Medeau is a new British luxury perfume house here to clean up the industry. Frustrated by not being able to find a perfume that placed equal importance on the safety of its ingredients, as it did on luxury, Canadian-born founder Allison Stubbings decided to create her own, working with a perfumer to help bring her vision to life; “I see Medeau as being part of new beauty era: better for the people and the planet”.
Inspired by the freshness of English flowers, French fine fragrance and backed by science, Medeau’s debut perfume, Origin, boasts an ingredient list with a conscious as clean and transparent as its bottle. We spoke with Allison about the clean principles inside Medeau’s transparent bottle …
The ethos of your brand is all about ‘clean beauty’. What does that mean to you?
Clean beauty products are those that have the potential to make us feel beautiful and special, but with a more carefully considered list of ingredients, adhering to a certain set of values. For us, that means that every ingredient we use has (1) laboratory research disclosed on the Environmental Working Group’s site that supports its safety for long-term use, (2) sound environmental credentials, and (3) is not animal-derived or is not tested on animals. There’s a lot of discussion about ‘greenwashing’ in the beauty industry – I think that the way of addressing those legitimate concerns is to be clear with people about the values that we have, and how we measure our own success.
How did you start your ‘clean journey’ in creating Medeau?
I started a journey in 2017 of making switches to cleaner foods, and personal and household products. Some switches were easier to make than others – food is a pretty easy one now, with most supermarkets being very disclosive, and providing organic alternatives. One of the harder switches though was fragrance. I simply couldn’t find one that had the same luxurious feeling as my designer perfume, but which was more discerning about its ingredients. The natural perfumes I tried didn’t have the complexity of ingredients I was looking for. Fragrance is important to me, as I’m sure it’s important to many of us, and I thought there were people out there like me who might be going through the same journey.
Why choose to create a fragrance made with synthetic ingredients rather than all natural?
Many clean brands will tell you that natural ingredients are better for you. Some are, definitely, but being natural, in my opinion is not the golden standard, and ‘natural’ is not synonymous with ‘safe’. Natural ingredients in perfume are the largest cause of allergies in adults, for example. We do use a few natural ingredients where we know those ingredients aren’t known allergens, but we also look to science to help us choose bioidenticals where they are more sustainable, and safe synthetics where they are less irritating or less harmful to the body.
Additionally, using synthetics has also allowed us to create the complex, fine fragrance that I was searching for before creating Medeau. There are only a certain amount of ingredients to choose from in the natural world, whereas using synthetics has allowed us to use a more diverse scent palette.
When you close your eyes and spray your debut eau de parfum Origin, what do you hope consumers will feel/see?
We hope that when a consumer sprays Origin, they feel as if they’ve been transported into an English garden in springtime. Imagine opening the back doors of a beautiful country home and letting in sunshine, as well as freshly cut grass, soft rose and white flower aromas. Origin is a reassuring and comforting scent, meant to be a companion for the whole day.
Where do you hope to see Medeau in five years time?
We’re trying to bring clean fragrance into people’s lives in as many different ways as we can, so apart from the additional three fragrances we are releasing this year, we are starting to work on a candle and diffuser range. Body wash products are also a logical place for us to explore too! We are excited about giving people that clean alternative in multiple parts of their life.
What would you like to see more of or less of in the fragrance industry?
I want to see more of a focus on the sustainability of ingredients used in fragrance, beyond simply including them because they’re approved by the regulator. The safety of ingredients, the environmental impact and vegan credentials of a perfume should all be guiding principles of fragrance production. Part of that is transparency, but it’s also about the values of the perfume houses themselves.
Perhaps part of this could be the increased use of groups like the EWG to support the use of certain ingredients, and to lead to the exclusion of others.
Do you have a particular note or scent which brings back a special memory?
Fresh cut grass – this has always reminded me of hot summer days growing up in Canada. It is such a comforting smell to me that I wanted to include it in our debut fragrance and indeed, it appears as a top note.
First fragrance you ever bought?
The first meaningful fragrance I ever bought was Ralph by Ralph Lauren. I wore it for all of my teenage and university years. It was the classic 90s fragrance – aquatic and musk heavy, with a hint of fruity and floral notes. It would bring back so many long-forgotten memories if I was to smell it again! This is what I love most about fragrance – the ability it has to transport you to another time and place.