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Why Your Favorite Perfume No Longer Smell Like It Used To

Perfumes get reformulated all the time, and they always have

Why? Well, there are many number of reasons

  •  Sometimes companies substitute cheaper ingredients as a cost-saving measure.
  •  Once-plentiful natural materials become scarce or extinct.
  •  Some materials, such as natural animal-derived notes, have been replaced with synthetic substitutes because of consumer preference and/or trade   restrictions.
  • Ingredients are found to be unsafe,  especially with older perfumes that relied on pre-made specialty bases. They simply don’t exist any more.
  • Perfumes are reformulated to bring them in line with modern tastes.


Environment has changed

It’s also important to remember that perfumes that rely on natural materials might have subtle variations from year to year anyway. A crop of jasmine from one year might smell different from the prior year, and a crop of jasmine from one part of the world might smell different from the same plant grown elsewhere.

Perfumes are being reformulated at a more rapid rate than they used to. Vanilla, jasmine, oakmoss, coumarin, birch tar, citrus oils, heliotropin, styrax, opoponax…these are just a few of the fragrance materials that are restricted and/or banned by IFRA1 or are under consideration for restriction. The most recent set of IFRA standards (the 43rd Amendment) was issued in 2008; perfume companies are supposed to reformulate all existing perfumes to be compliant with these standards by August, 2010. In practice, if you’ve been doing much sniffing lately, you know that many old favorites have already been redone in advance of the deadline.


Australia Sandalwood








Perfume houses, for obvious reasons, don’t tend to publicize reformulations. After all, who wants to hear that their favorite perfume is no longer exactly the same as it used to be? Also remember that a perfumista’s idea of reformulation — the perfume no longer smells the same — may not be the same as that of a perfumer or a perfume house. If Australian sandalwood is substituted for now-scarce (and costly) Indian sandalwood, you could argue that the “formula” hasn’t changed, but to a perfumista, the result is the same: the perfume doesn’t smell like it used to.     ~Posted by 

June 13, 2018
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