Thread: Email sent to: IFRA
For what it is worth, I sent an email to the IFRA regarding my feelings about Oakmoss specifically and limitations or prohibitions of alleged alergins in fragrance. It may do no good but, wrongs continue if good persons fail to act. I would encourage you all to write an email as well suggesting discalimers rather than bans. Below is a copy of what I sent. If you google IFRA and go to thier web site you can send an email directly.
Gentlemen: As a long time purchaser of fragrance products I must say that I am greatly dismayed by some of the reductions or banning of some substances which are vital to the very essence of certain genres of fragrance. I would like to know why Oakmoss, for example, is, after decades of use, suddenly so dangerous to the public. Good science does not a good substitute make for the informed right of choice on the part of the fragrance purchaser. If you must protect us use disclaimers as does the pharmaceutical industry regarding possible side effects. Your edicts would eliminate scents as the public has come to know them. If Oakmoss causes more than a rash I would like to see the scientific evidence. I am convinced that the effect on the fragrance industry and the purchasing public is disproportionate to industries where allergans are concerned.
Last edited by N_Tesla; 3rd June 2010 at 04:03 AM.
Amen! Cigarettes and alcohol are far more dangerous than oakmoss and no one is trying to ban either. If oakmoss had a huge lobby and legions of lawyers, everything would be different.
Good on ya ,D !
It's not just oakmoss ,it's jasmine too, amongst others too. But you know, I don't think the people who decide all this ,care what we think or say.
My two cents, there are worse things going on in this world right now ,like the oil spill ,which is still spewing, as I type. What on earth ( literally ) does oakmoss ,jasmine etc matter in perfumes......??
i mean , the IFRA "have their knickers in a twist".
Last edited by Mimi Gardenia; 3rd June 2010 at 05:47 AM.
I applaud your initiative, N Tesla, and will follow suit, as I hope all BNers will.
And the science? It's all the IFRA's science. They do their own in-house research and then fund a panel of experts to review the data. Amusingly, the standard suggested by the IFRA is almost always the one the experts come to agree on.
I am afraid even tons of e-mail protests wouldn't cause more than a few amused smiles within the billion dollar global cartel.
And yet - one up for initiative, Tesla!
Last edited by narcus; 3rd June 2010 at 06:13 AM.
'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.
Re. oakmoss- for interest's sake...
What about sulfates in wines? Will they take all wines off the market? How silly and narrow is this?
"No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.
Why can't we do some "fragrance activism"?
I don't know if you can provide us with IFRA'S e-mail addres, but you might as well send it to me via PM so I can send them an e mail.
I can't imagine them having any objection to receiving emails from the concerned public.
Stephen Weller, IFRA Director of Communications:
Mattias Vey, IFRA Science Director:
Please be polite as possible, these good people can help us a great deal.
But a few questions that are worth posing:
-Why does the IFRA target essential perfume ingredients (oakmoss, jasmine etc.) for review and restriction while placing no limits on hazardous chemicals that appear in their members' products? (strychnidin, xylene, ethylene glycol etc.)
- Do the companies who produce the synthetics used to replace naturals have a conflict of interest when voting? What about the executive officers of the IFRA who are also employees of these same companies?
-Doesn't the allocation of votes based on the percent of the IFRA's budget the company supplies amount to private "pay-to-play" politics?
- The Melissa Oil ban was reversed; the three unpublished studies cited in establishing the ban were later revealed to contain no evidence of adverse human reactions. Why did the IFRA fund testing only to ignore the data? Why aren't these studies available for public review in case of a similar occurrence?
-Why is the IFRA Swiss headquarters inside of Givaudan's (major fragrance manufacturer and IFRA vote holder) Geneva offices?
-IFRA standards have marred or destroyed many of the artistically significant fragrances. That's not a question just a solid bone to pick.
And we could go on and on . . .
Zizanioides- fantastic questions and thanks for the email addresses too.
