Scents redux: Scent-free vs. Unscented

Inspired by the fact that someone wore strong cologne to martial arts and had me so wheezy I sounded like a squeaky toy.

If you’re looking to be considerate to your peers and colleagues with asthma, you probably want to stop wearing scents. However, terminology around scents is confusing at best, so I’ll go into it a bit.

Unfortunately, in my country, “Scent-free,” “Unscented,” and “Fragrance free”, are not what you’d think they are. Sometimes they mean scent free, but far, far more often, what it means is that a masking agent has been added so you don’t smell like soap, as all that’s required is for them to not be smellable from a certain distance. Which isn’t helpful to an asthmatic, as there’s still perfume in there.

Therefore, what you want to do if you’re looking for a scent free product, is read the ingredients. Look for stuff like [smelly thing] extract, parfum, perfume, fragrance, [smelly thing] oil, etc. All of those words are used to mean scents. Avoid them. Look for stuff that does not have any of those listed.

Just, FYI.


2 thoughts on “Scents redux: Scent-free vs. Unscented

  1. autisticook says:

    Part of the larger problem is that people don’t look at ingredients. Like, at ALL. I once had to point out to a vegetarian (who you’d think would be a bit more aware of what they eat!) that his favourite dessert contained gelatin. Because I read ingredient labels. And hardly anyone else does.

    With “unscented” products I think a lot of people simply cannot understand how much scented stuff they are wearing. It’s a cacophony. I can tolerate it up to a point, but aftershave, eau de toilette, deodorant aerosols, and “air fresheners” cross that line. Things that non-SPD people create to BE smelly. I’ve noticed that they honestly don’t view something like laundry detergent as having a smell. HOW CAN YOU NOT NOTICE THAT? But they really really don’t. They just filter it out.

    I feel bad that your asthma makes you even more sensitive which has serious health consequences for you. I feel bad because I don’t go out of my way to find unscented products, because I’ve basically accepted that my sensitivity to those scents is not going to get accommodated, so I’d better just shut up and deal with it. I use scented products, ones that I can tolerate the smell of, and I’m very particular in what I buy. But basically I’m still putting my own convenience (buying scented products is MUCH easier than finding unscented ones) above the needs of someone else.

  2. A Quiet Week says:

    I hate fragrances, overall. It’s a violation or sorts when someone invades your brain with their body spray. I am grateful for the fragrance-free movement and writer advocating for less smells.

    Lori D.

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