The Beginner’s Guide to a Fragrance-Free Life Plus: Why are Fake Fragrances Bad for You?

fragrance-freeI’m very sensitive to artificial fragrances. For me, they cause headaches ranging from mild to migraine, coughing fits, irritability, and more. Now I’m not talking about naturally occurring fragrances, such as from pure essential oils or other natural sources. Those don’t cause me any problems, though some are very strong and can still have negative effects for some people. But fake fragrances can cause severe health problems. Why does this happen, and how can you live fragrance-free?

Why Are Fragrances Bad For You?

About 95% of the chemicals used to create fake fragrances are petroleum based. Many of these chemicals are linked to skin irritation, cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, seizures, hormone disruption, allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and itchy skin. And some studies even show a potential link between fake fragrances and autism.

Many people are so affected that they are hesitant to use public bathrooms because of the air fresheners. They might also worry about the soap having fragrance. Some miss work or even lose jobs because of fragrances in the work place. Others may not even be able to go into crowded places, making simple tasks like grocery shopping a challenge.

fragrance-freeThese chemicals are usually just listed on labels as “fragrance” or “parfum.” So you don’t even know what kinds of chemicals are in the products you’re buying. And these fragrances can be in dish soap, laundry soap, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, deodorant, lotion, sunscreen, makeup, candles, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and the list goes on.

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You can be negatively affected by these fake fragrances no matter your age or health. When you use products containing these chemicals, they are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. It’s no wonder these chemicals can cause such severe reactions.

So why are companies allowed to use these chemicals in their products, especially when many of them are banned in countries outside the United States? They’re cheaper, and the FDA doesn’t even require that the specific ingredients be listed on labels.

How to Live Fragrance-Free

With fake fragrances in so many products, it’s challenging to live a fragrance-free life. But it can be done. So read on for some ideas to keep you and your family healthy.

Fake fragrances can cause health problems. But how can you avoid them when they're in everything?Click To Tweet

Around the House

  1. Make as many of your products as possible, so you know exactly what’s going into them. I make my own hand soap, facial masks, foot scrubs, cleaning supplies, and even makeup. And it’s cheaper. You can read my cost comparison here.
  2. If you buy, do your research. Learn what to look for in the ingredients list so you know what’s in your products. Many labeled fragrance-free will still have “fragrance” or “parfum.” Research the companies, too. Many smaller natural companies have been bought out by bigger brands and their products don’t always stay all natural.fragrance-free
  3. If you like your home to smell fresh, avoid air fresheners by investing in a diffuser. Not only does diffusing essential oils make your home smell good, there are health benefits, too. And you can get a good diffuser for $20 or less. This is the one I use.
  4. Shop for an all-natural laundry detergent. I like Ecos, and you can read my review here. But you can even make your own. There are plenty of recipes on the web. You can add vinegar to your rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener. This will significantly reduce the number of chemicals you and your skin are exposed to.
  5. Cat litter is another product that is scented. There are many natural alternatives available, made with walnut shells, corn, or newspaper I like Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh cat litter. It’s made from walnut shells. And it can even be composted. Read my full review here.
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In Public

  1. Carry homemade hand sanitizer. There are many reasons hand sanitizer is bad for you, including fake fragrances. Buying a natural one is not cheap, but making your own doesn’t cost much. This can help you avoid using soap in public bathrooms that is more than likely full of chemicals. The hand sanitizer recipe I use can be found in this post.fragrance-free
  2. Another product I carry is Rescue Remedy spray. It’s designed for anxiety, but has so many other uses. It can help with headaches and other symptoms. You can spray it in the back of our throat, on your wrists, or even on your forehead. Find it here.
  3. Use a diffuser necklace if you have difficulty in crowds or public places. A diffuser necklace is a piece of jewelry that you can add a few drops of essential oils to and your own body heat will diffuse the oil. This is helpful for many reasons. It can distract you from other fragrances in the area. Also, it helps with some of the symptoms of fragrance exposure. I like to use peppermint oil, for the headaches. And I made the necklace myself, so it was super inexpensive.
  4. Finally, if you are prone to headaches from fragrances, acupressure can be helpful. You can learn a few points and work them yourself. There’s two on the forehead and one on the hand that are helpful for me.

Final Thoughts

Living a fragrance-free life will require some adjustments, but it can be done. And the health benefits are completely worth it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy fragrance, though. Just make sure your fragrances come from natural sources, such as essential oils.

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So what fragrance-free products do you use? Share in the comments, then keep reading:

DIY or Store Bought?

DIY Disinfecting Spray

9 Natural DIY Essentials

10 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Guide to a Fragrance-Free Life

  1. Herbal aroma therapy is good for our house’s fragrance. I use it for my bathroom heated with a candle or electricity. other parts of the house are also captured by its fragrance. Makes my house feel like in natural living outside..

  2. Using diffuser is one of my favourite ways to keep my room stay fresh, too. I don’t like to use refresher because the smell is way too strong and uncomfortable sometimes. Maybe it’s because of the artificial fragrance contained in the products.

  3. So many good suggestions here! I use homemade soap on my face and body and my skin has never been clearer. A local lady makes them with essential oils. I have been looking for a good cat litter alternative and this is so helpful!

    1. We have been so happy with the Blue Buffalo cat litter! I can’t believe what a difference it has made since we’ve switched.

  4. I have heard of the essential oil perfumes but never actually saw any here in Cyprus! Will be on the lookout for these types of stores! Thank you for this insight, we never really think about what exactly goes into perfumes.

    D, xo || from

    1. I live in a very rural area (90 miles from the nearest WalMart!) so I shop online a lot. I hope you can find something you like!

  5. I’m actually extremely allergic to fragrances so I have had to completely avoid them altogether. I use brands like Clinique, The Ordinary, Simple and Skinceuticals for skincare. And Fairy washing up liquid has recently come out with a 0% anything washing up liquid which I love! It only contains 4 ingredients and zero perfumes. I also carry my own personal hand sanitizer and a small vial of hand soap to use in public toilets!

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