New EU anti-allergy restrictions, banning some widely-used ingredients such as two core molecules of oak moss, are hanging over perfume-makers, who will have to reformulate their scents. As Joanna Partridge reports from Paris, some are even turning to algae to preserve the fragrance of their bestsellers.
ATTN CLIENTS - CORRECTION - PLS USE THE HEADLINE ON THIS VERSION OF THIS STORY - RATHER THAN THE ONE SENT ON MONDAY WHICH WAS EU threat to Chanel No.5 APOLOGIES FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE Patricia de Nicolaï is composing a symphony - but she's using fragrant, not musical, notes. She's been making perfumes in Paris for almost 25 years. But new EU regulations banning some ingredients will force her to reformulate some of her best-sellers. SOUNDBITE: Patricia de Nicolaï, Founder Nicolaï perfumes, saying (French): "For some formulas it can be really quick, just one ingredient which is quite easy to replace, but for others it's a lot more complicated and can mean weeks of work, on top of the work of creating perfumes." PTC Many perfumes contain dozens of ingredients, some natural, some synthetic. Now the European Commission is planning on banning three, including oak moss, over fears it could provoke allergies in consumers. But this means perfume houses will have to reformulate many of their products. The natural substance oak moss is widely used. Perfume makers like its woody, earthy notes and how it gives scents depth, helping them to last longer. It's found in international best-sellers like Chanel No.5 and Miss Dior. But Brussels is banning two of its core molecules from early 2015 - along with lyral, a synthetic scent that resembles lily of the valley. It's on the basis 1-3% of the EU population could be allergic - possibly leading to dermatitis, and rashes or cracked skin. David Hudson is spokesman for consumer policy at the European Commission. SOUNDBITE: David Hudson, Spokesperson for Consumer Policy, European Commission, saying (English): "You need to balance the health of consumers with the interests of the sector. This is why we are banning purely three elements, and for the others we are looking for a threshold at which people are not sensitised." Patricia says she's never had a customer complain of an allergic reaction - and anyone with an allergy usually avoids using perfume. And this isn't the first time she's had to tweak her perfumes - restrictions and bans have been introduced over the years by the International Fragrance Association, the industry's self-regulatory body. SOUNDBITE: Patricia de Nicolaï, Founder Nicolaï perfumes, saying (French): "We feel quite targeted, and at the moment there is an overly large obsession with perfume, compared with other areas which are even more toxic, if we talk about tobacco." Some perfume makers are turning to algae to replace oak moss. But Patricia fears a customer who wears a scent every day will notice even the most subtle difference. She doesn't want to lose custom, and France could suffer too. Annual global sales of high-end perfume are worth $25 billion. And perfume and cosmetics are among France's top 5 exports - essential for a struggling economy.