Best Non-alcoholic perfume brands – Which one to Buy and Gift?


Fragrance makes us feel more attractive, lifts our mood, and sometimes can even bring back your sweet childhood memories. But have you ever wondered: is your favourite perfume bad for you? Fragrances contain up to 80% alcohol, and it won't come as a surprise that alcohol and skin often aren't a great combo.

WHAT’S HOT IN MUMBAI strongly recommends ‘USM by Umme Salama Mala’ - a brand of boutique handmade fragrances and body care products from the hills of Mahabaleshwar. The strong USP’s of this brand which enamoured us to review them is the fact that they are 100% non-alcoholic, water-based fragrances. Added to this superiority feature, we loved the diverse compositions and formulations their range offered.

USM by Umme Salama Mala’ strikes a definitive balance and sticks to our Indian perfume notes which makes their fragrances more acceptable and endearing. The fragrances have a long-lasting scent, contrary to what you may envision. The emulsion of water and nourishing natural oils (rather than alcohol) not only give a more pleasant scent but also had a moisturizing effect on the skin.

In a free-wheeling chat with the enterprising, dynamic Founder
Umme Salama Mala, we got more insights into the brand vision and future plans. Over to her….

How did the journey of  your fragrances and accessories brand, USM by Umme Salama Mala’ take shape?

My childhood has seen our family tradition of using aromatic substances such as Bakhoor Or Oudh. These were normally used as part of the cleansing ceremony for auspicious occasions. Somehow, the liking for smoky, woody fragrances and aromas developed deeply within me. As time progressed, my fondness for designer fragrances and exotic bathing products with a good sensorial experience evolved dramatically.  

Your husband also is a partner with your brand?

I was lucky to find a partner/husband (Mustafa Bakerally) who was equally passionate about fragrances and had a keen sense of smell. This common passion led to the birth of USM Fragrance and Accessories. Like our relationship, fragrance for us is a medium to carry you back in time. We both believe when you come across an interesting fragrance it completely freezes that moment. Although it may last a few seconds but surely it has a deep and unmatched impact on you.

Why have you chosen your brand motto as “Fine fragrances” in everything we do!!

In early 2017, we started our journey from the hills of Mahabaleshwar. Our first product was an Oudh Perfume Concentrate and through the learning, 2 years of R&D later we launched our range of envisioned products. Our first store opened up for the public in Oct 2019 at Panchgani. We also have a store in Lonavala.

The main USP for our brand is that our line of fine fragrances is all Non-alcoholic and water based. We have developed special fragrance oils for this application which are unique in its profile and have distinctive characteristics post application.

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What makes your perfume and roll-on range so unique from the other alcohol-based perfumes?

The perfumes we offer are all EDP's with a 10% perfume concentration, and nearly 84% distilled water. The remaining 6% is our proprietary formulation which helps in binding the oils to the water base.

While testing and reviewing your perfume, we noticed a soapy fluid being sprayed? Can you enlighten us on that?

Like we earlier mentioned, it’s the perfume formulation which results in a peculiar milky white composition which will spray just like water on the skin. Unlike the alcohol-based perfumes which instantly evaporate on application, our perfumes stick to the skin for longer allowing the fragrance molecules to adhere to the skin. Also, the dissipation of the fragrance is much different from what you normally encounter. The top notes don’t project sharply and the initial composition that you get itself slowly fades off rather than changing much.

The roll-ons seem to have a higher, thicker fluidity when compared to the ones we have sampled earlier. How different has USM brand’s composition been here?

Our uniquely designed fine fragrance oils are suitable for water solubility. The fragrance concoction for each perfume is created out of selected essential oils and IFRA certified raw materials. 

For our Roll-On fragrances, we have worked with a non-alcoholic skin friendly solvent which hold the fragrance oils better as it not only helps with the desired dilution but provides the right viscosity for application on the skin. We have concentrated on singular fragrance note compositions for the Roll-on for specific tastes, such as the Arabian Jasmine (Classic Mogra), Velvet which is Saffron with sandalwood to name a few.

How do you plan to scale your business by the end of 2022?

Our collection is not limited to fragrances or roll-ons. We also have soaps, shower gels, body washes and natural cold pressed oils. Our latest product offerings which would be launched shortly would include Premium Body washes and Body Lotion combos with uniquely designed formula.

Our review on the fragrances and the roll-ons which we tried and tested:


This perfume surely lives up to its name. The composition comprises of Top Notes being Lavender, Greens, Marine – the Middle Note comprising of Coriander, Tuberose, Neroli and the final base note adding the zing to the fragrance with Musk, Oakmoss, Cedar, Vanilla.

The sexy red body is surely a style statement, not to mention the classy, premium package. This fragrance is an ideal gift for your better half. While trying the fragrance, we did notice that once sprayed you get a milky base settling onto your skin – do read the clarification in the personal interview with the founder.

What we also noticed was that this non-alcoholic, water-based perfume was much easier on the mind and body. The fragrance created an overarching atmosphere of all-natural, soft-spoken fragrance. While some alcohol-based perfumes are loved for their strong and intense notes, people around you actually end up with a headache at times. Once you experiment with these non-alcoholic fragrances, you are sure to ditch the alcohol inclusion in your perfume and go for a more natural route. 

The Roll-On Perfume collection:

The varieties which are available are Dark Musk, Velvet, Arabian Jasmine, Splash. These sleek, elegant bottles are great slip-ons into your handbag. Just a swish on your neck and other preferred fragrance pulse points of your choice, and you would be not just raising eyebrows but also evoking pleasing smiles.

What impresses us more on the roll-on perfumes is that not only are they super easy to dab right onto your pulse points, but they also leave your skin with a high concentration of fragrance that legitimately lasts for much longer. The USM range of roll-on perfumes is exotic, right from woody, floral to luxe fragrances too.

And all this at a surprisingly affordable pricing. Shop them all and make it the perfect gifting option too.


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