Angel: A Genius Perfume or Pesticide in a Fancy Bottle?
Angel, the ground-breaker and trend-setter from 1992, was revolutionary for the unusual synthetics notes it used (no natural ingredients at all are needed to produce this blue juice), and for the use of no floral notes whatsoever. The perfume was a culinary dream for many, with its notes of chocolate, caramel, dewberry, honey, patchouli and helonial – only one that required no calorie count. It quickly became one of the most popular perfumes in the world, admired by many women and men alike (a masculine version, A*MEN was launched 4 years later in 1996).
Howver, as popular as it is (in many countires it surpasses Chanel’s No. 5, which held the no. 1 bestseller for generations), Angel always caused an adverse reaction: it’s strong sillage and definite statement secured its place as a “Love It or Hate It” perfume.
Recently, a petition was submitted by the National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation (NTEF)
to the FDA against Clarins (the distributor of Angel in the US), claiming that the labeling of Angel demonstrates “Deception by Omission” – meaning the information on the labeling is not complete and does not reflect certain risks that this products poses to the consumer. According to the NTEF, Angel perfume contains many chemicals that are used in pesticides, and that are a health hazard that can affect the eyes, respoirative, nervous and reproductory systems.
I may not be a fan of Angel (in fact, as much as I admire its bold character and array of unusual notes - it does cause me a headache and nausea and I can never wear it); however, I am not a fan of scare tactics either. Assessing the current developments in Europe (with the tightening regulations set by RIFM – which are adopted from the IFRA guidelines), I think it is time to re-think the relationships between manufacturers, consumers and government regulatory agencies.
In the past few years, perfumes have developed an increasingly negative reputation. The increase in allergic reactions to pollutant and foods and many mysterious causes that cannot be identified is changing the way people think about perfume. It is no longer mentioned as a revered, beautiful experience attached to fond memories and emotions – the reaction I usually see in response to the word perfume is curling of the lips and wrinkling of the nose, taking a step back to avoid contact with a horrible unpleasant thing!
- And this is just when talking about perfume, not even presenting a person with a perfume they can smell!
Nowadays, people are forced to not use their favourite scents in their work environment or in public in many countries. To me, this is a violation of our freedom.
On the other hand – mislabeling products and giving false information about products (i.e.: claiming they are all natural when they are not) – compromises our freedom as well. By eliminating important information, our ability to make informed decision and truly act out of our own free will is violated!
My own suspicion is though, that what causes the myriads of allergic reactions to scent and fragrance is not the actual product that is labeled as “perfume” – but rather the “fragrance” that is added to almost any product we come in contact with. Fabrics, leathers, detergents, skin care products, tires, toys, furniture, you name it!
When we use a product to clean and purify our environment, we really are just replacing germs/organic matters with manmade chemicals. We might even be better off becoming friendly with germs and other less delightful biological substances if we want to avoid contact with so many chemicals.
To me, from both a consumer and a manufacturer’s point of view – the best solution for it all is in labeling. If we label our products in such a way as to provide truthful information about its origins, benefits and health risks – our consumers will be more knowledgeable about what they are buying. They will also be a lot more careful about how they use it and more considerate of other i.e.: perhaps they will switch to dabbing Angel or other strong perfumes, as opposed to spraying them; this way they will affect other people less with their perfume, yet still will be able to enjoy it.
Images of Angel perfume ads from LuxuryChina and from Fragrance UK.