lundi 17 février 2014

The Different Company's CEO on upcoming EU regulations: "Europe will be killing part of its memory and contribution to the beauty of the world"

The news came on February 13th: the European Commission is announcing a three-month period of consultation on fragrance allergens prior to amending its Cosmetics regulation.

This would entail banning three substances, two of which are molecules contained in oak and tree moss, as well as a lily-of-the-valley molecule known as Lyral. Another 12 chemicals and 8 naturals are slotted for restrictions and labelling (bearing in mind that the 12 molecules can occur in several naturals, the list of restrictions would concern way over 20 raw materials).

An estimated 90% of currently available fragrances would be reformulated if the recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety ('SCCS') were applied as is.

I intend to post a Q/A shortly to clarify the issue – Euro-speak is mind-numbingly obscure – but meanwhile, here is the letter of Luc Gabriel, CEO of The Different Company, which was circulated to French journalists and bloggers over the weekend via the Fragrance Foundation France.

Perfumes De Profundis

Dear friends,

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.

This is a futile issue, you say? Useless?

Beyond the complications it will entail for our brand and the entire sector, imagine a world without these notes. Imagine losing the memory of these emotions, these mementos, and most of all, imagine depriving future generation of this bit of humanity that cohorts of perfumers, creators, artisans, have allowed us to develop, to experience, to discover. A world without this sum of passions in the service of pure creations and of dreams, of conceiving a beautiful sillage, an exceptional juice; without an art that defines a share of our humanity just like music, gastronomy and laughter.
And if laughter increased the risk of having a stroke, would comedians also be banned?

Must the precautionary principle negate free will?

Some populations can’t access the true taste of certain foods under the pretext of the precautionary principle. We are laying the groundwork that will make us go from a civilized world, with its share of animality and dreams, to a sterilized world in which humanity will become a mechanism, a lovely synthetic molecule like those we will be authorized to manipulate to create soulless fragrances.

And why will they be suppressed? Because of a public health issue or in the interest of those who produce synthetic molecules?
Are there any statistics demonstrating the mortal danger of using Chanel N°5 over the years?

I am more than outraged, and this goes far beyond my personal interest for my company’s continued existence, it is a warning call that must carry, an infinite sadness that must turn into revolt.
Europe will be killing part of its memory and contribution to the beauty of the world.

There is still time, the matter will be under consultation for three months by the European Commission Directorate General Health and Consumers, but it urgent to communicate, to act, to lobby.

Through your activities and your social circle, you may have access to opinion leaders, intellectuals, physicians, researchers, politicians, designers, company directors.
So get the message across, even once, even in thirty seconds. I am willing to meet them, to explain, to discuss it.

At the Esxence fair in Milan in March, I will try to federate the voices of perfumers and brands like The Different Company. But the profession is often secretive, withdrawn, shy.

One brand took on the slogan “Perfume is dead, long live perfume”. No, perfume will just be dead, taking part of us with it.
  
Luc Gabriel




47 commentaires:

  1. Can perfume lovers write and sign a declaration protesting upcoming changes?
    Elena

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Elena, a member of the Parfumo.net discussion board wrote to me mentioning that she and others were working on a petition or letter to send EU elected representatives. When then have something ready I will post about it.
      I will also be interviewing people in the industry to get further answers.

      Supprimer
    2. Tobacco and alcohol are deadly. Lethal for liver and lung cancer. But just a label.
      Oak moss, rose oil, linalool and sandalwood prohibit?? For them, not just a label??
      We need to unite against the big interests aromachemical and majors!
      In states where it is allowed we have to start boycotts of perfumes and aromatic products of the majors!
      We need to make an international site for complaint!
      We need to do a petition around the world wide web!
      We need to buy only natural scents or perfumes vintage!
      We need to connect to large environmental organizations world!
      Big business knows only the balance of power and interests, we have to work on that front.
      Do you want to start you writing a manifesto against the limitations of natural materials and to solve the problem with a simple label on the perfume?

      Supprimer
  2. As a person who has worked specifically on these reformulations in the past and lived through the painful experience of witnessing how formulas are simply butchered in order to comply with regulations, this hurts me.

    These bans and limitations in my opinion are a disgrace to the art of perfumery, which is something very important to hold on to as perfume indeed is part of culture. For ingredients that have been used for centuries for perfuming - like rose or ylang ylang - there has to be some kind of common sense, I mean, who died of Chanel No. 5 really? I completely agree with you.

