What to do when perfume doesn’t agree with you
Who loves perfume but finds they sometimes get allergies, a headache or has their hay fever flare up? Well, you’re not alone. In a 2016 online survey of over 1000 Aussies, more than one third reported health problems when exposed to fragrance products.
So what are you meant to do if you have reactions to fragrances?
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Sarah Anderson (Customer Care Trainee Manager) and Caela Groenewald (Brand and Sales Trainer) from LUSH Cosmetics Australia and New Zealand have dropped some fab fragrance wisdom for us and spoiler alert: most people don’t have to give up on fragrance completely.
What can happen?
“As with most things we have contact with throughout our day to day lives, it’s absolutely possible for an individual to experience sensitivities to perfume,” says Sarah. “Common signs of perfume ingredient sensitivity may be sneezing, itchiness, or redness of the skin where the perfume has been applied.”
And that’s just the beginning
“The way these sensitivities may appear are as individual as the person experiencing them,” Sarah says.
Coughing, shortness of breath, congestion, watery eyes, headaches, migraines, hay fever, asthma attacks and skin problems (like rashes, hives and dermatitis) can all also come from being exposed to fragrances and their ingredients.
The next steps
So once you know have some kind of sensitivity to perfume, what do you do next?
“You should always cease use of a product if you find you are feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort or irritation, and seek medical treatment when symptoms persist or worsen,” says Sarah.
And when you visit your doctor, Sarah recommends taking the product or list of ingredients with you.
If you’ve had any adverse reactions to fragrances or fragranced products in the past, Sarah says it’s important to be vigilant in checking ingredients. “Allergies by their nature can occur seemingly out of the blue and we can even become sensitive to ingredients which were previously used without an adverse reaction,” she says.
The triggers for perfume reactions are extremely varied. It’s important to continue carrying out lots of patch tests to pinpoint exactly what it is that you’re sensitive to. (The best way to do this if your skin is sensitive, is to spray the cardboard tester and then rub it onto the inside of your wrist. That way you don't have to spray it directly on your skin.)
Try some of the below options. They tend to be safer bets if you're sensitive and can also help you narrow down what ingredient's causing the reaction.
- Solid perfumes
- Alcohol-free scents
- Perfume oils
- Lighter scents (Eau fraiche and Eau de Colognes)
- Essential oils (once diluted in a carrier oil)
- Natural perfumes
“Apply fragrance in areas that limit exposure to your eyes, mouth and nose, and instead apply fragrance around pulse points on your body,” says Caela. “Your wrists and behind your knees are areas that still warm up the fragrance without having the scent linger close to the face.”
You could also try spraying the perfume into the air and walking through it for a light distribution. If your skin is sensitive to fragrances, you can also try a hair perfume or spritzing your clothers (after testing to see if it stains) to avoid direct contact with the skin.
Need a little more inspo? If you're sensitive to scent, these are probably safer bets…