fragrance labelling and how to read it
Many (many) decades ago, fragrance formulas were kept secret to protect against other brands stealing their “recipe”. As technology has advanced, you only need basic scientific equipment to uncover a fragrance formula, so the original reason for not sharing ingredients has become obsolete.
The result? Something that started off as protecting trade secrets has evolved into an opportunity to ‘sweep things under the carpet’.
We believe you have the same right to know what is in your beauty products as you do what’s in your food. In an effort to increase transparency and address some of the many questions we receive, we’ve tried to break it down for you.
If you see “organic” on the label of a cosmetics product, it can mean as little as 1% of the ingredients are actually certified as organic! If you want a genuine organic product, look for a logo from one of the major certification bodies (i.e. COSMOS in Europe and USDA Organic in USA), they have strict rules and high expectations for % of organic content.
We believe a fair and meaningful definition of the term “natural” is “plant derived”. However, there is currently no legal definition of the word “natural” when relating to the cosmetics industry. Therefore, a product with “natural spray” on the label, could in fact contain no natural (plant derived) ingredients at all!
So what to do? We recommend you pay close attention to the wording. If a brand claims “100% natural ingredients” (like we do) although not a legal definition, the statement does tend to actually mean something because it is so specific. Brands are required to use the scientific names for ingredients on a label, making ingredients lists very hard to follow (which is why we list the ingredients under the names you will actually recognise on our website). Always ask a brand or retailer if unsure and be wary if they aren’t willing (or able) to answer direct!
To understand the difference between natural and organic ingredients, read more here.
“Fragrance” or “Parfum”
These two words are the catch-all terms products are required to use on their packaging for anything and everything that gives the product it’s smell (you’ll see it in the ingredients list from dishwashing liquid to mascara and everything in between). In perfume, this is the perfume formula. The terms fragrance or parfum may denote a single essential oil, a cocktail of synthetic single aroma compounds, or most likely, something in between.
Originally created to protect the perfumers recipe this term is used on all cosmetics products and is a giant black hole.