When Exactly Was Oakmoss Restricted Heavily by the IFRA?

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
I've noticed that sometime around the early 2000s, oakmoss became heavily restricted (much more than previously) by the IFRA. Chypres that I own with batch codes pre-2000s are much more mossy, bitter and dank (for the better).

Certain chypres were hit really hard, with some brands like Guerlain having to reformulate almost all their chypres (and they continued to do so, with the oakoss getting thinner and thinner until the mid 2010s, when they managed to "reconstruct" an IFRA-worthy version of oakmoss).

Can anyone pinpoint the exact year when this major IFRA restriction happened?
 

GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
Doesn't look as though this information is readily available. One of the guys in the DIY section who have worked in the industry may be able to help you out. There's a regulation enacted in 2001, so I'd say that at the minimum 18 months after that fragrance houses had to start restricting the usage, with another restriction occurring in 2009.

Glad that the scientists at the oil companies have figured out the oakmoss issue, for instance 2022 Eau Sauvage smells very mossy. Great work.
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
Doesn't look as though this information is readily available. One of the guys in the DIY section who have worked in the industry may be able to help you out. There's a regulation enacted in 2001, so I'd say that at the minimum 18 months after that fragrance houses had to start restricting the usage, with another restriction occurring in 2009.

Glad that the scientists at the oil companies have figured out the oakmoss issue, for instance 2022 Eau Sauvage smells very mossy. Great work.
Great info, thanks.

Yeah there are a good number of fragrances and perfumers that have succeeded in recreating that oakmoss feeling in the past few years. I'm not too crazy about the Guerlain reconstruction (smells a bit hollow to me) but it's better than no oakmoss, that's for sure.

Jean-Claude Ellena doesn't get much credit for this, but his collection of Les Eaux at Hermes have really great, solid, oakmoss backbones. Maybe the lower concentration of the EdCs overall allowed him to use more oakmoss in relation to the other fleeting notes.

Since I started this thread, I did a bit of detective work, based on some of the fragrances I own from the early 2000s. As a case in point, I have a bottle of Mitsouko EdP dated from 2005 (Formula 931M, which is the original formula, more or less used since the EdP's creation), and it still has a ton of oakmoss in it - it seems like Guerlain only really started significantly reducing their oakmoss concentrations in 2007-2008, with the arrival of Edouard Flechier, who was tasked with reformulating almost the entire line of Guerlain fragrances.

I also have a bottle of Mitsouko EdP from 2008 (Formula 04071M), and it has almost no oakmoss in it. It would take at least another 10 years for Thierry Wasser to develop the reconstructed oakmoss that they use these days in most of their fragrances, and especially Mitsouko. The 2020 version of Mitsouko EdP smells much closer to the 2005 (original) formulation than Edouard Flechier's 2008 reformulation (which was a great departure from the original formula, like most of his work for Guerlain).

If there was a major restriction in 2009 like you mentioned, it makes sense that Guerlain might have reformulated in 2007-2008, knowing full well that oakmoss would only become more and more restricted with every year that goes by.

Anyway, that's the best I got.

Source for Guerlain batch numbers and formulations: http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-letter-from-ex-guerlain-employee.html
 

N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer

Retired
Basenotes Plus
Jul 1, 2011
There's a regulation enacted in 2001, so I'd say that at the minimum 18 months after that fragrance houses had to start restricting the usage, with another restriction occurring in 2009.
Would the 18 months apply the restrictions in 2009? I remember there was some other IFRA regulations that started to show up around 2010/11.
 

hednic

Basenotes Institution
Oct 25, 2007
Doesn't look as though this information is readily available. One of the guys in the DIY section who have worked in the industry may be able to help you out. There's a regulation enacted in 2001, so I'd say that at the minimum 18 months after that fragrance houses had to start restricting the usage, with another restriction occurring in 2009.
That seems plausible.
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
The big milestones aren 2001 and 2011 for increasingly tightened oakmoss restriction, until 2021, when atranol was banned completely in Europe (but not by IFRA per se).

Thanks Varanis. Figured you might know some info on this, considering the scope and historical detail included in many of your reviews. Which, are an absolute pleasure to read.

