Customers will soon be able to find out what fragrance ingredients are in a given air care product by calling a help line or going to a company Web site. The address of which (WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com) plainly acknowledges consumers' curiosity.
Currently the site lists the company’s fragrance ingredients alphabetically and explains that “We don’t specify the ingredients in each particular SC Johnson fragrance because we see those as secret recipes. But we do share our full fragrance palette, to make it possible for those with allergies or concerns about a particular ingredient to see if it might be used.”
Starting in spring of 2015 those recipes will no longer be secret. SC Johnson announced plans for the ingredients disclosure this month at the American Oil Chemists’ Society World Conference in Montreux, Switzerland.
This is an exceptional step away from proprietary formulation for a leading US consumer packaged goods company. Fragrance formulas, in particular, are closely guarded across industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency, a US government body charged with protecting human health as well as the environment, maintains an index of safe chemical ingredients. And, early this year the agency added 40 more fragrance components to that Safer Chemical Ingredients List.
Yet there’s hardly transparency when it comes to the fragrance ingredients used in household products and other packaged goods. The EPA clearly states that confidential chemicals are not on the list and that the list may not be comprehensive.
Nonetheless, just knowing more about what’s in a fragrance may alleviate some allergy concerns. A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that “When we expect that an odor is harmful, our bodies react as if that odor is indeed harmful,” said Cristina Jaén, PhD, the study’s lead author and a physiologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Fresh data trends
By 2017 the global fragrance market is projected to reach $15.7bn. Each season’s scent trends help grow the industry. To be on trend for spring/summer 2015 for instance, Seven Scent, a fragrance supplier for the personal care and household industries, is developing modern aroma versions of rhubarb, mint and tea.
The trend toward fresh scents coupled with a fresh approach to sharing ingredient data could well be what the personal care industry needs to keep pace with consumer expectations.