On the new era of Fragrance: A tiny rant

Several of the men in my department have started smelling increasingly floral.  Like there’s a miasma of chemical fragrance wafting like a cloud around them.  My nose starts to drip when they come near.

On the plane the woman in front of me sprayed a bunch of perfume on herself before getting off.  I dripped and sneezed and dripped.

DC2 had skin trouble with the handsoap we usually buy, so DH replaced our bathroom handsoap with liquid ivory, because he got ivory and dove mixed up (dove is dermatologist recommended– they’re both old brands with white bottles and similar packaging).  I stopped being able to go near his face for half a day after he shaved, or my nose would drip and my eyes would start to water.

Then the grocery store stopped carrying his unscented head and shoulders, and they increased the fragrance in the suave he used to buy before he started trying to attack his dandruff.

We spent quite a bit of time at the grocery store today sniffing various shampoos.  He did find a mint scented one that didn’t cause any allergic reaction for me, but in the end everyone decided that DC2 and DH and I would all use the unscented Burt’s Bees baby shampoo that I switched to a while back.   (I started having dandruff and scalp itchiness problems with regular shampoo and decided to buy a bunch of different expensive unscented baby shampoos from Target– Burt’s Bees has been great.  I won’t say it gives me much in the way of volume or body etc, but my scalp feels fine, I have little dandruff, and … I only need to wash my hair about once per week now, which is crazy.)

I was so happy during the last decade or so when scents were out.  The bath and body works era before then was hellish– if I got around too many people or the wrong people I would get a drippy nose and a headache.  I frequently ran out of tylenol allergy sinus.

But now it seems like fragrances are back in, and they’re in EVERYTHING.  Even products we’ve used for years have started upping their scent.

I hate it.

Thank goodness for Zyrtec.  But I will be happy when this fad goes away.

Feel free to commiserate, fellow allergy sufferers!


33 Responses to “On the new era of Fragrance: A tiny rant”

  1. delagar Says:


    It’s difficult even buying groceries lately — people trigger my migraines just walking past me. I’m hoping my students don’t start wearing perfume again. That was agony.

    • monsterzero Says:

      There’s an entire aisle of the grocery store that I can’t walk down because every cleaning product has to have added fragrance on the *outside* of the bottle for some reason?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I am so grateful that so many stores group all of these products together so I can just completely avoid those aisles. At our local grocery, there’s unscented 7th generation products in the fru fru aisle so I just buy those if I’m doing the shopping instead of DH (ironically, WF and TJ’s are the worst offenders and I just cannot buy cleaning products or toiletries either place).

      • delagar Says:

        Yeah, I’ve just can’t go near that section. I sent Dr. Skull.

  2. Katherine Says:

    Several of my male students have started wearing overwhelming amounts of floral cologne this semester. It makes office hours rather unpleasant, although I’m lucky it hasn’t had health consequences for me (yet).

  3. gwinne Says:

    Yeah. I hear you. Although I will say I’m in an increasing number of places, even professional conferences, that are scent-free. It’s the students who smoke that do me in.

  4. monsterzero Says:

    I’ve always hated when people wear strong scents, but this year I’ve actually started having scotomas (weird artifacts in my field of vision that make it difficult to read or drive) after using the wrong shampoo or sitting near a particularly stinky offender. Dear People, please limit your scent-use to a couple of drops, and don’t add more when your nose acclimates and you stop being able to smell yourself! Also, Febreze is not the answer because it also has a smell end rant.

  5. rose Says:

    Look up EWG re products and allergic responses. Whatever they now put in many non-ewg shampoos makes my head break out in rashes. Allergic to aloe and chamomile (related to ragweed). Ask stores to label the EWP approved products section. Encourages them to stock these products. (EWG approval does not mean no aloe/chamomile.)
    Was not aware that scents were coming back into style again. Guess it is part of making America 1950’s again. Even my lungs protest.

