If you are one among the many perfume enthusiasts who in the last few years has been informed of the restrictions which have been self-imposed by the International Fragrance Association and the lobbying at Brussels in the European Union of several groups concerned with the allergens, hormone disruptors and other assorted impending signs of the coming Apocalypse in your humble Eau de Toilette, and have been severely icked, irrated and all around cussing beneath your breath, wielding your fist at the powers that be who nanny this existence for you, then read on. And rejoice, because not all is black and doom. A handful of perfumers (natural perfumers of the Guild on this occasion, but how far can more mainstream perfumers be?) are rebelling against perfumery restrictions which do not make much sense.
We're not talking about materials which have been proven to cause brain damage (a miniscule amount already banned since many many years), but of such innocuous and traditional ones such as citrus essence or lavender. Outlaw perfumery is not about being irresponsible, but about being level-headed. In a world where nuclear power risks and air pollutants pose a far greater risk, it seems adhering to a noli me tangere frame of mind is becoming unreasonable and ultimately laughable. If by any chance you had been a castaway these past 3-5 years in the middle of the Pacific or haven't really understood what this furore is all about, you can read all about it on these pages under Restrictions and under IFRA.
The guidelines of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) and the laws of the European Union (EU) have created an era of vapid, soulless, synthetic perfumes due to the banning or severe usage level limits they have placed on historic perfume ingredients that are used in leave-on or wash-off fragrance products. Rose, jasmine, oakmoss and many other aromatics are now allowed only in tiny amounts, and their scentual presence is dimmed. Independent perfumers are not members of IFRA, but if they are in the EU, they have to abide by the rules. Independent perfumers are also aware of safety issue due to photosensitization, allergenic sensitization and irritation, et al. The Natural Perfumers Guild takes the stand that a warning label should be enough to allow us to use citrus, oakmoss, jasmine, rose and other cherished perfume materials in our creations. If a warning label is good enough for the potentially-deadly peanut, it should be good enough for a perfume that may give you a rash.
One among the perfumers, Anya McCoy, the president of the Natural Perfumers' Guild, says "Just by being a natural perfumer, I’m an outlaw in the eyes of the perfume establishment. I don’t use their synthetic materials and I am self-taught. It’s not a surprise I would not follow the dictates of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) or the European Union (EU)"
A warning label suggested would perhaps read: “Warning label: Enjoy your Outlaw Perfume! It may contain aromatics or alcohol that could cause a slight skin reaction, so it be used with caution. Don’t apply perfume and go out in sunlight. As you would with any scented product, we recommend a patch test or you may spray the perfume in your hair, on an item of clothing, or on a small piece of cloth to tuck into a pocket or sleeve.” In fact isn't the Victorian idea of wearing perfume on a handkerchief, a locket or on hair a very romantic notion? Eschewing skin contact, our beloved perfumes can be reclaimed as our own! If they only let us...
So from this coming Monday November 15th expect to see news & reviews of Outlaw perfumes submitted by a pleiad of natural perfumers under a collective umbrella, crafting compositions that disregard the excessive fear and litigiousness of IFRA on these participating venues:
Gaia at The Non Blonde
Donna at the Examiner.com
Felicia at Fragrance Belles Lettres
Carol at Waft by Carol
Ida, Mark and Monica at Ca Fleure Bon
Lucy at Indie Perfumes
Beth at Perfume Smellin Things
Pat at Olfactarama
In fact I would be personally interested to hear your suggestions for the industry's perfumed products Warning Labels: keep them coming!!
pic originally uploaded on MUA