Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Live in a Miasma of Scent

Two more articles belonging to the polemic on scent. Actually inferring a good point all the same, that having everything scented around us is contributing to a major sensory overload that means increased exposure to potential irritants and allergens. Too bad they're throwing the baby out with the bathwater too!
Plus there goes again the common misconception: allergy is actually an auto-immune response and a medical fact, oversensitivity to stimuli/sensory overload/sensitivity to scents is something different (though totally real, mind you).

Read the first article in the Daily Mail here and the second one (very misleadingly illustrated, if I might add) on the Huffington Post on this link. 

Related reading (with interesting comments from readers on the subject) on Perfume Shrine: Allergies & Perfume. 


  1. Anonymous12:08

    It is always such a pleasure to read journalism that does not exaggerate. I really enjoyed the article in the Daily Mail, stating how thousands of people lose consiousness because of fragrance overload.

  2. Anonymous18:37

    Very Interesting- I wonder if the "problem" is becoming more widespread or if the media is becoming more focused on a health issue a miniscule percentage of people who have "allergies" to scent.

    I know that for me personally, I have had to switch to laundry detergents that are "free" of scent additives because I began having a reaction a couple years ago. I would wake up in morning with swollen lips and eyelids- I scared myself when I looked in the mirror the first time! I can wear frangrance and scented body products without any issues though.

    I believe that sensitivities can increase with exposure, so maybe because EVERYTHING these days is scented is causing sensitivites to develop more quickly than 20 years ago when very few home products were scented.

    I think the problem is multifactorial and a blown a tad out of proportion and the end result may be that like somoking, soon you will only be able to wear perfume in the comfort of your own home. **sigh**

  3. "Earlier this year, the U.S. state of New Hampshire banned workers from wearing scents to protect their co-workers"

    Really? Isn't that a tad over the top? So glad I live in NY.

  4. brie14:21

    Having been a person who has worn fragrance since the age of 6 I would be devastated if I was disallowed to wear fragrance at work. However, I can understand those who are truly sensitive (my hubby, who gets nausea and migraines from all of my commercial/chemical perfumes at the height of allergy season in the spring and fall). Yet there are others, such as my co-worker who claims to be "allergic'" and tells me that she is choking on my "old granny perfume" (usually a heavy floral or chypre) yet compliments me when I am literally dousing myself in some "fresh" scent that she loves (Banana Republic Classic, anything from the Clean line, Tommy girl, Abercrombie and Fitch 8, etc).
    However, there is one thing I have noticed. I have been experimenting with essential oils and in wearing them (sometimes mixed in a turkish lemon cologne) neither my co-worker or husband complain. I have also noticed that when I return to my non-natural favorites if I overspray lately it has been giving me a headache (not normal for me as I was the kind of person to bathe in perfume (pre-hubby) without any sort of impact on my well being. So maybe there is something to all of this. I guess the best thing to do is practice moderation (which is my current philosophy for everything in life :) !!)

  5. Ten years ago, when I was waitressing, a regular customer was in an looked miserable. He was a judge. His wife explained he had coughed himself sick on going to bed for a couple weeks and was miserable. I had been thru the same thing just recently, and finally threw out the potpourri I had gotten as a Christmas gift and it had cleared up immediately. You could see on their faces that they also had a new potpourri.
    A week later the judge came in, kissed me, hugged me, etc., and said I had saved his sanity and he was back on the bench in good humor. No more potpourri for either of us.

  6. Miss Heliotrope01:36

    The bit that scared me the most was the claim that people are using scent on their homes & selves rather than cleaning properly.

    I'd get allergies, too, if I lived in a dusty, mouldy, dirty house & all I did was light candles to cover the smell... If you start from a clean & aired base, good perfumes smell better.

  7. Anon,

    ha!! Daily Mail, bastion of objective and balanced journalism. :-D

  8. Anon,

    no doubt journalists and writers are picking up the crumbles we leave behind in our online discussions (and the irritation of many with perfumes/scented thingies in offices/restos etc), so I should suppose that your second guess is totally valid.
    The situation is turning ridiculous, because there is indeed a gross exaggeration regarding fine fragrance use, while at the same time more and more functional products come highly scented to begin with.

  9. Cyn,

    over the top seems the rule of the day. There is a sense of political correctness to everything these days.
    NYC wouldn't be the same without its varied scentscape :-)

  10. Brie,

    fascinating comment, keep them coming!

    Your co-worker is indeed EXACTLY the kind of vocal person who gives fragrance a bad name and seems to genuinely have no other problem with it than just a matter of taste differences. The "allergic" tag though is just so much more respected when brandished, isn't it? (Why mess with doubtful qualitative terms such as aesthetically pleasing/displeasing when you can use a medical term du jour and be over with it?)

    Now, your husband sounds like he's genuinely annoyed in some physical way which is to be respected of course. Only I very well bet that your husband isn't so vocal about it and isn't nagging when someone wears perfume in a 6-mile radius when you're out. Right?? ;-)

    It's a pity people notice the ones shouting more than the ones speaking with reason.

    Interesting experiments, there, very worthy of consideration!

  11. Nadine,

    pot pouri is a vile thing. I don't know why they keep this dead stuff in shops and houses. It's as unattractive looking as it is morbid IMHO....
    Good riddance!

  12. C,

    nothing like fresh air!
    Of course that's easier said than done in climates other than ours (when opening the windows most of the day won't mean catching our death). S
    till, a dusty, mouldy house is the worst thing hygienically. Wall to wall carpeting especially is giving me the creeps for this very reason.

  13. I think I am becomming allergic to this sort of articles. They irritate me tremendously. Surely I can misquote a few scientific findings to back up my newfound condition?

    I simply abhor the way scientific facts and findings are distorted in order to serve the purpose of alarmist "journalism" which is nothing but a sad excuse to sell media. Sure, this happens with perfume but also with many other things and with far more dangerous results (remember the vaccine scare).

    If all these articles were true, the human race would never have evolved at all, precious little greenhouse flowers that we are. Of course, there are seven billion people on the planet and many of them suffer from proven medical conditions such as allergies which should be taken seriously, but this should not be an excuse to enclose us all in glass domes.

    Incidentally, I spent many years thinking I was allergic to fragrance, then I discovered that I was merely overly sensitive to some florals (eg. I love L'Eau d'Issey but it makes me sneeze). Now I happily douse myself in Chanel 19, MKK and the like without a hint of trouble!

  14. Miss Heliotrope02:46

    We lived upstate NY, and still opened windows - at least 5 minutes a day, just to clear the place out, and not every window, but even just one helped. Yes, the weather here in Oz helps (I was so delighted to be able to hang my washing outside again), but it has nothing to do with whether you clean properly or not.
    & wall to wall carpet is hard work, as well as dusty - although those pictures from places where they have it in the bathroom too are beyond horrifying.


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