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Thoughts For Thursday: Please Stop Accosting Me With Fragrance!

December 30, 2010 · 45 comments

in Health & Fitness, Thoughts For Thursday

I have allergies.  Not peanut allergies or cat allergies, but  fragrance allergies.  I don’t even know if a fragrance allergy is something that can be clinically tested, but if the air going through my nose is not completely bland and scent free, I am miserable.  Not just sneezy miserable, but I mean wheezy miserable.  It doesn’t just go away as soon as I am away from the offending smell either.  I may wheeze for hours.

It has even started to affect my social life a little bit.  I was at a friend’s house recently and she had an apple-cinnamon candle burning.  The smell was very pleasant, and it didn’t seem to be bothering me at first, and I didn’t even think about it.  Then it hit me all at once and I had to go home, wheezing horribly the whole car ride, wishing I had my inhaler.  Obviously, my friend just wanted the house to smell nice and she never even knew about my issues.  In the future, I will ask her to not have candles burning, but I feel so rude doing so because it is her house.

What really drives me crazy is all the fragrance samples that are in magazines and circulars now days.  If I am reading a magazine and that perfume scent wafts up to my nose, I will start wheezing almost immediately.  (If this is a problem for you, contact the publisher of your magazine subscription, as many offer scent-free subscriptions.  I believe anything published by Hearst Magazines has a scent-free option.  Call the 800 number listed in the magazine as that is more effective than email.)  Oh, and I also dislike those women that accost you when you walk into department stores.  Some can be so persistent  that you feel like you need to give a doctor’s note to so you don’t have to be sprayed with all their chemicals.  I avoid some stores entirely because I know the entrance will smell like some frightful amalgamation of scents that will make me feel awful.

I know I am not alone with this issue.  Many people have allergies to scents, yet sending those smelly advertisements in the mail or embedded in magazines is A-OK.   I know people want to smell nice, but perfume can be a real problem for people.  Thank God cigarette smoke has finally been banned in public places where I live because I have the same problem with cigarette smoke.  I know some people have tried to ban perfumes even in high schools because of the reaction some students have.  (Banning peanuts is good.  Banning other things is not good.)  There have been countless lawsuits from people who are affected by fragrance.   City employees in Detroit are actually banned from wearing strong perfume in 3 government  buildings because of a lawsuit that occurred in March of 2010.  (The employee got $100,000 in the settlement.)  It is obviously a problem, but it is not a cause that gets much press.

What else I find frustrating is the lack of fragrance-free products available.  Dove ‘Unscented’ still smells, but you can get the ‘Sensitive Skin Dove Free’, which has minimal scent.  The only detergent I can handle is Tide Free and Bounce Free is the only dryer sheet I can handle.  Truly unscented hairspray is the hardest thing for me to find.  I loved unscented Pantene, but that seems to have been taken off the market.

I thought with all the ‘green’ initiatives, that maybe putting all kinds of fragrance into the air might be less popular and more unscented products would become available.  However, I appear to be wrong.  I am not asking for the entire world to be scent-free.  However, if you feel you must wear a scent, please keep it discrete.  Perfume/soaps is a case where ‘more’ is NOT better.

Thank you for listening to my rant.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Centavos December 30, 2010 at 7:04 am

Kris, I don’t think it’s rude to point out your allergies to your friend, even though it is her house. I wouldn’t serve peanuts to anyone suffering from allergies, if known in advance. With regards to perfume, I’m still amazed by people that wear noticeable cologne or perfume at job interviews.


Kris December 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Isn’t it awful when you are stuck on an airplane or something next to someone who is overfragranced? I never thought about how it could impact a job interview though, good point.

I will probably ask my friend to not burn candles on my next visit, if any are lit. I hate these uncomfortable situations.


Moneycone December 30, 2010 at 8:33 am

Some fragrances are just plain obnoxious, though I’m not allergic, I can’t stand them! But I never considered how some are sensitive to all fragrances!

Befriend these companies on twitter/fb and send them this post! 🙂


Kris December 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm

MoneyCone- that is a good idea to hit these companies on Twitter. Oprah magazine is the worst that I have come across. Do you think she cares that she is giving me asthma attacks? Maybe she should give me a free trip of some sort.


MoneyCone December 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Oprah might send you a year’s worth of free subscription to O… oh wait! 😉


Kris December 31, 2010 at 9:14 am

She better create a ‘fragrance free’ checkbox first and check it off! 🙂


Nicole December 30, 2010 at 8:45 am

Me too. One reason I didn’t appreciate the millions of scented candles we got as wedding presents 11 years ago (though I did not say anything).

I’ve had good luck with 7th generation unscented products for cleaning. Even some versions of the scented ones aren’t as bad as regular. Cook’s Illustrated magazine also rates their dish liquid as the top liquid soap in tests. And, of course, there’s always white vinegar, which is stinky when wet, but not literally irritating.

