Monday, May 15, 2006

ASK MARLEN: A Total Headache


I am a member of the Basenotes community and I have a little favour to ask...I know that you have sampled TONS of fragrances so I was wondering if you would make a suggestion for which fragrance(s) is/are suitable for people that normally get headaches from perfumes. I really love perfumes but once I try them on - the headaches follow. I'd really like to hear/read your suggestions before making my next purchase.

PHi P,

This is a tough one as the common practice seems to be "if they give you headaches, then don't wear them," however, there are so many different ways to approach fragrances these days, that I'm sure we can find a solution.

First of all, here are three pages that offer info, research, and advice about what to do if you have sensitivities to perfumed products:
Next, try and keep some kind of record of your symptoms and what triggers them - perhaps you can identify specific products or scents that cause the most harm so as to avoid them in the future. Now, I'm not sure if it's specifically fragrance or all scented products that trigger your headaches. If it's the Eau de Toilette that causes problems, maybe a scented oil could be a replacement or perhaps just using the scented body products like lotion, soap or aftershave?

Another option is to look for scents that are made with all-natural/ organically grown ingredients so as to minimize your potential risk to additional potentially harmful chemicals. Here's a great site to get you started:

The final option, aside from individually testing your favorite fragrances to see how they work with your body, is to get creative and try to make your own scent. Sure, you could only spray your clothes or your hair with the scent, avoiding potential skin irritation, but with headaches, just the aroma alone migh be enough to make you ill.

A few of our readers practice natural perfumery and perhaps they can offer some guidance in this area. I hope you find a solution that allows you to enjoy aroma without the hassle of the headaches.



Heather said...

My advice would be to keep it simple - so by definition that would probably preclude 'normal' perfumes - I know I am probably partial being a natural perfumer - but if you chose a natural cologne you could make it easier on yourself to identify those things that upset you by trying the natural simpler blends.

I got headaches and its not nice - not just the headaches but the lack of fragrance in your life.

You might prefer to layer fragrances by buying a complementary bath oil and body lotion - whilst lighter - they mean you do have a gentle wafty smell about you without the heavy cloying that causes the headaches


marlen said...

Thanks, Heather!