Cruelty-free perfumes contain no animal-derived ingredients and are not sold in China, where the law requires cosmetics to be tested on animals. Whether or not you eat meat and dairy, I hope you’ll read on, because to assume vegan fragrances are low on luxury, craftsmanship and sophistication would be to miss out on some extremely fine scents.
I’m not an instinctive lover of warm, rounded perfumes, and so generally give amber a swerve, but 001 Amber (2; £65 for 100ml), from the independent British brand Laboratory Perfumes, has me hooked. Like all five of its fragrances, this is gender neutral, but skews ever so slightly masculine. It is woody, spicy and modern, but not showy. And it has a brightness that stops all that warmth becoming sticky. Atlas, by the same brand and also £65 for 100ml, smells like gingernut biscuits lining a boozy trifle, and should please anyone who likes a gourmand, puddingy scent.
The pervasive soapy-bicarb smell of Lush’s stores is polarising, and so are its Gorilla perfumes, but that’s where any similarity ends. These are bold, extraordinarily well-conceived and cleverly crafted concoctions. The collection is so large and impressive that it’s hard to cherrypick. Dirty (£19 for 30ml), a pungent mint, is bonkers but great, and The President’s Hat (£35 for 30ml), a rich, smoky, sawdusty affair, smells comfortingly like the inside of an old wardrobe packed with vintage frocks. But, since it is spring, I’m banging a drum for Kerbside Violet (£29 for 30ml), which smells more like musky, wet plants than the dry, powdery blooms I associate with violet perfume – and is delightful for it. Transparent-smelling but distinctive (hard to pull off), it’s great for warmer months when many florals can feel cloying.
Do also take a whiff of Floral Street, a vegan brand founded by a former executive at Estée Lauder. Its lineup – beautifully packaged, with a focus on sustainability, and costing £58 for 50ml – was created by Jerome Epinette, the nose behind most of Byredo and Vilhelm’s fragrances (costing roughly three times the price). Neon Rose is a cheerful, feminine but un-mimsy floral, while Iris Goddess (my favourite) smells like those French pastilles sold in posh chemists. Delicious.