Going Fragrance-Free: The How

Going Fragrance-Free doesn’t have to be complicated and today I will share with you more about fragrance and how to reduce your exposures to fragrance. It may feel overwhelming at times to address all the toxins in our life and some people may say “well, everything is toxic so why change?”. Yes, I agree there are a lot of toxins around us, but there are things we can change just by simply changing the products we buy. And while it may seem like a “little amount” in one product, it starts to add up. To learn about why my family has gone Fragrance-Free, read the blog post “Going Fragrance-Free: The Why“.

What is Fragrance?

Fragrance is an ingredient used in many personal care and cleaning products, also listed as “scent” or “parfum”. These terms refer to synthetically created
fragrances or scents that can contain petroleum-based compounds, formaldehyde and other chemicals known to cause health issues.

What does Fragrance-Free Mean?

Being fragrance-free involves both individuals and spaces. It means making personal decisions and establishing policies to make spaces accessible for everyone. People who are fragrance-free refrain from wearing perfume, using fragranced laundry detergent and dryer sheets, and applying personal care products that contain fragrances – such as lotion, deodorant and hair products.

Spaces can be made fragrance-free by ensuring that they are cleaned using only chemical and fragrance-free cleaning products, and by asking people coming into the space to refrain from wearing products containing fragrance. Air fresheners also need to be avoided.

Aren’t Chemicals Regulated?

No law or FDA regulation requires that fragrances be tested for safety. Fragrance ingredients are considered a trade secret so manufacturers aren’t required to
disclose them.

What are the Health Effects of Fragrance?

For those who are sensitized, immediate reactions to fragrance may include sinus congestion, sore throat, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, anger, nausea, fatigue, mental confusion and inability to concentrate.

Long term use of fragrance and other toxins can increase a person’s risk for health conditions such as asthma, depression, anxiety, cancer, heart disease and more. 

How do I Create a Fragrance-Free Environment that is Accessible to Everyone?

Just like providing wheelchair accessibility and interpreters, making spaces fragrance-free increases accessibility and supports the inclusion of everyone.

The first steps you can take include:

  1. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne – Perfumes can cause discomfort for many people, not just those who are sensitized.
  2. Avoid essential oils – Essential oil labeling is not regulated and people with fragrance sensitivities can even react to the purest brands.
  3. Avoid any strong-smelling personal care products such as scented lotions and deodorants.
  4. Use and provide unscented hand soap such as glycerin or castille soap.

To further reduce exposures to fragrance consider the following:

  1. Avoid scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets – These products can also pollute the environment inside and around your home. You can find Fragrance-Free detergents and dryer sheets at most stores. Wool balls are a great substitute to dryer sheets and shorten drying time while saving you money.

I Feel Overwhelmed, Where do I start?

First start by looking at the labels of your products and checking for terms such as “parfum”, “fragrance” or “scented”. And begin looking for products labeled as “fragrance-free”.  You can use the Fragrance-Free Checklist to guide you through the process based on priority and severity of reactions.

Change doesn’t happen immediately. Awareness is the first step and over time you can shift the products you buy and use. Be patient and kind and know you are making an impact on the health of others around you as well as yourself. And note, it’s okay to go ahead and toss those products that haven’t been used up. Your health is more important.

How Do I Learn More?

The following are some great resources to learn about fragrance-free and other environmental health concerns:

Other Questions?

Feel free to contact Pauline Osborne at pauline@movingtoheal.net. She is also available to consult for businesses and individuals who want to create fragrance-free environments.

Here are some of the products that I had to toss due to fragrance or other unsafe chemicals. Please note, even tinctures marketed as healthy can contain alcohol. And yes, even a small amount of alcohol can add up with the amount of toxins we are burdened with each day and can’t control.

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