I’ve recently become allergic to something they’re now putting in the water, so we’ve had to filter up the shower heads. One of my colleagues spent 1K on a filter for his whole house that filters water before it gets in. (Possibly chlorine is the problem… apparently we have way more than average.)


Kris December 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Nicole – what in the world are they putting in your water? Maybe it is extra chlorine? I wonder why they are putting so much in?

I need to try 7th generation cleaning products. However, my husband does the deep scrubbing since I have trouble with the cleaning products. If I find something that doesn’t bother me, does that mean I need to go back to scrubbing the shower down? 🙂


Nicole December 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

My colleague says they’re way overcholorinating it, but there’s other things in it as well. All I know is that I was getting rashes before we put in the filter-head.

You could just not tell, and if he thinks Dow scrubbing bubbles work better or something, then maybe he should keep it up. The 7th generation all-purpose spray is pretty useful though. Works even better than vinegar.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

Wow, the water was giving you rashes? That is kinda scary. Have you called the water department and asked what the deal is? I think BFS said her water is super cholorinated too.

My husband went and read the comments darn it! 🙂


Nicole December 31, 2010 at 9:52 am

Our little town has been growing too fast to support our water treatment plant. So they’re over-cholorinating (according my my colleague with the $1K water filter). Also my neighborhood is now stinky in the summer, which, along with the change in school districts I’m sure has done wonderful things for our property values. Not that the tax assessment office cares.


The Biz of Life December 30, 2010 at 9:05 am

Maybe you should try making your own soap. That way you can control just how much fragrance, if any, gets added. Every product you buy these days seems to be strongly scented in some way.


Kris December 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Biz – Maybe I will look into making my own soap, I never really thought of that before. I don’t know why everything has to be so fragrant in the first place.


The Biz of Life December 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm

What do you think nosegays where for back in the olden days?


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:53 am

Biz, that is so funny. I had heard of nosegays, but never really knew what they were. I went and checked Wiki and I see you are 100 percent right, they were made to cover up bad smells, and to keep the ‘Nose Gay’.

I would have died before the age of 30 had I been around then from all the conflicting smells. Although I would probably smell bad too though and maybe I wouldn’t notice? 🙂


Nicole December 30, 2010 at 9:18 am

Ironic: All the ads are now showing FRAGRANCES. At least virtual perfume doesn’t make my nose drip or the roof of my mouth itch.


Kris December 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I will allow virtual fragrance! I see I am not alone with my issue?


Husband of Everyday Tips December 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

When Kris and I first dated, I would buy her flowers every so often. She was too nice to tell me how much it affected her breathing. What I didn’t know is that her friends in the dorm had a system so that the flowers were always in her room whenever I stopped by, but then immediately moved to another person’s room when I left. Once I learned of the allergy, I switched to buying chocolates!


Kris December 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Very true! My friends were always happy to store the flowers for me too!

Chocolate is so much better anyway. 🙂


Andrew @ 101 Centavos December 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Haven’t heard of any living soul that’s allergic to chocolate…. yet.


retirebyforty December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

Sorry about the allergy. I don’t like the fragrance in the magazines either. Seems like such a waste of resource. Good hubby up above. 🙂


Kris December 30, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I am sure their advertising ploy works, but it sure can be offensive.

He is a good hubby!


Lindy Mint December 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

How awful! I get watery eyes and start sneezing from most perfumes, but nowhere near wheezing. No fun. Rants welcome any time.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

Lindy- I am so glad you welcome rants, because I can write one at almost any time!


Suba @ Wealth Informatics December 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

You are selling me real fragrances 😉

I am allergic to some fragrance not everything, but I hate it when the whole store smells like something really strong. I don’t like it when people use so much perfume, when they enter the restaurant the whole restaurant smells like their perfume.

Have you tried the 7th generation products? Those fit me very well, hypo allergenic, no fragrance, not much chemicals (or so they say). The Costco eco detergents do well as well, but you don’t have costco membership.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 9:17 am

Suba, Nicole recommended 7th generation too. I am going to give it a try. We have 3 asthmatics in the house, so it can only help.

Guess I have more cleaning to do now… 🙂


Jackie December 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I’m right there with you! At least I “only” get a headache from many of the scents though, not the wheeziness. Although maybe that’s not such an advantage, since if I were standing there wheezing people might be more inclined to listen when I beg them to please not burn floral candles.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:57 am

Jackie, Headaches are a bummer and you are right, you can’t stand there and scream “My head hurts so bad from all the scents I am forced to breathe in”.

After writing this post and reading all the comments, I will no longer be polite, I will as those to douse their candles! I wish I could force people to go take a shower, but that might be a little too much…


First Gen American December 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

There were some ladies sitting in front of us during the cirque de soliel show that were really perfumy. Babci was really irritated by the smell. She said it gives her a headache and complained that they should shower instead of covering up her stink. My son is always covered in hives of some sort..and I’m the same, tide free, dove, etc.

