smiling face breathing in clean air instead of the polluted air surrounding

Making The Switch To Fragrance-Free

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.

  • Face moisturizer

    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.

  • Body moisturizer

    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.

  • Conditioner

    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.

  • Shampoo

    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?)

  • Antiperspirant/Deodorant

    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.)

  • Bubble bath

    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.

  • Bath bombs

    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

  • Laundry detergent

    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.

More on this topic

Anything I missed? Let us know in the comments!

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