UnCommon Scents

There is nothing more odious (pardon the impending pun) than that heavy, pungent perfume you can smell from a mile away. And many of us have spent time perusing the shelves of that ubiquitous modern shrine to plasticity called Sephora only to leave with a pounding headache that has that “fake vanilla” scent stamped all over it.


I have been a true scent-junky for at least fifteen years and recently, upon applying a commercial fragrance, noticed I started sneezing almost instantly. I started to wonder just what exactly is in these products we apply on a daily basis. Being one who tries to always buy organic, it dawned on me that my personal doctrine to “stay natural” had not penetrated my hankering for smells.

Many companies, even those claiming to be “natural”, use synthetic fragrance and chemical additives such as preservatives and artificial coloring, and contain dangerous chemicals such as phtalates that are proven endocrine disruptors whose activity has been found to mimic hormonal signals in the body.

There are what I have always considered to be more natural alternatives to smelling like “Calvin Clone,” but often you end up smelling like a head shop or your grandma’s lavender garden when using organically derived essential oils. Some of us like smelling like a head shop, but for those who want something more unique, there are some interesting alternatives.

Rich Hippie is a line of completely organic, wild-crafted perfume, founded in LA. Through the use of carefully selected plant extracts and the implementation of traditional perfumery practices, Rich Hippie has created an environmentally conscious fragrance line that is original and hip.

The line boasts scents such as “Psychedelic – a sensual, lush, mysterious and romantic scent with extracts of organic Madagascan vanilla bean, organic ginger root and organic sweet orange peel,” “Nirvana” – a “unisex scent with extracts of organic sandalwood, West Indian bay leaf and organic Italian bergamot peel,” and “Wild Thing – an intoxicating, romantic, and sensual floral with rare Indian jasmine, Albanian Orris root and Egyptian rose.” There is also the signature scent, “Rich Hippie” – a “hip, bohemian, seductive floral with extracts of exotic African flowers, Madagascan Vanilla bean and Guatemalan Cardamom.”

These perfumes ain’t cheap, at an average of $85.00 per 1/2oz, but to support a small company that is investing in organic farming practices is worthwhile compared to the minimum $35 to $40 that is typically spent on factory-made fragrances that are known health hazards. According to the FDA, perfume companies don’t have to publish their ingredients anywhere, because they are considered “trade secrets”. Through growing consumer pressure to monitor cosmetics companies and clearly substantiate the safety of perfumes and other products, the FDA has clearly delineated its authority over this domain on its website This means there is no way for us to know what is in common colognes until independent labs do their own analysis and there aren’t a lot of scientists lining up to joust with big name cosmetics.

California is actually the first state in the union to implement the “Safe Cosmetics Act,” signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005, which states that manufacturers must disclose (to the state) any ingredient that is on state or federal lists of chemicals linked to cancer or birth defects.

For more information on what is actually in your beauty products see NOT TOO PRETTY, SAFE COSMETICS and how they are affecting the environment see MARINE LIFE

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About Kimberly Jordan Allen

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