Monday, April 23, 2007

Citrus Splash No More?

orange splash, originally uploaded by Photonut (Mr. Dave).

Citrus perfume ingredients are set to disappear, according to Cropwatch’s recent report.

The EU regulatory boards are hitting again with draconian regulations to an essential natural component of the fragrance industry. This time it is citrus oils, present in almost all perfumes today. In another mind-blowing act, without public consultation, the EU cosmetic regulatory board have decided to pull the rug under all citrus oils, because the alleged danger of their furanocoumarins (FCF) contents. On April 4th 2007, Sabine Lecrenier, EU’s Head of Unit for the Cosmetics Sector reported to Cropwatch that by the end of this month (April 2007), both bergapten (5-MOP) and xanthotoxin (8-MOP) (either individually or additively) will be restricted to 1ppm in all finished products, even when naturally present (meaning: in natural essential oils such as citrus and angelica).

It has been known for along time that furanocoumarins (that are found largely in citrus oils) present a risk of phototxicity (burning and pigmentation of the skin when the area covered with the oil is exposed to the sun). This risk is fairly low when the low levels of citrus oils in the composition are maintained, and is even further lowered when citrus oils where the furanocoumarins have been removed is used (i.e.: bergapten-free bergamot essential oil). Furanocoumarins are also present in high levels in other oils than citrus, for instance: angelica. Furthermore, when talking about fragrance, the risk is particularly low when the fragrance is applied to specific areas that are not typically exposed to the sun, such as the wrists and behind the ears.

The reasons behind this decision could not be just safety. There must be a hidden political agenda behind this move, which is remained to be revealed – and is most likely going to benefit the mega corporations of synthetic aromachemicals.

It’s far away, in Europe, you say? Why should we care?
If you think that way, I suggest you glipse quickly at the “made in” lable on your perfume bottle. It will mostly likely be a country in Europe, France in most cases. If you think this won’t affect you because you live somewhere else, you are terribly wrong! Besides, the mega corporations that produce most of the perfumes for all the mainstream labels are probably not going to bother and formulate a different fragrance according to different regulations in each country. They are probably going to go on the safe side and just go ahead and blindly comply with the EU regulations.

And what’s more disturbing, no one has asked the consumers what they want. No one asked the perfumers if they will be able to handle (or want to) such restrictions on their creativity. Citrus notes are such an viable part of the perfume world that it’s going to be feel very lonely and depressing to see them removed from my organ… Thankfully, I am my own boss.

And last but not least worrying of all - the entire industry of citrus growers, distillers, wholesalers, traders is going to suffer so badly – just imagine the loss of jobs, world wide, just because of the greed of the aromachemical companies. Perhaps only the dryout of petroleum will stop their greed from growing on the expense of others. We’ll just have to wait and see.

A few words about the importance of citrus oils:
Citrus essential oils have been an essential component of the modern fragrance industry for centuries. The first alcohol-based perfumes were made of citrus peels tinctured in alcohol along with herbs and spices. These early perfumes were called “Aqua Mirabillis” (Miracle Waters), and were used both internally as a medicine and externally as a refreshing perfume. You may be familiar with famous names of aux such as Carmelite Water, Florida Water, Eau de Cologne, Hungary Waters, and others. Such perfumes will no longer be manufactured if indeed this new regulation is to be realized. So stock up on your 4711 and Eau Imeriale!

This is without mentioning many other perfumes that would have been completely different without the use of pure citrus oil – Shalimar would be come a sickeningly artificial vanilla & lemon pudding, the Chypre family, already suffering from a large reduction of the oakmoss content, would now become even further compromised (can you imagine!). When I look at all the formulas of my perfumes, there are only very few that have no citrus in them - Film Noir and Epice Sauvage, and that’s about it. Citrus notes add an aldehydic and a cheerful fruitiness to many compositions, from all the fragrance families – Oriental, Chypre, Floral, Woody – and of course, the entire fragrance family that is named after them for a very obvious reason – Citrus.

To finish off this depressing post, let’s try to find some hope. There is something you can do. You, as a consumer, have a lot more power than you may like to think. You can protest, you can write letter to the EU regulatory boards, and you can join Cropwatch’s Campaign for Real Perfume by emailing Cropwatch and expressing your interest in joining the campaign and be able to decide for yourself what you use – real perfumes, containing the richness and beauty of real botanical essences, or completely artificial fragrances, made only of test-tube molecules.

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