Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Natural" is not allways natural.

A widely missused opportunity...

by Alfredo Dupetit-Bernardi, perfumer @

If you make a search for "natural perfume" you will find in Internet thousands of websites promoting "natural" perfumes although most of those perfumes are not 100% natural.
The definition "natural" is still not protected by law in cosmetics and perfumery.
For food ingredients this is forbidden in the meantime!

You will find in promotional descriptions of scented products the misleading mention of natural sources defining olfactive effects that come not from natural stuffs itself in the product but from synthetic ingredients contained in those perfumes or cosmetics. Because the promoters say to believe that these stuffs are identical or similar to natural stuffs they have the right to define their scented products as if they come from nature, making the impression that those products are fully natural.

Why?  This is the only way to push their synthetic cocktails ! They will never tell you a word about one single synthetic ingredient inside. They nave never told a single word about any single synthetic ingredient in none of tousends of perfumes of our past history.... and for sure they used them as we all now know.

When they write about the scent of " Italian iris ", this may be the result of the only use of synthetic irones. When they write about the nice" Indian jasmine" inside, they have in mind really synthetic jasmones! And all this is still today allowed... as a kind of poetry of possible chemical effects (called nicely "semantic" ) in the olfactive mind of the clients who inhale at the end this secret synthetics cocktail mix into their bloodstream!
The mix of stuffs that are hidden behind the INCI´s allowed ingredient called still today "Perfume", " Flavor " or " Fragrance " come into our blood over the skin, the lungs through inhalation while breathing the air surrounding us or smelling it directly from the skin, hair or cloth.

Due to these facts, I believe, it should be unmistakable explained in the INCI what really the source of this secret ingredient mix called "Perfume" or "Fragrance" is: Natural, non fully natural or totally synthetic ?

Why is this so important? Well, nature has tested on earth natural stuffs for million of years on us. We grew up with them for generations and generations. Syntheic scents are on earth since middle of 19 century, also not more than 150 years !
And who tested all over 5000 diferent synthetic scenting cocktails offered today by big scent suppliers declared today still as: INCI: Perfume or INCI: Fragance  ???

Nice semantics. We all are fooled today by those opportunists!

They even may write about the scent of a special kind of rose inside the promoted perfume, only because in the recipe they may have used any synthetics that are similar compounds to that blossom effect in nature... Yes, they can!
This is the sad reality for those who smell and decides to acquire the nice smelling "natural" scent before thinking...

Others , at this point would start searching, if an obligatory INCI is attached to the product, they will start reading, if not found: asking for an INCI-declaration to KNOW at the end what is inside the product. How to be sure?

INCI, the opportunity for decent natural perfumers and cosmetic makers and a tool for decent perfumery bloggers to test their favorite perfumes even before smelling them! Have a look to their INCI before you ask them for a sample or write anything about them! As an end consumer the ultimative tool to find a real natural perfume or cosmetic producer is their INCI-declaration. If they do not use INCI just ask why!

Many already have opted to specify in their INCI on their real natural products, (as if what they offer were food):
"Perfume (100% natural)" so that clients know that inside natural perfumes and organic perfumes, natural cosmetic and organic cosmetic lines, there is only 100% natural stuffs and not a mix of different synthetics with, maybe, some natural stuffs diluted in (for sure) denaturized alcohol!

Those kinds of perfumes with a synthetic part, does not matter how small or big this part is, use on their INCI declaration , if any available (!) only: Perfume

In Islamic countries and in the USA you must be very careful choosing real natural perfumes due to the obligation of denaturize alcoholic products.

The used denaturizing stuff is often: Methyl ester of phtallic acid, a stuff that makes you feel very bad if drunk, many people feel bad also after inhaled...

Every company doing real 100% natural perfumes should do declare with INCI stating the origine of all ingredients like (100% natural ) or: (organic), (wild harvested), etc.
All details about any of the stuffs mentioned at INCI are allowed if they are true and not misleadiang.
If not true this will be punished by law as a fraud (!). That is the main reason why you find so few people doing "natural" perfumery that are not using INCI in their declaration on the product itself and much less in their homepages.

Be careful, ask for " (100% natural) " in the INCI declaration on the products itself if you want to be sure about the origin of all ingredients of a real natural perfume or cosmetic. 

Who can believe, rely, on those companies doing "natural perfumes" or cosmetics but not writing it specifically on their products and/or homepage?

They will instead always talk about the goodness of stuffs they may have inside (or in mind) but about the many synthetics that the makers use they will never loose a word about. How long?
Other way to call real natural non animal containing perfumes may be also:„ all (100% ) botanical perfume " or " botanical vegan perfume " (real natural and animal free).
But, be careful:
Again: the definition: "botanical perfume " (like "natural" ) is not protected by law, and this can be also used for any kind of perfume, even those synthetic containing ones.

