Understanding Fragrance Allergens

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At Amorphous perfume we follow IFRA (The International Fragrance Association) guidelines as well as cross-reference EU allergen restrictions which regulate and manage the use of fragrance ingredients, including allergens, to ensure safety of the finished product.

IFRA (The International Fragrance Association) is a global organization that represents the interests of the fragrance industry with a primary focus on promoting the safe use of fragrance ingredients to maintain industry standards. One of the key aspects of their work involves setting guidelines and restrictions on the use of certain materials, particularly those known for their potential to cause allergies.

It’s worth noting that while these ingredients are potential allergens, only a very small percentage of the population are sensitive to them. Common fragrance allergens include materials which are naturally occurring in many essential oils and natural materials as well as lab created synthetics. Some examples of fragrance allergens that you may see in perfume compositions include:

Linalool: Found in many natural materials such as thyme, lime, citrus fruits, and mint. Also created synthetically.

Limonene: Found in the rinds of citrus fruits including apples, oranges, limes, lemons, and tea tree. 

Benzyl Alcohol: Found in many floral natural materials such as jasmine, hyacinth, carnation, and ylang-ylang. Also created synthetically.

Benzyl Benzoate: A synthetic chemical made from benzyl alcohol and benzoic acid that helps dissolve other materials and acts as a fixative. It is also present in the essential oils of many natural materials, including tuberose, cinnamon, hyacinth, balsam of peru, tolu balsam, and ylang ylang.

Benzyl Salicylate: A synthetic chemical made from benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid. It is also present in natural materials such as ylang ylang, clove, jasmine, peppermint, and carnation.

Citronellal: Found in natural materials such as citrus, lemongrass, and ginger. Also produced synthetically. 

Citral: Found in citrus oils such as lime, thyme, and lemon.

Cinnamaldehyde: Typically found in spicy and citrus natural materials such as cinnamon, clove, ylang ylang, and lemon.

Cinnamyl Alcohol: Found in many natural materials such as tea tree, lime, cinnamon, and ylang ylang. Also made synthetically.

Coumarin: Found in many natural materials (such as tonka, cinnamon, lavender) and is also lab created.

Farnesol: Found in materials such as ginger, chamomile, peaches, and lemongrass.

Geraniol: Found in natural materials such as rose, palmarosa, and tea tree.

Eugenol: Found in spicy natural materials such as cinnamon, ginger, and clove. 

Oakmoss (Evernia Prunastri )Extract:  A natural material extracted from the moss that grows on oakmoss trees.

Isoeugenol: Found in natural materials such as ylang ylang, cinnamon, clove, thyme, and oregano. Also created synthetically.

How To Read Perfume Ingredients Lists

With the introduction of MOCRA (Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act) in the United States, all perfumers and cosmetics companies will now be required by the FDA to list fragrance allergens on their labels. When reading fragrance ingredient lists, you will see the carrier (for example, fractionated coconut oil) listed first. Next you will see Parfum (fragrance), which is the proprietary fragrance formula itself (this can represent anywhere from 5 to 50 or more materials as perfumers rarely disclose their recipes). Finally, you will see the list of the individual potential allergens present in the formula.

Perfumers have to do a lot of math to work out the percentages of restricted materials and allergen percentages in each formula to ensure that they are within IFRA recommended limits when the  perfume concentrate is diluted to its final strength. Despite adherence to these limits, it's important to note that even perfumes formulated within these guidelines may potentially trigger allergic reactions in individuals exceptionally sensitive to specific ingredients.

Someone who is sensitive to cinnamon for example, may wish to avoid all materials containing even trace amounts of cinnamon derived ingredients such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol, and others. While some individuals might not tolerate trace amounts of these materials, others may exhibit sensitivity only when exposed to larger quantities. Everyone's skin chemistry and tolerance levels vary, which is why patch testing is always recommended with new fragrances. Conducting a patch test on a small section of your skin allows you to detect any potential reactions before applying the product more broadly.

We stay on top of amendments to both IFRA and EU allergens lists, so you may see our ingredients list change from time to time in 2024 as we become aware of new amendments, as well as when MOCRA releases their list of required allergen listings this year. In the meantime, if you have any questions about navigating allergies, please feel free to get in touch and we can crosscheck our formulas for any materials you may be sensitive to, such as non-listed materials and common perfumery solvents. 

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