If you’ve never heard of the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non Food Products, otherwise known by the rather boring acronym, SCCNFP, then you’re in good company. Not many people have. And yet, their research into fragrance ingredients could potentially cause such disruption to the fragrance industry that it will never be the same again. Basically, it is formed of academics and scientists who have a remit from the EU Commission to investigate fragrance toxicity and fragrance allergens. This is all well and good, of course, to ensure safe products that won’t have you wheezing or scratching, but it encompasses so many fragrance ingredients, including the natural essences that are vital to the very heart of a fragrance that perfumiers everywhere are wondering what on earth they can put into their perfumes that will pass regulations.

The entire thing is intensely complicated and far surpasses my understanding of chemicals and toxicity, but looking at a somewhat outdated list of banned substances (information on the SCCNFP work is suprisingly hard to find), these include for example, fig leaf, musk ambrette and Verbena due to their sensitizing potential. Verbena is permitted under great restrictions, however. Also under restriction are Oakmoss and Treemoss, Cumin oil, Cinnamon Bark Oil, and any furocoumarin-like substances (furocoumarin being a class of organic chemical compounds produced by a variety of plants) which would include Bergamot oil, grapefruit oil, lemon oil, lime oil and orange peel oil. These I have chosen from a list of many, many substances, but are the most recognisable to illustrate the point. Under restiction means that they are allowed but only in controlled quantities.

So, still I totally understand that allergies aren’t good and we don’t want fragrances to have a deleterious effect on the user. But rather than ban substances that allow for creative and imaginative new fragrances to come on the market, why not label them just as peanut products are labelled, with a caution? This legislation, which I hear is currently investigating substances such as Jasmine, which has been used since from ancient Egyptian times, will have the most dramatic effect on small, niche fragrance houses who don’t want to produce chemically laden perfume, but raw and exciting aromas that will tantalize our ever growing need to smell gorgeous. The larger fragrance houses won’t have any trouble replacing what little natural ingredients they do actually use with even more chemicals.

One well known small fragrance house is withdrawing five fragrances because the chemical alternative will not make the same scent. They’d rather withdraw than produce an inferior perfume.

To use the peanut analogy again, I know perfectly well that this is an ingredient that can actually kill if a person is sufficiently sensitive to it, and yet it commands only a warning on product labelling. I never in my life heard of someone who died because they smelled Jasmine.

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