Oh I have no idea I'm just spitballing off of info I've retained over the years. More hoping someone comes in and explains why I'm wrong so we get the facts.
Same here! Seems like you were pretty close!
 
D

Deleted member 26357295

Guest
I don't really know if this is very useful (please note) but I have an IFRA file that I think talks about 1991, 2001 and 2008 regulations?. In any case I attach it in case anyone is interested.
https://ifrafragrance.org/standards/IFRA_STD_067.pdf

I am not familiar with IFRA and I am not an expert on these issues, but in CE regulations in relation to other types of products that affect the individual's safety, a margin of 2 years is usually specified after the approval of said regulation so that the manufacturer has time to make the necessary adjustments. I suppose something similar will happen here.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
I also think 1991/2 marks the beginning of oakmoss restrictions. It is difficult to find good sources, since recommendations have been amended so often since. But I can think of a number of oakmoss-heavy perfumes that were reformulated around this time.

In 1992 IFRA Code of Practice recommended that oakmoss and treemoss extracts (e.g. absolute, resinoid, concrete, etc.) obtained from Evernia and Usnea species should not be used, individually or in combination, such that the level in consumer products exceeded 0.6%. This was equivalent to 3% in a fragrance compound used at 20% in the consumer product (12)

The recommendation was made in order to promote good manufacturing practice (GMP) for the use of oak moss and tree moss extracts as fragrance ingredients. It was based on RIFM data on the sensitising potential of oakmoss and treemoss extracts and their cross reactivity (12). The guideline was amended again in 1998, so that the total concentration of oakmoss plus treemoss extracts now was restricted to 0.1% in consumer products. The change in recommendations was based on unpublished data from HRIPTs from 1988 to 1990 (12). Since April 2000 IFRA has recommended that oakmoss extracts used in perfume compounds must not contain treemoss. This is based on the findings that oxidation products of resin acids, present in treemoss extracts (3), contribute to the sensitising potential (32).

In reading this document, I was struck by the relatively small number of subjects in the cited research on oakmoss allergies and sensitization. I guess imposing limitations on perfume ingredients does not seem all that significant to those who advocate for these policies. Meanwhile, from another brief search, it seems as many as that 75 people die each year in the US from peanut allergies, and no one ever talks about banning peanuts.
 
D

Deleted member 26357295

Guest
In reading this document, I was struck by the relatively small number of subjects in the cited research on oakmoss allergies and sensitization. I guess imposing limitations on perfume ingredients does not seem all that significant to those who advocate for these policies. Meanwhile, from another brief search, it seems as many as that 75 people die each year in the US from peanut allergies, and no one ever talks about banning peanuts.
7FdE.gif
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014

Touché indeed but I should add that I would accept a peanut ban, even though I eat crunchy peanut butter on crisp bread for breakfast almost every day. I have too many friends whose children were taken to the ER with Code Blue-level anaphylaxis due to severe peanut allergies. The good news is that progress is being made on desensitization for severe peanut allergies with microdosed immunotherapy.
 

Borzoi

Nordandoft
May 27, 2020
In reading this document, I was struck by the relatively small number of subjects in the cited research on oakmoss allergies and sensitization. I guess imposing limitations on perfume ingredients does not seem all that significant to those who advocate for these policies. Meanwhile, from another brief search, it seems as many as that 75 people die each year in the US from peanut allergies, and no one ever talks about banning peanuts.
It makes me think of something Luca Turin wrote (if I recall correctly). He wrote that since perfumes are a luxury product that isn’t “needed”, EU and other governing bodies (and also people) are very keen on banning everything that could theoretically be harmful because “it’s only perfume”.
 
D

Deleted member 26357295

Guest
As a European born I really like soccer, and there is a phrase from a legendary Liverpool FC manager, Bill Shankly, who once said: "The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they do not know the game.” and I think it illustrates this type of situation very well.
 

YouCanCallMeMo

Basenotes Junkie
May 12, 2009
Great info, thanks.

