Allergens in Organic Cosmetics

Allergens in Organic CosmeticsALLERGENS  IN NATURAL & ORGANIC COSMETICS – WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW?

Natural & Organic products may be even MORE ALLERGENIC than synthetic ones. Natural & Organic products contain essential oils and other natural ingredients that are sources of allergens, naturally found in the plants.

The 26 most common allergens can be found here...

INCI NAME ORIGIN Can be found in
ALPHA-ISOMETHYL IONONE Synthetic
AMYL CINNAMAL Synthetic
AMYLCINNAMYL ALCOHOL Synthetic
ANISE ALCOHOL Synthetic or Natural Honey, essential oils of Anise, Tomatoes, Tahiti Vanilla
BENZYL ALCOHOL Synthetic or Natural Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam, Essential oils of Jasmin, Apricot, Almond, Apple, Asparagus, Banana, Black Currant, Blackberry
BENZYL BENZOATE Synthetic or Natural Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam, Essential oils of Jasmin, Ylang-Ylang
BENZYL CINNAMATE Synthetic or Natural Peru Balsam, Tolu Balsam, Copahu
BENZYL SALICYLATE Synthetic or Natural Propolis
BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL Synthetic It is a synthetic fragrance compound with a strong floral scent. It replicates the beautiful smell of the flowers known as “lilies of the valley”.
CINNAMAL Synthetic or Natural Essential oils of Cinnamon, hyacinth, Patchouli, Nutmeg
CINNAMYL ALCOHOL Synthetic or Natural Hyacinth
CITRAL Synthetic or Natural Allergen that appears in essential oils of lemon, essential oils of orange peel, essential oils of eucalyptus, grapefruit, orange, celeris, apricot, blackcurrant, grape, kiwi, mango, ginger, melon, plum, raspberry, rose
CITRONELLOL Synthetic or Natural Allergen that appears in essential oils of lemon grass, essential oils of Ceylon, apple, apricot, cassis, blackberry, blueberry, orange, passion fruit, peach, rose
COUMARIN Synthetic or Natural Woodruff, Flouves, Sweet clover, Angelique, Berce
EUGENOL Synthetic or Natural Essential oils of Clove, Allspice, Bay (Myrcia acris), Avens, Ceylon cinnamon, Laurel, Cistus, labdanifere, Basil sassafras, Basil Java, Cassie, Sweet flag, Carnation, Boldo, Cascarille, Galangal, Bay leaves, Nutmeg, Pale rose, ylang-ylang, marjoram, calamus, camphor, lemongrass, patchouli
FARNESOL Synthetic or Natural Essential oils of rose, Neroli, Ylang-ylang, Lime tree, Tolu Balsam
GERANIOL Synthetic or Natural Allergen that appears in rose oil, orange, palmarosa, thyme, verbena, neroli, lemongrass, geranium, hyssop, laurel, lavender, mandarin orange, lemon balm, nutmeg, myrtle, apple, apricot, black cranberries, blackcurrant, blackberry, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, geranium, rose, ylang-ylang
HEXYL CINNAMAL Synthetic or Natural Essential Oils of Cinnamon and Jasmin
HYDROXYCITRONNELLAL Synthetic
HYDROXYISOHEXYL 3-CYCLOHEXENE CARBOXALDEHYDE Synthetic
ISOEUGENOL Synthetic or Natural Essential Oils of citronella, Essential Oils of Ceylon, Essential Oils of ylang ylang
LIMONENE Synthetic or Natural Allergen that appears in essential oils of: lemon, dill, common juniper, orange, verbena, neroli, niaouli, melaleuca, lemon balsam, pepper mint, nutmeg, myrrh, angelica, aspic, anise, bergamot, mandarin orange, bitter orange, caraway, celery, lavender, lime
LINALOOL Synthetic or Natural Allergen that appears in essential oils of: thyme, lavender, pine, laurel, sour orange, marjoram, peppermint, lemon, orange, thyme, ylang-ylang, verbena, myrtle, neroli, coriander, geranium, lime, lemon balsam, nutmeg, lemongrass, basil, bergamot, rosewood, banana, blackberry, bean, blueberry, apple, apricot, artichoke, thyme, rose, palmarosa
METHYL 2-OCTYNOATE Synthetic
EVERNIA PRUNASTRI (OAK MOSS) Natural Oak moss extract
EVERNIA FURFURACEA (TREE MOSS) Natural Tree moss extract

If one of the 26 substances in the chart is present in a product formula, producers are obliged to comply with the labelling requirements (rules) of the European Regulation that states (Annex 10 III entry 83 of the Cosmetics Regulation No 1223/2009):

The allergenic substances must appear on the label if:

  • The concentration is higher than 0.01% in a rinse-off product, e.g. shampoos, shower gels,
  • The concentration is higher than 0.001% in a leave-on product, e.g. creams, lotions.

