by Jonathan Ore March 13, 2013
New rules proposed by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety have many perfume lovers, and those in the industry, worried for its future. The committee is recommending limits on the use of more than 100 perfume ingredients that may cause allergic reactions.
Denyse Beaulieu, author of The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent, was critical of the possible implications of such a ban on CBC Radio’s The Current Wednesday morning.
“Every time you change regulations, you have to change the formula in existing perfumes, which is not something that the companies producing those perfumes are paid for,” said Beaulieu, who was born in Montreal but now lives in Paris.
“Now there’s this universal zero-risk mentality. Basically they want to protect us from themselves,” she said.
The Committee is specifically recommending a ban on tree moss and oak moss. The latter is a key ingredient in Chanel No. 5, one of the world’s best-known fragrances.
The EU isn’t expected to make a final decision until late 2014.
Restrictions on perfume ingredients have happened before. According to Reuters, birth tar oil was removed from Guerlian’s Shalimar product because it was a suspected cancer risk. And clove oil, lavender and rose oil can only be used in limited quantities because they might trigger an allergic reaction.
Major perfume brands have reformulated their olefactory concoctions thanks to these restrictions, although the industry’s high degree of secrecy means that the exact chemical compositions of the most popular fragrances remain a mystery.
Still, some lament that changes over the years, which include replacing natural ingredients with synthetics that do not cause allergic reactions, has diluted their potency and complexity.