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The Fragrance industry has a hard life for the past 10 years. Economic crisis? No, not at all. Here we are talking about all the forbidden ingredients black-listed every year and that start making things impossible. In one side we have official institutions and NGOs fighting against Fragrance ingredients supposed to be allergens and in another side, the Fragrance industry…. silent as tomb. Probably the tomb they are digging for themselves. Wake up Fragrance industry or it will be too late.



What if Chanel 5 could not be produced because of legislation? What if Shalimar was forbidden? What if Mitsouko was out-law? Well the Fragrance industry would be burring 4’000 years of history.



In deed, the more the Fragrance industry is attacked, the silent it remains. Of course, in case of a ingredient becomes borderline, all precautions should be take in order to preserve human health. But we have the feeling that every year, there are more energy to shoot down the Fragrance industry rather than trying to maintain it.

Several institutions exist in order to control and to regulate the Fragrance ingredients palette. The first one is called the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, as known as RIFM. It was founded in 1966. It presents a complete database of Flavors and Fragrance ingredients.

In 1973, another very powerful association was founded in Geneva: IFRA. It stands for International Fragrance Association. It is supposed to represent the collective interests of the fragrance industry. Its main purpose is to promote the safe enjoyment of fragrances worldwide.



A list of black-listed ingredients by IFRA exists and most of the Fragrance brands respect this.

  • Amyl Cinnamal
  • Benzyl Alcohol (present in Apricot, Almond, Apple, Aspargus, Banana, Blackcurrant and Blackberry)
  • Cinnamyl Alcohol (present in Hyacinth)
  • Citral (present in Pomelo, Orange, Blackcurrant, Mango, Ginger, Plum, Pimento Berry or Rose)
  • Eugenol (present in Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Rose)
  • Hydroxycitronellal
  • Isoeugenol (present in Ylang-Ylang)
  • Amylcinnamyl Alcohol
  • Benzyl Salicylate (present in Apple flower and Jasmine)
  • Cinnamal (present in Cinnamon and Nutmeg)
  • Coumarin (present in Tonka Bean and Lavender)
  • Geraniol (present in Coriander, Geranium, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Ginger, Nutmeg or Thym)
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclo Hexene Carboxaldehyde
  • Anise Alcohol (present in Honey and Tomato)
  • Benzyl Cinnamate
  • Farnesol (present in Rose)
  • Butylphenyl Methylpropional
  • Linalool (present in Rosewood, Lavender, Lavandin, Banana, Blackerry, Rose, Ylang-Ylang…)
  • Benzyl Benzoate
  • Citronellol (present in Apple, Passion fruit, Peach, Rose, Orange, Blackcurrant and Blackberry)
  • Hexyl Cinnamal
  • Limonene (present in Lemon)
  • Methyl 2-Octynoate
  • Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
  • Evernia Prunastri (present in Oakmoss and Lichen)
  • Evernia Furfuracea


This list is increasing every year. So that is why you can see on the Fragrances packagings more and more ingredients in the list. So these ingredients are not forbidden but limited in terms of usage. So every year, Perfumers try to innovate in order to replace these ingredients. Some of these have new extractions and compartmental qualities, which means having the raw material without the problematic ingredient. But would a Rose oil be Rose oil without Citral, Geraniol or Citronellol? Would you ask a painter to do a masterpiece without primary colours? Hard. The european union is also having a very active role on this dialog as it was identified that 2% of people living in Europe have openly an allergy to products. So sometimes there is a race between IFRA and the European union in order to achieve the most strict legislation. Like if the most strict one would win. Actually everybody looses.


Of course as these would not be enough, we also have environmental associations fighting against the fragrance industry, like Greenpeace. And for the past years, the Fragrance industry became the black sheep of Greenpeace.


Greenpeace started fighting the Oil companies, then came Nuclear and now they fight the Fragrance industry. How? By publishing reports and studies that tend to prove that certain ingredients are cancerigenous. They have also published a green, orange and red list of Brands which follow the rules, their rules, or not. Unfortunately they have been publishing several articles about certain ingredients and their bad effects. Most of the time , RIFM or IFRA successfully proved that Greenpeace was partially wrong but the Fragrance industry never requested a public clarification. One striking example is Phtalate and especially the Diethyl phthalate (DEP). DEP belongs to a big family of phthalic acid diesters. It is a man-made, colourless, oily liquid with a slight aromatic odour and a bitter taste. DEP is used in a diverse array of cosmetic and other personal care products, primarily as a solvent and vehicle for fragrances and other cosmetics ingredients and as an alcohol denaturant. If you listen to Greenpeace, DEP is bad and its contact could produce nasty consequences on human health. Of course this is controversial as all the studies presented by Greenpeace were not representing quite exactly accurate figures and conditions. On this sense, you just need to read what the powerful American Chemistry Council says about DEP: 

But unfortunately the Fragrance industry never stroke back and the several high professional chemists working for the industry never took the time and the freedom to write an article about it towards the public. So people keep their worries.

Since June 2012, the Fragrance industry has a new public enemy on the name of Ian White and his 334 pages file. Right now Dr. White’s file is being reviewed but the European union and several Perfumers say that if this text would be accepted that many legendary fragrances would change for ever. It will be hard to replace the Jasmine and the Rose in Chanel N.5.  Here is the entire document:

Some Fragrances already “died” with the famous Ifra Blacklist. Guerlain’s Parure, created in 1975 did not survived the new deal.



In other industries, like the automobile, lobbies are very strong and many things are done in a certain way that  Automobile companies are protected. In the Fragrance industry, Brand do not wish to take responsibility to allergies, so they play the safe card. Perfumers try to be efficient, transparent and professionals but they should be a little less selfish and start working together. Many of them hide behind IFRA or the European union. It is up to them. The only thing that could happen? Only the disappearance of an Industry, a world heritage.

Fragrance industry… wake up and smell the scent of courage.



Info sourced at IFRA, RIFM, Wikipedia,, All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.