If an allergen is contained in different ingredient of the product, producer has to add up all concentrations to verify the threshold and label the product in accordance with the rule above.

As a cosmetics manufacturer we often have to explain our decision to use a certain ingredient in a product. Very often people worry or complain about effect of certain ingredient, which they have read on the internet about. Unfortunately, the internet articles are not always based on scientific research, and often even the scientists do not agree on every aspect of an ingredient.

Lately there have been many open discussions about the harmful effects of BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL or LILIAL. In the past there were some articles published, stating that it causes hormonal imbalance or even cancer. We have noticed that recently many of those claims have been removed. So what is the extent of harmful effects of lilial?

Due to its floral scent butylphenyl methylpropional or lilial functions as a fragrance ingredient in cosmetics and other personal care products. It is used in aftershave lotions, bath products, bubble baths, cleansing products, hair care products, moisturizers, perfumes and colognes, shampoos and skin care products. In most of the mentioned products lilial is a part of a fragrance. That must be clearly stated on the product’s label.

At Essentiq we take great pride in our products which contain 98–99% natural/organic ingredients, but as mentioned above, those contain certain allergens. When working with essential oils, it is hard to avoid them.  They are also part of fragrances, even if a fragrance is natural.  We use fragrances. In low quantities 0.2–0.3% of total product, mostly to cover the base of products and stabilise the odour among different bulks.  Within Essentiq products we only use IFRA certified fragrances. Some of the fragrances contain 2-3% of butylphenyl methylpropional, if any at all. In case that a fragrance includes butylphenyl methylpropional this means 0.004–0.009% of butylphenyl methylpropional in total product. If we strictly followed the EU regulation on labelling requirements, we would not be obliged to list butylphenyl methylpropional as an allergen for rinse-off products. However, we list all allergens that are contained in the ingredients of our products, even if the % is below the required threshold for labelling. The same goes for butylphenyl methylpropional which we consider as one of the 26 allergens, not any more toxic, harmful or skin irritating than the others. It just depends on every individual if he/she has a dermal sensitivity to a certain allergen and if he/she is aware of it.

The safety of butylphenyl methylpropional has been evaluated by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) Expert Panel. Based on this evaluation, an International Fragrance Association (IFRA) Standard was established. The IFRA Standard restricts the use of butylphenyl methylpropional in fragrances because of potential dermal sensitization.

You can read the current valid restrictions on the use of butylphenyl methylpropional here...

Product types Finished product concentration (%)
Hydroalcoholic-based fragrances (e.g. Eau de Toilette, perfume, Aftershave, Cologne)* 1,42
Deodorant 0,09
Make up products (e.g. eye make-up, make-up remover, liquid foundation, mascara, eyeliner) 0.04
Face cream 0,05
Hand cream 0,05
Body lotion 0,06
Hair styling 0,04
Bath cleansing products (e.g. soaps, shower gels, rinse-off conditioners, shampoos) 0,1
*Maximum finished product concentration for hydroalcoholics on shaved skin is 0,6

On May 10, 2019, the EU’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) concluded that butylphenyl methylpropional is safe at 200ppm when used as a fragrance ingredient in different cosmetic leave-on and rinse-off type products at the concentration limits proposed by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA). However, it stated that the substance cannot be considered safe at the proposed concentrations under an aggregated exposure scenario, that is, if using different product types together.

We can assure you that Essentiq products containing butylphenyl methylpropional are perfectly safe for you and your family. Nevertheless we are still advising you to check the list of allergens in the product. Read INCI, especially ingredients marked as ‘*** Components from fragrance and natural essential oils’. And if a product contains an allergen that you are allergic to it, do not use it. Even if allergen appears within the safety limits, it is always better safe than sorry.