A while back I wrote an open letter to everyone in my orbit asking if they’d consider not wearing perfume around me. I shared the scientific reason why it was effectively “killing me”…and them.

It was  awkward. But bless my fellow humans, they got it and really tried hard to remember to not apply fragrance, wear strong deodorant or burn fragranced candles around me. The I Quit Sugar office also decided to go fragrance-free. I felt ogre-like for making them feel like they had to in any way. But the feedback was that they were largely relieved; fragrance bothered many of them, too.

I share a few factlets in my open letter. But I’m going to add to them here today, drawing deeper data from Australian author Kate Grenville who shares my almost violent disdain for stinky stuff and has written a book on it: The Case Against Fragrance.

I figured today I’d outline some elevator pitches, with Kate’s help, that you can kindly steer towards loved ones who haven’t got the Perfumes Are Toxic Memo yet.

You get migraines? It’s probably perfume.

It’s worth knowing this…

Studies show half of migraines are caused by perfume. Click To Tweet

Multiple studies have shown this connection. And this figure doesn’t account for those who get mere headaches from fragrance. Migraines incidences have increased in the past decade or so by 33 per cent for women and 100 per cent for men.

You have skin allergies? It’s probably perfume.

Did you know…

Up to 1 million Australians have a skin allergy to perfume.Click To Tweet

Perfume is the  Number 1 dermatological allergen in the world today. It’s also a well-recognised trigger for asthma. 

You wear Lynx deodorant? You are making your friends sick.

When Kate’s neurologist confirmed her migraines were linked to perfume, he shared the worst offender was said deodorant.

So you reckon your fragrance is “natural”…

Me, I’m personally not affected heavily by essential oils (although I can’t wear them myself). But many out there are. The thing to know is this: An essential oil is the concentrated essence of thousands of flowers. Smelling a flower is natural but smelling thousands of them in one hit is anything but. Kate explains the science of this in her book.

You have a chronic health complaint? Your perfume is making it worse.

If you or a loved one has an autoimmune issue, or other ongoing disorder, you will probably be super-sensitive due to heightened inflammatory responses. You truly should avoid fragrance. Many hospitals in Canada and the US are fragrance-free zones to protect the patients. 

You’re a new Mum?

Then you shouldn’t touch the stuff! Studies show babies need to learn the smell of Mum and Dad to ensure the best parent-child bonding. 

And if you still think it’s all a stinking storm in a tea cup…

Hmmm…then you might like to bear in mind that:

  • 26 common fragrance ingredients in perfumes available here in Australia are banned or restricted in the EU because of their proven health effects, including being carcinogenic and hormone disrupters.
  • One in three Australians report adverse health effects from fragranced products, according to a recent University of Melbourne study, including breathing problems, migraine headaches, skin irritation and asthma attacks. The researchers of the Melbourne study advised: “Some people have immediate, severe and disabling health effects. But the effects can be very subtle and insidious and people may not realise they’re being affected until it’s too late.”
  • Research has showed that being  fragranced products affect our mood and performance negatively – that is, cause anxiety and depression.
  • Fragranced products emit hazardous air pollutants, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde… which are banned in other products and in other forms, just not fragrance. Why…?
  • Surprise, surprise, the fragrance industry is self-regulating. Which puts the fox in charge of the chicken run…

I’m going to go bold on this one. I think that it’s only a matter of time before perfume is banned, deemed too toxic to be placed in contact with our bodies. Years from now, we’ll look back and think how insane it was to infuse our lives with poison, duped by glamorous commercials and propaganda that tells us rooms shouldn’t smell of the dinner you just cooked or that our washing should smell of lemons.  I mean, the ingredients have already been banned in many cases, just not in the perfume format because, well, the foxes are in charge.

This doesn’t mean we all have to stay in the chicken coop, right? 

Have your say, leave a comment.