Perfume with a conscience | Sali Hughes

The lavish, throwaway packaging that comes with luxury scent is on its way out

There are interesting developments around sustainability in perfumery and it’s high time. For years, I’ve felt a free pass is given to perfume, as though lavish single-use bottles and excessive outer packaging are an implicit right of the luxury perfumer. But with privilege should come greater responsibility and an obligation to innovate. Some notable houses, from Tom Ford and Chanel, to Penhaligon’s and Guerlain, are stepping up with refillable and recyclable bottles, and, in Guerlain’s case, meticulous practices in ingredient provenance.

The eco-conscious bottle for Acqua di Parma’s newest launch, Colonia Futura, was two years in planning. Made from partly recycled glass and topped with a recycled and recyclable plastic cap, the entire bottle is divisible for straightforward sorting into recycling. It’s also labelled with scrap dust from marble quarries before being packed in FSC-certified cardboard. But the smell, of course, is paramount. Made from more than 99% natural ingredients, the perfume has the brand’s signature freshness – grassy, vibrant, but smart and expensive-smelling with a price tag to match (£73.80 for 50ml). It’s gender-neutral, but I suspect the fanbase will skew towards masculine (it’s a little Chanel Pour Monsieur, to my nose, which is never bad).

More my poison is Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu, a warm, resinous fragrance that I already loved but, now it’s refillable, I can do so with a clear conscience. The brand’s Forever Bottles (in-store and just launched online) aren’t cheap (£110 for 50ml), but one gets a beautiful glass atomiser in a choice of seven striking colours (I went for gold), topped with a weighty metal lid engraved with the recipient’s name, filled with any of Ormonde Jayne’s exceptionally fine signature fragrances for men and women. I love the smooth mellowness of Tolu, but Ormonde Woman is another oft-worn favourite. Whichever you choose (samples are available from the website), it’s an exceptional gift and when empty, can be refilled for 20% off the original price.

Less ornate, but refreshingly practical, are Jo Loves’ new, improved, reusable Fragrance Paintbrushes. Think a clicky pen – a bit like a concealer wand – dispensing fine, lasting fragrance in a clear gel, directly on to the skin. The initial outlay is £40 (a complete pen and spare cartridge), with a pack of 3 x 7ml refills costing £35. My favourite is Green Orange & Coriander, bright and springy, but with a slightly steamy, spa-like quality, that smells – dare I say it? – optimistic.

Contributor

Sali Hughes

The GuardianTramp

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