In several cases this change was not just a matter of aesthetic choice. Contrary to popular belief the economic factor played a different and more subtle role. Old aromatic ingredients are always cheaper because the methods of synthesis were perfected over the year while the introduction of new artificial molecules was more a matter of new aesthetic ideals that price. When you put a new captive in the formula it is always expensive and will get cheaper only when it will be mass produced (and incorporated in detergents). Things started to go wrong every time when a perfume or a brand became a success. There is an incredible pressure when you sell tones of a fragrance to produced it cheaper.
But there are cases when the change was produced by even more obscure forces, like in the case of some ingredients regulated by IFRA standards. There is a bizarre connection between global economy and ingredients on a bad list.
Since the 60's the production of nitromusks started to move in other countries, less concerned by ecology. The manufacture process was very polluting and by the mid 80's the production took place in India and China. But since the 60's with the arrival of detergents scented with polycyclic musks there was a decline of the nitromusks. Except for fine fragrances, they've lost their appeal. The nitro musks belonged to no one, they were patent free and like anything that is free, cheap and produced outside Europe there was little interest to "protect" them. They almost disappeared from shelves not just because of the official reason but because there was no one left to defend them (and there were many other that musk ambrette, ketone and xylene). The next generation of musks had more performance in detergents, was new and interesting but was also protected by patents filled in the 50's (polycyclic ).
The ecotoxicity of musks was a big debate since the 90's when the trend was freedom + nature + cotton washed transparent scent (read musks). Everybody was aware of musks because they've probably used Jovan Musk Oil in the previous decade. But this ecotoxicity came right in time when the patents did not protect anymore several molecules and there was a need to develop others. (note how many names are for several polymusks!)
Both Indian and Chinese market were free to produce cheaper musks, that were strong competitors for Swiss musks. I'm not sure how much truth is in all those eco reports on the musks but in all cases they fit very well the trend of the moment - green, organic, natural, eco conscious and they fit even better the trend today.
Oakmoss was once produced in former Yugoslavia but the country and its economy were broken into pieces in the 90's. By a symbolic coincidence oakmoss became the bad boy and received several restrictions until it was almost eliminated from modern perfumes (why would you formulate with oakmoss to have trouble next year with a new standard). In fact, on an economic level, there was no one left to fight for the oakmoss. Not even the brands that were either on gourmand or on transparent fashions.
Now, the jasmine absolute is like discarded. By another strange coincidence, jasmine is produced now mainly by Muslim countries or in China while the French jasmine is just 2 drops a year. Once, the jasmine was the pride of the French perfumery - it was produced in France, it was expensive and it was used in large amounts. Now, none of those is true anymore. Who would fight for the jasmine? The poor countries that harvest the flower? The several houses that sell jasmine absolute but make their money from other naturals and also fragrance compositions?
In all 3 cases, there was no high economic interest or any kind of interest to fight for the material or to invest more money in further research.
Many other ingredients can be brought to "trial".
My first doubt about the correctness of things came when I checked my collection of ingredient catalogues given over the decades by labs to their perfumers.
We might think that data on allergies or toxicity are new. But this is wrong. Before the launch of any ingredient on the market there were tests and those tests were mentioned in the ingredients data sheets, at least to reassure the perfumer about the safety of a given new material. It is strange to notice that an ingredient was perfectly safe, let's say 5 years ago, and suddenly it becomes problematic.
If you work as a perfumer you can only notice how wrong and bizzare are many things. 2 years ago new vanilla extracts were promoted by many companies, presented to perfumers but also to brands. In a logic understanding this would become a trend and would generate some perfumes containing high doses of beautiful vanilla (we already have them on the market). But now IFRA put an evil eye on vanilla and mainly vanillin and has a clear intention to have a last word on that. Without making (yet) any comment on the subject I am but surprised that one year you are presented the ingredient and the next year you receive the info that your overdosed vanilla perfume will have to be reformulated because of a possible new restriction. Isn't it insane?
What gives me headaches is how quick and without any logic the IFRA standards change. The fact that Serge Lutens perfumes might be subject to change in the years to come are a proof of the absurd of this so called new safety science. A modern fragrance can't become less safe in less than 10 years in a world that is no more at the beggining of chemistry (or any kind of science).
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art