Running on natural perfumes

As more women reject chemical-laden beauty products with dense ingredient lists and opt instead for natural products, Emily Lape would like to provide them with a place to go.

Lape, 28, in September launched Crow Perfume, a line of six water-based fragrances free of alcohol, phthalates and parabens.

A year in the making, her online business was fueled in part because of Lape’s itchy red arm rashes, an allergic reaction she attributed to the alcohol in her perfume. Although she said she’s always had sensitive skin, her rashes led her to avoid certain perfumes and lotions. Her research uncovered the 2004 landmark study in which British scientists found parabens in human breast tumors.

“There are millions of women who put parabens and phthalates on their body every day,” she said. “Do we know what we’re causing our bodies to have to deal with?”

The Centers for Disease Control defines parabens as man-made preservatives. In testing the urine of 2,500 Americans between 2005 and 2006, the CDC concluded that women had “several-fold higher concentrations of methylparaben and propylparabens than males.” The CDC attributed the results to women’s heavier use of paraben-loaded products. The CDC also found more phthalates, which add flexibility to plastics, in soaps and shampoos marketed toward women.

Lape quit buying her favorite brands and switched to natural deodorant, admitting as she laughed, “Some work better than others.”

Always a perfume lover, she grew up in the Midwest. “Every Christmas list, that’s what it was,” she recalled, “asking for a new perfume.”

She’ll wear men’s cologne as much as she’ll layer the fruity and the floral. In working with several fragrance houses that offer natural scents, Lape’s mood and decidedly “picky” selection process led to fragrances she named Fruita Leche, Luna Azul, Enchanted Lilly, Midnight Swim, La Bell Dame and Paper Lantern.

“I didn’t like anything that was mimicking another scent,” she said.

Each 1.7-ounce bottle (purposely manufactured in the U.S. and not in China) sells for $38. Lape hand-wraps the boxes in her Glendale home.

Crow Perfume is named after Aesop’s fable “The Crow and the Pitcher.” (After reading that fable, Lape once dreamed of a crow at a cosmetic table surrounded by women with her perfume). Each bottle is fitted with a stamp seal charm and packaged with a library card, an added touch from Lape, a lover of books and poetry.

Although she has yet to sell her line in stores, Lape is just getting started and is aiming to extend the line into lotions, shampoos and conditioners. “There are people out there who want that,” she said. “Only a few brands provide that.”


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