Where to Buy Vegan, Organic and Animal Friendly Perfumes
This guide looks at who sells vegan, organic and animal friendly perfumes
It is also part of our Amazon boycott campaign and our Alternatives to Amazon series, so in addition it includes tax avoidance rankings for all the companies featured.
The shops listed in the guide all sell a range of perfumes. For a guide to individual perfume brands please see our guide to perfumes.
Who sells vegan perfumes?
Many perfumes use animal products. This fact is often hidden as they are included in the fragrance element of the ingredient list for each perfume. The fragrance element is subject to copyright laws and therefore companies do not need to publicly disclose the constituent parts. In the UK it is usually listed in the ingredients as, 'Perfume' or 'Parfum'.
Many of these have now been replaced with synthetic alternatives but without independent verification (such as the Vegan Society ethical label) it is impossible to know.
Some of the animal products potentially used include:
- Ambergris which comes from the stomachs of sperm whales.
- Musk is a secretion that male musk deer spray from a gland near their genitals to attract female deer.
- Civet is a territory-marking scent from civet cats, which they secrete from a sac close to their anus.
- Castoreum is a territory-marking scent from beavers, which they secrete from a sac close to their anus.
- Hyraceum is the dried excrement of the hyrax, an African guinea pig-like animal, and is gathered from the wild by hand.
Of the brands on the table the following sell perfume marketed as vegan:
- Animal Aid shop
- Green Valley Trading Company
- Honesty Cosmetics
Who sells organic and toxic free perfumes?
Toxic chemicals are a notable issue in the perfume sector. As with the use of animal products potentially hazardous chemicals are used in the fragrance part of the perfume making it very difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are spraying on themselves.
We have rated companies on their toxics policies and expect companies to have policies that at least covers the use of use of the following two ingredients:
- Diethyl phthalate, a solvent used to bind together different chemicals within cosmetics and fragrances. It can disrupt hormone production in humans and have a negative impact on organ function. There are currently gaps in the research into further impacts on human health.
- Parabens, a family of preservatives widely used in cosmetics, can mimic oestrogen and act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.
Here's which companies on the table scored a negative mark for their policy (or lack of) on toxics:
The Perfume Shop, Superdrug, Amazon, Boots, Debenhams, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges, Honesty Cosmetics, Green Valley Trading, shopvegan.co.uk, and veganhealthandbeauty.com.
More on how we rate companies >
The following shops featured on the table sell a selection of organic perfumes
- Debenhams stock Aveda (owned by Estée Lauder)
- shopvegan.co.uk, Green Valley Trading Company and veganhealthandbeauty.com stock Florame and Pacifica organic perfumes
- Animal Aid stock Nunyara solid perfumes
Are perfumes tested on animals?
Animal testing is also a big issue in the perfume market.Despite testing on animals for cosmetic purposes being banned in the EU, many companies still test on animals to sell into markets outside the EU e.g. China where animal testing is mandatory.
We would therefore expect all the companies in this market have an animal testing policy.
Here's how the companies scored on Animal Testing (from our table):
Ethical Consumer's best rating: Animal Aid, shopvegan.co.uk, Green Valley Trading Company veganhealthandbeauty.com, Honesty
Ethical Consumer's middle rating: Superdrug, Debenhams
Ethical Consumer's worst rating: Amazon, The Perfume Shop, Boots, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges
More on how we rate companies for animal testing >
Of the companies featured on the table the following sell BUAV/Leaping Bunny accredited perfume:
- Animal Aid
- Honesty Cosmetics
- Green Valley Trading Company
Amazon has been the subject of a boycott call from Ethical Consumer for over two years due to its tax avoidance.
Below you can see how each company on the table rated for likely use of tax avoidance strategies:
Best Ethical Consumer rating: John Lewis, House of Fraser, Honesty, Animal Aid, shopvegan.co.uk, Green Valley Trading Company, veganhealthandbeauty.com
Middle Ethical Consumer rating: Debenhams
Worst Ethical Consumer rating: Amazon, Superdrug, The Perfume Store, Boots, Selfridges
More on how we rate companies on tax >
Amazon – see Amazon corporate profile page and our latest feature
Boots sells over a third of all perfume bought in the UK. The company is owned by the US company Walgreens Boots Alliance. Its scores badly across the board, scoring a worst Ethical Consumer rating for all it's policies. It also has subsidiaries in Thailand and Russia, which are (at the time of writing) considered oppressive regimes by Ethical Consumer.
Over recent years Debenhams has made some progress on its ethics. In 2014 it banned the sale of Angoran wool after pressure from PETA. The company scores a middle rating for its supply chain management and has made efforts to source more ethical cotton, shunning that coming from Uzbekistan.
John Lewis is an employee owned business. It scores relatively well due to receiving best Ethical Consumer rankings for supply chain management, environmental reporting and timber sourcing.
Selfridges is ultimately owned by the Canadian billionaire and philanthropist Galen Weston. The company scores badly across the board scoring a worst Ethical Consumer rating for all it's policies.
House of Fraser was recently bought by a group of Chinese investors under the name Sanpower Group. The investors also own one the largest retail chains in Hong Kong. House of Fraser scores well for its timber sourcing policy but does not score well in other policy areas.
The Perfume shop and Superdrug are ultimately owned by CK Hutchison Holdings Limited. This is a vast company that owns everything from retail groups to the extractive industries (most notably Husky energy which is involved in the Canadian Tar sands). They have operations in three oppressive regimes, the Philippines, Russia and Thailand.
The Animal Aid shop is run by the charity Animal Abuse Injustice and Defence Society, the UK's oldest and biggest animal rights charity. It looses half a mark for a lack of clear supply chain policy covering all its product lines. However all its products are vegan.
Honesty cosmetics scores a best mark for its environmental policy but looses half a mark due to its lack of a clear supply chain policy covering all its lines. However all its products are vegan.
Green Valley Trading also owns the shopvegan.co.uk, and veganhealthandbeauty.com websites.
The company does not have a formal supply chain policy and so losses half a mark in this section. However all its products are vegan.
Discover how individual perfume brands score in our perfume and aftershave product guide.