    Merve

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Merve, just to be clear, this post is a letter by the owner of The Different Company, I didn't write it.
      I can sympathize with you on the pain of butchering older formulas -- it must feel like vandalism. Thierry Wasser spent 9 months devising an oak moss base that would be compliant and have the same evaporation curve as real oak moss for Mitsouko, with excellent results, but which big lab would spent that many man-hours on such work for a client, since reformulations are not paid by those clients?

      Supprimer
  3. This is unbelievable!
    Simply unbelievable and revolting... This means the equivalent of castration for the olfactive sense.
    What can we do not to let this happen?
    Do we have a protest, a petition to E.C.?
    I am signing it.
    For the support of these cause, you find me on Facebook, with my full name: Gentiana Craciun

    RépondreSupprimer
  4. Gentiana, see my answer to Elena, above. As I said, I am collecting more info to get a clearer view of the actual situation to which Luc Gabriel is reacting.

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Well, it is wise to see carefully and verify the information.
      I ask for excuse if, due to my first impulse I overreacted a bit.
      Of course it is better to look and have a clearer view.
      Anyway, the cause of naturals in perfume has all my support, I don't take my word back.
      I want since a couple of years to say "thank you" for what you do on this blog, it is real culture and precious information and it means very much for a lot of people.
      Gentiana Craciun

      Supprimer
    2. Gentiana, I understand your reaction! Thank you for your kind words.

      Supprimer
  5. If you learn to whom we should address our letters, please, let us know. We should start a campaign to let those in power know that banning substances is not the answer. Slap a warning label on it, warning of possible allergic reactions and let people decide for themselves! This is insane. Certainly if they had strong evidence that something was carcinogenic at high concentration, fine, but that is not what/why these compounds are on the chopping block from what I understand. Please keep us informed. Thanks.
    --HemlockSillage

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. HemlockSillage, labelling is, I believe, the favored option. I will be following up on this since there is a meeting in Grasse on Friday where the topic will be discussed (though next week half of France will be off skiiing, so it'll be hard to get any answers for a few days!).

      Supprimer
  6. I am signing anything that needs to be signed in order to stop this insanity!I can be found on Facebook as Ana Maria Andreiu

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Ana Maria, as I said above, I'll be posting the news about the profumo.net campaign when they're ready to go live. But at this stage, we need to get more info.

      Supprimer
    2. I'm glad to see we are a lot of Romanians here.
      Salut. De unde esti?

      Gentiana

      Supprimer
  7. I would love to see Mr Gabriel succeed in federating the voices of perfumers and brands like The Different Company. I am looking forward to reading on the campaign these Parfumo members are going to launch. I for one will sign the petition and gladly send letters to the pertinent EU elected representatives.

    “Never let go of a good thing without a fight." Jarod Kintz

    Kind regards,
    Angelika

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Angelika, yes, it's time consumers and the small brands that stand to lose the most made themselves heard. The debate also needs to be opened to consumers at large and not restricted to hardcore aficionados!

      Supprimer
  8. I wonder, is perfume industry that much weaker that sugar industry? I mean, nobody got cancer or diabetes from using perfume (as far as I know) and there are millions of people getting seriously ill from too much sugar in their food. And every year we see restrictions for different ingredients in the perfume industry and no restriction for sugar in the food industry. I just don't get it.

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Olga, there was a campaign in the UK to reduce salt in food products, which the industry complied with. Now they are looking at the same model for sugar. Obviously fragrance allergens are nowhere near the same scale as a public health isssue, and it seems the European Commission is very much aware of this. But actually, the perfume industry weighs a lot less than agrobusiness...

      Supprimer
    2. You are right! Ha! Sugar kills thousands of people, peanuts give severe allergies, some people get very-very sick if eat eggs or drink milk...
      Ca bine zici, Olga!
      Sa nu lasam sa se intample asa o aberatie.
      Gentiana

      Supprimer
  9. I wish there was something we, the perfume enthusiasts could do as well.
    I see other people commenting in the same vein, if there is any kind of idea on how to get our voices heard, I want to take part in it.
    I jsut wish we can make a difference...

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Ines, I'm getting reassuring noises from the industry people I'm speaking with: it doesn't seem anyone in the EU wants outright bans or anything more stringent than current IFRA regulations. I'll be posting further info soon.

