How Perfume Formulations have Changed in Past 20 Years

Back in the 1980s Coca Cola made either a huge marketing mistake or a genius move depending on how you look at it.  It changed its tried and tested formula for Coke for the first time in decades.  Immediately the public was outraged at such a move.  Coca Cola executives had to apologize and instantly return to the formula the public had come to love.  In the perfume industry reformulations are common and happen for a number of reasons such as companies finding cheaper ingredients, the decision to replace natural notes with synthetic substitutes and even trade restrictions involving certain ingredients.  What this means for consumers is that a particular cologne that they purchased back in the 1990s, for example, may have a different formulation altogether.  In fact, as little as two years ago Chanel and Dior were forced to reformulate perfumes under new EU laws.  The reason it gave was that these fragrances contain mosses which could cause allergies.  Another change that has been made in perfume formulas over the past 20 years is that there has been a push towards a classification of perfume known as “gourmand.”  Gourmand fragrance are perfumes that consists primarily of synthetic edible notes such as honey, chocolate, vanilla or candy as opposed to perfumes that contain floral notes.

As recently as 2008 the IFRA (the International Fragrance Association) issued restrictions on certain fragrance materials such as vanilla, jasmine, oakmoss, coumarin, birch tar, citrus oils, heliotropin and styrax.  This caused many manufacturers to change their formulas to come into compliance with these regulations.  The fact is perfume reformulations are being made more rapidly than in the past and this has some consumers concerned.  After all, people who wear perfume and cologne are very particular about the fragrance they have chosen.

All this means that your favorite perfumes may have been subtlety changed and may be continuing to “evolve” right under your nose.  The best way to determine if your favorite perfume has been altered recently is to trust your nose.  There are even several sites that list the formula changes for popular perfume brands.  Finally, perfume formulations are not as static as Coca Cola but the public has by in large learned to accept some of these changes.  Of course, there is nothing like having your old cologne or perfume…

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