Do Scents Make Sense? Part 1
Breathe deeply... mmmm...
Rain-washed air. The bread Mom's taking out of the oven. New-mown grass. Spicy cinnamon. Sweet-smelling lilacs. Freshly brewed coffee. The fragrance of honeysuckle. Sizzling bacon. Jasmine's heady perfume. Popping popcorn. A bouquet of roses. Roasting chicken. Summer barbecue. The sense of smell is truly a gift to be treasured. So much so that when a lovely aroma is missing, people scramble to create a facsimile. Or if something smells bad, they create a new, pleasant smell to cover up the bad one.
It's really amazing that scientists can reproduce scents so amazingly well. But at what cost? Who pays the price?
photo courtesy of oksidor and Creative Commons 2.0
How much do we love Grandma?
Most of the time I was growing up, there were things that made my mom sick. One of the worst offenders was perfume. Little did we know - little did anyone know - that she had lupus, which manifests itself in different ways. For mom, it made her particularly sensitive to fragrances. Some natural scents bothered her, but practically all chemical scents made her very ill. By the time I was grown and had a child of my own, she had been diagnosed and had to avoid most public places for fear of a fragrance "attacking" her at any moment.
That was so hard for her! What was even harder? Having to tell her children and grandchildren that if they wanted to visit her, they couldn't wear any scented products. What?!? The realization of what that meant was hard for us to accept. Our cologne, perfume, aftershave, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and on and on and on - gone! Replaced with what? Fragrance-free products were extremely difficult to find. How would we manage?
But common sense and love won out. What did we love the most - smelling good? or being with Grandma? Grandma won, hands down. And our fragrance-free life began.
Unscented? Fragrance-Free? Hypo-Allergenic? Organic?
Back then, there were hardly any of these options to be found in the typical grocery store. But now, these designations are found nearly everywhere. Do they all mean the same thing? If they're different, HOW are they different? And how do I choose the right product?
I found a beautifully written article that simply cannot be improved upon. It's called "Why Do Unscented Products Have a Scent? Translating the Difference Between Fragrance-Free and Unscented." Here's a short excerpt:
Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and unscented products abound in the market place. But why the different terms? After all, if there is no scent, shouldn't it be considered unscented? Not necessarily. . .
. . . Whether it is a specialty market or grocery store, consumers will find hundreds of products marketed to those with sensitive skin, each carrying its own specific term. How does the savvy consumer choose between products listed as fragrance-free, unscented, hypoallergenic or simply marketed for sensitive skin? What do all these terms, which sound so similar, really mean?
Attacked at the grocery store!
Why did we get headaches almost every time we went to Safeway? I never really analyzed it, until we started shopping for fragrance-free products. Doing that, ironically, forced us to spend more time in the detergent aisle - more time in the aisle where you buy hair care and bathing products, searching for products that would not bother my mom. More time reading labels, opening and smelling products to see if they would be offensive. My goodness...the chemicals used to create these "wonderful" scents gave us serious headaches. I really began to appreciate at last what my poor mother had been going through for so long.
Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergents
Everybody needs clean clothes. But if you can't find detergents that don't make you sick, you're in trouble. Fortunately, there are a lot more detergents available now than when we started searching for fragrance-free products.
Fragrance-Free Fabric Softeners
NOTE: The second product below is not a fabric softener. It's a product I'd never heard of, and I include it because it sounds like it could save you a fortune at the dry cleaners. On the product page, scroll down to the first customer's comment. It's a comprehensive article written by a person who has worked in the dry cleaning industry. There are LOTS of money-saving tips there, and fascinating reading! Take a look!
Clean, fresh laundry that smells like . . . nothing! - The smell of just CLEAN is wonderful!
So you have done your laundry with unscented products. It's fresh, it's wonderful, and has no scent but CLEAN. Wonderful!
Now what? You clothes are wonderfully unscented, but what about YOU? How do you wash yourself, your hair? Can you use deodorant? We all want to be clean!!! How can we do it . . . unscented???
Join us on "Do Scents Make Sense? Part 2."
Attacked in the mall!
I love to shop. You, too?
I get very excited when I get a sales flyer from an expensive department store offering unbelievable bargains. I make up a shopping list, and I can't wait to get started.