I think some "fragrance activism" is more than appropriate. I would encourage all Base Notes members to write to the IFRA in order to have our voices heard. The greatest mistake we can make is to assume that our efforts will come to naught and thereby sit, complain to ourselves and do nothing. Apathy is our worst enemy. If the IFRA receive enough emails it will have an effect. Please take a few moments and send the IFRA an email.
Last edited by N_Tesla; 4th June 2010 at 08:54 AM.
I would also suggest flooding the brands with letters about reformulations. The only thing that would get IFRA members to stand up is customer dissatisfaction.
Stephen Weller, whom I met and interviewed, is well aware of the point of view of the online perfume community. In an open letter to Perfumer & Flavourist, I conveyed our concerns and suggested that the industry leverage our enthusiasm and knowledge to convey positive messaging about fragrance, to counteract the negative campaigns that scare them so...
Blogging at http://graindemusc.blogspot.com/
I have bombarded companies with emails but sometimes they don't reply. Chanel is one of those. P & G for Jean Patou was surprisingly one of the good ones who replied twice ,researched my questions re. Joyand took my concerns seriously. I really felt likethey were interested.
Guerlain- well- they just give you standard issue replies most of the time . I write about reformulation issues etc and Ms Rousseau replies about how wonderful their customer service is ,how they value their customer and how to apply perfume !
Last edited by Mimi Gardenia; 4th June 2010 at 02:15 PM.
Carmencanada, your Perfumer&Flavorist editorial was just terrific and I commend you on your efforts. Did you ever receive any replies from within the industry? My gut feeling is that you did not, and for the same reasons you and others suggest. Their attempts to corner the market on perfume ingredients by monopolizing the access and availability of them, with their boots firmly planted on the necks of the dependent, smaller essential oil businesses, is something that must be stopped.
These divide-and-conquer tactics have been used by all the power-mad groups in history: religions, mafia, nazis, pharmaceutical companies, and now most of the larger corporations throughout the world. Yes, it may sound a tad alarmist, but the truth is the truth, and it is sometimes too horrifying to want to really believe. But facts are facts. We all are becoming more and more aware of the dangers that self-regulation in Corporatism can have on our societies. The individual may still have some leverage, but it must be large-scale to have any effect.
It always starts with small things, doesn't it. First this, then that, then it escalates into a trend. I hope that we can garner more individual effort to do just as N Tesla has suggested, and continue to battle this pervasive devouring of independence. With little bites, they slowly consume our ability to have free choice in so many venues...lets not let them take over EVERY aspect of the fragrance industry too!
I have not received a response to my email. If anyone else who sends the IFRA a message receives a reply please consider posting it.
We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this anymore!
See my blog; http://www.basenotes.net/blogs/2645-kumquat
Financial Times article criticizing the IFRA. Hooray public exposure!
Thanks for sharing this Zizanoides!
With the new 43rd amendment regulations taking place this year, does anyone know if any additional reformulations have hit major fragrances since the beginning of the year? I.e., I know Mitsouko was reformulated in 2007, but will it be reformulated again this year?
It's hard to say. Sometimes reformulations will take place even before the amendments are publicly announced while other companies will hold off as long as possible. Sometimes this works out very well as in the case of Oakmoss, who's implementation date for existing formulas has been rolled back 3(?) times and is now set somewhere in 2011. Sadly, unless you find changes on the allergen listing on the back of the box or shell out the cash for a GC/MS analysis you can't say for certain.
Thanks for the great article Zizanioides - great reading. I hope ,if anything, reformulations will happen to include 'new' oakmoss- one that complies with the IFRA .
There is oakmoss now available that complies I believe.... http://www.perfumerflavorist.com/fra.../90265777.html
I posted this earlier - this gives me hope ! I hope Guerlain can reformulate to add this kind of oakmoss ??
I got a reply from Stephen Weller who seems like a nice guy, to be honest.
"Thank you for your email. I understand your frustration at the reformulations and the fact that some ingredients, old favourites, have been banned or restricted.