      Supprimer
  10. I am curious to how we can all help to circulate the petitions to get the message across to the governing bodies of (idiots) people, so that we may communicate to them that this is NOT what the public wants.

    Also...I would be curious if a proposition of simply labeling Perfumer--as is done with Peanuts, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Wheat--so the power to purchase and use is KEPT in the hands of the consumer. I would gladly purchase perfume with a warning label...as I do nuts, alcohol, and products containing wheat.

    You make a great point, as well, "Are there any statistics demonstrating the mortal danger of using Chanel N°5 over the years?" What research is there that shows a product, in circulation for a long time--is killing people?

    I could go on and on--especially about the faulty research being done. I work in Chinese Medicine, and I see the same crap being done. Synthetic isolates being tested in mega-doses...taken COMPLETELY out of context of a NATURAL chemical compound in the CONTEXT of the whole, such is the same found in natural materials used in perfumery.

    Please keep us all posted and let us know how we can combine our strength!

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. JK, again, just to be clear: I'm not making that point, Luc Gabriel is. I don't think anyone in Brussels considers fragrance to be a major public health issue, and from what I've understood, they will actually opt for more extensive labeling rather than stringent restrictions. I'll be posting about this shortly.

      As for molecules having a different impact within a complex natural compound than in isolation, from the little I know about pharmacology (it's my dad's profession), I believe it's a very valid point. There is a scientific group currently developing more robust methodology to assess allergens -- the scientific opinion of the SCCS was, well, very dodgy science...

      Supprimer
  11. I think perfume industry might be using the wrong argument, the art of perfumery. I don't think anyone in Brussels takes that seriously. What also happens when they ban natural products is that whole industries, some very labour intensive, disappear. Which means a lot of jobs are lost, along with the know how probably. I think jobs are taken much more seriously than the art of perfume.

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Olga, that is precisely the line IFRA has taken: the economic argument is indeed more convincing, and the UN is very interested in the results of IFRA's investigations.

      Supprimer
    2. Denise, where can I find more information about UN and IFRA?

      Supprimer
    3. You can't for the moment as far as I know, it's just an expression of interest.

      Supprimer
  12. It's not as though we need perfume in order to survive (even though we do), and even certain foods, like peanuts which can be deadly, have not been banned, so why create this nanny state legislation for products that can easily be avoided by the affected community? Most of those proposed ingredients can be found in skincare which comes in direct contact with the body, while perfume doesn't even have to be worn on the skin. It can be sprayed on hair, scarves, gloves, paper, purses . . . etc. Please count me in if you put together a petition. I'd do it myself if I weren't so busy working with those "outlaw" substances! ps. enjoyed your book!

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Maggie, the issue of allergens in cosmetics opens a whole new can of worms... But from the noises I'm getting, labeling and consumer information rather than extreme restrictions seems to be on the agenda.
      And I'm glad you enjoyed my book!

      Supprimer
  13. I thought Mark Behnke's scientific criticisms of some of the existing studies were extremely pertinent. Very much worth taking a look. The lack of controls seems rather shocking. http://colognoisseur.com/editorial-90-days-til-the-end-of-perfume/

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. I submitted the report to a pharmacologist working for a state regulatory body, aka "mon papa", and his reaction was "this science is out of the Middle Ages". Bear in mind that this is an opinion paper though, and that from what I'm hearing, the powers that be in Brussels are very much aware that the science behind it is far from robust.
      Thank you for the link!

      Supprimer
  14. Chère Denyse, je suis en train de créer une page facebook comme plateforme ouverte de discussion sur ce sujet pour centraliser les échanges en vue d'une éventuelle pétition contre cette consultation. Pourrais-je me référer à votre blog en publiant un lien vers cet article? Cordialement, Corinna

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Bien sûr Corinna. Je publierai d'ici demain de nouvelles informations moins alarmistes que celles de Luc Gabriel, qui permettront d'éclairer cette discussion, j'espère.

