I grew up to love fragrances of all kinds, and used to wear perfumes frequently. I had my favourites, and stocked up on them when there were sales, enjoying a stroll through the cosmetic department to test new fragrances just for fun.
What's really interesting is that since I've stopped wearing scent, I've developed something of a sensitivity to it myself, and can't stay near perfumed people very long. Last week I was waiting in a doctor's office when a woman sat beside me. She was wearing a lovely fragrance -- gentle, not overpowering at all -- but all of a sudden, I had a tickle in my throat and started to cough. By the time she left the area, I had a headache. And it was, as I said, a pleasant fragrance. Since then I've been doing little experiments with my own neglected cache of perfumes... just putting a tiny bit on my wrist in the mornings (so it's gone by the time my man comes home from work)... and I've discovered that my own favourite fragrances also give me headaches. What gives?
In snooping around on the internet, it seems that, in the past, perfumes were made mainly of plant extracts. Unfortunately, as technology has advanced, chemical compounds that are not naturally occurring have been added into the mix. And fragrances have been added to everything! Even as air fresheners and scented candles have cornered a huge market, fragrance-free products are slowly claiming their own shelf space, but perhaps not enough of it. Our human love affair with parfumeries from Armani to Yves seems to have created more sensitivities and allergies (some even say perfume related asthmas) in the general population. Have you noticed an increase in the number of shops and public places that bear signs saying 'Be "scent"-sitive' or 'This is a fragrance free workplace'?
Two years ago, the David Suzuki Foundation listed parfum as one of the dirty dozen toxic ingredients in personal care products -- the problem with it being that 'parfum' is a blanket term that can be used to cover all sorts of chemical cocktails that are now added to fragrances. Somewhere online I read that up to a third of the population is affected by those cocktails that often end up going down our drains, and that the related allergies can be very debilitating.
These days, it's pretty much impossible to go places without running into someone who smells terrific -- or terrible to a person with allergies. My husband and I enjoyed our last play at the Citadel Theatre, except for the fragrant lady sitting in front of him whose perfume gave him a headache. Fortunately, the effects he experiences are mild, but some people can hardly breathe...
P.S. For more Simple Suggestions, look here.