Did you know most perfumes don't actually come with an ingredient list?
Instead most fragrance ingredients can be grouped together under the catch all "parfum" on the ingredients list.
We think this needs to change.
Fragrance labelling laws were designed decades ago to ‘protect trade secrets’ something that is no longer relevant with modern science - where anyone with a mass spectrometer can work out a perfume formula (as the number of perfume knockoffs available, contests). The current labelling laws essentially act as a "hide all". Not everything being hidden is bad, but some ingredients are. For example, fossil fuel derived polycyclic musks enter our waterways when we shower and from there, build up in the food chain, particularly in aquatic life. There is no impetus for fragrance houses to switch to more environmentally friendly options while you, as consumers don’t know what’s in your perfume. Not to mention the fact that in the case of musks, the biodegradable option costs 15 times more.
Increased transparency is needed in 3 key areas.
While it’s tempting to say all perfumes must show a full ingredients list (as we do here), most perfumes contain a long list (sometimes hundreds) of ingredients, most of which have a scientific name that is meaningless to the average consumer. Instead, we propose three new labelling requirements: 1/ Toxic ingredients: Any ingredients known [credible research] to be toxic to humans or animals must be listed on the label. 2/ Non-Biodegradable ingredients: Any ingredients known [credible research] to be non-biodegradable in the environment must be listed on the label. 3/ Products labelled "natural": The term “natural” is not a legally defined term and presently there are no rules around its use (can be used on any product). We propose that the word be regulated, and can only be used on products supported by a full ingredients list. Scroll further to find out how you can help...
There are things that you, as customers can do:
1/ Support us in lobbying the industry for change by signing our petition here. 2/ Ask brands to share their ingredients list with you - especially brands labelling themselves as “natural” or “clean”. 3/ Ask your local beauty retailer what framework they have for defining terms like “natural”, “clean”. If their terms don’t make sense to you, call them out on it! 4/ Take ownership and educate yourself:
- This short video The Story of Cosmetics is nice quick intro and the Environmental Working Group have a wealth of resources.
- Use an app like Think Dirty to get more information before your purchase.