Yeah there are a good number of fragrances and perfumers that have succeeded in recreating that oakmoss feeling in the past few years. I'm not too crazy about the Guerlain reconstruction (smells a bit hollow to me) but it's better than no oakmoss, that's for sure.

Jean-Claude Ellena doesn't get much credit for this, but his collection of Les Eaux at Hermes have really great, solid, oakmoss backbones. Maybe the lower concentration of the EdCs overall allowed him to use more oakmoss in relation to the other fleeting notes.

Since I started this thread, I did a bit of detective work, based on some of the fragrances I own from the early 2000s. As a case in point, I have a bottle of Mitsouko EdP dated from 2005 (Formula 931M, which is the original formula, more or less used since the EdP's creation), and it still has a ton of oakmoss in it - it seems like Guerlain only really started significantly reducing their oakmoss concentrations in 2007-2008, with the arrival of Edouard Flechier, who was tasked with reformulating almost the entire line of Guerlain fragrances.

I also have a bottle of Mitsouko EdP from 2008 (Formula 04071M), and it has almost no oakmoss in it. It would take at least another 10 years for Thierry Wasser to develop the reconstructed oakmoss that they use these days in most of their fragrances, and especially Mitsouko. The 2020 version of Mitsouko EdP smells much closer to the 2005 (original) formulation than Edouard Flechier's 2008 reformulation (which was a great departure from the original formula, like most of his work for Guerlain).

If there was a major restriction in 2009 like you mentioned, it makes sense that Guerlain might have reformulated in 2007-2008, knowing full well that oakmoss would only become more and more restricted with every year that goes by.

Anyway, that's the best I got.

Source for Guerlain batch numbers and formulations: http://raidersofthelostscent.blogspot.com/2018/01/a-letter-from-ex-guerlain-employee.html
This makes sense...I am a returned Basenoter who was quite active here in 2008-2010 ish... at the time, everyone was frantically buying up Mitsouko because the "new" non oakmoss version was flooding the shelves. The rollout of new versions was happening quite widely at that time, and really fueled the Vintage perfume lover group (you can still see the link in my signature, although it's now defunct!). This Forum didn't exist at that point, there was really just a small number of us who were clamoring for vintage-style scents in a time when everyone smelled like synthetic "white florals" or "candy thrown in the dirt" (OK, that was a particular jab at Angel, the scent of choice for teenagers with crimped bangs and about 6 layers of shirts)
 

N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer

Retired
Basenotes Plus
Jul 1, 2011
I also think 1991/2 marks the beginning of oakmoss restrictions. It is difficult to find good sources, since recommendations have been amended so often since. But I can think of a number of oakmoss-heavy perfumes that were reformulated around this time.
If this was supposedly the beginning of the restrictions, how quickly would this have take effect the perfume industry? 12-18 months as GoldWineMemmories suggested. 1992-1993ish.
 
D

Deleted member 26357295

Guest
I do not know the regulations of the 90s, but perhaps the recent one can be taken as a reference (perhaps it has not changed, or not much):


ifra1.jpg
ifra2.jpg
 

Benefactor

Basenotes Member
Jul 4, 2021
It makes me think of something Luca Turin wrote (if I recall correctly). He wrote that since perfumes are a luxury product that isn’t “needed”, EU and other governing bodies (and also people) are very keen on banning everything that could theoretically be harmful because “it’s only perfume”.
The logic here seems inverted. I’d expect more tolerance of potentially harmful things considering you don’t need to wear fragrance at all. There’s nothing compelling you to expose yourself to fragrance at all, let
alone anything harmful in it.
 

purecaramel

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 9, 2013
Raiders of the Lost Scent also writes this:
View attachment 193630
I noticed a scaleback of Oakmoss during 90's with Pour Monsieur and Eau Sauvage. The "Freshies" were lighter and emphasized a light crispness popular.
The last Mitsouko I sampled about a year ago maintains a very good Oakmoss structure although never enters into the Damp, Dank recesses of a Deciduous Forest. In the Vintage Extrait be prepared to meet "The Lady of the Green Kirtle"
 

N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer

Retired
Basenotes Plus
Jul 1, 2011
I noticed a scaleback of Oakmoss during 90's with Pour Monsieur and Eau Sauvage. The "Freshies" were lighter and emphasized a light crispness popular.
The last Mitsouko I sampled about a year ago maintains a very good Oakmoss structure although never enters into the Damp, Dank recesses of a Deciduous Forest. In the Vintage Extrait be prepared to meet "The Lady of the Green Kirtle"

That's where Mousse Illuminee comes it, if I want to surround myself in a mossy damp wilderness that will do.

