PARIS May 23 The $31 billion-a-year perfume
industry is bracing itself for tighter EU regulations to be
adopted by the end of the year that will include ingredient bans
and labelling requirements aimed at protecting consumers from
The rules will force perfume makers to reformulate many of
their scents and change the packaging of their products, leading
to extra costs that will be more painful to meet for small,
niche perfume makers than big players such as Chanel.
They will not however, as feared, drastically reduce
authorised concentrations of key natural ingredients on the
basis that 1-3 percent of the population could be allergic.
In 2012, an advisory report had recommended severely
limiting the use of 12 ingredients, regarded as the pillars of
the luxury perfume industry - such as citral, found in lemon and
tangerine oils; coumarin, found in tropical tonka beans; and
eugenol, found in rose oil.
"We understand that drastic reductions in the authorised
concentrations of these ingredients would have created major
disruptions to the industry," said David Hudson, spokesman for
consumer policy at the European Commission.
But the new regulations will ban three of those 12
ingredients and will investigate what levels of concentrations
can be considered safe - protecting consumers from developing
allergies to them over time - for the remaining nine others.
"If we ban citral from perfumes, of which certain elements
are allergens, we should ban orange juice. It is absurd. We
should not ban nature, only learn how to live with it," said
Frederic Malle, who founded the French luxury perfume company
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle.
The Commission is planning to ban, in its original form, oak
moss and tree moss, two of the most widely used base notes which
give perfumes depth and help make the scents last.
Such mosses could be found in Chanel's No.5 and Dior's Miss
Dior but the brands have been working on using altered versions,
stripped of the molecules atranol and chloroatranol, regarded as
potential allergens by the EU.
"Adapting is a challenge but it is precisely the talent of
our "nose" to be able to preserve the qualities and olfactive
(scent) identity of our perfumes while also taking into account
new regulatory constraints," Chanel said in an e-mailed
The EU is also planning on banning HICC, a popular synthetic
molecule which replicates the lily of the valley smell.
Hermes as well as Dior and Guerlain - both owned
by LVMH - have also been preparing themselves for the
new rules by progressively changing their formulas.
"The European Commission approach guarantees the security of
consumers and preserves Europe's olfactive heritage," LVMH said
in an e-mailed statement. Hermes, Dior and Guerlain declined to
Frederic Malle said he was forced to reformulate about a
quarter of his scents due to the upcoming EU regulations,
leading to extra costs - but costs which he found difficult to
quantify as they also represented time invested to rework the
"It can take more than six months to reformulate a perfume,
and a minimum of some 30 tests ... and this is precious time
that cannot be spent on creating new perfumes. So to protect a
small portion of the population, we are making the rest suffer,"
The new rules, which will effectively take the form of an
amendment to the Cosmetics Regulation adopted in 2009, have
undergone a 12-week public consultation that ended on May 14,
the results of which are expected to be published by early July.
The consultation triggered more than 200 responses from
industry players, consumers' associations and researchers, which
the EU said was a relatively high number.
"This has stirred quite a lot of passion," said Hudson of
the European Commission.
A draft proposal could be given to EU member states by
August and by the following month a final version sent for
scrutiny by the European Council and Parliament, which have
three months to oppose it.
The regulations will also require perfume makers to inform
consumers about potential allergens contained in their products
but it has not yet decided how this will work in practice and
how many of them should be labelled.
It has raised the number of ingredients that must be
labelled from 26 to more than 80 and is looking at ways to allow
perfume makers to provide information about them on the Internet
or through smartphone scans to avoid having to cram them on the
"Informing citizens is essential and we must find a durable
solution. For the long term, we advocate making this information
available through the most appropriate digital channels," LVMH
(Editing by Pravin Char)