      Supprimer
  15. i would love to meet all of those for whom these notes are allergans. i have yet to encounter one. my mother and grandmothers wore perfume their whole lives, here and in france, scents with these and other "dangerous" molecules, and no one had the slightest problem with them - neither did any of the women or men i encountered growing. it has only been recently, and with modern perfumes, that i have seen any sneezing or heard any complaining about scents.

    again, why doesn't the industry just label its products and let US decide what we want to buy and wear? it's not as though there are legions of people being hurt by oakmoss! i mean, i use it in soaps, have it in powder and essential form, and all it does is smell fantastic! i know, statistically small sample, but come on, i'm not the only one who's had this experience.

    a few years ago when frederic malle visited here, i asked him how he felt about the ifra changes, and he seemed perfectly on board with them. i was surprised. i wonder what he is thinking and saying about these things now???

    cheers,
    minette

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Minette, fragrance allergies concern about 2% of the population, so we might go through our lives without encountering one of them. Especially since this type of allergy, if it is not severe, will prompt people to just stop using a product. I've had bad reactions to organic face creams full of essential oils: I just chucked them, end of story!
      Labeling seems to be the preferred option for EU regulators: I'll be posting about this tomorrow (or later today, depending on your time zone!).

      Supprimer
    2. i've had reactions, too - to "natural" skincare and most aggressively chanel skincare! don't let chanel eye creams anywhere near my eyes! omg! and, as you, i just toss or return. end of story.

      Supprimer
    3. Even so, you'd have to distinguish irritation from allergies, which are two different types of reaction. I doubt very many people go on to develop chronic eczema from fragrance allergies, but it must certainly make their lives miserable. Measures must be taken so that they get suitable information to avoid those allergens. The thing is, we're exposed to high amounts of fragrance ingredients through almost everything that touches our skin, starting with detergents and fabric softeners. So you've got to measure how much people are exposed not only through fine fragrance, but throughout their daily life.

      Supprimer
  16. I'm thinking that only an all-out boycott will make a difference. All bloggers ask their readers to STOP buying perfume for 1 month, say March, in protest. Nothing else will have the impact that we need... petitions are useless. Only money talks.

    Normand

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Normand, I have no idea how many people the cumulated readership of perfume blogs represent, but I wonder whether the number is significant on the scale of fragrance buyers...

      Money talks indeed, but I think from the EU's standpoint it would be more significant to measure up what severe restrictions on naturals would cost all the way down the line, from growers to brands. It seems like a more convincing argument in the current economic context.

      Supprimer
  17. You have to do special perfume allergen-free only for those who are allergic (1-3% of people) . A little niche. All other perfumes should be free,without limitations or prohibitions .Limit only substances definitely carcenogene (with scientific evidence on quantity/time dose for persons). For all others perfumes, just a label !
    Linalool,oakmoss and sandalwood limited or prohibited but alchool and tobacco,legal? This is dirty,very dirty...

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Sito, if you look up my later post of EU regulations, you'll see that the point is not only to protect people who are already allergic via labeling and information, but also to prevent people from developing allergies (which can unfortunately happen to any of us at any time). That said, there is certainly a market for fragrances free of known allergens.

      Supprimer
  18. Today law makers would declare naturals being harmful and synthetic being safe. Tomorrow someone will claim that chemical rose in more ethical because you do not have to kill real roses to obtain it.

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. That is, somehow, an oddly poetic perspective... like something out of a science-fiction story.
      But of course, I understand your concern since your approach of perfumery as a healing, spiritual practice can literally not exist within stringent regulations on naturals.

      Supprimer
  19. Dear Carmen, really I am not so advanced in perfumery as you kindly think, making healing fragrances or spiritual ones. I am making natural perfumes only because natural raw materials are the most beautiful ingredients available to perfumers, and I delight myself making olfactory jewels.
    In this optique, what you say is even more true, there is no natural perfumery without natural ingredients, The only option that the bigs would like to leave me is to use their patented bio-tech single molecules diligently certified organic by ecocert.

    RépondreSupprimer
    Réponses
    1. Let's hope that this scenario won't come to pass. No one actually has an interest in killing off naturals, even if just for economic motives -- including to preserve the livelihood of growers all around the world. That is an argument decision-makers can hear.

      Supprimer
  20. Dear Carmen, i think 4 things.
    1) Big aromachem companies want to replace the natural oils to sell their synthetic creations.
    2) The great perfume houses want them to be few producers who can make perfumes.
    3) The rules IFRA and EU help these results.
    4) We do NOT have to remain indifferent to such things. We have to stop them.
    Good things,
    geco

    RépondreSupprimer
  21. Geco, your first assertion is not corroborated by investments made in natural ingredients sourcing by major companies. But I'd be interested to know how you propose to stop the current process?

    RépondreSupprimer