Making The Switch To Fragrance-Free
Last updated: March 2021
A couple of years before I got asthma, I developed symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity. Before asthma symptoms were added to the mix, headaches, nausea, and general shakiness affected me when I was exposed to fragrances. Being in high school at the time, it was anything from a classmate’s grapefruit-scented hand lotion, to someone spraying Axe in the hallways. (Also, seriously, why does Axe even exist?)
Making the switch to fragrance-free products
Fragrant products haven’t been a part of my life since at least 2007. Whether you’re needing to make a switch to fragrance-free products for yourself or for a friend, family member, or colleague, I’ve found a good number of products over the years that I like. They fit the balance of relative affordability, effectiveness at doing what they are supposed to, and - most importantly - helping me stay feeling good as much as possible!
Fragrance-free personal care products
Here’s the deal. I use relatively few products that come in bottles. I don’t wear makeup and my hair gets brushed twice-ish a day and that’s it. So here’s what I’ve got that I’ve found I like—if you’re just looking for the basics.
I really like Complex 15. CeraVe and Cetaphil are also fine.
I find certain Aveeno face moisturizers too strongly scented, so be careful if you are very sensitive before buying the Costco pack.
I usually go with the classic Aveeno with the green bits on the label, also because of Costco. Again, CeraVe and Cetaphil are also fine. I’m not too brand loyal.
The best I’ve found for fragrance-free is LiveClean Sensitive. Read the bottle carefully every time because I’ve twice bought things from this brand I thought would be okay but were not okay for me.
Honestly, my hair looks/feels best when I use a mix of water/oat flour and a tiny bit of baking soda. Weird but true. It was an experiment after using the oat dog shampoo on Guide Dog Murray, and I liked it. (Plus, y’all know how CHEAP this is?)
Yes, one day I’ll be cursed by aluminum curses but thanks to ADHD meds, I apparently sweat a bit. (Autocorrect said swear a bit. I do that too, but it’s not related to any medication.) Anyways, I swore by the Mitchum clinical unscented products for YEARS. Even before the women’s disappeared I used the men’s and it was sort of better, plus a TSA-friendlier size.
Then I found Ban. If I recall, it's cheaper and I generally like it. It’s a roll-on but it suffices. It’s actually also TSA friendly. (And no, podcasts, I’ve not tried Native deodorant yet.)
Y’all, sometimes you just need some bubbles. And sometimes after 8+ years without them, you discover fragrance-free bubbles and heck yes. Anyways, don’t give a single darn that they are for children and go check out the Kandoo fragrance-free bubble bath meant for toddlers. It’s got a frog on it and I AM HERE FOR IT.
Because the whole internet was doing it, I made these once. I still have some. You can get citric acid and Epsom salts at your local bulk food store probably, or maybe even Walmart. Google can tell you how. I made mine in silicone cupcake forms. They smell delightfully like NOTHING and make the water all silky feeling and slightly bluish. Also, my mom bought me some fragrance-free stuff for Christmas so look into that if you’re not feeling crafty-ish.
Fragrance-free cleaning products
Grab some sort of "free &"-something product and get out of that fragrant laundry aisle quick! Or just order it online. I dunno, I live with my mom so it just appears, but Tide and store brand have been decent. The fragrance-free detergents are generally in white containers. Read ‘em once you’ve run away from the aisle, or from the comfort of the internet.
Other cleaning essentials
I’ve found the “natural” cleaning products generally to be fairly strong smelling. Baking soda + water, diluted vinegar, or diluted bleach are all easy and cheap and do their jobs okay. Just make sure to rinse down that baking soda so you don’t have a baking soda film all over your bathroom counter. Nah, that never happened to me.
Also, diluted bleach in a spray bottle is great - wipe with a damp/soapy cloth, leave it to air dry or let it sit for a bit before wiping away. It couldn’t be easier (just avoid letting children stick their hands/faces in it, but like, it’s diluted so could be worse?).
What products do you use?
I’ve noticed that a lot more fragrance-free products are available in the US than in Canada. Hopefully, you can find the above nearby if you want to try them.
Anything I missed? Let us know in the comments!
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?