EU Regulations Update — Good News For Now

Reports are coming out that the EU has decided, at least for now, to continue to allow the low atranol version of oakmoss and tree moss while only banning moss that has not had the allergens atranol and chloroatranol reduced. Most perfumers (myself included) already switched to the low atranol version of oakmoss years ago when that standard was first set by IFRA, so there will be no change for us. IFRA not only requires the use of the low atranol type but also places a limit on the percentage of use of the low atranol type. Even at the IFRA level it is useful though, and I have the low atranol natural moss in many of my perfumes. I am glad to hear they are not banning it. Suppliers are actually getting better at removing atranol and chloroatranol, so the levels are extremely low.

The EU also decided not to implement the drastic restrictions on a number of ingredients, like citral and eugenol, that would have made it virtually impossible to use naturals anymore. They are going to conduct more research so this saga will continue, but at least the pace has slowed and better studies will be done.

Lyral (a synthetic lily of the valley ingredient sometimes referred to as HICC, short for hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde) will be banned. It was already heavily restricted and this move was expected, so I doubt anyone will be surprised. I do not use Lyral in any of my scents and never have used it, so this issue does not affect my formulations.

It sounds like the EU still wants to require labeling for over 80 allergens rather than the current 26, but they may allow the allergen listings to be made online rather than on the product boxes. There will still be a lot of work to comply with the EU rules, but this is overall very good news, at least for now. I think the great outpouring of concern over the proposed regulations helped persuade lawmakers to do further research before taking those drastic steps.

I’m not selling in the EU so these rules don’t technically apply to me at the moment, but I believe that the EU is setting precedents that may well migrate to the USA eventually. Also, the IFRA and EU ingredient regulations affect what is considered “currently accepted practices” for product liability insurance purposes, so the standards do have an effect on all perfumers whether directly or indirectly.

I will update if the news changes.

DIY Vitamin C Serum Formula

Orange_cross_sectionI’ve been using a DIY vitamin C serum for a couple of years and thought my blog readers might be interested in this topic because these serums are effective yet very easy and inexpensive to make. This post is not about fragrance, but body products are still in the scope of discussion since I have offered body products (lotions and body creams) on my site in the past. I’ll provide my vitamin C formula and ingredient source as well as suggestions for more complicated formulas.

My skin is happiest when I keep things simple, using very few products. My facial skin is not dry, but it is sensitive to fragrance ingredients so I don’t use anything scented on my face (including natural essential oils). I love natural skincare, but only products that do not contain irritating fragrant oils like citrus and mint.

We’ve all read that antioxidants are great for the skin and that vitamin C and vitamin A derivatives (retinols) are some of the most effective anti-aging ingredients. Many other antioxidants are wonderful too, as are moisturizing plant oils like raspberry seed oil, argan oil, and camellia oil. I like to use a simple vitamin C product in the morning and a plain retinol product at night.

Vitamin C comes in a number of forms with varying stability. Ascorbic acid is not stable and is best kept refrigerated in an air-proof dispensing container and used quickly. The stability of ascorbic acid can be improved by adding ferulic acid to the serum formula, but it is still not as light-stable and oxygen-stable as some other forms of vitamin C.

I’ve been using magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) in my DIY blend because it is a more stable form of vitamin C and is gentler to skin than the very acidic ascorbic acid. MAP is a powder that is water soluble, which is preferable for me because oil and silicone in serums can make my skin break out. I use purified water as the base for MAP, and I also add niacinamide, which is a powder form of vitamin B3 that is great for skin and is also water soluble. I shake the container before each use since it is a simple water mixture and some settling can occur. Although it does not feel elegant to apply, I like this formula because it works well for my skin with no irritation, oiliness, or breakouts.

If I were to sell a water-based serum like this I would need to use a preservative because bacteria can grow in water-based products, but since this is just for my personal use I skip the preservative. I always handle it with freshly washed hands, use an airless dispenser pump, and use it up promptly. I have not had any trouble, but take note that you need to be cleanly if you don’t use preservative and you should keep the product out of sun/heat and use it up within a month.

A vitamin C serum is a great DIY project because you can tailor the formula to your needs and you can make something basic and pure that can’t be found in stores. Some of you might want to add a little glycerin for glide and moisturization, but be careful not to add too much or it will become sticky. There are many other serum ingredients you can play with and an endless number of formulas you can try (googling DIY vitamin C brings up lots of resources). Be careful if you try ascorbic acid formulas instead of MAP because ascorbic acid can burn in too high concentration, so don’t go crazy and think that more is better.

You can buy these cosmetic ingredients from several sources online. My favorite source is LotionCrafter because the owner, Jenny, is very knowledgeable and nice to work with. She also sells some inexpensive airless pump dispensers that you can use to package your product.

The combination of vitamin C and niacinamide can help reduce fine lines and fade discolorations, and it may help prevent pre-cancerous skin changes. My skin is very fair and several of my family members have had skin cancers on their faces from sun exposure, so I am especially interested in this protective aspect of vitamin C. You should, of course, see a dermatologist if you find something suspicious, but I’m hoping that vitamin C might help prevent pre-cancerous changes from taking place to begin with. And keeping fine lines at bay is always nice too. 🙂

LotionCrafter has a formulation page where they give several vitamin C formulas as well as many other body product formulas. One of their C serum formulas is modeled after the one by SkinCeuticals, which has a lot of research behind it. The formulas there take a bit more time than the very simple one I have been making, but if you have the time it could be fun and rewarding to try some.

