Fragrance oils and perfume Information, for women and men
August 16 2015 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Fragrances are increasingly used by more and more consumers. While on the one hand bad smells are counteracted by fragrances, marketing experts are now trying to introduce this sense into multimedia-based experiences. The aim is to make the fragrance a unique feature for a certain brand or location. Although fragrances are applied very frequently, there is still a lack of knowledge about the potential consequences for health and the environment. Certain substances (musk fragrances) have been proven persistent and accumulative, and others belong to common causes of contact eczema. Some people also report special sensitivities towards certain smells for unknown reasons. Fragrance materials constitute a group of substances that should receive more attention concerning their risk for health and the environment.

Fragrances are categorized by the following families.

Fragrances for women
Citrus Fragrance: The light, fresh character of citrus notes (bergamot, orange, lemon, petitgrain, mandarin etc...) is often combined with more feminine scents (flowers, fruits and chypre).
Citrus Lifestyle: Refreshing fragrances for the energetic, sporty woman. Appropriate for office wear, day wear or warm evening wear. A perfect summer fragrance especially for warm or humid climate.
Green Fragrance: Green notes are natural in character; often married with fruity and floral notes, they are modern and fashionable.
Green Lifestyle. A slightly eccentric fragrance for the modern woman. For the professional woman working in an office atmosphere. Good day wear and occasional evening wear in warmer weather. Sporty, charismatic and artful.
Floral Fragrance: An accord of different floral notes. Combined with any other family, floral perfumes are universally commercial. Single florals are included in this family.
Floral Lifestyle: The scent of romance and starry nights. Floral fragrances evoke memories of romantic moments, and create new ones. The most feminine of all fragrance families.
Chypre: Based on a woody, mossy and flowery complex, sometimes with aspects of leather or fruits, chypre perfumes are rich and tenacious.
Chypre Lifestyle: Very elegant, classical, for women who tend to prefer slightly out of the norm fragrances. Chypre fragrances smell slightly dry, not very sweet.
Oriental Fragrance: A blend of warmth and mystery. Musks and precious woods are complemented by exotic essences.
Oriental Lifestyle: Mystical, luxurious, dramatic, sexy, sensual. Mostly worn in the evening.
Oceanic Fragrance: Fresh scented, slightly soapy clean fragrances.
Oceanic Lifestyle: Sporty, young, joyous, energetic, understated

Fragrances for men
Aromatic: Thyme, sage, mint, rosemary, anis and clove are but some of the herbs and spices that produce an aromatic perfume.
Aromatic Lifestyle: Perfect for the adventurous man who prefers exotic uplifting fragrances. A great choice for distinguished gentlemen who appreciate the finer things in life
Fougere Fragrance: A powerful fantasy composition of bergamot, oakmoss and geranium.
Fougere Lifestyle: Similar to the Aromatic lifestyle but with notes accentuating the chypre like fragrance of oakmoss.
Citrus: The light, fresh character of citrus notes (bergamot, orange, lemon, petitgrain, mandarin, etc.) is often combined with more masculine scents (woods and spices).
Citrus Lifestyle: Sporty, energetic. A great fragrance when you want to feel refreshed. Perfect for warm and humid summer days.
Chypre Fragrance: Based on a woody mossy and flowery complex, sometimes with aspects of leather or fruits, chypre perfumes are rich and tenacious.
Chypre Lifestyle: Distinguished
Oriental Fragrance: A harmony of spices, woody essences and vanilla results in mysterious and diffusive perfumes.
Oriental Lifestyle: For the mysterious, sensual man who prefers a stronger more prominent fragrance. Very sensual and great for evening wear
Tobacco Fragrance: Flowers, woods and balsam create this warm and sensual blend.
Tobacco Lifestyle: A great uncommon distinguished fragrance for an uncommon man. For a powerful man who wants his presence felt.
Woody Fragrance: A warm, dry, elegant and masculine scent. Patchouli, vetyver, sandalwood and cedar form the heart of these fragrances.
Woody Lifestyle: For the traditional distinguished gentleman. One that is not easily influenced by trends and is confident of his preferences.
Lavender Fragrance: A lavender note is dominated by the fresh, bracing scent of the flower. It is often blended with fougere, woods or floral notes.
Lavender Lifestyle: Fun loving, warm, caring

Fragrance Allergy, allergies can occur
Cosmetics, fragrances, and botanicals are important causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Identifying and avoiding these allergens can pose a challenge to both the patient and the dermatologist. Fragrances and preservatives are the two most clinically relevant allergens in cosmetics. Botanicals are being added to cosmetics because of consumer demand and are now being recognized as sources of allergy as well. Patch testing allows for the detection of allergens that are potentially relevant in the cause of the patient's eczema.
   Allergy to fragrance results from a combination of repeated environmental exposure and age-related susceptibility factors. The frequency of fragrance allergy in patch-tested patients increases with their age.
   Most people in modern society are exposed daily to fragrance ingredients from one or more sources. Fragrance ingredients are also one of the most frequent causes of contact allergic reactions. The diagnosis is made by patch testing with a mixture of fragrance ingredients, the fragrance mix. This gives a positive patch-test reaction in about 10% of tested patients with eczema, and the most recent estimates show that 2 to 4% of the general population are sensitized to ingredients of the fragrance mix. Fragrance allergy occurs predominantly in women with facial or hand eczema. These women typically have a history of rash to a fine fragrance or scented deodorants. Chemical analysis has revealed that well known allergens from the fragrance mix are present in 15-100% of cosmetic products, including deodorants and fine fragrances, and most often in combinations of three to four allergens in the same products. This means that it is difficult to avoid exposure, as products labeled as 'fragrance free' have also been shown to contain fragrance ingredients, either because of the use of fragrance ingredients as preservatives or masking perfumes, or the use of botanicals. About 2500 to 3000 different fragrance ingredients are currently used in the composition of perfumes and at least 100 of these are known contact allergens.
   Common fragrance allergy compounds include Lyral, citral, farnesol P, citronellol, hexyl cinnamic aldehyde, and coumarin. Lyral and citral are two well known fragrance contact allergens and contact irritants.

