The Perils of Perfume

Do you remember Love’s Baby Soft? It was my first fragrance and I loved how it made me feel confident, stylish and sporty. I wanted more. As the years went on, each new scent I wore sealed a monumental moment in time. My high school prom (Lauren by Ralph Lauren), my college boyfriend (Halston Z-14), my first apartment (Chanel No. 5), meeting my husband (L’Artisan Parfumeur, Fig) and my promotion to magazine publisher (Hermes Orange de’vert mixed with Kiehl’s musk oil). Each one was like an olfactory flashback.

My career was also wrapped around fragrance, first with Revlon and then later, I worked on the publishing side of women’s magazines (think Vanity Fair, ELLE, InStyle) with cosmetic and fragrance companies as my clients. This made me privy to new launches, advertising and marketing campaigns as well as new scents in development. I attended the FiFi Awards every year (the fragrance industry’s equivalent of the Oscars) and was living and breathing (literally) fragrance. It was so glamorous!

Then the record scratched. When I was pregnant, my doctor told me about the chemicals in perfumes and recommended I stop wearing them. Chemicals? No, no, no!!! Perfumes are natural, I told him. But the more I researched, the more I became horrified, disgusted and scared.

The truth is, not much Nature is put into that bottle we passionately spray on ourselves, just a lot of petrochemicals. Synthetic perfumes are created in a lab and laced with chemical extenders to make them last. Even my beloved musk was an offender. It’s been linked to reproductive issues as an endocrine disruptor. Traces have been found in breast milk, breast tissue and aquatic life. It just doesn’t decompose. Found in more than 90% of commercial fragrances, it’s so widely used because it makes a very long lasting base. I look back and wonder if it contributed to my fertility struggles because I just used to bathe in that stuff.

This was my turning point. Once I knew the truth, I thought, that just is so not right. That’s when I knew I had to create Pour le Monde and make natural perfumes. I wanted to give consumers natural alternatives without sacrificing quality, longevity and complexity. I admit I’m a perfume snob. I don’t want to smell like everyone else and I sure don’t want to smell crunchy granola either. We get compliments all the time on how the Pour le Monde collection has really accomplished both of these goals. It’s immensely gratifying.

It was also important for me to create a brand that gives back. Pour le Monde natural fragrances don’t harm the environment, animals or people. We also give up to 10% of the sale of each bottle to its correlating charity, raising funds and awareness for these amazing non-profit organizations that don’t typically have a spotlight shown on them in the beauty industry. Pour le Monde is truly for the world…naturally!

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Wendi Berger is founder and CEO of Pour le Monde, a 100% certified natural fine fragrance brand, a mom, and is based in New York.

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