People probably would never know you had allergies to scents. I wouldn’t feel bad about asking. I know if I were the host, I’d want to know.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:51 am

I am with Babci. Why can’t people just bathe (in scent free soap 🙂 ) instead of dousing themselves in fragrance? I bet that really impacted the enjoyment of the show. How did cousin like it? 🙂

I was pregnant with my daughter and at the show West Side Story when I was sitting next to someone who had a strange perfume and was eating tic tacs the whole time. The combination literally made me almost get sick right then and there. It is all I remember from West Side Story.


krantcents December 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I remember being in an elevator with someone who much too much perfume on. Although I am not allergic to all those scents, I have a very keen sense of smell, perhaps too keen! I sometimes smell things no one else does or ahead of everyone else. My wife can get migraine headaches from perfumes or colognes. I test with her any new cologne before I buy it.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

Ooh, trapped on an elevator, that would be awful. I am so bad about cologne that if I am greeted by a man with cologne like at a family gathering, I have to shower as soon as I get home because there will be some leftover scent on me. I am sure I sound like a nutcase, but it isn’t like I think and worry about it ahead of time. I don’t notice it until the wheeze starts.

Headaches are awful, your poor wife. The thing is, you never know when you are going to come across an offending smell. She must be getting those migraines just out of the blue, and those are just the worst. My sympathies.


Jenna December 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Scent free magazines – interesting. I would have never thought about that. I do like The Body Shops unscented lotion. It still feels amazing!


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:46 am

I will have to look into their lotion. I have a terrible time with any face cream or anything. I have tried countless ‘unscented, hypoallergic’ brands, and they still have a scent. Thanks for the info!


Deidre @ TransFormX December 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm

How horrible for you to have such an allergy! You never know when a weird perfume smell might overtake you!

One thing that is my pet peeve is the cosmetic counter ladies at department stores. They stand there and some just spray away into the air expecting you to love the smell. I hate this! Some of the perfumes are just obnoxious and I am sensitive to some but not to the point of wheezing (thank god!).

Now when I walk through that area I just hold up my hand in the ‘stop sign’ position and say “no spraying please”. I’m sure they all think I’m being rude but it is my nose 🙂

Herbicides and chemicals affect me worse than perfumes and I have to avoid certain areas at some times during the year.


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:45 am

Deidre- I hate in the summer when I drive by a park and i can smell all the fertilizer or whatever chemical was just sprayed all over the grass. I always feel bad for the poor kids!

I am with you about the department stores. They don’t seem to be as aggressive as they did when I was a teen, although maybe I am just ruder and they run away from me.


Money Reasons December 31, 2010 at 12:46 am

I never heard of scent allergies before. I allergic to pollens and I think I may have some food allergies too.

I have a similar reaction to scents (although milder), but I always thought it was in my head.

It’s good to know that I’m sane, thanks Kris!!!


Kris December 31, 2010 at 8:43 am

MR- My role is to reinforce people’s sanity, so I am glad I did my job. 🙂

I actually think my problem with scents is getting worse. I really wish I knew what to do about it. I thought I would outgrow my allergies as I got older, but I guess not.

Good luck with your allergies!


Heather January 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm

No scent allergies here, but I’m not a fan of most smelly things. We use Kiss My Face soap, which isn’t smelly and doesn’t have a lot of crap in it (it doesn’t really foam up, which took some getting used to, but it turns out that companies add stuff to soap and shampoo to make it sudsy), and we make our own laundry detergent. Usually we line dry, so there’s no smelly dryer sheets (which are full of carcinogens anyway), and I use baking soda and vinegar in my hair. (The vinegar doesn’t make me smell like Easter eggs, which I was worried about when I first tried it.) No smell, less expense, less exposure to chemicals — it’s win-win-win. People just look at you funny when they learn about it, but that’s hardly a deterrent…


Kris January 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Heather, I am getting so sensitive to fragrance that I may not care if I smell like Easter eggs at this point. (I love the smell of vinegar, not sure why). What is your shampoo formula?

I used to use a face soap that didn’t foam up either and I was always afraid that it wasn’t really cleaning. I know they add something awful to toothpaste to make it foam too but I can’t remember what it is.

I will keep hoping that fragrance free items will become more popular. But even Axe is driving me crazy (my son’s friends come over smelling of Axe.)

Thanks for visiting!!


Heather January 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

This is where I got the recipe: http://ultimatemoneyblog.com/no-poo-shampoo-alternative-dont-use-shampoo-again

And here is a follow-up: http://ultimatemoneyblog.com/no-poo-questions-and-update

I don’t mix it in water, but my head is buzzed, so it’s super-easy for me just to use the powder right on my head.


tlc September 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I have the same problem and people think it is all in your head and they feel insulted if I bring up that their fragrances bother me. I have had to resort to posting all sorts of things regarding accommodations and the law on my work cubicle. It has helped some but not completely.


Kris September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Oh some people get totally defensive when you bring up that their ‘scent’ causes allergy problems for you. Fortunately, my friends have known me long enough that they know better to burn candles or have fresh flowers around me. I am so glad I work from home because scent in the workplace would be a killer, I feel bad for you.


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