The problem we have is that regulators have to do what their political leaders tell them through legislation. Over the past 30 to 40 years there has been a constant political and societal push to eliminate as much risk from peoples lives as possible. Allergic reactions to various materials are on the increase all over the world. However, allergic reactions to fragrances are on the decrease thanks largely to the industry getting together and developing its own set of Standards to ensure the safety of their products. As an industry we are consequently in a much better position than had we done nothing regarding potentially sensitizing materials being used. The entire industry could have been banned and there are still NGOs and political organisations who are campaigning for this.
It gives us no pleasure to ban or retsrict materials and we spend a great deal of time, effort and money to assess materials and indeed defend many of them. However, if the science clearly shows a material as being a sensitizer, we have to react or the authorities will. By restricting and monitoring materials we have managed to keep many in use and avoid authiorities simply banning them outright.
We do our best to keep the perfumer's pallette as large as possible, but we also have to balance the needs of society and the regulators.
I hope this explanation of our activities and intentions has helped clarify our role for you."
Thanks a lot, Mimi! Good to see a response, I'll post anything I get back.
And I agree, Mr. Weller is a nice guy as I'm sure everyone is at the IFRA. It's important to remember not to vilify them as an evil organization (not that anyone was! but I like to remind myself) but a association founded with genuinely good intentions. The issue is the structuring of internal legislation and decision making and a Gordian interweaving with the corporate members, raising serious doubts about neutrality and producing bizarre results.
"However, if the science clearly shows a material as being a sensitizer, we have to react or the authorities will. By restricting and monitoring materials we have managed to keep many in use and avoid authiorities simply banning them outright."
There are many, many sensitizers and allergens in IFRA member products which are not regulated by that organization.
Possible Allergens: Soy, Peanut Oil, Milk, Egg protein, (these are more common as oral allergens but skin reactions do occur, I assume these go into the cream-type products but it's anyone's guess), propylene glycol and associated chemicals
Skin Irritants: Oxalic Acid and Tartaric acid (the chemical sting in nettles), Formic Acid (skin irritant found in fire ant and other insect bites), Valeric acid, Crotonaldehyde, Urea (chief component of urine, yum!), Resins: oleo-capsicum and paprika,
Solvents: Turpentine, Xylene, Ethylene glycol (Anti-freeze), Petroleum ether, Naptha
Bizarre/Dangerous Ingredients: Brucine (strychnine relative, symptoms of poisoning start at 2mg dose), Piperidine (PCP precursor)*
. . .and these are just the ones I had written down from earlier, the list just goes on and on.
Do these chemicals appear in concentrations that pose a risk to perfume user? Doubt it, but I'd believe that chili pepper and urine are much worse for your skin than oak moss. *steps off of soap box*
*All ingredients from the IFRA January report
Last edited by Zizanioides; 7th June 2010 at 10:15 PM.
Off-topic, but urea's actually great for your skin - it's an ingredient in a lot of therapeutic lotions for dry or sensitive skin for that very reason. Gross, however, if you think about it.
I just have not heard about a wave of oakmoss-related death and destruction ... the stuff has been used in fragrances for around 100 years, hasn't it? Wouldn't we have noticed people keeling over before now?
Lovely activism guys!
If I may, I would like to play the Devil's advocate just a little: you've got to think that IFRA has a lot on their plate because they're getting harassed from two directions. There are the perfumistas (us). But there are also the (particularly North American) NGOs, such as the EWG who publish hysterical manifestos about 'the secret chemicals in perfumes' despite there being a fully public list on IFRA's website of everything used in perfumes today.
The raison d'etre for IFRA is to become law in the representative countries and thus bypass official government regulation. I can imagine this would raise suspicion on both sides.
What would be the better solution?
I think my biggest current frustration with all of this is the lack of proper care with the science and funding of certain projects. Some materials aren't deemed worth the effort of either, which can mean a meaningless restriction or a ban.