I present a few recent studies on fragrance allergy.

The purpose of a study conducted by AmorePacific Corporation, R&D Center, in Yongin, Korea, was to determine the frequency of responses to selected fragrances in patients with suspected fragrance allergy and to evaluate the risk factors. Nine dermatology departments of university hospitals have participated in this fragrance study for the period of one year. To determine allergic response to fragrances, 18 additional fragrances in addition to the Korean standard and a commercial fragrance series were patch-tested in patients with suspecting cosmetic contact dermatitis. Over 80% of the patients were women, and the most common site was the face. Cinnamic alcohol and sandalwood oil (Santalum album L.) fragrance showed high frequencies of positive responses. Of the specific fragrances, ebanol, alpha-isomethyl-ionone (methyl ionone-gamma) and Lyral (hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexane carboxdaldehyde) showed high positive responses. It appears that additional fragrance allergens may be useful for the detection of fragrance allergy.

The aim of this study done by the Department of Dermatology, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark was to assess the strength of any association between sensitization to 'new' fragrance compounds and sensitization to Compositae, fragrance mix, Myroxylon pereirae resin and colophonium, respectively. Consecutive eczema patients were tested with a series of essential oils and selected fragrance compounds and another series of oxidized terpenes in connection with European multicentre fragrance projects. Contact allergy to either series was frequently detected, in 5% of 318 and 4.6% of 262 persons tested, and both had a statistically significant association with Compositae, colophonium and fragrance mix sensitization. The individual results indicated that simultaneously occurring positive reactions to essential oils, colophonium and Compositae were based on cross-reactivity rather than concomitant sensitization. Thus, all patients with positive reaction to the rare fragrance sensitizer beta-caryophyllene had positive colophonium reactions, and cross-reactivity between essential oils and Compositae was related to the Compositae plant extracts of the Compositae mix and not the pure sesquiterpene lactones of the standard series. The implication is that Compositae mix and colophonium may be markers of fragrance allergy, which is important to know when assessing the relevance of positive reactions to Compositae plant extracts and colophonium.

Terpenes and Fragrance
Terpenes are widely used fragrance compounds in fine fragrances, but also in domestic and occupational products. Terpenes oxidize easily due to autoxidation on air exposure. Limonene, linalool and caryophyllene are not allergenic themselves but readily form allergenic products on air-exposure.

Physiological effects of Fragrance
It is well known that odors affect behaviors and autonomic functions. Cedrol inhalation induced an increase in parasympathetic activity and a reduction in sympathetic activity, consistent with the idea of a relaxant effect of Cedrol. Cedrol is a fragrance in sandalwood.

Fragrance Research references
Fragrance contact dermatitis in Korea: a joint study. Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Dec;53(6):320-3.

Colophonium and Compositae mix as markers of fragrance allergy: cross-reactivity between fragrance terpenes, colophonium and compositae plant extracts. Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Nov;53(5):285-91.

Myrcene is one of the most important chemicals used in the perfume industry. Because of its pleasant odor, Myrcene is occasionally used directly. But it is also highly valued as an intermediate for the preparation of flavor and fragrance chemicals such as menthol, citral, citronellol, citronellal, geraniol, nerol, and linalool.

Planta Med. 2016. Appetite-enhancing Effects of trans-Cinnamaldehyde, Benzylacetone and 1-Phenyl-2-butanone by Inhalation. Fragrance in the air and odours of foods and drinks are reported to affect feeding behaviours of humans and other animals. Many previous studies focusing on the relationship between fragrance and appetite have described a reduction of food intake by fragrance administration to help prevent lifestyle diseases. Aromatic herbal medicines, such as cinnamon bark and fennel fruit, are considered to have appetite-enhancing effects and they are often blended in stomachics for relief of asitia and gastric distress in Japan. These fragrant herbal medicines contain many essential oils and their fragrances are hypothesised to be active substances. In this study, food intake and the expression of neuropeptide Y and proopiomelanocortin in the hypothalamus after inhalation of fragrant compounds or essential oils were investigated in mice. Food intake was increased 1.2-fold and the neuropeptide Y mRNA expression in the hypothalamus was increased significantly in mice that inhaled trans-cinnamaldehyde, benzylacetone or 1-phenyl-2-butanone, compared with the control group. These compounds might be effective for treating loss of appetite (anorexia) or eating disorders in elderly and infirm people via a non-invasive route of administration, namely, inhalation.