Guest Post: Making Sense of Scents

Hi friends! Today is a guest post written by Nicole Baccaro. She has a fragrance allergy and wanted to share some super helpful info about fragrances and the different terms labeled on products. I hope you enjoy! Thanks, Nikki!


I am allergic to the earth. No seriously, I am allergic to grass which covers 30% of our planet. I have suffered my entire life from indoor and outdoor allergies; getting years’ worth of shots, undergoing nasal surgery, buying every over-the-counter medicine and prescription nasal sprays.

From spring to fall, if I am outside at any part of the day, or even driving with the windows down, I have to shower and rinse out my sinuses before bed or else I will wake up with an allergy attack. When dusting the house, I wear a mask. Although environmental allergens will always be present, a few years ago I experienced a breakthrough that changed my life.

My dermatologist told me that I was allergic to fragrance. Looking back, whenever I’d wear perfume, my glands would swell, throat would itch and I would immediately get post-nasal drip. I never thought anything of it because allergies were a daily part of my life. I left the doctor’s office reflecting on my current products and was suddenly forced to start reading labels. I went home and read each label for everything I was using, and then proceeded to throw it all away. Every single product I was using on my body and around my face had fragrance in it! No wonder I was always having symptoms of allergic reactions!

I had to re-purchase an entire new cabinet of lotions, soaps, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and that’s when the research started.  I learned the difference between products that were marketed as ‘fragrance free’, ‘unscented’ & ‘natural’, and became familiar with safe brands that were made for sensitive skin.

Fragrance Free vs. Unscented 101

Fragrance Free means that the chemical mixture a company is using to artificially make your products smell has not been added to the product. If you look at anything that smells good, you will see ‘fragrance’ listed as an ingredient. Just because something is fragrance free, does not mean that other chemicals or “essential oils” have not been added. It could mean that essential oils were added. It is so important to be careful with claims about certain essential oils, because even certain essential oil companies can use filler fragrances so know your company well.

Unscented means that scents (chemicals, essential oils & the like) have not been added to the product. I always opt for an unscented product but can tolerate certain fragrance free products when there is no other option (body lotion with SPF as an example).

Once I changed my lifestyle, my allergic reactions decreased by about 75%! I even stopped taking my daily allergy medicine. I am still trying out new products (hair products are very difficult to find) but would love to hear of any recommendations!

If you think you are allergic to fragrance after hearing my story, or want to ween yourself off fragrance products, here are a couple of brands I live by: Vanicream, Free & Clear, CeraVe, and Simple makeup remover wipes.

Items I got rid of and never looked back: candles, dryer sheets (per my dermatologist, so bad for your skin!), and perfume.

Transitioning to a fragrance free lifestyle is so much easier than it sounds. I cannot begin to describe how much better I feel and am relieved to know I use products with significantly less chemicals than I was before. My skin & nose couldn’t be more thankful!


Nicole Baccaro


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