What Is It?

Farnesol is a colorless, oily liquid with a delicate sweet odor. In cosmetics and personal care products, Farnesol is used in the formulation of aftershave lotions, cleansing products, colognes, deodorants, eye lotions, face powders, foot powders, fragrances, hair care products, moisturizers, shaving products and skin care products.

Why Is It Used?

Farnesol functions as a fragrance ingredient.

Scientific Facts

Farnesol occurs naturally in the oils of citronella, cyclamen, lemongrass, rose, musk and balsam.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Farnesol as a flavoring agent for direct addition to food. The safety of Farnesol 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 Farnesol in fragrances because of potential sensitization.

Link to the IFRA Standards: http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/standards_1

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 FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Farnesol: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr…

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that Farnesol does not present a safety concern at current levels of intake when used as a flavoring agent.

Link to the JECFA safety evaluation of Farnesol: http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jeceval/jec_848.htm

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association Expert Panel reviewed the safety of Farnesol and determined that it was Generally Recognized as Safe for use as a flavoring substance. In Europe, Farnesol is included on the list of “allergenic” substances. The European Cosmetics Regulation 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 Farnesol 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: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/product_labelling_and_packaging/co0013_en.htm

More information about the safety of fragrances.

More Scientific Information

Farnesol, or 3,7,11-trimethyl-2,6,10-dodecatrien-1-ol, is a sesquiterpene alcohol. It has a mildly sweet odor, and is used in perfumery to emphasize the odors of sweet floral accords.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Food Ingredients and Packaging: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/default.htm

Food Contact Substances: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/PackagingFCS/default.htm

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS): http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/default.htm

Link to the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials: http://www.rifm.org

Search the FDA Code of Federal Regulations http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm

EU Cosmetics Inventory http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/