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Perfume mix: what exactly does it mean?


Quite a few people develop allergic responses in the form of contact dermatitis to perfumes. 

By mixing specific perfume components and applying the compounds on the skin, the dermatologist can establish a predisposition to an allergic response (epicutane test).

Today there mainly are two perfume compounds with the following ingredients:

Perfume Mix I, consisting of:

  • α-amyl cinnamic aldehyde
  • eugenol
  • geraniol
  • hydroxycitronellal
  • isoeugenol
  • cinnamic aldehyde 
  • cinnamic alcohol 
  • oakmoss extract

Perfume Mix II, consisting of:

  • citral 
  • citronellol 
  • coumarin 
  • farnesol 
  • α-hexyl cinnamic aldehyde
  • lyral

Yet, a positive test does not automatically imply sensitiveness to all the perfume containing cosmetics since the perfume concentrations play a decisive role.

The INCI declaration on the label of the cosmetic product indicates whether it contains components of a perfume mix. A product containing natural lemongrass oil will serve as an example in this context: According to the INCI, the botanical term for lemongrass oil is "Cymbopogon Nardus Oil". The potential allergens contained in lemongrass oil and to be declared in the INCI are itemized separately at the end of the list of ingredients, in this specific case, geraniol, citronellol, limonene and citral.

Regarding the tolerance of the product, a difference has to be made between products that remain on the skin, as for instance skin care products, or products that are rinsed off, such as cleansing products. Perfumes in cleansing products basically have a lower allergy potential.

Dr. Hans Lautenschläger

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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Revision: 27.05.2021