Spotlight: Fragrances in cosmetic products are critically debated because they can cause allergies.

What are the functions of fragrances in cosmetics?

  • They convey a pleasant odour impression
  • They cover undesired inherent odours of other substances

Where do fragrances in cosmetics come from?

  • Natural origin or synthetic production

What are the concerns?

  • Fragrances and their mixtures can result in hypersensitivity reactions
  • Asthmatic and sensitive persons can have health problems caused by fragrances, such as those used in room scents or spread through excessive perfuming

How can allergic persons inform themselves?

  • Fragrance mixtures in cosmetic products are identified with the designation “Perfume”
  • Since 2003: 26 fragrances are displayed individually when used in cosmetics
    • Background: allergic reactions occur more frequently than for other substances
    • Labelling only when exceeding certain values in the product (e.g., in shampoo more than 0.01%; in lotions, make-up or sunscreen products more than 0.001%).

Which fragrance mixtures are particularly relevant?

  • In medical examinations, two so-called fragrance mixes are frequently tested
    • Fragrance mix I: amyl cinnamal, Evernia prunastri, eugenol, geraniol, hydroxycitronellal, isoeugenol, cinnamal and cinnamyl alcohol
    • Fragrance mix II: citral, citronellol, coumarin, farnesol and hexyl cinnamal
  • What makes sense in the event of a positive test result for one of the fragrance mixes: more detailed testing of the individual substances to be able to clearly delimit the causes of an allergic reaction.