Saturday, November 3, 2012

Perfume-Makers Fear EU Legal Blow to the Industry Due to New Restrictions

"(These ingredients are) the spine of about 90 percent of fine fragrances," said Pierre Sivac, Chairman of the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), whose members include America's International Flavors & Fragrances and Switzerland's Givaudan. [source thanks to T.Sanchez]

Perfume-makers fear EU legal blow to the industry and the fear of restrictions is increasing:“All citizens are entitled to the same protection,” SCCS Working Group chairman Ian White, said. It recommended restricting the concentration of 12 substances – including citral, found in lemon and tangerine oils; coumarin, found in tropical tonka beans; and eugenol, found in rose oil – to 0.01 per cent of the finished product. And it proposed an outright ban on tree moss and oak moss, which provides distinctive woody base notes in Chanel’s No.5 and Dior’s Miss Dior."

“It is essential to preserve Europe’s olfactory cultural heritage,” LVMH said in an e-mailed statement, stressing nonetheless the well-being of consumers was a “major concern”.

What's more important is this: Any new laws curtailing the use of natural scents would also impact fragrance-producers such as Givaudan and Firmenich as well as Germany’s Symrise, Japan’s Takasago and Robertet in France’s scents-producing town of Grasse. Basically all the bulk buyers of raw materials, making the growers and developers of the banned essences obsolete and irrelevant in the market game.

Industry sources say they expected regulatory proposals by January 2014. However, the Commission declined to comment on a time frame for possible legislation. Trade associations including IFRA and Cosmetics Europe, whose members are perfume and cosmetics companies such as LVMH, are aiming to submit a joint industry proposal to the Commission by the end of 2012.

Of course it needs to be pointed out that the classic Miss Dior is nowhere to be found (at least on the mainstream circuit, it's still visible on the official site under Miss Dior L'Originale tag) in favor of the re-named Miss Dior Cherie (which circulates as simply Miss Dior now, so a marketing decision sounded the death knoll rather than the formula itself) and Chanel No.5 has been changed as well through the years.


  1. I think that all of these restriction are too much. If these come into effect, it's really going to destroy Chanel no. 5. If they are coming into effect, I need to load up on the EDP version (one I like best).

  2. Dina C.00:30

    I happen to be sampling some pre-reformulation No. 5 extrait today, and it is the softest, most inoffensive thing ever. I can't imagine anyone anywhere having an allergy attack from sitting next to someone wearing this. In fact, I have reapplied it four times today because it keeps fading away to nothing. These rules and regulations frustrate and irritate me way more than any aromachemical ever did!

  3. I always say this when addressing this topic, so apologies for the repetition, but why can't perfume companies just put an allergy warning underneath the listed ingredients, the same way foods are labelled? Then consumers can decide for themselves what to purchase.

  4. Dina C,
    I'm afraid you're making a major mistake. Allergy is a reaction of the immune system, regardless whether one likes the substance or not, and while it's okay in my books to call that way other insensitivities and reactions, one may be allergic to things they love and appreciate (me and cats, and cats even don't smell much at all).

    If someone were allergic to, say, certain component of jasmine extract, they would react not to Chanel 5 but to anything that contains said substance in amounts large enough to elicit an immune response (which varies with individuals but it can be really small amount for some) regardless whether they like the smell.

    I'm not trying to be a damn annoying nitpicker but I have various issues with allergies and I have first-hand experiences varying from But try it, you'll like it, Our Lizzie is allergic to cucumbers as well but she's okay with them in salads or variations of Allergy is no big deal.

    It is a big deal. I don't get life-threatening reactions but a neat ugly oozing rash that takes months to heal complicates daily life somewhat more than sitting at the concert next to someone who doused themselves by half a bottle of Poison. At least it doesn't have long-term consequences although being a Poison hater, I admit that I wouldn't enjoy the evening that much. Hey, I'm allergic to cats, which I love uncritically and which only slightly smell of clean fur in general.

  5. Dina C.13:09

    I do understand where you're coming from. I deal with both nasal and food allergies myself, so you have my sympathies. Been to the ER with anaphylaxsis, done that. :-)

  6. I have a friend who is allergic to some scents. I just don't stand by her or sit by her. End of story. I purposely would never try to get too near her but....

  7. brie20:28

    I grew up wearing and loving so many fragrances that have been reformulated because of IFRA restrictions. Although I do not react negatively to many notes on the "chopping block" my husband and children have had adverse reactions to many fragrances ( the commercial stuff which is 100% chemicals). I have found that all natural essential oils have had much less adverse reactions from my family members. Maybe it is time for the fragrance industry to focus on "all natural" and "organic" essential oils.

  8. Kay J.23:29

    Here's a question for all you fragrance industry professionals out there: Why doesn't the industry shift some of its operations to countries that are not affected by the restrictions?

  9. Anonymous01:43

    I have terrible problems with scented soaps, laundry detergents and body lotions. Use of these products makes me break out in welts, develop eczema or just plain itch. So, I AVOID THESE PRODUCTS. I don't demand that the manufacturers take the products off the market because thousands, if not millions, of people can use these products without issue. I think these perfume ingredient restrictions are typical EU over-reaction to food/cosmetics/drug contents.

  10. So - what about people who are allergic to certain foods????

    What will be left for us to eat!

    World has gone nuts :(.....Oh god, some people can't eat nuts either!

    OK - world has gone MAD!

