working Group’s ingredient database to learn more about the potential risks hidden in fragrance. “I went down the rabbit hole and when deep diving into different fragrances, the EWG would always flag them as very high hazard.” she explained. “So, of course, I took that to mean fragrance must be really toxic. I really, really loved perfume, but because I couldn’t be sure it was safe, I gave it up for 10 years.”
Given that the EWG reports that “Among [some undisclosed fragrance ingredients] are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.” While it’s possible that a given perfume may be made of innocuous synthetics, the troubling thing is, with most perfumes there’s no way to know that, either.
The vegan goddess took it upon herself to develop her own fragrance line that rose to the challenge of capturing a nuanced mood (like any good classic fragrance) while also using clean ingredients and being 100% transparent about them. The challenge was greater than she initially expected. “I approached a couple of cosmetics companies, but they were all dead ends,” she said. “Nobody was interested in being 100 percent transparent with their ingredients. That was really important to me and I just wasn’t willing to put my name and face on anything I wouldn’t be willing to wear myself.”
After ten years, however, Henry Rose was born.
“We finally teamed up with International Flavors and Fragrances, and together, we made formulas with Cradle to Cradle certification—I know, it’s a mouthful!—but basically, the finished product is fine fragrances that have the stamp of approval from the most rigorous watchdogs in the environmental industry. And they still smell amazing, which is the most important thing.”
In short, the five unisex fragrances in the Henry Rose line are cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, and free of parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, known and suspected carcinogens, and known and suspected endocrine disruptors. The Henry Rose site lists each ingredient used, its function, and whether it’s synthetic, botanical, etc.
Plus, the brand makes every attempt to be environmentally conscious. The bottles are made from 90% recycled glass and are recyclable. The caps are made from sustainably-sourced and commercially compostable soy, and the boxes they come in are made from recycled corrugate paper and are recyclable.
Finally, Henry Rose has partnered with the Heifer Foundation to give back a portion of proceeds to vetiver farmers in Haiti. The program promotes literacy and helps strengthen the local economy.
If you’re interested in trying Henry Rose, the brand is offering a 5-piece discovery set for $20.
Do you plan to try Henry Rose perfumes? I can’t wait to get a sniff!
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Photo: Henry Rose