Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Latest Developments on IFRA and EU Perfume Regulations: Inside Job or Not?

"The idea that IFRA is an inside job to kill the natural raw material side of the fragrance industry may seem like an attractive conspiracy theory at first, but upon even cursory examination, this idea falls apart.
Natural fragrance materials represent a sizeable chunk of the fragrance and flavour industry’s profits (and this includes the main IFRA members). Creating new aroma chemicals is extremely costly, a big risk, and burdened with its own regulatory pressures. Never mind the all too real possibility that an aroma chemical you have brought to market gets restricted or even banned by IFRA in the future if it is found to be problematic by their standards.
If IFRA were an inside job, this sort of thing would never happen."


The low down on the European Union and IFRA regulations on fragrance and potential allergens as of this very minute is on Basenotes, as written by the knowledgable Pia Long. Please take a look if you haven't by now.

I have personally preached (forgive the emphatic word, I do consider myself an educator and an eternal student first and foremost) the complexities of the matter and the simplistic context of "just follow the money". It's more than that. You can find some of my old articles when the furore online first started under the Restrictions tab.

But perfume is considered such a frivolity by so many people that the greater issues that the industry itself experiences seldom get the limelight. It's high time that we sat down, ignored getting our panties in a wad for once and gave it some balanced attention.


  1. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read into this in depth. As a result , I did get a better perspective on IFRA regulations and why, but still it makes me sad. There are so many products out there (not to even mention processed foods) that are probably more harmful than even the most serious fragrance offender. Household products have so many harmful chemicals in them and yet they have been to get away with it and not even list the ingredients of their products (at least in the recent past). As much as I love perfume and always have, most people I know do not even use perfume. So I would say it is not the same as eating pizza or drinking orange juice. Although a lot of people do wear fragrance, they are somewhat a minority. I know just as many people who do not wear perfume as those who it is a wash. Yet the same people who do not wear perfume, use harsh household products and buy processed foods. So go figure. I have no influence or power in this situation and just will keep reading posts like yours that will keep me in the loop. I truly hope that the few of us who love fragrance will never have to live in a world of scentless people. We already live in a world of senseless people (pun intended) and a world without fragrance would not be much of a world at all.

    Thanks you for letting me vent while I am wearing Chanel's Jersey...not her actual jersey but her Exclusif Jersey. I live alone so I know I am not "offending" anyone nor breaking any rules tonight. Long live the scented people!

  2. Sorry for the "typos" in my post. I hate it when that happens.

  3. This just puts me in a whizz .... I read Phyllis Iervello's post above and I thought - "Mmmm, that's me too - I do not want to live in a scentless world either" !

    I am wearing Guerlains Cuir Beluga ... not his caviar on his dainty plate for tea ... the Parfum Exclusive Line LOL :)
    I do not live alone but ..... My husband sadly smokes so he better not complain plus his sense of smell is not so good now !

  4. Thanks for the link. Your posts are always extremely informative. As an economist, I was also under the assumption that any self-regulation must hide some form of collusion and market manipulation. But Pia's discussion is really helpful in framing the problem in a different way.

    Reading through her apologetic tone (perhaps she's trying not to be to harsh), it seems a case of regulators gone wild together with complete lack of interest from the part of the perfume industry, which simply didn't care. After all, monsieur A of LMVH fame was already cheapening his stable of masterpieces well before IFRA came screaming. Again, perhaps I have a jaded view of the matter, but industries are usually good at preventing overregulation (didn't monsieur A forbid resale of certain product on ebay in France? I may have this wrong but it sounds plausible).

    In any case, while a bit too passive towards the current situation, Pia's article gives plenty of food for thoght and provides a good set of ideas as a starting point for moving forward.

  5. sounds like the regulations necessary to bring a new fragrance to market are almost as stringent & expensive as bringing a new drug to market. Expect to pay more for fragrance products (or expected more diluted, 'sheer' and or derivative fragrances) in the future I suppose.

  6. Solangen11:10

    Pia's piece was thoroughly research and contained good background info.

    However, all that can be true, and still allow for the fact that the perfume industry is clearly following in the footsteps of the pharmaceutical industry. No planned "conspiracy" is necessary. It's the way large corporations who must answer to stockholders go.

    Regulators cannot go crazy without somebody above them's permission. And somebody above them is usually motivated, at some point in the chain, by a suitcase full of money.

    Europe does not have the government transparency standards or the securities industry regulation and reporting requirements that (so far) exist in the U.S., so it's harder to track that process through public records.

    But the end tells the tale: mainstream commercial perfume is of increasingly poor quality, while markets are being manipulated to keep quality ingredients from small competitors. That's just the facts of the situation.

    Don't want to annoy people, but Europe has never been friendly to competition as a means of keeping industry monopoly-free, and the United States is fast catching up with that. I can recall being told by a Frankfurt photography shop whose prices were too high that there wasn't anybody else in that neighborhood because they "already had the photo shop." Same story with bakeries, etc. Now perfume.

  7. Thanks for all your inspired comments, dear readers!
    I'm glad that you found the piece interesting. It sums up what endless hours of research and clarification would do, so it's good that someone put it out there for all to read.
    Thanks for sharing your opinion here, it's very much valued.


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