How to Read IFRA Rates

People often wonder if a certain fragrance can be used in lotions, candles, body butters, perfumes, etc. If the fragrance you’re using has IFRA documentation available, you can determine if that fragrance can be used in whatever product you’re making.

Here is an example of an IFRA document: 

The IFRA is broken down into 11 product type categories:

  1. Toys, Lip products of all types (solid and liquid lipsticks, balms, clear or colored, etc).
  2. Deodorant and antiperspirant products of all types (sprays, roll-on, stick, under-arm and body, etc).
  3. Hydroalcoholic products (EdT and fine fragrance range) applied to recently shaved skin (3A and 3B), Eye products of all types including eye cream, men’s facial creams and balms (3C), and tampons (3D).
  4. Hydroalcoholic products (including scent strips) (EdT and fine fragrance range) applied to unshaved skin, ingredients of perfume kits, hair styling aids and hair sprays, hair deodorants, body creams, foot care products.
  5. Women’s facial creams, facial make-up (excluding eye cream), facial masks, hand cream, wipes are refreshing tissues for face, neck, body, hands.
  6. Mouthwash and toothpaste.
  7. Intimate wipes, baby wipes, insect repellent intended to be applied directly to the skin.
  8. Make-up removers of all types (not including face cleansers), hair styling aids non -spray of all types (mousse, gels, leave-in conditioners, etc), nail care, all powders and talcs including baby powders and talcs.
  9. Liquid and bar soap, depilatory, rinse-off conditioners, shampoos of all types including baby, facial cleansers, shaving creams, body washes, shower gels of all types, feminine hygiene pads and liners, other aerosols including air fresheners.
  10. Hand and machine wash laundry detergents of all types including bleaches, other household cleaning products, dry cleaning kits, fabric softeners, hard surface cleaners of all types, pet shampoos, diapers, toilet seat wipes.
  11. All non-skin contact including air fresheners of all types (excluding aerosols), toilet blocks, incense, insecticides excluding aerosols, non-toy plastic articles, candles, fuels, paints, floor wax, all incidental skin contact, dish detergent, and fabric.

The categories that get used the most in the handmade industry are (9) Soap and bath bombs or rinse-off products, (4) Lotions and body butters or leave-on products, and (11) candles.

  • Category 9 is soap, bath bombs and rinse-off products.
  • Category 4 is lotion and leave-on products.
  • Category 11 is candles and all non-skin contact products.

Using the IFRA documentation as a guide, you can now discern how much of a particular fragrance can be used in the product you’re making.

Look at the top of the IFRA document available for download on the product page:

8th & Ocean fragrance oil can be used at .07% in lotion, 31.75% in soap, and 100% in candles.

Most suppliers will give IFRA rates for fragrances. This will help determine how much fragrance can be used in a particular product, no matter where you buy. If the IFRA rate is not listed you should take caution in buying that fragrance until you know what the rates are. Many fragrances are for use in candles and non-skin contact products only and are not skin safe!

How to Calculate IFRA Rates for Your Product

First you will need to know the amount of product you’re making, typically measured in units of ounces. If you’re using grams, this method will work as well. Just substitute grams for ounces in the example given.

Soap and Bath Bombs

I’m going to make 2 pounds of soap, or 32 ounces. We are going to convert our percentage into a decimal. 31.75% will be .3175 in decimal form. My calculation on how much fragrance can be used will look like this:

32 x .3175 = 10.16 ounces of fragrance.

What? That’s a lot!!!! That can’t be right! It’s not!

The IFRA rate is the safety rate. This is how much can come in contact with your skin when making this particular product without causing irritation. Fragrance oil in soap should generally be used at 5% – 6% if the fragrance has a high IFRA safety rate.

One thing to look for is fragrance with a safety rate below 5%. If a fragrance oil has a rate lower than the typical use rate of 5%, be sure to follow the IFRA guidelines for that particular fragrance to avoid irritation.


Once again, we’ll use the IFRA document to ascertain how much of 8th $ Ocean can be used in lotion. Lotion is category 4 with a rate of .07%. I will be making 8 ounces of lotion.

8 x .007 = .056 ounces of fragrance.

Since the lotion use rate of 8th & Ocean is low, I will either have to be alright with a light-smelling product or I will have to choose another fragrance that has a higher lotion use rate. I typically like to add fragrance to lotion at a rate of 1%.


The IFRA rate for candles and fragrance oils is almost always 100%. Of course you will not want to use 100% in candles because once again, the IFRA rate is the safety rate. I’m not a candle maker, but I have learned that the typical use rate of fragrance in candles is around 10%. You will want to make the calculations of the fragrance use rate the same way we did in the previous examples.