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The Safety of the Fragrances You Love

October 30, 2019

Scent is an emotional sense. I bet – without difficulty – you can conjure up any number of smells and attach it to a memory: your first perfume, your grandmother’s hand lotion, your father’s aftershave. The fragrances used in these products give pleasure to people around the world who use and enjoy them every day. Like music and art, fragrances speak a universal language. They have the power to attract, to comfort, to excite. They can alleviate stress, signify cleanliness, and entice all of your other senses.

Fragrances are a fusion of science and the artistic skills of their creator. The scents you love are typically comprised of many different ingredients, both natural and man-made. Finding the right combination is a complex, time-consuming endeavor. That is why fragrance manufacturers consider the exact composition of their creations to be highly confidential; this information helps give them a competitive advantage with consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes this, which is why they allow product manufacturers to list fragrance components collectively on the label under the heading of ‘fragrance.’

Some organizations and media outlets have alleged that scented products are endangering your health by ‘hiding’ potentially harmful ingredients in these confidential fragrance mixtures, needlessly scaring consumers. This is simply not true. Improving lives and protecting health have always been top priorities for PCPC’s member companies. Numerous precautions are taken to ensure a fragrance’s safety, and may include the following:

  • Ensuring compliance with safety standards set by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). Established by an expert scientific panel, these standards prohibit, restrict, or set purity requirements for specific fragrance ingredients.
  • Conducting a detailed safety assessment of each fragrance and all of its individual components, utilizing the same science-based process used by regulatory agencies around the world.
  • Voluntarily disclose the presence of 26 recognized fragrance allergens when present in a product at concentrations greater than 0.001% for leave on products or 0.01% for rinse off products. The same policies are used today in Europe.

In today’s digital world of explosive information availability, people have grown used to having easy access to product information. That is why IFRA developed the IFRA Transparency List, an online registry of all fragrance ingredients used in consumer goods worldwide. In addition, many of our member companies have taken a series of voluntary steps to enhance transparency and provide fragrance information to consumers and other stakeholders. Their websites list the ingredients they use (and/or those they do not use) in developing their products. Product labels also contain company contact information for consumers to use if they have questions about specific products or ingredients. “Fragrance-free” options are also often available for consumers who may have allergies.

You can feel confident enjoying the fragranced products you love, knowing many steps are taken to ensure your safety.