I head to the mall, park my car, and enter the huge complex. Scores of stores of every kind, all competing for my attention. It's fun! I start walking toward my destination at the far end of the mall, either chatting with friends or looking around at all the displays, humming to myself in anticipation. There's my store! I walk in cheerfully, and BANG! I walk straight into a brick wall of scent. It's the perfume counter, which the store, in its infinite wisdom, puts right in the front of every shopper as they enter. All right, it's not a brick wall. But it may as well be, because it knocks me for a loop. I stand there, sometimes in pain, but always dazed, because I can no longer remember why I came. Disoriented and foggy-headed, I wander around. Sometimes my list helps, sometimes I endure it long enough to look around a little, but for the most part, the store has lost a customer who probably would have spent more money than she should have.
Attacked in the mail!
I've been going to the post office to pick up the mail since I was a little girl. It's never been a dangerous experience. But one day, as I pulled out the envelopes, cards and magazines, I was assaulted by a powerful smell. The same strong smell I had run into at the mall, only concentrated. Puzzled, I drove home. The smell filled the whole car, and came with me as I carried my mail into the house. This wasn't just a case of disorientation, this was becoming pain. I couldn't think, I could only hold my head and moan. What WAS it?
I scrabbled through the mail, discarding one piece after another as fast as I could. Nothing. Nothing but this glossy ladies' magazine I had been looking forward to receiving ever since I decided to subscribe. I turned the pages rapidly, hardly noticing all the eye-catching ads and fascinating articles. There! A nice "gift" for me - a sample of an expensive perfume. All I had to do was to peel back the folded page and breathe in the wonderful aroma. Breathe it in?!??? It was killing me! I couldn't just rip the page out - the whole magazine smelled the same, and sadly, so did my mail - letters, bills, and other things I needed to handle. I raced outside to the garbage can and dumped the offending magazine in. The rest of the mail? I had to put it outside. I couldn't deal with it. It would have to wait until my husband got home. In the meantime, I had to try to scrub the painful smell off my hands. Did you know that you can't just wash perfume off?
Unfortunately, my husband was affected almost as badly as I was. So was my daughter. It was awful. And it kept happening month after month. I canceled my subscription, but it must have taken four months for that stinky magazine to stop coming. Every time was migraine time.
Perfume Samples... good idea?
Should publishers put perfume samples in their magazines?
Yes! I want to know about the new products! Besides, it smells great!
How about skin care? For a long time, fragrance-free skin products were few and far between. Now, there are many excellent options available. Thank goodness.
Fragrance-Free Hand Cream
Best Fragrance-Free Baby Products at AMAZON
Okay, if these scent-producing chemicals are not good for me, how could they possibly be good for my children? For my BABY? Now there are products that can ease your mind on that score.
Miscellaneous Fragrance-Free Products at AMAZON
There are some products that just don't quite fit into a category - you'll find them here. :)
Complainers or Canaries?
I used to wonder why some people always seemed to complain that fragrances bothered them. Those same things didn't bother me or most of the people I knew, so why all the complaining?
Later, I developed some of the same symptoms as those complainers. Funny how your viewpoint can change when something affects you personally. Maybe we're not complainers. Maybe we're canaries.
I heard a story about canaries. It seems that coal miners used to take canaries with them into the mine. Why? They used them as an early warning system. If carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide were present in a mine, the birds would die before the miners were affected. The canaries, who sang a lot of the time, would become silent just before they died. That silence alerted the miners to the danger, and they would hurry out of the mine. Those canaries saved their lives.
Nowadays, a person or a thing that serves as an early warning is referred to as a "canary in a coal mine." Those of us who are seriously affected by chemical or environmental dangers NOW, may be serving as a warning to the rest of you that danger lies ahead. Think about it.
So, what do you think...
...are we complainers or canaries?
Some people will always complain about something. I think it's all in their head.
Do Scents Make Sense? - All the Links!
There are so many areas in which we need to find unscented products - far too many for one lens. So I've created a series of "Do Scents Make Sense?" lenses to help you find exactly what you're looking for. I hope you find it helpful. :)
- Do Scents Make Sense? Part 1
Find unscented: * Laundry Detergent * Fabric Softeners
- Do Scents Make Sense? Part 2
Find unscented: * Soaps * Body wash * Deodorant * Shave cream * Aftershave
- Do Scents Make Sense? Part 3
Find unscented: * Shampoo * Conditioner * Hair spray * Hair gel * Mousse
- Do Scents Make Sense? Part 4
Find unscented: * Facial Cleansers * Moisturizers * Sunscreen * Makeup