Monday, 29 October 2012

A perfume secret, byJ12 of the M4

Playing with the big boys

There are lines you have to cross when you want to start selling your scents. Like other stuff you can make at home, like jam, cakes and chutney, when you go from blends for friends to retail, there's a whole extra stash of paperwork.
That's what we've been working on, me and my perfume pals, since April.

Getting our certificates

I've got lots of certificates, including a mass of O Levels and one for teaching yoga. Some have been harder to earn, but none of them have been as tricky as my EU and IFRA papers.

First, every material you use for a perfume has to have its own material safety data sheet, which list EU allergens by quantity, and many other things; they're usually around 16 pages. Some suppliers either don't have them, or have incomplete ones. Not good enough.

But now we're there.

Let's hear it for Streatley Software

On a business park by a lake, by the M4, you'll find the answer to an indie perfumer's prayers. Streatley Software have put together a really impressive ...thing. It's complex, it's comprehensive and it's not cheap, and it's mine. So now I have access to all the official databases and their updates, and a way to make sure that all my formulae comply with every regulation you can shake a stick at.

Want to try it?

Indie perfumers all have a hard time getting legal, so I'm happy to help.
Now, indie perfumers might worry that I'd try to copy their formulae, but to be honest, I'm only interested in creating my own.

 So give me a wave if you want a go.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Being Legal

That on the right is a one litre bottle of Lady Rose Lion (Monkey Unicorn) made by me a couple of weeks ago. It needs to hang around in that form for another month before it'll smell just right. The materials will macerate, mix together and combine to make a smooth lovely scent.

I know this because I've done it before.

Lady Rose Lion (Monkey Unicorn) is made with lovely things like rose absolute, jasmine absolute, honey absolute, patchouli, oakmoss and ladbanum. It also has a sparkle of gamma undecalactone, a peachy material that doesn't exist in nature, and Iso E Super, another synthetic that's woody, musky and subtle.

Without the two synthetics it wouldn't be as lovely as it is. It would be a bit heavy and dull, hard to wear. It would also be outrageously expensive.

But today's post is not about the synthetics, because it's the natural materials which are causingme the grief. I could make a whole perfume with just the Iso E Super and sell it perfectly legally. (Someone did, and hyped the hell out of it.)

No, it's the rose, jasmine and oakmoss that are causing me grief, and causing the same amount to every perfumer in the EU who loves using natural materials. They are restricted, just in case they give someone a rash. It's true, they might. But I can wear oakmoss at 20% concentration my skin and I'm fine. That's 50 times the EU legal limit.

Every wondered why you can no longer buy something at perfume strength, but you can get Eau de Toilette. Ever wondered why a lovely scent from the 90s disappeared entirely in the 00s? That's the new EU regulations. And they're going to be even tougher from 2013. It's partly safety, but it's partly the perfume people not wanting to tell you what they put in their scents.

Anyway, I've found some great techies who make software linked to the databases I need to produce my materials safety data sheets. The software will tell me if I've got too much of a material in my formula, so I can readjust it to make it legal. It costs several arms and legs, but if I want to sell through shops, I need to have my certificates. (A bit like people who make great biscuits then get an order from Waitrose, you're suddenly up a league and enveloped in legislation.)

So not long now, and I'll be in that nice shop who've been chasing me since April to get five of my scents. I'll keep you posted.