Not to ruin your day or anything, but here's some potentially beauty routine–altering information: When it comes to ingredients, "fragrance" can mean, well, anything. That one little word nestled in your favorite beauty product's ingredient list can include a whole slew of chemicals, some of which may be harmful to your health, others that might just make you sneeze, but none of which are required to be disclosed.
According to Environmental Working Group, "Companies that manufacture personal care products are required by law to list the ingredients they use, but fragrances and trade-secret formulas are exempt." (You can read more about toxic ingredients here.) I learned this upsetting news a few years ago and have since been extremely wary of heavily scented beauty products—perfumes in particular. But I can't help it; my fragrance-loving heart yearns for Carnal Flower. I've tried giving all-natural scents a go, but they all smell vaguely like essential oil, and though I love sandalwood, sometimes I just want to smell… fancier.
Enter Skylar, the brainchild of Cat Chen, a former executive at The Honest Company. The clean, chic fragrance line was born out of Chen's own penchant for fragrances, after she discovered how difficult it was to find a perfume that does not contain harmful chemicals. Keep scrolling to find out more.
Chen started researching hypoallergenic fragrances when she became pregnant with her daughter, but things felt more personal when she found that her daughter was actually allergic to her perfumes. This sounds like a nightmare situation for any perfume-loving new mom, but instead of panicking, Chen solved her own problem and set out to create Skylar. All of the brand's fragrances are free of parabens, phthalates, glycol, animal products, artificial dyes, and other potentially allergenic ingredients found in many popular perfumes. They’re mostly natural but do contain a few lab-made ingredients that Chen claims are actually safer than using all-natural essential oils.
Skylar's packaging is chic and worthy of the 'gram (Chen worked with an artist to create the watercolor design, the intention being that customers could use it to double as décor or to hold makeup brushes), but the true test is in the scent—and Skylar more than surpassed my expectations. The brand offers multiple scents to satiate the main fragrance categories. Fall Cashmere is warm and spicy with cinnamon bark and spiced ginger; Pink Canyon is a juicy citrus with a hint of cedar; and Isle Escape is clean, fresh, and dewy with notes of bergamot and peony. Not sure which scent is destined to be your new favorite? Skylar also offers a sampling service, where you can pay $25 to try vials of five scents.
I gravitated toward the smoky-sweet amber fragrances, which smelled similar to some of my go-to nighttime scents (e.g., Gucci Guilty, $145; Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black, $60; and Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin, $183), but I knew I found true love in Meadow at first sniff. It immediately reminded me of my beloved Carnal Flower but with a lighter, sweeter edge. I sprayed it generously on my wrists and neck then walked back to my desk. Almost immediately, my at-the-time Byrdie co-workers Hallie and Lindsey flocked to me and demanded to know what scent I was wearing. "Is it too much?" I asked. "No, it's not—it's just really good," they affirmed.
Needless to say, Meadow has earned a permanent place in my perfume rotation. Are the scents the most creative perfumes I've ever smelled? No. Are they the longest-lasting? Not particularly. But the fact that I can confidently spritz with abandon, knowing full well I'm not inhaling harmful ingredients or, say, going to cause an allergy attack for the people within my near vicinity makes Skylar a standout contender in the indie perfume world. Plus, like my co-workers said: It's just really good.
Environmental Working Group. Ask EWG: what is "fragrance"? Updated December 6, 2007.