Why Is Perfume Not Vegan? [Know All The Facts in 2024]

Written By Nazia Haque

It’s not always easy to find an appropriate fragrance if you don’t eat or use animal products.

It might be difficult to take in, but even in your favorite perfumes, animal ingredients are used that could be hiding from your olfactory senses.

However, some vegan perfumes do exist, and they are marked as such.

Keep reading till the end to find out why most perfumes are not vegan, and how you can find vegan perfumes.

Why Is Perfume Not Vegan? [Know All The Facts in 2021]

Why Is Perfume Not Vegan?

Perfume is not vegan because usually it contains some animal-derived ingredients and they play a critical role in the performance and scent profile of the perfume. Changing them would change the prominent fragrance characteristics that make them so appealing to the customers.

Also, check out our separate post on Does Perfume Damage Jewelry? 

What perfume is vegan?

The only criteria for a product to be “vegan” is that it must not contain animal-derived ingredients.

Since most perfumes contain animal-derived ingredients, they are classified as nonvegan.

The use of animal-based components in perfumes serves two purposes:

As base notes: These substances serve as base notes, supporting the overall smell, and providing a desirable rich fragrance.

The base note plays a key role in determining the ultimate essence of the perfume.

As fixatives: The oils in these compounds aid in the stabilization of the perfume’s volatile components. As a result, the aroma lasts for much longer.

Moreover, people often tend to be afraid of synthetic components being used in their fragrances, and with good reason.

Several synthetic additives have been identified as carcinogens, allergens, and endocrine disruptors.

However, not all of them are harmful.

Many synthetics are the exact copies of their natural counterparts, and the natural form of an ingredient is often too expensive or harmful to extract.

Thus, the best solution in these cases is to use a synthetic version.

You can follow our guide to know Why Do Fragrances Get Discontinued?

Which Animal-Derived Ingredients Are Typically Used In Perfumes?

Which Animal-Derived Ingredients Are Typically Used In Perfumes?

For hundreds of years, animal-derived products in various forms have been used as critical ingredients in the making of perfumes.

Among the animal ingredients used in perfumes, some are collected directly from captive animals using harsh physical means, while others are animal by-products.

Here’s a list of the animal-derived products that are often used in perfumes:

Ambergris – It is a compound derived from the digestive fluids from the large intestine of sperm whales. Ambergris is still utilized in both synthetic and natural perfumes.

While whales were once caught in order to collect it, this is no longer an issue because ambergris can now be gathered as ocean trash rather than being collected directly from the animal.

Whereas fresh ambergris has an unpleasant, fecal odor, the aroma of ambergris that has been ripening in the ocean for many years is sweet and earthy.

Musk – This odor is obtained from the glands of male musk deer. The consequences of this practice have been dire. Over the centuries, the population of the musk deers has become concerningly low due to being hunted for the formulation of scents to be used in perfume.

Unfortunately, these deer will be ruthlessly killed – possibly to extinction – until perfumers stop using its musk, which to date remains one of the most expensive animal ingredients used in perfumes.

Follow our guide to know Why Can’t You Smell Perfume On Yourself?

Civet – The excretions of the Civet, an African cat-like mammal, are gathered from the perineal gland of male and female civets for use in perfumery to create a floral, velvety aroma.

This is frequently done in a brutal manner by capturing and confining the animals in small cages.

Castoreum – This compound is collected from the castor sacs of beavers. The process of extraction is cruel and involves capturing and killing the beavers to collect the musk-like leathery scented compound.

Hyraceum – The hardened fecal matter and urine of the rock hyrax, an African rabbit-like animal, is collected for use in fragrances.

Used for thousands of years, the collection of this compound does not cause any harm to the animals since it is simply collected from areas inhabited by them.

Despite not involving animal cruelty in the process of collection, the use of this compound in perfumes renders them nonvegan since it is an animal-derived compound.

Also, check out our separate post on Why Do Fragrances Get Reformulated?

Honey – Honey is often used by perfumers to provide a sweet accent to some scents.

It is also used in some vegan products because since honey is made using nectar collected from flowering plants, it is a plant-based compound.

However, since the nectar, transformed to honey, is stored in the bellies of bees, and is a food source for them – it is not accepted as a vegan compound, and the use of honey is deemed as animal exploitation.

Beeswax – The collection of beeswax involves straining melted honeycombs obtained from hives that have been actively used by bees for over five years. This compound is used in perfumes to provide a sweet, honey-like aroma.

The process and collection of beeswax and honey involve the exploitation of bees, and they are products derived from bees. Thus, the use of beeswax and honey in perfumes renders them non vegan.

Thankfully, most of the cruel and harmful techniques used for gathering substances for use in perfumes have indeed been discontinued and eliminated, and synthetic alternatives that smell similar to these substances can now be replicated in labs without using any animal products.

Follow our guide to know Can Perfume Make Babies Sick? 

How To Find Vegan Perfumes?

How To Find Vegan Perfumes?

Even though most perfumes are nonvegan, vegan perfumes exist and are clearly labeled and marketed.

There has been an evident rise in sustainable, eco-friendly companies, as well as top fashion brands producing cruelty-free, vegan perfumes.

Most of these companies use a mixture of natural and synthetic ingredients to achieve the desired quality and longevity of perfumes that use animal ingredients.

However, when purchasing a vegan perfume, always search for the vegan emblem and the leaping bunny symbol to ensure you’re buying vegan perfume or aftershave.

The clear labeling of the leaping bunny and vegan logos is a simple way to tell if a product is 100% cruelty-free and vegan.

When in doubt regarding the vegan status of a perfume, you can always check them yourself. You can do this by checking whether they are registered with any cruelty-free organization to certify their claim.

Alternatively, You can also check the ingredient list to ensure that no animal-derived products have been used in formulating the perfume you choose to buy.

If a company refuses to list its ingredients, there’s a significant possibility that some of the components used are animal products or derivatives of some kind.

Looking for something different? Then check out something cool- Can perfume freeze?


Vegan or not, the choice is yours.

But if you are looking to buy a perfume that doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredient, there sure are some beautiful options for you to choose from.

With many new and old fashion brands embracing eco-friendly production and vegan perfumes, I’m sure you’ll find your desired vegan fragrance.

I hope this article helped you gather some essential knowledge about why most perfumes are not vegan and how you can find vegan perfume by yourself.

Also, check out our separate post on What is a Perfume Atomizer And Why do I Need One?

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below, so that I can get back to you later.

About The Author
Nazia is passionate about perfumes. Her love for perfumes started with her father whom she lost in 2017. She’d often reminisce his memories with the help of his fragrances’. Writing about fragrances makes her happy as she can share its wonders with the world. She also loves reading sci-fi novels and traveling.

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