In order to protect the secret of their composition, the fragrances used in cosmetics are exempted from the full labelling of their ingredients. With the exception of substances identified as potential allergens, all the ingredients in a perfume composition are therefore gathered under the terms "parfum" or "aroma". To date, the list of substances identified as potential allergens includes 26 entries (including, Limonene, Eugenol, Cinnamal, Benzyl Benzoate, etc.). These 26 fragrance ingredients must be labelled so as patients who know the cause of their allergy are able to avoid cosmetics that will cause reactions.

According to the SCCS, the frequency of contact allergy to fragrance ingredients in the general population in Europe is 1-3%. However, the real prevalence of contact allergy may be higher, as the testing is made with a limited number of ingredients out of the 2,500 fragrance ingredients listed in the European database of cosmetic ingredients. Thus, around 16% of eczema patients in the European population are sensitised to fragrance ingredients.

New identified allergens

In its new opinion, the SCCS lists fragrance ingredients that are established contact allergens in humans, based on results from human clinical and epidemiological evidence. The list includes the 26 ingredients already identified and an additional 30 individual chemicals and 26 natural extracts.

Furthermore, the SCCS also lists fragrance allergens likely to cause allergies in humans and says that a level of exposure up to 0.8 μg/cm² (0.01% in cosmetic products) would suffice to prevent elicitation for the majority of allergic individuals.

Based on the SCCS opinion, the Commission will now consider the appropriate regulatory measures and will likely extend the list of fragrance allergens required to be disclosed on cosmetic labels.

The SCCS opinion is available at the following address: