On Fragrances & Sustainability

A few days ago, Glossy had an interesting feature titled “Luxury brands are slowly setting their sights on sustainable fragrances“. While this is a very important topic that is not addressed nearly enough in the fragrance industry, that take on it was unfortunately rather glossy, indeed. The reduction of “natural = good & synthetic = bad” is quite misinformed, misleading, and potentially damaging. For one, naturals are more heavily regulated because they tend to be more allergenic (we have lived with them longer, so our bodies tend to be more reactive to them). In fact, some of the most potent poisons on this earth are all natural (Socrates was put to death with hemlock; and ricin, a Mediterranean plant, can become a chemical weapon). On the other hand, many synthetics have proven to be literal life-savers. But perhaps most relevant to this argument is that synthetics could be far more environmentally-friendly: why raze an entire ecosystem to farm a mono-crop, harvest it mechanically, and then distill the heck out of it when you can create its essence in a lab? When approaching these very urgent challenges of our time, we cannot afford to fall back on easy and simplistic cliches.

What do you think?

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