A Simple Guide To Reading Perfume Labels

When you read the perfume label on the perfume you just bought, you will probably notice that the ingredients of your perfume are hardly ever listed on the perfume label or packaging of the scent you decided to buy. So, what exactly is on your perfume label, and how do you make sense of it? Below, we have crafted a simple guide to reading perfume labels.

A Simple Guide To Reading Perfume Labels

Perfume Notes

Most perfumers do not list all their ingredients on perfume labels. This is particularly common only amongst companies distributing botanical and natural perfumes, where they seek to inform their customers of any ingredients that may cause allergic reactions or skin sensitivities. Customers can also choose not to buy the perfume based on the ingredients that are printed on the perfume label. For example, if you particularly loathe the scent of mandarin oranges, you will know not to buy any perfumes that contain mandarin orange notes. Even though perfume notes are listed on the perfume labels, they are not necessarily in line with the raw materials used. For example, a perfume note called white floral can vary in ingredients across different perfumers. 

Perfume Ingredients

Perfume ingredients are often more difficult to understand compared to perfume notes. On a perfume label, you may find (in small print), an extremely long and tiny list of chemical names. Usually, the list starts with Alcohol (denat), then Parfums (fragrance), and lastly, Water (aqua). They are also listed in accordance with their volume within the perfume that you have bought. For perfumes such as Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, Cologne, Extrait de Parfum, and Parfum that are alcohol-based, the perfume label will state that these will contain more alcohol than fragrance concentrates. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) also has regulations on the percentage of allergens allowed in perfumed, leave-on cosmetics. Thus, perfumes and their perfume labels should explicitly list the ingredients of their respective perfumes.


In order to avoid having to list every perfume ingredient on its perfume label, it relies on its self-regulatory institute, the IFRA. The IFRA promotes the responsible manufacturing of perfumes to protect consumers and the environment.


You may be surprised to see the number of chemicals in your perfume, but to be honest, almost everything is composed of chemicals. Even natural and organic materials are composed of individual molecules that make up a chemical. Chemicals that are legally used in perfumes are still allowed, no matter where they came from. However, some parts of chemicals of common botanicals are regulated and limited as they have the potential to cause allergic reactions or skin sensitivities for some people.

The IFRA has a standards library that details the full information on the restrictions and limits of chemical compounds in perfumes and is available to the public. If you want to be careful, you may check your perfume label against the IFRA’s list to ensure that the perfume you have bought is safe for use. However, don’t be inclined to do that to every perfume that you buy. You can be assured that all perfumes distributed in accordance with the guidelines of the IFRA are safe for use and smell great!

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