Fragrance Safety: Natural v. Synthetic?

I've been wanting to write an in-depth fragrance safety piece for awhile now, but it's a tricky topic to navigate. On the surface, the attention has been focused on natural fragrances as the safer option, but a deeper look into ingredients often dispel that notion. For example, IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) recently released new limits on the amount of citrus oils that can be used in formulations. (Too much and it becomes photo-toxic on the skin.)

But then again, the idea of natural over synthetic is rather appealing– what's better than nature right? Of course, when I started working on Ellis Brooklyn this was top on my priority list, but after doing research into the space, I found that the question to ask is not whether 'natural or synthetic" but rather does it contain harmful or potentially toxic substances? That's why we've focused on phthalates-free and paraben-free formulations here. There's also a recent Byrdie article that focused on avoiding phthalates—it's a great piece and worth checking out.