I receive quite a few email questions about oakmoss and the IFRA regulations regarding moss, so I thought I’d take a moment to post again about the topic.
Q: Is real oakmoss still allowed in fragrances?
Yes, real oakmoss is still allowed under IFRA regulations as long as it is the new low-atranol moss that has the allergens atranol and chloratranol removed (actually, they are reduced to less than 100 ppm), and as long as the level is at or below the IFRA limit. I import the new type of moss from France and like it very much. It still smells like natural moss and is very different from the synthetic replacements. I do wish the IFRA limit on its use was a bit higher.
Q: Does everyone really have to follow the IFRA limits?
Companies that belong to the IFRA organization must follow its rules. If your company doesn’t belong to IFRA you don’t have to conform to the IFRA guidelines. Many companies do conform anyway, partly because of concern over product liability lawsuits if they were not to conform and then be sued by someone who had a sensitivity reaction.
Q: Are the EU guidelines something else?
Yes, in addition to the IFRA limits, there are 26 potential allergens that the EU requires to be listed on the ingredients label if they occur at over .001% in the formula for a leave-on product. Quite a few of these allergens occur in natural essential oils, and you must know the percentage of these items in your basic ingredients in order to determine the final level in your blend. The EU list just applies to products sold in the EU. Treemoss and oakmoss are on this list, so if you see Evernia prunastri on the ingredients list on the perfume, you know it contains natural oakmoss. If it is a recent perfume it will be the low-atranol treated type of Evernia prunastri even though that will not be stated. Note that the ingredients list also includes a term such as “parfum” or “fragrance” and that is where most of the secret ingredients are hidden; only the 26 potential allergens are disclosed. Many people look at the list on the box and think it’s a full list of ingredients, but it is really not a full list because so many things are undisclosed as part of the “parfum” term.
Hope that helps a little bit! If you want to try a small sample of the low-atranol oakmoss for yourself, you can buy samples from Eden Botanicals or Nature’s Gift (and probably find other things to tempt you while you are at it).