We all like to jump on perfume houses that reformulate our favorite perfumes into banality, but all too frequently they are simply complying with new regulations. Ready for more bad news? IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) has now proposed restrictions on the use of citrus oils in cosmetics and perfumes. You can read a summary of the original proposal at Furanocoumarins in cosmetics – worrying developments at the Aromaconnection blog, and a more detailed response from Cropwatch (an "independent watchdog for endangered and vulnerable natural aromatic products") can be found at IFRA moves towards forcing perfumers to abandon citrus oils at Anya's Garden.
Please feel free to comment, but I haven't done more than skim the articles linked to above and I haven't the patience to do more than that, nor can I comment on the science behind the various claims. But regardless of how you feel about synthetic aroma materials, it is very sad to watch the slow disappearance of natural materials from perfumery. Here is Luca Turin's 2005 response to the news that Guerlain was reformulating its classics to comply with IFRA regulations:
...you seldom hear, at a funeral, a friend of the deceased saying "what do you expect, she wore L'Heure Bleue"... (via Perfume Notes, 6/5/2005)
See also: Groups organizing boycott of IFRA's 40th Amendment, Groups organizing boycott of IFRA's 40th Amendment, part 2, IFRA vs. Cropwatch, part 3
Note: image of Citrus x bergamia from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887 via Wikimedia.
Although I agree with the entire article, it is subjective, rather than objective. It basically says that IFRA is trying to restricts these oils and other components due to their potential cancer causing properties. I work for a skin care company, and they've already gotten rid of some of our best and most soothing natural ingredients; azulene, for example, naturally derived beta carotene for another. For global reasons, as you said, Robin.
This article brings up two (subjective) points –
1. That IFRA jumped on the sun-sensitivity and cancer causing property of some ingredients without doing full studies on their beneficial properties, and are therefore in error in presenting such a case, and
2. That if large fragrance corps continue to fund IFRA (does this mean IFF and Givadaun types) that we will lose our freedom of natural raw materials.
On the first point, I appreciate the government interfering with ingredients that harm animals. But as for the ingredients that harm me – make the information known, and I can make my own choice.
I have no idea about the second point – our the larger corps anti raw material? Can anyone expand on this?
Sorry for the dissertation… It's something I'm experiencing in my everyday work, so I'm a little heated about it.
I would not say that the large fragrance & flavor companies are “anti raw materials” because I have no information on that either way. Although they do manufacture & sell synthetic aroma chemicals, I don't think it follows that they'd like to see perfumers restricted in what materials they can use.
However, the fact is that we've already seen some raw materials replaced by synthetics due to IFRA regulations. I know many, many people who wore classic chypres for years and don't know a single person who ever had an allergic reaction to the oakmoss, yet oakmoss is now restricted (not banned, but restricted). That is not to say that nobody ever had an allergic reaction to oakmoss, but given that grocery stores still sell peanut butter (and I do know people who are severely allergic to peanuts) all of this is just ridiculous to me.
Well, will Un Jardin sur Le Nil be reformulated and Concentre d'Orange Verte and Feu d'Orange, to mention just three?!?
What about all those lemonscented diswashing products, it was lemon this and lemon that for decades..
If the citrusoils would only be banned from washing products and airrefresheners, that would already make a big difference.
Leave perfumes out of that restriction for these are used by far not so frequently and in high doses as the before mentioned products.
It could be enough to put a little warming sticker on a bottle of perfume.
What will follow? Orange blossom and all the other blossoms, which flowers will be banned some day and which spices?
Perfumes exist for thousands of years, this is so exaggerated…phew!
Bear in mind that none of the products you mentioned, perfumes or household products, necessarily contain REAL citrus oils. I'm not saying they don't, but nor do I know if they do. And if the point is prolonged skin contact, things like air fresheners & washing products might be besides the point.
I think we've already seen w/ oakmoss that perfume companies would prefer not to put warning labels on their products, unfortunately.
So it only about prolonged skin contact..but inhaling is far more direct and invasive.
How long does it take for any citrus oils ot evaporate from the skin and just leave a trace of scent behind.
I am not a professional but my common sense tells me that citrus oils are not dangerous.
Ok common sense it not my strongest point but, guys I love citrusfruits and their skin and I love bergamote in tea and perfume.
Oh well we are not dealing with fresh oils here. Maybe something in the workingprocess does something wrong.
But the consequences will be enormous.
This is interesting, though like you I don't have the patience to do more than skim those articles.
I'm curious to know, really, how much modern perfumery still relies on natural oils and extracts versus synthetics. It's entirely possible that stricter regulation will hardly be noticed by the consumer. It's unfortunate that in the era of litigation, business needs to be super-vigilant about its approach to risk when self regulating. I can see both sides of the regulation debate: sometimes it seems ludicrous, but then at times we'd be screaming if we found out that something was “dangerous” and we as consumers either weren't told about it or weren't “protected” from it.
Also, loved the quote “what do you expect… she wore L'Heure Bleue.”
As I said, I can't comment on the science — I know nothing at all about it.
Joe, I can't answer except that I think it's obvious that the oakmoss restrictions had a HUGE effect, and one that is easily noticed by consumers (or at least, perfumista-type consumers). Given that oakmoss appeared to pose little or no danger to the vast majority of consumers, I think that's just tragic.
I have always been puzzled as to why the perfume companies so quickly fell in line with IFRA's recommendations. They don't actually make laws or enforce their recs — or do they?
I've always wondered if those who followed the recs were waiting for an excuse to use less expensive products…
Or perhaps once IFRA turns its eye on a component it becomes much harder to obtain?
Sorry for all the (likely unanswerable) questions — guess I should go read up! LOL But it is difficult to feel one is getting unbiased information on this topic…
OK, I didn't go do the research, but I did post a question on Anya's blog about this — we'll see what she says.
You can learn more about how IFRA amendments turn into regulations here:
although that is not an unbiased source either, and I will readily admit that I am both biased and uninformed. Strictly speaking, I suppose I should have just posted the news without comment in this case…
If this does come to pass, it will be very very bad news for me. I am a huge fan of citrus fragrances, and also use cosmetics and cleaning products made with natural citrus oils. How can oil extracted from citrus rind possibly be any more harmful than syntheic products cooked up in a lab? (not that synthetic products are necessarily). It seems crazy to me that this would even be considered.
Sad sad sad… If I get it right it all has to do with photo-carcinogenic potentials. Why don't they just ask users to apply perfume to “shady” areas? That would solve the problem. Or just advice people to wear a f*ing scarf!! I do that in the sun anyway…
I just imagine all those Colognes, Geez, the Guerlain Eaux without natural citrus!!
I just got upset yesterday about EU regulations that make producers of drinks use a standardised bottle size (0,75ml) for export. I'm really not a pessimist but where is this all going?
Just something that comes to my mind. Dunno if there's a connection: NIVEA have reformulated their famous scent for their skincare product (e.g. for the skin cream introduced in 1911) some years ago. I read an interview with the award winning (for reformulating a scent that existed about 100 years?) house perfumer who said they replaced the natural bergamot oil with synthetic because of potential allergic reactions. But allergy and photo-carcinogenic potential sound like two different pair of shoes…
It seems crazy to me too
See, that is insane — how many people do you know who've had an allergic reaction to Nivea?? Do people really envision (or even want) a world in which anything that is potentially allergenic is banned? Bah.