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The 26 Ingredients

Whether you look at the labels on fragrances you buy or make fragrances yourself and hope to sell them, an understanding of what is on the label and why can be useful.

Below I’m listing a lot of materials that you may see on a label.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because these are listed they are the things that make up the fragrance though: they are a tiny subset of the materials used in manufacturing fragrances (there are between three and four thousand materials in regular use) but just 26 of them have to be declared on the label if the product is for sale in the EU.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

The following list is a useful reference, it often comes up in the context of discussion about the IFRA rules, and indeed is often laid at their door: wrongly as it has nothing to do with them at all. It is the list of items required by the EU Cosmetics Directive to be listed on the label of any fragrance that contains more than 0.001% (the threshold is 0.01% of the finished product for wash-off products such as shower gel). This regulation was incorporated into UK law as part of the 2008 Cosmetics Regulations, Schedule 4 and as such has been in force for some years.

As a result of this requirement many brands required re-formulation of fragrances in order to avoid the need to put these things on the label, particularly those with long, difficult chemical names, which seem to lead certain groups of consumers to assume something is poisonous (obviously nonsense, but the power of fear is substantial).

Many of these ingredients also have IFRA restrictions on their usage, details of which are on the IFRA rules blog post.

Anyway here is the full list of what is often referred to as ‘the 26 ingredients‘ using the nomenclature required by the EU even though in some cases that differs from usual practice even in the chemical industry, still more the fragrance industry.

Notice that the majority of these appear in nature as components of essential oils, absolutes and other extracts from plants.  I’ve marked with an asterisk * those that are not known in nature –  I’m not saying they don’t occur in nature, just that if they do, we have not found them yet. Also notice that no animal derived ingredients are included:

Amyl cinnamal (CAS No 122-40-7)

Benzyl alcohol (CAS No 100-51-6)

Cinnamyl alcohol (CAS No 104-54-1)

Citral (CAS No 5392-40-5)

Eugenol (CAS No 97-53-0)

Hydroxy-citronellal (CAS No 107-75-5)*

Isoeugenol (CAS No 97-54-1)

Amyl cinnamyl alcohol (CAS No 101-85-9)

Benzyl salicylate (CAS No 118-58-1)

Cinnamal (CAS No 104-55-2)

Coumarin (CAS No 91-64-5)

Geraniol (CAS No 106-24-1)

Hydroxy-methylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyde (CAS No 31906-04-4)*[almost universally known as Lyral]

Anisyl alcohol (CAS No 105-13-5)

Benzyl cinnamate (CAS No 103-41-3)

Farnesol (CAS No 4602-84-0)

2-(4-tert-Butylbenzyl) propionaldehyde (CAS No 80-54-6)* [commonly known as Lillial]

Linalool (CAS No 78-70-6)

Benzyl benzoate (CAS No 120-51-4)

Citronellol (CAS No 106-22-9)

Hexylcinnam-aldehyde (CAS No 101-86-0)

d-Limonene (CAS No 5989-27-5)

Methyl heptin carbonate (CAS No 111-12-6)*

3-Methyl-4-(2,6,6-tri-methyl-2-cyclohexen-1-yl)-3-buten-2-one (CAS No 127-51-5)* [commonly known as gamma methyl ionone]

Oak moss extract (CAS No 90028-68-5)

Tree moss extract (CAS No 90028-67-4)

One Comment “The 26 Ingredients”

  • Anonymous


    Hello. Do you think that an indie perfumer should stick to all these rules? What if he doesn't?


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