Hazardous chemical perfumes sold in Idlib amid lack of control

A perfume shop in Idlib city (Al Jazeera)

A perfume shop in Idlib city (Al Jazeera)


Being not long-lasting and expensive perfumes in comparison to their low quality amid the absence of control by local governing bodies in northern Idlib city pushed residents to criticize the domestic perfume industry.

Most of the perfumes available in the market now are of a much lower quality than in previous times, an Idlib resident told Enab Baladi.

Wissam al-Aqeel, 48, explained that perfumes’ high prices are not matching their quality, even the “high-quality” ones that do not last very long.

Issam Assaf, 23, another resident in Idlib, expressed to Enab Baladi his dissatisfaction that most perfume dealers in the city do not have sufficient experience in trading perfumes and their types and formulations, according to what he told Enab Baladi.

Other residents whom Enab Baladi met expected that the merchants had tampered with the quality of perfumes due to the lack of health and municipal monitoring.

How are perfumes made?

According to Samer Batous, the Maa al-Thahab Perfumes company’s general agent, there are several types of materials used in the manufacture of three types of perfume.

The first category is food perfumes that are used in the manufacture of food products, and they are natural and harmless for human consumption.

The second category is cosmetic perfumes, which are fragrances extracted naturally from edible oils.

As for the last category, it is the chemical perfumes that are used in the manufacture of detergents, and they contain some substances that may harm health, as they are composed of “dangerous” chemical compounds, Batous told Enab Baladi.

The perfumes in the market are “chemical”

Batous explained that what are now sold in the market are chemical perfumes that are usually used in the manufacture of detergents but are now sold in perfume shops as cosmetic perfumes due to their low price.

The perfumes available in the local market are chemically compounded perfumes mixed with types of alcohol that are not suitable for use in perfumes, added Batous.

The type of alcohol that goes into the composition of perfumes is usually a natural type (Ethanol) that is extracted from beetroot or sugar cane, while most perfume makers in Idlib city use industrial alcohol called “Methyl” or “Methanol” alcohol, according to Batous.

Methanol is “dangerous” to health

The dermatologist Ahmed Mutaib, in an interview with Enab Baladi, explained that the daily use of Methanol exposes the skin to many damages, represented by its dehydration and lack of fluid content in the skin.

Mutaib added that the use of this type of alcohol could lead to liver diseases, explaining that Methanol is usually used to sterilize hands, but its danger lies in its daily use.

Alcohol enters the perfume industry because the scent of concentrated perfume cannot be dissolved in water, so one of the types of alcohol must be provided in order to dissolve the scent in it.

This type of alcohol is cheap compared to other types of alcohol and is widely used in cheap perfume dupes.

Health control is “almost absent”

Hamdo al-Jassem, Director of Public Relations at the Economic and Resources Ministry in the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), says that the supply and control teams work daily to follow up on complaints related to the issue of fake perfumes, such as cases of monopoly and fraud.

Al-Jassem did not explain to Enab Baladi the nature of the health control carried out by the ministry, apart from controlling prices, despite being asked about the way to handle perfume dealers who use harmful Methanol alcohol in the northern region.

Al-Jassem stressed that all commercial activities, including foodstuffs, heating materials, and perfumes, are regulated through the complaints numbers allocated by the ministry, pointing out that more than 15 seizures of violations of various substances have been organized in the Salvation Government’s areas.

Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Idlib city Anas al-Khouli contributed to this report. 

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