Pacifica Perfume: Sustainable, Socially Responsible Scents to Savor

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Avid surfer Brook Havey-Taylor founded Pacifica in 1996 to put her training in aromatherapy to work and share the scents from her travels. Now, the company boasts a line of over twenty fragrances that can be found in candle form, perfume solid, body creams, soaps and sprays. Pacifica is based in Portland, Oregon and practices carbon neutrality and cruelty-free production. The products are vegan and do not contain any animal ingredients, including beeswax.

I had the opportunity to speak with Brook and discuss natural fragrances. I have long enjoyed scents and as far as senses go, smell is one of my most adored, but these days I am hesitant to use any scents or oils that are not necessarily safe. What does it really mean to be safe or natural? Is there such a thing as truly organic perfume? How are natural ingredients such as patchouli and sandalwood being affected by the vast cosmetics and beauty industry? Brook thinks about these things and was happy to share some thoughts.

KJA: How natural is Pacifica and what does this mean to you?

BH-T: For Pacifica, I never claim that we are 100% natural. I use as many natural materials as I possibly can. My goal is always to create a safe and sustainable product, an ethical product, and an affordable product. At our company we provide a 401k and viable health and dental insurance plans to insure our workers are treated well. Our factory in Oregon is virtually waste free. Everything is recycled into candle production or donated to local women’s shelters. We use local box manufacturers for packaging the products and local printers which is quite rare. The only component of our products that is made overseas are the tins for our perfumes and some of our glass, though we are trying to find local suppliers. We are really focused on keeping the business viable and local. As a company we try to look at everything we do as whole.

KJA: So, are your ingredients organic?

BH-T:
When it comes to the issue of natural or organic fragrance you have to be really careful in your language. Even essential oils contain synthetics at times. There are arguments against 100% natural – you are using water, land, affecting cash crops – and social issues come into play hugely. It’s coming more to the fore now, especially with palm and sandalwood (clk here for more info on this topic.) Our western craving for all things natural can be extreme.

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As a perfumer and fragrance designer I try to maintain the balance by being aware of what is potentially dangerous and what is not. I use naturals wherever I can. When naturals are not viable I will use some non-natural materials to make the best product we can make. We do not use phthalates, petrochemicals, triclosan, nitro-musks, benzene or DEP. All of our packaging is recyclable and comprised of recycled content. We are committed to applying our vision in every way possible to make Pacifica a company that holds true to its values.

Within the Pacifica line, Tibetan Mountain Temple, my favorite, is an earthy, citrus, patchouli perfume that is mild. The citrus, woodsy smells are my favorite. The new solid perfumes are especially unobtrusive, and light on the skin, containing organic soy and coconut wax. The other favorites are Sandalwood, Blood Orange, Bali Lime Papaya and Waikiki Pikake. The solids are reasonably priced and fun to layer. Thank you, Brook!

About Kimberly Jordan Allen

11 Comments

  1. I absolutely love Pacifica products. Whenever I need a little house-warming gift or a small gift for a friend I buy a Pacifica candle. I saw their products recently at a Sephora in Seattle and I’m really glad they’re going to be available in a large, mainstream store.

  2. If these smell as good as they look, I’m sold!

  3. My girlfriend would love this stuff – I may have to make a wee purchase or two. Great find! Thanks for the help.

    Robb Hughes
    Head of Sales & Marketing
    Green Meetup
    Find Green Eco-Friendly Products Here

  4. I absolutely love Pacifica products. I can’t wait to try their new scents.

    Melissa Kay
    twitter: melissak85

  5. I can’t believe I haven’t tried these products before. They look an sound wonderful, I’ll be trying them asap. Thanks for sharing : )

  6. It’s good to know Pacifica is not all-natural. I think that idea is a very common misconception due to brilliant marketing and fanfare about their sustainability.

  7. Sebrina Biscardi says:

    I was wondering if you still carry “Beverly Hills Berry” Splash cologne? It’s an inexpensive pinkish splash in a round bottle. I bought it back in 1997 and there’s still a bit left and when I wear it, it will stay on all day – it’s a very fresh and clean scent w/a hint of berry. Please let me know if I am still able to purchase this item?

    Thank you, Sebrina L. Biscardi

  8. She skirts around the question of natural vs. synthetic fragrance. The labels are also misleading as they say,”parfum (Pacifica’s own fragrance blend WITH natural and essential oils)…
    I’m glad to see her say that she never claims they are 100% natural, but it is marketed as a natural product.

  9. Humberto, she didn’t say it was “Pacifica’s own fragrance blend with ONLY natural and essential oils.”

    She does her best. I use these products on my toddler, infant, and myself because it’s pretty darn close to natural and smells good. At least she’ll admit the product isn’t perfect- Johnson’s fights everyone about their cancer-causing ingredients in baby products, and then slaps a “natural” title on something just as bad. IMO, if something needs to be tested on animals (like J&J products), it’s because there is something in it that could be harmful to humans. I definitely don’t want to be using something like that on my babies!

  10. Valerie Johnson says:

    Pacifica’s labels are completely false and untruthful. When a label states that a product is made with essential and NATURAL oils, most consumers would likely be lead to believe that the perfume is natural. This is problematic to consumers who have allergies to synthetic fragrances, or who seek our natural perfumes for health reasons. To mislead consumers shows a lack of ethics and it is not a business I would feel comfortable supporting.

  11. I just want to point out as site editor that this post was published before we established our beauty products guidelines for inclusion in 2010, which you can see here: http://eco-chick.com/advertise-on-eco-chick/

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