October 19, 2023   |   Reading time: 6 minutes

How to Comply with the IFRA Standards

How to Comply with the IFRA Standards
IFRA Standards stand as the bedrock of the fragrance industry, ensuring that perfumes, cosmetics, and household items captivate our senses and safeguard our well-being. This blog serves as a resource for individuals seeking an understanding of compliance with these Standards. By the end of it, you will be well-equipped to navigate these Standards effectively. Also, you will gain valuable insights into the tools at your disposal for achieving compliance, including a range of guidance documents provided by IFRA.

Understanding the IFRA Standards

The IFRA Standards, devised by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), are a set of guidelines developed to ensure the safe use of fragrances. The Standards are built upon independent experts’ scientific research and risk assessments. They establish maximum safe use levels for individual fragrance materials across various product types, spanning fine fragrances, personal care products, household items, and air care products.
Three distinct types of IFRA Standards play vital roles in guaranteeing the safety and quality of fragrance products:

  1. Prohibition Standards: This category unequivocally bans ingredients deemed too hazardous for safe use in fragrance products. Prohibited substances are strictly forbidden in fragrance formulations, shielding consumers and the environment from potential harm.
  2. Restriction Standards: These Standards impose strict limits on using certain materials within fragrances to ensure safety. IFRA continually refines its approach to restrictions to adapt to advancements in science and technology, leading to more precise assessments.
  3. Specification Standards: When toxicological effects are linked to impurities within a material rather than the material itself, Specification Standards are established. In such cases, limits or restrictions are set for these impurities, safeguarding human health and the environment.

Are IFRA Standards mandatory?

IFRA Standards are governed by a dual approach, encompassing mandatory compliance and voluntary adoption:

  1. Mandatory compliance for IFRA members: The IFRA Standards are binding only for members of the IFRA, encompassing direct members and those indirectly affiliated through associations. This compulsory adherence and commitment reflects their dedication to maintaining the highest standards of safety and quality in the fragrance industry, covering roughly 80% of the market.
  2. Voluntary adoption beyond membership: IFRA Standards are openly available on the IFRA website, encouraging voluntary adoption. Many customers and producers of consumer goods insist that their suppliers adhere to these Standards, underlining their significance in ensuring product safety.
  3. Recognition as regulatory systems: IFRA Standards have gained recognition in select regions worldwide. This recognition can manifest through incorporation into regulations, guidance documents, or the integration into regulatory frameworks. This convergence underscores the alignment between industry-driven standards and regulatory requirements.

In essence, while IFRA Standards are mandatory for its members, they serve as a pivotal reference and a benchmark for safety, both by choice and necessity, for a broader spectrum of stakeholders within the fragrance industry.

Who uses the IFRA Standards?

IFRA Standards are essential for a diverse range of professionals and stakeholders within the fragrance industry:

  1. Creative minds in the fragrance industry: Perfumers and other creative professionals use IFRA Standards as a guide to ensure their creations meet the highest safety and quality Standards.
  2. Technical and regulatory experts: These experts play a pivotal role in translating and implementing IFRA Standards within their systems. They bridge the gap between IFRA Standards and practical fragrance formulation, ensuring compliance and adherence.
  3. Stakeholders and interested parties: IFRA Standards are designed to be transparent and educational, welcoming all who wish to understand, adopt, or align with these self-regulatory guidelines.

This commitment to transparency reinforces the industry’s dedication to safety, quality, and accountability, ensuring that fragrance enthusiasts, industry professionals, and regulatory authorities can all benefit from the wealth of knowledge available.

Need help staying compliant with IFRA Standards?

Compliance with the IFRA Standards

Compliance with the IFRA Standards is essential for the safety and quality of your fragrance products. To ensure compliance, follow these steps:

  1. Utilise the IFRA Standards Library: Begin by accessing the IFRA Standards Library to familiarise yourself with the substances that have been issued with an IFRA Standard.
  2. Examine individual Standards: For a comprehensive understanding, refer to each Standard to identify additional isomers and CAS numbers relevant to your products.
  3. Review supplier SDS: Obtain and review the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from fragrance material suppliers, focussing on Section 3, “Composition/Information on Ingredients”.
  4. Check ingredients against Standards: Cross-reference your product ingredients’ names and CAS numbers with the IFRA Standards to avoid prohibited or restricted substances.
  5. Consider contributions from other sources: The ‘Annex on contributions from other sources to the IFRA Standards’ combines information from natural contributions and Schiff bases. Substances issued with a Standard could be part of another ingredient, typically a naturally complex substance (NCS). Examine all ingredients in your product for contributions from other sources to maintain full compliance.
  6. Determine IFRA category: Identify the appropriate IFRA category for your product, which is crucial for establishing maximum allowable usage levels.
  7. Monitor maximum use levels: Ensure that the concentration of substances in your product adheres to the maximum use thresholds defined for your product’s IFRA category.
  8. Refer to IFRA guidance: Familiarise yourself with the “Guidance on the use of the IFRA Standards” document for valuable insights and explanations.
  9. Stay informed: Stay current with the latest IFRA amendments and their effective dates.
  10. Generate an accurate IFRA Certificate: Create an IFRA Certificate as an official declaration of compliance with the IFRA regulations.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your fragrance products meet the stringent safety and quality Standards IFRA sets, assuring regulatory compliance and consumer safety.


Understanding IFRA standards is crucial for anyone involved in the fragrance industry. Whether you’re a perfumer, a fragrance formulator, or a consumer, knowing the limits and regulations set by IFRA can help ensure the safety and quality of fragrances.

It’s important to note that IFRA standards are not just arbitrary rules. They are based on extensive research and testing to determine the safe levels of fragrance ingredients. By adhering to these standards, manufacturers can create fragrances that are not only pleasant but also safe for everyone to use.

It’s also worth noting that IFRA standards are not set in stone. As new research and information become available, the standards may be revised to reflect the latest findings. This means that the fragrance industry must remain vigilant and adaptable to changes in the industry.

Frequently asked questions

Do all fragrance ingredients have an IFRA Standard?

No. The absence of an IFRA Standard for certain fragrance materials does not indicate that these materials are inherently unsafe. IFRA Standards are established based on identified safety concerns, following the principle of the “negative list.” Materials without IFRA Standards may still have undergone safety assessments but may not have necessitated a formal standard based on available data and scientific evaluation.

Are natural and synthetic materials treated differently in the IFRA Standards?

No. IFRA Standards are impartial, applying uniformly to natural and synthetic materials without discrimination. The focus is on the toxicological properties of the material itself, not its origin. Annex I, updated with the 51st Amendment to the IFRA Standards, combining it with Annex II into a single reference, provides valuable insights into complex substances of natural origin. IFRA Standards maintain a level playing field, treating all materials equitably to ensure safety, quality, and transparency within the fragrance industry.

Do maximum levels in the Standards refer to the fragrance material or finished product?

Finished product. The maximum use levels specified in the Standards are about the final consumer product rather than the fragrance material itself. These Standards encompass a variety of specific levels tailored to different product categories, each of which includes various product types. For example, a product category may be centred around items designed for specific body sites. In the “under-the-arm” category, you’ll find a range of product types, such as deodorants, including sprays, creams, and other products designed for use in this specific area, like body sprays. These product categories are categorised based on the body sites where the product is intended to be applied.

Need help staying compliant with IFRA Standards?