  6. Ally Says:

    Wait… Bert’s Bees Baby Shampoo works for dandruff? (My scalp has been worse lately and my old standbys (Head and Shoulders and a salon brand clarifying shampoo) are not working. Tea Tree Oil shampoos have historically made it worse not better. So I’m ready to give this a try…)

    But now that I’m done with that side note – the scents really are a problem. I can only wear certain perfume oils, but I generally don’t because I know even those will both some people, and I know how bad my own reactions to regular perfumes are. (So many students leave a cloud of fragrance behind them in my office! WHY!!!!)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know that it works for dandruff so much as that something in regular shampoo causes me to have excessive dandruff and general scalp irritation.

      • Ally Says:

        I’m at the point I’m ready to try almost anything so I may try it incase its a similar issue going on…

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s kind of the point that I got to as well.

        As a disclaimer: it’s super humid today and my hair is like a giant dandelion poof. I don’t think that would have happened with the standard shampoo I’d been using. (Sorry, friend who told me to get detangler, if you’re reading this– I haven’t sniffed around that part of the aisle at the grocery store yet.)

      • Ally Says:

        Considering my hair tends to go flat in humidity rather than poof, I might be thankful for the change in texture…lol

  7. First Gen American Says:

    We use dove sensitive skin soap and unscented tide and unscented bounce. All my lotions are for sensitive skin so no scent either. My whole family has extremely sensitive skin.

    Surprisingly, scented shampoos don’t seem to bother me. Most if them have herbal scents like mint or rosemary but they seem fine. Even my salon brand which is coconut scented doesn’t bother me.

  8. CG Says:

    Oddly, I’ve had the most trouble with “natural” products. For example, Dr. Bronner’s made my eczema flare up. I also can’t stand a lot of the essential oils that people seem to be spraying all over the place. I had some students spray oil in my class to help with their anxiety and I could barely breathe to teach the class. I asked them not to do it again. I also sat in front of some women on a plane who sprayed some horrible concentrated lavender essential oil so they could conquer their stress about flying. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it won’t bother everyone around you!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our tenant left some Dr bronners and it’s pretty awful.

      I used to be allergic to aloe, but that’s one of the allergies I lost with my first pregnancy.

    • delagar Says:

      Gah, yes, “aromatherapy.” One of the instructors in our (tiny, badly ventilated) hallway bought one of those aromatherapy lamp, the ones that burn scented oil 24/7. I had a migraine non-stop for the 2 days until I could run her down and beg her to stop.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I was so happy when the fire inspector shut down the person in my hall who would burn incense back when I was an assistant professor.

      • undine Says:

        I hate scents and perfumes and scented candles and especially these nasty plug-in scents. I went to stay at a relative’s house and had to hunt them all down and unplug them. I am a fresh air connoisseur–nay, a fresh air fiend. What about fresh air smells so nasty to them that they want to hide it with horrible heavy oils?

    • Leah Says:

      Essential oils drive me crazy too. We have a staff bathroom at our school, and someone stuck a diffuser in there. It was awful! I also found that Simple Green (that so many people rave about) made me sneeze like crazy. I’m okay with Dr. Bronners but prefer the kind with less scent.

      I do generally try to buy things without scents when possible. I do like some scented candles, but I have to sniff carefully to find one that is fine for me, so I rarely have them.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I had not heard of simple green! Why do they put scents in so many things? Our Target doesn’t carry unscented 7th generation stuff, but fortunately our grocery store does.

  9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Whew, I enjoyed the Bath and Body Works era because I was pretty young but even without allergies I have come to truly appreciate the mostly scent free years since then. I hope this phase passes quickly!

  10. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    I currently smell like Climate Change. Protests are hot!

  11. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    Aveeno makes unscented colloidal oatmeal Skin Relief body wash that is also fantastic as hair shampoo. It’s a wonderful product that is super soothing on skin.


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