Dozens of aroma compounds used in cosmetics, including perfume, are prohibited in Canada. The Cosmetic Regulations (CR), Section 16 lists all chemicals that cannot be used in cosmetics sold in Canada. But can you wear perfume that doesn’t include banned chemicals?
Yes, you can wear perfume in Canada. There isn’t a single law that restricts wearing it. However, there are many places that have “scent-free” policies in place, limiting the use of scents, including perfume. For example, many hospitals don’t allow their staff to wear perfume because it can cause allergic reactions in patients.
If you’re interested in learning where and when you can’t wear perfume in Canada, this article is just for you. We’ll cover some examples of scent-free policies, then overview the banned ingredient list and finally recommend some of the best fragrances made by Canadian perfumers.
In this article..
Where You Can’t Wear Perfume In Canada
While there isn’t any general law prohibiting you from wearing perfume in Canada, some places don’t allow it. There are several institutions pushing for scent-free policies in all public places and workplaces. Some industries are stricter at imposing such policies than others.
To get a better idea of where you can’t wear perfume in Canada, let’s take a look at some examples of such policies in place and what kind of sectors are most likely to restrict the use of perfume.
Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
CCOHS has a separate cheat sheet explaining the basis of scent-free policies. It goes as far as stating, that there are laws in Canada concerning the use of perfume in workplaces:
“Accommodation is required under the federal and provincial Human Rights Acts. Please contact your local human rights commission for more information.
Employers should be aware that there are differences between individuals, and build these concepts into their workplace standards or policies as proactively as possible.”
According to this argument, every employee in Canada can ask their employer to introduce some sort of scent-free policy to accommodate their sensitivity to scents. However, not many companies have scent-free policies in place.
If you’re unsure about wearing perfume to work, always consult with your employer to guarantee that there isn’t any workplace policy that restricts the use of scented products.
Most hospitals and other healthcare institutions don’t allow wearing perfume because it usually involves harmful ingredients. People smell by inhaling the aroma compounds. In case they’re toxic or the person has an allergy or sensitivity, they could experience an adverse reaction with symptoms such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
Infants are especially at risk, and in some cases can experience more dangerous symptoms as follows:
Healthcare institutions cannot allow risking the health of their patients because their health is already in peril. As a result, many hospitals and other healthcare institutions have introduced scent-free policies, banning the use of perfume and other scented cosmetics.
More and more schools and universities in Canada are implementing scent-free policies. Not just because scents can be hazardous to health, but also because they can be distractive in the classroom.
There have even been attempts to introduce scent-free policies in schools on a bigger level. For example, in 2016, The Toronto District School Board attempted to make every school in the city fragrance-free.
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
The Secretariat has a scent policy applying to all employees, which states:
“Scented products are to be avoided in government workplaces. This policy is in effect at all times, even when the workplace is closed for business.”
“Wherever possible, workplaces will be required to find and use environmentally friendly and fragrance-free or unscented products. Employees are to avoid wearing scented products in the workplace.”
Prohibited Scent Ingredients in Perfumes
It’s also useful to know what kind of ingredients are prohibited for use in cosmetic products in Canada. For the entire list, head to the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist published by the government. Just for a brief introduction, here’s a table reviewing several prohibited ingredients that are used in perfumes:
|Laurus nobilis L., oil from the seeds of
Canadian Perfume Companies
If you’re looking for a new perfume and want to support local business, here are some of the best independent Canadian perfume brands:
This small perfume business offers alcohol-free and vegan fragrances and perfume oils that are inspired by mythologies from all around the world. Sarawen is based in Toronto, Ontario, and is owned by Sara Tan, an artist with over a decade of experience in making perfumes.
It’s a self-proclaimed “artisan indie perfumery” selling vegan perfumes. They have two catalogs, one is rotating or limited, which includes perfumes you can buy only at specific times of the year, and a permanent collection which is a year-round catalog.
Pulp Fragrance makes dozens of different handcrafted perfumes, and if you aren’t sure which scent would capture your nose the most, you can get its “The Library” sample set which includes 27 samples for $80.29
This perfume house handcrafts perfumes in a scent studio based in Edmonton, Canada. Every Libertine Fragrance product is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, and it also donates a portion of all sales to local organizations.
You can get their 8-sample Eau de Parfum Sampling Program set for $50.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
(Q): Can I Wear Perfume When Working With Food?
(A): There aren’t any laws regarding perfume when working with food. However, there are several institutions publishing guidelines and recommendations that don’t allow food contamination, and perfume could be seen as a contaminant. To avoid any trouble, always ask your employer if you can wear perfume to work.
(Q): Can You Wear Perfume in Europe?
(A): While you can wear perfume in Europe, it has many laws prohibiting the use of certain ingredients. For example, in 2022, the EU banned lilial, a chemical widely used in perfumes for its intense floral scent. In 2014, the EU banned atranol and chloroatranol, which were commonly used in perfume to achieve oak moss notes.
Wearing perfume in Canada is legal and there aren’t any laws prohibiting the use of scents or fragrances. However, there are many prohibited ingredients commonly found in perfumes, and many sectors, including healthcare and education, are becoming more and more scent-free.