My thoughts on this, from The Male Fragrance Forum in the thread entitled
" How IFRA and the EU continue to destroy the art of perfumery. "
1. Do you have any idea how much a crate of Oakmoss costs these days?
2. You try to take control of your life only to find it's controlled for you by petty bureaucracy
3. There has to be something more to life than just being safe.
4. We're not all stupid. We don't all need nursemaiding.
I mean, if I lightly sprayed Bois du Portugal and had asthmatics pass out whenever I entered an elevator I think I wold get the idea.
( I probably wore A*Men by mistake )
When did life become so dangerous, anyway?
The OP article shows that the "science" is questionable:
• Toxicological testing requirements for cosmetics are not specified, although the SCC(NF)P / SCCS ‘expert’ committee offers opinions "
( Why, Oh why, did they not have rats sprayed with Patou PH vs Axe? )
You know, if I developed acute contact dermatitis by wearing Curve I'd probably conclude that, gee I'm allergic to Curve and shouldn't wear it, or that C.G. Jung's Collective Unconscious is telling me: " For God's sake! Get a bit of class . . ."
Has anyone tried getting drunk by drinking a bottle of Chanel # 5?
BRING BACK PROHIBITION!
We are not all stupid!
Tax the stupid people:
Cheers, sweetie darling.
P.S. I still think the world might be destroyed by an acronym. . .
I am allergic to dairy products. I appreciate a label of food items that says CONTAINS MILK. It is helpful to me, as in many cases milk is not an obvious ingredient. It is a sufficient solution for me. I am not lobbying to have milk (or any other food allergen) removed.
Am I being reasonable or am I insensitive to the sensitivity of the sensitizers?
So one has to wonder: why hasn't the fragrance industry gone in the same direction as food allergy labelling? This would provide consumers the choice between 'may contain nuts' or 'free-from' type ranges which could be created in fine fragrance lines too.
There are some ingredients that simply aren't sensible, even with labelling (say bergamot oil containing furanocoumarins - might as well take those out since we can these days). But many, MANY of the restrictions are merely recommendations, and a lot of the allergen science is more than a bit iffy. Especially since a lot of it relies on animal testing.
I have this suspicion that the situation actually is not quite as we perceive as 'perfumistas'.
It's not 'perfumistas' versus 'the industry'. It's actually the anti-perfume lobbyists versus the industry. The chemical-illiterati, over-zealous hysteria-generating general public that currently makes the most noise. The industry seems to be responding to that. They seem to have IFRA on the back-foot.
So maybe the real solution would be us (the perfumistas) to join forces with IFRA and start a massive campaign to get some scent sense in the world. Maybe?
I don't know. The way it's currently heading with jasmine being strangulated and all that other jazz; it's no fun for anyone.
Also, I would suspect that we don't even have a consensus position within the 'perfumista community'. Perhaps a discussion in a fresh thread on what IFRA should do (if anything) is in order. I would like to see the diversity of opinions out there.
From an interview with Stephen Weller on mimifrou.com: "However, not all consumers read labels or indeed understand the information on the label.
Therefore, IFRA Standards are needed to help reduce the incidents of sensitisation to certain materials. Experience shows that labelling alone does not have the desired effect."
A major issue with this opposition to labeling is it forces member companies into a precarious position. Warning labels exist to protect the consumer and the manufacturer. If someone had an adverse reaction, perfume companies are entirely naked to "failure to warn" suits, a kind of product defect tort where a company is liable for any foreseeable dangers they didn't proclaim. It's one of the reasons everything in the U.S. from pillows to candy bars comes with a disclaimer concerning relevant threats. If perfumes were a significant source of consumer harm (or any real source) every manufacturer would make the ingredients a matter of public record to prevent legal suicide, just like food manufacturers. Just how real is the threat of perfumes if companies can't be bothered to take basic steps in protecting themselves?*
-Disclosing relevant information is simple via the internet, Proctor and Gamble have an entire site devoted to the ingredients of their products and companies aren't liable to make you understand the information, just to present it.
