Is it time to go into IFRA-Panic mode ?

From what I’ve read on some “major” online sites/blogs, it sounds like some people want to riot in the streets (at least metaphorically) over the latest IFRA guidelines, which are not even “in effect” yet. For example:

The latest European regulatory provisions of February 13th concerning raw materials used in fine fragrance, if they are adopted, will sound the death knell of high perfumery within five years.
Essential natural ingredients such as rose, citral, tonka bean, ylang-ylang, will be banished or accepted in ridiculously weak proportions. Only chemical equivalents will be authorized.
And a chemical compound, however efficient it is, does not replace the olfactive vibration of a beautiful natural.

However, on a thread, a “veteran” member “Mr. Reasonable,” made some good points on this subject:

…with regard to oakmoss: keeping the current maximum is small consolation because it is not enough for a proper chypre or fougere accord in my opinion – these two genres have been eradicated from contemporary perfumery in all but name. This is why I say it’s all over bar the shouting – the current amount is really just adding insult to injury. If a truly safe and sanitised oakmoss can be pulled out of the hat that performs in the same way as an unadulterated one (i.e. what has been used in modern perfume for decades) and usage levels can be restored to the levels that it was used in the past then these genres might have a chance. Given that means getting the amount north of the decimal point, i.e. increasing by at least 10x the current allowance, I will not be holding my breath.

To anyone still reading this who is even remotely interested in knowing what a real chypre smells and feels like my advice would still be to look to the past – there is no clear cut off date but somewhere round mid 2000’s is probably a safe bet. Earlier = better.


I believe that in more ‘open’ compositions where the emphasis is on citrus, lighter floral and herbal notes with no serious base – i.e. an absence of balsamics, patchouli, vetiver etc. ‘grounding’ the fragrance (and thereby competing with and subsuming the use of oakmoss as a base fixative) that oakmoss can still play a part.

I imagine in the Jo Malone, and Eau de Guerlain, Granville and possibly L’Heure Fougueuse – all of which lean more towards a classic eau de cologne style (in terms of the ingredients) than a more robust perfume – that even a little oakmoss may add a hint of life because there’s not a lot of competition.

In other words, it is possible that a ridiculously small amount of oakmoss in certain lighter styles of perfume is still better than none at all

Of course this could all just be wishful thinking on my part

When you smell some of the Guerlain Eaux de Colognes from a couple of decades ago (Vol de Nuit, Parure, Mitsouko) they have a heft to them that even current Eaux de Parfums and Parfums cannot muster. Back then EDC’s were able to employ more oakmoss than current Parfums and even diluted at EDC proportions the shape and space of the thing was magnificent.

The first time this came to my attention with any force, so to speak, is when I read “Perfumes: The Guide” in 2008. At the time I didn’t realize what was at stake, but later that year I had come to appreciate the depth, complexity, and “naturalism” of vintage designer scents (particularly beyond the top notes), and began to “vintage hunt” soon thereafter. I now look for really “good deals,” mostly on ebay, because I have more than I can use, even if I live another 50+ years! For those who haven’t done this, and just “want to smell good,” there is little to fear, since what is thought to be a good smell changes over time, it seems, so you can just buy whatever is popular.

The major problem is for those who just began their “vintage hunting” or who use a huge amount with each application. However, even if prices continue to rise on vintage, it’s not like there aren’t a bunch of old bottles sitting in basements, garages, attics, etc. When I buy on ebay, it’s usually from a “picker” or someone clearing out “old junk,” and not from sellers who specialize in “Beauty” items. In some cases, these less savvy sellers will use the “buy it now” feature and list bottles at very good prices. Of course, that means these items are likely to get “snapped up” quickly.

In fact, I’ve been trying to get a good deal on a few scents for several years now but I’ve either missed the great “buy it now” deals or the prices were too high. And that leads to two pieces of advice. One is to ask yourself if you really need certain vintage scents (or if currently cheap substitutes are acceptable, such as Devotion for Men rather than Envy for Men). If not, I doubt you will be completely “shut out” any time soon. If so, you can use a site like Stuff Alert and hope for the best. Of course, you can simply pay the high prices, assuming you can afford them. It’s not like the prices are thousands of dollars yet (so far, I’ve only seen those kinds of prices for Vintage Tabarome). The second idea is to learn how to create your own scents. There is a company called Bulk Apothecary that has very good prices, for example, and from what I can tell, the quality is at least fairly good. At first, you can just try a few simple mixtures with cheap vodka (I’m assuming you are over the age if 21).

So, while it’s possible that scents might come to resemble “air fresheners” (perhaps with some “laundry musk” added to differentiate these two kinds of products) within the next few years, if you are reading this in 2014 you still have options that are not expensive, unless perhaps you want a specific scent that seems to have become highly sought after, for whatever reason. Complaining, positing conspiracy theories, railing against the profit motive, etc. doesn’t make sense. If you want to “get the word out” and persuade some people to pressure these companies, I have a feeling that, at best, it will result in something similar to the re-release of Patou Pour Homme (which most people don’t seem to think is “loyal” to the original). I’ve come to a point where I feel comfortable with what now have (and in fact wouldn’t mind selling a few vintage bottles), but if I come across a great deal one that I haven’t been searching for, I may grab it. I wish those who are now in “panic mode” would be more specific about what the issue is for them. Are they just “venting?” Do they think “great art” is being suppressed? Do they think their vintage collection will “turn to dreck” soon? Or is it that the only they have to fear is fear itself?

NOTE: For what seems like a reasonable argument about the “lack of science” behind the IFRA notions, I suggest reading this:



Filed under The basics.

2 responses to “Is it time to go into IFRA-Panic mode ?

  1. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few off the images aren’tloading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve triued it in two different web browsers annd both shopw the same outcome.

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