|A BAD WHIFF OVER FRAGRANCE|
|This article was written by Melanie McDonagh in the London Evening Standard - 16.07.2010 You can see the actual article by clicking here.. |
"Just imagine how some of us would feel if the Food Standards Agency put out a diktat saying that because a few people have undeniably disagreeable reactions to nuts, from now on Walnut Whips will be banned, or at least reduced to a quarter of a walnut per whip.
Or if walnuts are allowed, they will have to be specially treated and will cost a fiver each. We'd be pretty browned off, we Walnut Whip fanciers.
Something not altogether dissimilar is happening in the world of fragrance, unbeknown to most women who would rather starve than go without their Shalimar, or whatever their signature scent is. A number of well-known, classic scents have been changed quite noticeably under our very noses because the amounts of active ingredients that can go into them is being reduced or else banned outright. Lovely, new scents have had to be altered beyond recognition for the same reason.
The perfume industry, you see, has its very own regulatory body called Ifra, based in Brussels. And its board of scientific experts is issuing ever more draconian regulations restricting the use of fragrance materials that might conceivably cause an allergic reaction in someone, somewhere.
Ifra was established by manufacturers who use fragrance. Its board of scientific experts issues a rolling set of regulations every year, specifying limits for an ever-growing number of ingredients. This year's, the 44th amendment, is particularly lengthy, including things such as vanilla, which is about as common in fragrance as it is in cakes, and the elusive material that replicates the smell of violets. Like it or not, scent makers are going to have to comply in the course of the next two years, or face being named and shamed by the fragrance version of the Health and Safety Executive.
A growing number of perfumers are getting tetchy at being bossed around by a panel of scientists that includes toxicologists and dermatologists. Serge Lutens, the Paris-based perfumer who makes fabulous scents for Shiseido, is one. He says: The forbidden ingredients this time round are so extensive that I am asking myself, to give you an analogy, how could a baker make bread without flour? Substituting some materials with others is an option but it is possible that some fragrances will never see the light of day. This has already happened to me three times.
Many of the restricted ingredients are natural materials because, being natural, they are more complex than synthetic ones. And the finer the fragrances, the more high-quality natural materials they use. What really annoys the perfumers is that some of the ingredients on the list includes stuff that we can actually eat, such as basil or lemon.
Roja Dove, the perfume guru, says exasperatedly: It's essential that the public is protected but many of these restricted materials have been used for centuries, if not millennia. It seems like a form of bureaucracy gone nuts.
For its part, Ifra says public safety is paramount. But shouldn't perfume-wearers be the judge of that? Look girls, there's a lot at stake. If you don't like the way your scent has changed, write to the head office of the company that makes it, saying you're not happy. This is one bit of Brussels bureaucracy we can do without.
Scent makers will have to comply or be named and shamed by the fragrance version of Health and Safety".