February 15, 2007

Threat to Artisan Perfumers

The access to and use of natural essences and materials for perfume is under serious threat by the proposed IFRA 40th Amendment, which establishes industry standards that would disastrously affect artisans making perfume in this country and elsewhere. In a few years, we may no longer be able to use many, even most, of the natural fragrance essences and materials we know, which have been used for thousands of years. Ingredients such as rose, jasmine, ylang ylang bergamot, clove, narcisscus absolute, clary sage, ginger, tuberose, lemon verbena and tea tree could become listed as dangerous, and their use not commercially viable. The individual artisan perfume maker who is now expressing a new energy and creativity in making perfume, may be regulated out of existence. The European Union has in the recent past voluntarily adopted certain stringent standards in relation to natural perfume essences, such as oakmoss, based on the recommendations of a body set up for self regulation of the perfume industry, and adopted as the industry standard by IFRA (the International Fragrance Association). The U.S. and others are invited to and probably will also adopt these standards so that U.S. products may be marketed to the E.U. countries. The requirements for the use of most of the natural perfume materials would be so stringent and require so much red tape and bureaucratic regulation as to make it impractical for anyone as an individual and even the large fragrance companies to commercially offer fragrances with natural components to the public.

It would be more reasonable to label perfumes with a list of their natural perfume ingredients, so that the consumer can make an informed choice. If they know oakmoss, for example, affects them badly, they read an ingredients label and choose to avoid it. You can join the effort for public review of this regulatory process by participating in the petition to boycott the IFRA 40th amendment, linked to at either Cropwatch or Anya McCoy's site. It would be logical to think that public opinion would influence the perfume industry and the regulatory bodies if they know that the public cares and is watching.

I recall recently being given scent strips of a very fine jasmine essence at a lunch for a Sniffapalooza event. The whole table went into an olfactory swoon at the beauty, complexity and mellowness of the fragrance, so deep and rich even as compared to the many composed synthetic perfumes we had all been sampling that day. The loss of that connection to the beauty and deep complexity of natural essences would be a huge blow to the art of perfumery.
Above, St. George Kills a Dragon, by Raphael 1518


Anonymous said...

What was the jasmine scent you experienced?
I adore a good jasmine frag!

Lucy said...

Hi RHM -- it was a natural pure absolute brought by the perfumers, who did the coffret related to the book (and movie) "Perfume" by Suskind -- it is one of the fragrances in the coffret -- see my previous post on the movie and the coffret on December 10, 2006 titled "Perfume with Sniffapalooza and Les Christophs"
There is a link there to the Mugler site which sells the coffret -- unavailable elsewhere.

miss tango in her eyes said...

Is this just for perfume makers or does this apply to aromatherapists as well?

Lucy said...

Miss tango - I am not exactly sure, but I will check into Cropwatch and do other research as best I can and really take a look at that aspect. I would recommend that you do so as well. I think it may, because aromatherapists use natural essences. Their use may become increasingly either expensive or unavailable as it becomes commercially un-viable to produce and market the substances without compliance to stringent regulation.

miss tango in her eyes said...

This is the most insane thing I have ever heard. Are they going to start to regulate which flowers we can grow in our gardens next?