Scent: the unknown enemy


 My days start out pretty much the same every day. I wake up, take a shower, pick out and put on my clothes for the day, do my makeup and hair. My final step of my daily routine is putting on my deodorant and body spray.

It’s a fairly simple routine except that every day there is one more step to my process – a rash on the inside of my elbows and neck from my body spray. This happens because I am highly sensitive to scent. Anything scented gives me hives. Literally anything. Body spray? Check. Lotion? Of course. Laundry soap and detergent? Definitely.

When I first discovered this problem, I went to a doctor because I assumed I would get some good advice—but no. Instead I was told to avoid scent, not take hot showers and use a cream that would eventually make my skin thin. Now I am not a doctor, but I thought these solutions were ridiculous.

I realize that not everyone experiences this issue, but it makes me wonder what exactly we are putting on our bodies that causes these types of reactions. What chemicals are safe? What isn’t? Even the products we don’t put on our bodies can negatively affect us. 

The crazy part of the issue of fragrance or scent in products is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve the product before it goes on sale. The only requirement is that is must be “safe.”

The problem is that safe is a matter of opinion. Some companies may label products as “unscented” or “fragrance free,” but still use fragrance in the product to mask the smell of the other ingredients in the product, according to the FDA.

Another issue is that companies can just list scent as being a “fragrance.” By U.S. law, they are not required to share “trade secrets,” according to the FDA.

Does anyone else see this as a problem? As an individual who has to be careful with scent, I feel even more cautious because the products that should be safe for me actually are not. In addition to being cautious about products we use on our bodies, we need to be aware that other products we use on a daily basis for household and cleaning reasons can also be hazardous.

For those of you who do not share my situation, I encourage you to start looking at the ingredients included in all of the products you put on your body. Even though you may not be allergic to the ingredients, they can still harm your body and skin.

I have one body that I have to live in for the remainder of my life, and I care about my well-being. As a generation, we need to be aware of the chemicals used in the products we use daily.  Don’t get me wrong, people should continue to smell good by applying spray and deodorant, but be aware that the ingredients in those products are not always safe.