Some fragrance ingredients do not cause allergic reactions as such but can be chemically transformed on the skin in the presence of air, sunlight or also by biochemical reactions inside the body, and these modified forms may then cause allergic reactions.
According to the factsheet, since 2003, 26 fragrance ingredients have been identified in Europe as being allergenic, which now have to be identified on the label of products.
Furthermore, since the first 26 fragrance allergens were identified, the Committee says more fragrance substances have been shown to trigger allergic reactions.
"Based on the review available and on multiple cases of allergy reported by dermatologists, the SCCS identified 82 substances (54 chemicals and 28 natural extracts) that can be categorised as 'established contact allergens' in humans, including the 26 that were already on the list."
The document goes on to highlight that, based on the combined results from animal experiments and the analysis of their chemical structure, 26 other individual chemicals where categorised as “likely contact allergens”.
The SCCS also reveals that in addition, 35 individual chemicals and 13 natural extracts were also categorised as “possible contact allergens” with three further specific substances recognized as being “potent allergens” and not considered safe in consumer products.
“We recommend that these ingredients, as well as those that could be ‘activated’ into allergenic substances should be added to the list of allergenic ingredients that consumer should be made aware of when present in cosmetic products.”
To see an indepth version of the factsheet, please click here.
Back in August, the Committee identified potential allergenic ingredients and suggested concentration limits for some of them to protect consumers.
In 1999, measures were introduced in the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC that required manufacturers to list these ingredients individually on the label of cosmetic products containing them, when they are present in the product above certain low concentrations.
Since then, much more information on fragrance allergens has become available, which prompted the European Commission to review the current knowledge and to check whether the list of fragrance allergens relevant for consumers needed to be modified and whether safe limits could be established for the most frequent allergens.