As for the Mitsouko extrait from several decades past I definitely get this. The original Sous Le Vent takes the darkness to a whole different level.
 

xaml

Super Member
May 17, 2018
(...) Glad that the scientists at the oil companies have figured out the oakmoss issue, for instance 2022 Eau Sauvage smells very mossy. Great work.
In regards to the first part of your sentence, it might be tempting and, due to the impact that this issue seems to lead to, to a certain degree understandable to assume that this is the case. However, another member recently described reformulations of several in quotes older fragrances by Guerlain as including an evernia prunastri reconstruction, which was described as lacking in depth. Also, and in my view kind of absurdly, a musk reconstruction was described as being responsible for contributing to the longevities of most of the scents.
And having smelled what I would assume to be a fairly recent tester of "Eau Sauvage" by Christian Dior in a store, just a week or so ago, I am not sure that it struck me as mossy. Interestingly, but certainly as a first impression only, I found the darker impression of a likely also fairly recent tester of "Eau Sauvage Extrême" to seem somewhat more interesting? Ah, wonderful, another fragrance to have to search for a supposedly superior older formulation! And yet it seems to have dawned upon me that even therein may lie severe challenges, and that is beyond the aspect of a gradual increase in scarcity and opportunists of some of the most miserable kind...
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
The big milestones are 2001 and 2011 for increasingly tightened oakmoss restriction, until 2021, when atranol was banned completely in Europe (but not by IFRA per se).

And just to expand on that, the IFRA restrictions have all been in response to pressures from the EU, hoping but eventually failing to prevent an outright ban. One might argue that the IFRA could have lobbied harder and encouraged its most powerful members to push back, but it was never the IFRA's idea to restrict or ban substances the SCCS determined to be allergens.
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
And just to expand on that, the IFRA restrictions have all been in response to pressures from the EU, hoping but eventually failing to prevent an outright ban. One might argue that the IFRA could have lobbied harder and encouraged its most powerful members to push back, but it was never the IFRA's idea to restrict or ban substances the SCCS determined to be allergens.

A lot of the IFRA members are producers of aromachemicals the use of which is benefitted by the suppression of natural or generic perfume ingredients.

 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
A lot of the IFRA members are producers of aromachemicals the use of which is benefitted by the suppression of natural or generic perfume ingredients.

Sure, but I think we should have greater perspective. These same companies produce complete fragrances for their clients, not just constituent elements, and some are producers and/or distributors of naturals (e.g., Grasse-based Robertet). They all use a combination of naturals and synthetics, as perfumery has since the original Jicky. It doesn't really help them when, for example, oakmoss gets banned and none has a suitable substitute to offer. If they were betting on developing a viable alternative between when the ban was announced and when it went into effect, they all lost.

Synthetics have also been restricted and banned, though off the top of my head I can't think of any that were still under patent, so that may be a factor. But, as with naturals, it puts the chemists on the spot to concoct a suitable substitute. I'm a little less weepy over Lyral than over oakmoss, less because it's a synthetic than because there are good replacements, and there will be more. (Full disclosure: Beyond the fact that Lily of the valley as a perfumery ingredient was never natural, I've never been especially fond of it, so I'm hopeful that, if anything, perfumery will be improved by the ban.)

So, yes, there is a potential benefit—and in some cases an actual one—for IFRA board members in restrictions and bans, but it's a bit more complicated than it being a predictable windfall. I think the arguments raised some time ago by Kafkaesque, Colognoisseur, and other bloggers, journalists, and perfumers about biases and bad science within the SCCS are a bigger issue, but any such biases spilling over into the IFRA board don't help.
 
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