The suggested rate for vitamin C in MAP form is up to 10%, and I’ve been using 10% with no irritation. The Lotioncrafter site says, “Unlike Ascorbyl Palmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) appears to have the same potential to boost skin collagen synthesis as does Ascorbic Acid, but at lower concentrations. For those with sensitive skin or those wanting to avoid the exfoliating effects of highly acidic Ascorbic Acid, MAP may be the preferred choice.”

The suggested usage rate for niacinamide is 1-4%. Lotioncrafter says it can increase collagen synthesis, reduce fine lines, reduce discolorations, and reduce oiliness.

Posted below is the very simple formula I have been using. The downside is that it does not perfectly dissolve, so you need to shake it up each time and you may lose a little bit to the sides of the container. I do see good results with it though, and if you find you like formulating you could always try a more sophisticated formula later.

Simple Water-Based C and B3 serum:
1 gram niacinamide (vitamin B3)
2.5 grams MAP (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate)
21.5 grams purified water (distilled or reverse osmosis)
total: 25 grams

This amount fits into one of the 30 ml white airless treatment pumps sold at Lotioncrafter. You’ll need a decent gram scale to weigh it out. Lotioncrafter sells some scales, but you may have a postal scale or kitchen scale that would work if it is accurate enough. After weighing it out, sterilize a stirring utensil with some alcohol and stir the serum well until the powders dissolve. You can warm the container in your hand or in a bowl of hot water if needed. After capping, I always shake it even though I just stirred it.

This formula is not appropriate to sell (you’d want something more elegant with a smoother feel and either water-free or with a preservative), but it’s fine for home use. If you’ve already tried some DIY formulas, maybe you can share your experiences with us here. And if the idea of topical vitamin C sounds good to you but you don’t want to mess with the DIY aspect, there are many ready-made products to choose from (Paula’s Choice added a moderately-priced C serum to her line last year, and many higher-priced brands like SkinCeuticals have offered them for years). I thought the information in this post might be helpful regardless of the route you choose.

You can research the medical literature on Pubmed/Medline to find studies supporting the protective effect of topical vitamin C against UV-induced skin damage and cancer. Also the SkinCeuticals site has a page with references to medical research, as does the Paula’s Choice site.

Update 2016:
I’ve changed my vitamin C formula a bit over the years. I’m now putting the niacinamide and MAP into separate dropper bottles and I have decreased the MAP to 8% because that helps keep it from settling out of solution. I had too much MAP coming out of solution, especially in the colder winter months. Also, I’ve found a commercial vitamin C (ascorbic acid rather than MAP) that is reasonably priced and good quality: Timeless. I’ve been alternating between that and the DIY MAP.

Update on Petition Against Proposed Perfume Ingredient Restrictions

For those who may have missed it, I wanted to give a link to an update on Basenotes about the Petition against the proposed legislation in the EU slated to ban and restrict more ingredients next year. The petition has garnered over 2500 signatures so far. Signatures are still being collected, so you can sign here if you have not already done so. The petition urges labeling and education as an alternative to banning. We should be hearing more about the EU proposal later this year.

Summer Break

I have taken the shopping cart down for a summer break. I need to do some physical therapy and can’t do it when the cart is up. Summer is the best time to do this because it is my slower season, partly because people take vacations and partly because my most popular scents are best in cooler weather. I will also take this time to finish the formula for the new Amber Incense.

If you are an international customer visiting the USA during my break, please send me an email at and I’ll take care of your order; I don’t want you to miss your chance for easy shipping and am happy to time shipping to a hotel while you are here. Also, if you need something for a gift or you are a signature scent customer and are running low, I’ll take your order during the break. And if you just bought some samples and are dying for a bottle of something, I’ll try to fit you in too. I will be back to take all other orders after the break, and you can follow updates on the blog in the meantime.

I can’t give an exact date for when I will put the cart up because it depends on how things go. I plan to be up and running for fall.

There’s nothing seriously wrong and no crisis so there’s no need to worry. I had injured the deltoid in my left arm last fall and it has healed about 85%; I’d like to try to get the rest of the range of motion back. I’m always operating on the edge as far as managing my back issues and it has been hurting quite a bit the last few days, so I want to catch it before it gets worse so that I don’t miss this chance to do some PT this summer. I had hoped to give some notice of my time off, but I would not be able to handle the potential large inflow of orders that a pre-announcement might produce. Instead, I’ll take care of people as needed via email in a slower fashion.

Thank you so much for your understanding. I’ll continue to blog and am also reachable via email (please do email me if you are an international customer and want to set up an order during your USA visit or during your friend’s USA visit).

Spring Pictures

No news right now, but I thought I’d share some photos I snapped recently. The first photo shows the hills in the late afternoon as seen from my parents’ deck (the vineyard in the foreground belongs to the winery next door to us):


And the next two photos show the Ballerina rose (hybrid musk) that is currently in full bloom (it repeats throughout the summer):