What Is It?

Coumarin is a crystalline white solid with a sweet, vanilla, nutty scent. When highly diluted, the scent is reminiscent of freshly-mown hay. In cosmetics and personal care products, Coumarin is used in the formulation of aftershave lotions, bath products, bubble baths, cleansing products, moisturizers, skin care products and suntan products.

Why Is It Used?

Coumarin functions as a fragrance ingredient.

Scientific Facts

Coumarin occurs naturally in a wide variety of plants including tonka bean, lavender, lovage, yellow sweet clover, and woodruff.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not permit Coumarin to be directly added to food. The safety of Coumarin has been evaluated by the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials Expert Panel (REXPAN). Based on this evaluation, an International Fragrance Association (IFRA) Standard has been established. The IFRA Standard restricts the use of Coumarin in fragrances because of potential sensitization.

Link to the IFRA Standards:

In 2008, the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) issued a position statement that states that the fragrance industry is not aware of any reported systemic adverse health effects with regard to topically applied Coumarin.

Link to the IFRA Position Statement on Coumarin:

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) defers review of individual fragrance ingredients to the IFRA program unless the ingredient has significant uses other than as a fragrance. In this case, the ingredient may be assessed by both the CIR Expert Panel and REXPAN.

Link to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Coumarin:…

In Europe, Coumarin is included on the list of “allergenic” substances. The European Cosmetics Directive requires manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products to indicate the presence of certain “allergenic” substances in the list of ingredients if they are present above certain levels in the product (see Annex III). The presence of Coumarin must be indicated in the list of ingredients when its concentration exceeds: 0.001% in leave-on the skin products 0.01% in products that are rinsed off the skin

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) evaluated Coumarin as a fragrance allergen and concluded that this ingredient was frequently reported and a well-recognized consumer allergen. Link to the European Commission’s SCCP opinion concerning Coumarin:

Coumarin was evaluated by IARC and was not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans.

Link to the IARC monograph for Coumarin:

More information about the safety of fragrances.

More Scientific Information

Coumarin, or 2-H-1-benzopyran-2-one, is an aromatic lactone. It occurs widely in natural products, and has been has been an important ingredient in perfumes since 1882.


Link to the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials:

EU Cosmetics Inventory