Perfume is one of the few beauty products on the market still guarded by trade secrecy. Since competitors could copy and use the formula of another perfume, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows fragrance manufacturers to guard the ingredient list, hence the minimal labeling and obscure numbers found on a perfume bottle.
Manufacturers label perfume according to the regulatory guidelines of the country in which it is sold. The FDA regulates the labeling of all perfumes and fragrance products sold in the U.S.
The numbers on a perfume label identify: • the quantity of the product in fluid ounces • the post code of the distributor • the post code of the manufacturer (if different from the distributor)
Fragrance companies can include other optional numerical information on their perfume bottles, such as the quantity in milliliters, customer service telephone numbers or numbers that tell what colors have been used in the formula, although these details are often reserved for the box or other outside packaging.
According to FDA guidelines, the numbers on perfume packaging must be larger than 1/32 inch and be conspicuous enough for the consumer to read it. Because the aesthetic of the bottle is so important to the product, the majority of manufacturers place the labeling on the bottom with small font in a contrasting color to improve readability.
A common misconception is that the numbers on a perfume bottle relate to best before dates. This is incorrect, although some bottles may have a batch number on them for quality control purposes.