December 14, 2022

– by zedek

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What is vegan perfume? (And which ingredients aren’t vegan?)


What exactly is a vegan perfume? What even makes a perfume non-vegan? And does it really make a difference? All this and more will be answered in today’s article, so buckle up, let’s dive right in.

What does it mean if perfume is vegan?

Vegan perfumes are fragrances that do not include any animal products and do not involve any animal testing during it’s production.

To give you a better idea of what exactly prevents most fragrances from being vegan, let’s dive into what animal ingredients are actually used, and what tests are performed on lab rats.

1. Vegan fragrances contain zero animal ingredients, meaning none of the following:

  • Musk

An aromatic substance with a strong odour obtained from the glands of the musk deer. It is used in perfumes due to its ability to stay fragrant for long periods of time, and its ability to soften notes that are too powerful.

  • Ambergris

Ambergris is a solid, waxy substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales. Ambergris develops a distinct, pleasant odour with age that is frequently characterised as oceanic and leathery.

  • Honey & Beeswax

Honey is the sweet and “gloopy” substance bees make to feed themselves as their primary energy source. Beeswax is a naturally occurring wax secreted by honeybees with the purpose of protecting their settlements. Perfumers use honey to bring ‘warmth’ to the overall scent.

  • Civet secretions

Civets are small, wild mammals native to areas in Asia and Africa. They secret an oil from their perineal gland which is strong in odour but pleasant when diluted.


  • Castoreum

Castoreum is the goo excreted from the castor sac of a beaver. It has been described as having a vanilla scent along with dry, leathery notes.

  • lanolin

Lanolin is a wax secreted by woolly animals like sheep. It has a natural scent, comparable to the animal itself, sheep. Prior to conducting research for this article, I had no idea how many strange secretions are used to create perfume. You learn something new every day.

2. Vegan fragrances are not tested on any animals.

If you didn’t know already, many fragrances are tested on animals before they’re sold and deemed safe for human use. These tests include skin irritation, and toxicity level tests.

With skin irritation tests/eye irritant tests, companies drop small amounts of the fragrance onto the skin or eyes of rodents such as mice and can infer whether or not it would be safe on human skin. In some cases, the substance is placed in one eye of the animal, with the other eye left untouched to compare the effects.

In the case of toxicity tests, rodents are made to inhale the fragrance in order to determine the possible dangers associated with exposure to certain chemicals. Although I’m sure these companies would agree that these methods are cruel. It is argued that these methods are the only way to reliably determine whether the chemicals in the fragrances are safe for human use, and what’s more is that animal testing is a legal requirement in many countries.

For more information on how animals are used for testing click here.

Which perfume brands are cruelty-free?

Have a look at this table of brands that are either cruelty-free or 100% vegan

(Do note that cruelty-free doesn’t always = vegan, some brands might not test on animals, but may use ingredients that came from animals. That’s why the table below distinguishes between cruelty-free and 100% vegan.)

(If on mobile swipe horizontally or turn phone portrait to view full table)

Let’s start with 12 brands that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, then move on to 12 brands that are cruelty-free only. Feel free to click the brand name for a direct link.

Brand name100% vegan?Cruelty-free?
AesopYesYes (PETA-approved)
Billie Eilish FragrancesYesYes
By Rosie JaneYesYes (PETA-approved)
CleanbeautyYesYes (Leaping-bunny approved)
DefineMe FragranceYesYes
Floral StreetYesYes (Leaping-bunny approved)
Forager BotanicalsYesYes
Harlem BotanicaYesYes
PacificaYesYes (PETA-approved)
Stella McCartneyYesYes
Ecco BellaNoYes
Caswell-MasseyNoYes (PETA approved)
Avant SkinNoYes ( PETA approved)
Ariana Grande FragrancesNoYes
BOD ManNoYes (PETA-approved)
Doc JohnsonNoYes (PETA-approved)
Ellis BrooklynNoYes (PETA-approved)
GrisiNoYes (PETA-approved)
H&MNoYes (PETA-approved)

How to know if perfume is vegan

So now you know a bunch of brands that are cruelty-free or vegan. But how exactly can you tell which individual fragrances are vegan-friendly? Well, there are a few things you can do, one is to look out for these key logos:

If you see one of the logos above on a fragrance and you can be pretty confident that all the ingredients are plant-based (or synthetic) and no animals were tested on. However if there are no logos, or it only has the cruelty-free logo. Then review the ingredients and ensure non of the following are present.

  • Musk
  • Civet
  • Ambergris
  • Castoreum
  • Honey
  • Beeswax
  • Lanolin
  • Hyraceum
  • Kasturi
  • Milk

Where to buy vegan-friendly perfume.

You can purchase vegan fragrances from the following places:

When it comes to easily finding vegan fragrances, your best bet is to search online:

Having your selection automatically narrowed down to vegan items only makes your search much easier and less tedious, than sifting through the countless non-vegan perfumes in store.


All in all, there is quite a large amount of vegan-friendly fragrances on the market today, and the selection is ever-growing, this means good news for the animals and the planet at large, as we find new sustainable ways to enjoy some of life’s pleasures.

If this article was helpful be sure to share it and drop me a comment! Have a good day folks, All Day Plant Based out!

Thanks for stopping by ADPB!

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