To finish the bad news I must also tell that a fully synthetic composed perfume may also be called " vegan perfume " because it does not contain any animal stuffs !

INCI and the possible allergens.

Now to the new INCI and the problems and opportunities that this infringes to the real natural perfumers:
INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is the international worldwide legal and in the EU obligatory standard for the content declaration of any cosmetic product, included perfumes.

Any company may and should use it worldwide!

The INCI-standard obliges the producer or responsible distributor to write on the product or its leaflet all contained compounds by its scientific or Latin name. Vegetable compounds are named with their Latin name, chemicals are named with their international recognized chemical name, so that anyone in this world may understand what is inside the product.

Thanks to the search engines in Internet now is possible to find the meaning of all these strange names...

It has being done a very good lobby work to block aims of those Europeans who wanted that behind "Perfume" or "Fragrance" it should be declared if it is 100% natural (as for food it is today in the EU) or not.
Today the only obligatory definition for ANY mix of scent stuffs in the INCI is generally: "Perfume", "Flavor" or "Fragrance".
The new (old) allergens that must be declared in the new INCI: The fragrance, pharmacy and chemical industry has demonstrated scientifically that many natural isolated stuffs - normally contained in hundreds of essential oils - and their synthetic copies (so called natural identical)- are potential allergens.

Experts know that all these isolates are never as allergenic as the isolates if found in a complex relationship in their original essential oils as found in nature.

The list of those allergens that must be declared at the INCI now if they are found in a cosmetic product, or perfume, and in different ways depending on the concentration in the products are today (the list may be enhanced soon):

The only one fully synthetic one in the list, not found in nature is: BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL
Isn´t strange that among the thousands of cosmetic ingredients there are today available that quite only natural allergens are discovered in cosmetic ingredients?!
IFRA is trying to forbid the use of hundreds of essential oils in the USA ! Why haven't they done the same allergy tests with thousands of synthetic perfumes stuffs normally used in perfumery? (over 5000 commercially offered stuff mixes today!)  Maybe there is a connection between testers and producers???  Did Clinton inhale?

Alfredo Dupetit-Bernardi

You will see that we do not declare all of those stuffs at our INCIs , but a lot of them, in all of our creations.
For instance oak moos extract (Evernia Prunasti) is found only in oak moos extract. But Geraniol is found in geranium oil, rose, palmarosa, davana, etc. Coumarin is found naturally contained in tonka beans and hew Absolue as well as Steinklee, etc.
Citral in all agrumen oils, Cinnamyl alcohol and Cinnamal, etc. in lot of oils related with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc. and so on. With Cinnamom there is another problem as a natural flavor (as with Coumarin) and levels must be respected. We see this development as an attempt to mislead people about the goodness of natural scented cosmetics and perfumes, yes, the goodness of nature. As Paracelsus said: Everything is medicine and poison at the same time. The dose makes the difference!

With enough money anybody can also proof that oxygen or water can be dangerous to your health…

Ask for INCI anytime you search for a real natural perfume or cosmetic. Anything else is not sure enough. Do this also when you surf the web searching for real natural aperfumes and comment here what were your experiences. This could be a funny blogg event!


  1. It confounds me that the EU doesn't seem to have any problems with people igniting and inhaling substances directly into their lungs, i.e. smoking cigarettes, but have banned or restricted the use of so many natural perfumery components, which do not impact our health in such an immediate way. If they were truly concerned with health, they would outlaw cigarettes altogether.

  2. I agree, Maggie! There is so much hypocrisy in these systems, all driven by where the most money is.

    Also, this kind of fakery even goes on within suppliers of supposedly natural botanical ingredients - the building blocks from which the cosmetics and perfumes are made. It's very disconcerting for a newbie like me, wondering who to trust as a supplier.

    I was at a distillation workshop several weeks ago, where there was a mix of professional and hobbyist producers of essential oils and hydrosols. There was a discussion going on about how rife fake oils were in the industry, and a couple of people even said the best way to feel sure of your product is to distill it yourself ...

    I have a lot more to say on this, and might post on it here soon!

  3. Dear Maggie:
    What are the components that you mean that have being banned for perfumery in the EU ?

  4. Maggie: What should they do with the nicotin junkies if they forbid cigarettes at once????
    They will go amok...
    I´mk not sure if EU also did prohibited smoking in puiblic places. I believe yes.
    Uruguay was the first country that forbided smoking in public places as well as I know.
    I believe Germany folowed, Spain, and many more afterwards... I believe Europeans are more consequent than other regions today.