The perfume industry is (finally) broadening its selection of fine, clean and sustainable perfume—as evidenced by Michelle Pfeiffer’s new, enticing brand Henry Rose, which fully discloses all of its ingredients—a first for fine fragrance. Also on our radar is Ellis Brooklyn, an ultra-hip perfume line that oozes contemporary charm and artistry.
Ellis Brooklyn was founded by former New York Times beauty columnist Bee Shapiro. When Shapiro became pregnant with her first child, she took a closer look at the commonplace chemicals in her life and began to pursue clean beauty—which ultimately led her to launch her line of clean perfumes.
“It was a surprise when I became pregnant with my daughter Ellis and was living in Brooklyn (hence Ellis Brooklyn!), and when I started cleaning up my beauty routine, that I found there were no sophisticated clean options for fragrance,” she says.
As many clean beauty lovers are well aware, personal fragrance is one of the trickier items/ingredients to navigate when it comes to selecting products formulated with your wellness in mind. “This was 2013 and the beginnings of clean beauty as we know it today. Skincare and makeup had already made exciting strides, but fragrance was still stuck in another era where ingredients were almost intentionally murky. There was a lot to clear up but I also thought a lot of gorgeous possibility,” Shapiro explains.
Due to trade secret laws, perfume brands (including those who provide what’s called “functional fragrance,” i.e. the perfume present in your average bottle of shampoo, lotion, or laundry detergent) aren’t required to divulge the ingredients used to craft their fragrance. And most fragrances are at least partly synthetic in origin and may contain dozens of ingredients. Of course, many synthetic ingredients are perfectly harmless—and not all natural ingredients are safe—but it can be frustrating to not even know what ingredients you’re dealing with when you spritz perfume.
Anyone who adores traditional perfume but has given it up for a period to go the way of only essential oils or unscented products knows that it’s easier said than done, however. Smell is a vital, inspiring experience for many. Fortunately, it is possible to make creative scents that are free of potentially dangerous ingredients. Thanks to visionaries/fellow scent addicts like Shapiro, we can now have both.
“I have always loved fragrance—it’s a powerful, invisible language that can tell a story or conjure a keen memory in one concise sniff,” she muses. “Especially in our world of non-stop, intense visual imagery, fragrance reconnects us to our sense of smell but also to a present state of mind. Close your eyes, take a whiff and be in the moment. It is perhaps singular in that way in how it can convey well-being. It is this power of perfume—to convey health and beauty— that underlines all of our scents.”
Shapiro acknowledges that contemporary perfume has taken some interesting turns. Take, for example, the edgy brand Etat Libre d’Orange and its infamous fragrance, “Secretions Magnifiques,” which many find smells like its name implies: bodily fluids—from blood to semen to adrenaline. Shapiro has her eye on a different market, however.
“I’ll leave the avant-garde scent experiments to others,” she says. “While I appreciate, say, the hyperrealistic smell of pencil erasers, I’d rather focus on making something stunningly beautiful and masterfully crafted that becomes part of real day-to-day lives.”
Ellis Brooklyn features aromatic, floral oriental, fresh floral, musk, gourmand, citrus, and woody fragrances. One of the most popular fragrances in the line is Myth, a sexy floral with notes of bergamot, tiger orchid, pink lotus, jasmine, patchouli, musk, and white cedar. Mmm.
The bottles are created with glass from an Ecocert supplier and with bakelite compression caps, which are biodegradable and contain no petrochemicals. The fragrances are free of parabens and phthalates and are vegan and cruelty-free. Ellis Brooklyn also features a collection of body care as well as home fragrance.
Have you tried Ellis Brooklyn sustainable perfumes?
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Photo: Ellis Brooklyn