These days, you hear the term “natural” thrown around a lot. It sounds great—who doesn’t like nature?—but it’s a little misleading. After all, cyanide is found in nature, but you wouldn’t want to eat it, drink it, or spray it on your skin. That’s why we prefer the term botanical. It’s a little more precise (we only use plant products). And at this point, natural is basically a marketing buzzword. And who needs more of those?

Our goal is simple: We strive to use the best possible ingredients in all of our products, and the reality is that scents created in labs are often the better choice. Take Indian sandalwood. A wonderful ingredient, but one that’s been overharvested to the point of near-extinction. We love how it smells, which is why we don’t use it—we want future generations to experience it, too.

Here’s another example: musks. Natural musks are glandular secretions from animals, and we are firmly cruelty-free, so we don’t use them. That said, certain types of synthetic musks—polycyclic and alicyclic musks—are endocrine blockers, which have been associated with higher risks of cancer. So we don’t use those, either. Instead, we use synthetic musks that have been deemed safe by leading authorities, such as the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials. (As with everything we do, we are continually learning more on this topic, and changing our practices when warranted.)

And finally, we can’t ignore the fact that some botanical ingredients can actually irritate the skin. For example, many people are allergic to chamomile and lavender, both of which are popular for their scents. Avoiding certain botanicals helps us ensure a more hypoallergenic end product.

This does not mean we avoid naturals, simply that we balance our approach with the goal of safe for skin and safe for the planet. And that’s not to say we’ve figured it all out. We are constantly learning and refining our approach, and welcome your thoughts and feedback on how we can do better. Thank you for reading, and for joining us on this journey together.

Scents in a lab
It takes all kinds of ingredients to make a special fragrance. | Photo by Nina Westervelt