4.06.2009

Perfume lovers vs. the IFRA

The International Fragrance Association is a self-important, uninformed, irrational group of tyrannical beasts that all probably smell of rancid cat piss and sweaty crotch.

Just thought we'd start things off on a mature and cordial note. I needed to get that out of my system.

I have two little cousins who have severe tree nut allergies. Their mother fastidiously checks labels to ensure she doesn't unwittingly hand her kids something that could kill them. It's not that hard since most companies take the precaution to label whether or not their product might contain nuts. She knows, for example, that Papa Gino's is a nut free chain - because she asked and they told her as much. They can eat all the pepperoni pizza from Papa G's without fear. It's called being proactive, informed and not expecting a governmental body to regulate the world into submission.

I, on the other hand, do not have a nut allergy. I sprinkle toasted hazelnuts atop my roasted butternut squash. I throw a handful of walnuts atop my morning's oatmeal. One of my top three favorite candy bars is Snickers (right next to Reece's b.p Cups and Milky Ways). But if my little cousins are coming over for a holiday I am sure to not cross-contaminate food, or select a menu that avoids tree nuts all together. Rocket science it is not. Common sense it is (shout out to Yoda). My aunt is very allergic to bees - to the point she could die from too many stings. Shall we kill every single bee on the planet because some people are dealthly allergic to them? Or, more to the tune of the IFRA's method: shall we breed bees to have no stingers and ensure the absolute extinction of natural-born bees? Personally, I quite like the idea of never being stung again but the concept reeks of sci-fi freakishness, in a bad way (because I am a sci-fi freak, in a good way.)

Why am I talking about nut allergies for the second post in a row? Because the IFRA is killing perfume. If a commonly used ingredient in perfume was, say, cyanide, I could see the use of regulating it. Cyanide is a deadly chemical, in certain amounts and capacities, that is said to smell like bitter almonds. Let's say one squirt of Parfum de Almande Cyanide is fine for your health. But three or more sprays will kill you. Should this ingredient be regulated? Yes - since it would be lethal for 100% of the population (imagine inhaling Hydrogen Cyanide disolved into the fragrance each time you spray it on yourself. Yes, it's too volatile and boils at 79 degrees. Just go with me on this?). Majority rules. Plus death is slightly more horrific than a case of dermatitis - which is a fancy word for a rash. Should all things latex be outlawed? Or, instead, should you avoid latex gloves and condoms, and let the rest of the population use what works best for them?

I've been trying to do research on perfume allergies. The test for fragrance allergies is a regular skin test where the potential allergan used is a mixture of several common perfume ingredients, known as a Fragrance Mix. An alleric reaction to the mix is irritated skin. Haven't read anything about someone going into anaphylactic shock, thought I'm sure the possibility exists.

Overall I am disgusted by the IFRA. Their power is real: if a perfume manufacturer doesn't subscribe to the IFRA's standards they can be subjected to punishment by the EU.

The IFRA is refers to themselves as being part of "the industry." Wrong, they aren't part of the perfume industry. They're the perfume world's arch nemisis. The IFRA is Lex Luthor. Let's get one thing straight: perfume and toxic cleaning products aren't the same thing. Perfume is an art that is benign to the majority of the population. Clorox bleach kills AIDS. Should these be regulated in an identical manner? No. Likewise, if you drink bleach you'll probably die. But you can still buy it and use it according to the instructions. But say you have a particular sensitivity to bleach. What do you do? Perhaps you wear gloves. Or perhaps you use a non-bleach product. The real industry doesn't put deadly chemicals into perfume - especially now that there is a huge throw back to true perfume artistry, using the finest natural ingredients we can safely harvest without harming animals and the environment. And if they did, and I knew it was deadly, I'd probably avoid that perfume much like I avoid downing a bottle of Tylanol or stabbing myself in the heart with a knife. Common sense, yanno?

I'll avoid sweeping generalizations about the citizens of the E.U and the U.S and our docile submissiveness towards our governments' recent trend towards pure Big Brotherhood. It absolutely sickens me when nasty regulatory bodies step in, waving around their wand full of totalitarian pixie dust. I'll try really hard to keep this simple and unoffensive (hah!!! I love offensive. You frakking frakkers. This can be the pro-perfume blog for the young and rebellious. Not the adult and polite.) This is about individual freedom to make choices for ourselves regarding our health. The danger of dermatitis from perfume is 1) statistically unlikely 2) not actually a deadly condition 3) affects the person who applies the fragrance, not a bystander (who may have a reaction, but it would be sneezing, not a rash).

If anything, their investigative findings should reveal a need for proper labeling. This empowers perfume lovers and wearers to see if there is an ingredient to which s/he is allergic and refrain from using it. Meanwhile, those of us who aren't allergic to citrus oils and oakmoss can continue to wear our summer and cypre favorites.

1 comment:

tracy said...
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