ifra: 4 posts

My Perfume Was Reformulated! What to Do?

” ‘Eau Sauvage was a real chef d’oeuvre in its original form,’ retired perfume-maker Pierre Bourdon, who created Dior’s Dolce Vita and Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros, said of the 1966 scent. ‘It used to be very green and fresh. Today, it has been replaced by something softer and duller,’ ” from EU threat spotlights perfume makers’ secrets.

All my life I’ve been hearing that things used to be better in the past. Paris used to be more exciting, Rome cleaner, New York cheaper. When I began exploring the world of perfumery on a professional level, I was told by many older colleagues that the golden age of fragrance had passed. Talk about curbing one’s enthusiasm! Despite these warnings, I persisted with my perfumery training.

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But you need not be inordinately nostalgic to realize that many perfumes used to be better before many classical materials were banned or restricted and before fragrance companies started reformulating en masse. There is something fascinating about the delicate and precise balance of essences. Even the smallest changes can have dramatic consequences. Imagine what happens when a perfumer is told to remove whole building blocks of a composition or to make a chypre (a mossy perfume type) without moss.

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Designing a Fragrance : From Idea to Scent

More on how perfume is made. The International Fragrance Association of North America (IFRANA) has recently released the first in a series of several short documentary-style films.“Designing a Fragrance: From Idea to Scent” features interviews with perfumers like Carlos Benaim, Christophe Laudamiel,  Steven Claisse and Mark Banwer. It’s a short 3 minute film that outlines how a scent concept takes shape.

Fragrance Regulations Q and A: “Like an Atomic Explosion”

Edit February 13, 2014:  the EU proposal  has been significantly modified in comparison to the original SCCS document released to public in December 2012. The summary of the amended proposal can be found at ec.europa.eu.  Apart from three bans (Lyral, atranol and chloroatranol), the rest of the restrictions match the current IFRA standards. For the time being, there are no new bans or significant new restrictions on other materials, including naturals. As new information becomes available, this article will be updated.

“If this law goes ahead I am finished, as my perfumes are all filled with these ingredients [to be restricted],” said Frédéric Malle, who owns high-end perfume company Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. The impact on luxury perfume brands as a whole would, he said, be “like an atomic explosion and we would not have the means to rebuild ourselves.”


The recent Reuters article, EU threat spotlights perfume makers’ secrets, continues to explore the topic of raw material regulations and reformulations. Not again, you might think, since there was much talk about it already, but the issue of further restrictions on the usage of raw materials is sending so many waves through the industry that it’s hard to avoid. To summarize, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), an advisory body for the European Commission, has proposed to ban several key perfumery materials such oakmoss and Lilial and to extend the existing list of 26 allergens to more than 100. The regulations haven’t yet been adopted, and the final decision will be made next year.

I talked about the issues with escalating regulations in Is Chanel No 5 Being Banned?, and my post generated so many questions and emails that I decided to compile my answers here. The main impact from regulations is on the industry, but as fragrance consumers, we also lose out as our favorite fragrances are reformulated beyond recognition or discontinued. Also, I question the wisdom of replacing materials with a long history of usage with newly developed ingredients, the side effects of which may not become clear until decades down the road. These are good reasons to stay informed about the current situation.

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Is Chanel No 5 Being Banned?

“Iconic 90-year-old perfume Chanel No.5 is one of a host of well-known perfumes that could be banned following research into the allergy-inducing ingredients they contain,” says the Telegraph article “Chanel No.5 perfume faces ban.”  So, should you start stocking up on Chanel No 5?


The mainstream press seems to have woken up to the idea of reformulations and ingredient bans, which is why the Telegraph and other newspapers are running these alarmist headlines. In short, no, Chanel No 5 is not going to be banned in the near future. On the other hand, the pace of ingredient regulation is so fast and so stringent that it’s becoming a real issue for creative perfumery.

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