It could be a matter of trade secrets but, as Burr explains, competitors are the first to analyze new releases hence the only people who don't know the ingredients are the general public, the ones least likely to exploit them and most likely to be harmed. The outline of Coca-Cola's recipe, one of the most valuable trade secrets in the world, is printed on every can and no one has run them out of business yet. So why doesn't it work for perfume?
*(From Hafner v. Guerlain "Evidence at the trial indicated that of some 270,000 sales of the perfume in 1963, there were only 25 complaints received." And this is back in the golden age of nitro-musks. If anyone has statistics on the number of perfume complaints/lawsuits each year I'd love to see them)
Last edited by Zizanioides; 9th June 2010 at 06:24 AM.
I can only speculate that the majority of fragrance manufacturers fear loss of sales and marketing 'magic' more than they fear a couple of law suits...
If one declared the full ingredients list of a perfume, it wouldn't make any sense to a typical consumer. It would look frightening and unnatural. This would probably lead to lost sales generally - and especially in the chemophobic contingent.
There is a huge failure by the general public to understand the basic concept that everything is made up of chemicals. Plants are giant chemical factories. Humans are too. Etc, etc. It's absolutely no good separating natural and synthetic chemicals - they're all just chemicals from a toxicological viewpoint.
Additionally, the marketing copy of 'gardenia notes' and the like would look even more fake than it does today because you could quickly see what has actually gone into the juice. Even the natural materials would look scary because of all the allergens they contain.
I certainly don't think it would be necessary to declare percentages (thereby giving away the whole formula which is certainly not at the best interest of the manufacturer!). However, I have pondered about the pros and cons about declaring all of the ingredients. My personal opinion is that until we somehow manage to tackle the unjustified hysteria about 'evil chemicals' overall, declaring the whole list of ingredients is not the right solution - not yet. Going towards the direction of 'buyer beware' and adopting a system akin to food allergy labelling - that would be great. It would seem the next logical step from the EU regulation of having to declare allergens on the label already.
I'm not sure there's a great deal we can do against the 'evil chemicals' camp and I'm skeptical how much of a role they play in shaping IFRA policy. For one, most of their invective is confined to attacking secondary perfume ingredients (UV-blockers, solvents, stabilizers) and the now demonized DEP and other phthalates. In the much publicized report from EWG, "Not So Sexy: The The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance", http://www.ewg.org/files/SafeCosmetics_FragranceRpt.pdf there is a single mention of oak moss and an entire section devoted to phthalates, one of the few ingredients the IFRA spoke out in defense of. In my limited research, most of these groups don't really care that much about the majority of IFRA restrictions or advocate restrictions on the beloved natural ingredients.
scentsitivity, I'd be happy to engage in that thread.
Discussing the IFRA's negative impact on we the consumers is good but, how many of you actually sent an email outlining your displeasure as consumers? There is an old saying " if your not part of the solution then you are part of the problem." Consumer pressure does work but only if apathy takes a back seat.
I think Stephen Weller is very happy to comunicate with parfumistas so we should at least tell him how we feel . Nothing to lose that is not already lost.
Last edited by narcus; 11th June 2010 at 05:52 AM.
'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.
A personal note: have just experienced contact dermatitis from using a niche perfume sample. Had the same reaction years ago from a now-defunct Helena Rubinstein scent. The solution? I've used a mild cortisone cream and the rash is now subsiding.
This is an idiosyncratic reaction of my skin to some perfume ingredient and not a cause for banning it. I don't know which ingredient specifically sparked the reaction, but it doesn't matter. I won't be using either of those scents again, but I hope the niche perfume is going to be around for years to come, as it was a great scent and most people don't get reaction.
My point? What's a little rash on the wrist compared to the risk of losing forever our great perfumes? Nothing at all!
And incidentally, I've tried a number of "wet wipes" and found I got a really bad reaction from all of them, but there's nothing on the labels to indicate any potential problem.
So why focus on the very minor issues around certain perfume ingredients, and why ban them when most people are fine with them?
I'll be e-mailing Mr. Weller to make these points. Thank you for posting the address.