  11. Back at you all and your interesting questions shortly, promise!

  12. E,

    it's to be seen, though it'd be a shame. Perhaps experimentation in substitutes should be moving quicker than legislation on bans. But for some reason it hasn't. Now that is what giving me pause for thought.

  13. Dina,

    I think that softness doesn't necessarily have to do with the allergic (respiratory) reaction of someone, though the effect on someone who doesn't have an allergy but is "faking it" (as per my archived article on this strange phenomenon) would be greater with something that projects more...

    Allergies of the respiratory system can be triggered by even minuscule amounts of allergen and even if the allergen isn't perceived by the senses (i.e. smell).
    Now of course those are the most serious and the ones which affect others, but I take it that they're not THAT common. Skin allergies and skin sensitisation would only affect the wearer and those are indeed increasingly common, but that would be only the wearer's choice and responsibility.

  14. R,

    probably because most people don't know the exact allergen that's bothering them and it would be really difficult to pinpoint it in the first place. (it involves hundreds of patch tests etc.) So instead of gambling and of risking having a bespectacled lady of advanced years giving herself a major reaction simply due to poor vision they're opting to include all allergens that have been recorded to produce an adverse effect and be done with it. From a certain viewpoint, it does make sense...even if *we* don't like the outcome that much.

  15. L,

    it's an interesting clarification you're making and one can see your point. Indeed allergies are no joke. They have become a joke in perfume-liking circles however, because it dawned upon some idiots to "claim" they're suffering from an allergy just to avoid having a co-worker or a friend wearing a particular fragrance they hated. Now, it boomeranged...We're all being punished regardless. It's a lesson of "be careful what you ask for".

    That aside, I have a relative with major allergies (involving skin and respiratory functions) which are triggered by specific substances and drugs. Not by perfume so far and she douses with it. But that's not indicative either and she would NEVER in a million years joke about allergies!

  16. D,

    anaphylaxis can be nasty. Ouch!

  17. Gloria,

    I know what you mean. A modicum of good manners dictates not to stress someone who can be bothered but sometimes life intervenes and skews our best intentions, doesn't it. One can't predict every situation.

  18. B,

    I find that very improbable. There is a turn to "green" and "organic" and "natural" in the skincare and cosmetics industry (the local marketing head of a MAJOR company confirmed it to me saying it's the only way to go from now on) and perfumery is following to a degree but that usually doesn't involve 100% accuracy; products are still full of unnatural or super-processed fillers, even if labelled "natural" (it's a relative term in the industry). They're just exploiting the market's awareness of ecology etc. There's no money in selling just a handful of proven aromatherapy oils in suspensions of oil-in-water.

    I deduce that your family is appreciating the lower sillage and projection of the essential oils (does this happen with really strong ones too, such as eucalyptus for instance?).

    BTW, one thing I NEED to dispel here, and I'm not addressing you specifically, just grabbing the chance to mention it, is that naturals are allergy-risk-free. They clearly are not, even if indeed 100% natural as mother nature intended them to be. They're comprised of hundreds of molecules so it's very probable that one or two of them might cause a reaction. For instance chamomile (yes!) is considered a potential allergen as I was informed by a pediatrician. In the end, as with everything, it's trial and error.

  19. Kay,

    it's not that easy, though there ARE in fact branches of companies in countries that are outside the EU and the USA catering to local needs. Still, even if the companies are producing products on non-EU soil, the major perfume markets are still Europe and the USA and therefore their products would need to be FDA-approved and Brussels-approved to enter those markets and be marketed. So...

    One might say that one could order anything off the Internet and this is what those all naturals rebels perfumers are doing, going their own indie way (Tauer, Natural Perfumers Guild etc) but I don't know for how long. They do have to get their supplies of raw materials from somewhere. And if there's not enough profit for the suppliers to grow these things that make the allergen-risk materials in the first place, then they'd just stop growing them at some point rendering the raw materials in question extinct.

    See my point?

  20. Anon,

    my sympathies.

    And yet, it's very tough in Europe to find unscented varieties of all those products. Everything has some fragrance of some kind incorporated, even if it's imperceptible or very very subtle and non-perfumy.
    So you see, there's that irony. Which might explain however that there is concern over the reactions of the products on the unsuspecting individual (not everyone is as attuned to what bothers them as you).

    One might say the solution might be to present TWO versions: the one for people with allergies and the one for people who do not have allergies. Then everyone would be happy (except those with allergies sitting side by side to those using the non-aimed-at-people-with-allergies product version, LOL!).
    But that would NOT be a successful solution I believe for two main reasons:
    1)it's not cost-effective to have two versions out for every brandname of soap, laundry detergent, deo, perfume, hand cream, dishwashing liquid etc etc.
    2)many people like to believe they're more delicate than they really are and would tend to opt for the allergen-free version as a badge of "being special". In the end, it brings us to the same conclusion, the allergens-intact version would flop commercially. So what would be the use of keeping it in the first place? I'm absolutely certain the companies have people who have thought of all these things before me. I certainly can't be the first one!

  21. M,

    foods have been labelled with allergens labels for some time. And food is seen as much more "essential" for sustenance than soap and perfume, so the regulations went into place and were effective immediately, like yesterday. You don't want to have people dying of pharynx asphyxiation due to peanut allergy if you're the the company producing the product/the Health Administration/the government, so you make well darn sure that there's a warning at the very least!!
    Perfume was seen as a vain, unnecessary product and it wasn't given proper attention until it was too late and the industry hadn't addressed the issue themselves successfully. As one perfumer told me she heard from another perfumer "they were caught sleeping at the wheel".


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