Fragrance free: My life’s unfolding

I was 13 years old. And I had no idea what was going on.

My roommate had just finished applying her usual muscle rub, and the odor seemed to be causing me uncontrollable coughing fits. I had never experienced anything like this before. They laughed at me for being dramatic as I shivered outside late into the night until the smell cleared.

I began reacting to fragrance and various chemical fumes after a prescription inhalant overdose. Before that, I was like any typical teenager. I LOVED scented products. But my symptoms from being around them became unbearable, forcing me to give them up. I didn’t even know “fragrance free” was a lifestyle choice back then; I just knew avoiding these products was what I had to do to breathe.

By age 17 I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Opening doors with the fragrance free lifestyle

Once my health improved enough to work, I began housecleaning for clients that were also sensitive. Many could not allow typical house cleaners to enter their home–let alone clean it–whereas my presence and products posed no threat. I absorbed a wide variety of info on nontoxic cleaning methods as my clients generously shared their knowledge with me. I also began working for a green housecleaning company, which increased my knowledge yet further.

One very special place I worked at is a bed & breakfast called Enliven, which maintains strict fragrance free policies for both guests and employees. Besides cleaning, part of my job was using my hypersensitive nose to trace any hint of scents brought in by guests, so we could take swift action to protect more sensitive guests. This unique position allowed me to sniff test a wide variety of fragrance free products as they passed through Enliven’s doors.

Often times guests would ask me for recommendations on products they were having trouble finding fragrance free. Many found it difficult to give up the comfort of their go-to personal care regime. I happily guided inquiring guests to products that I, my fragrance free contacts, or former guests had used without issue. Their relief was palpable. I was hooked.

Becoming the Fragrance Free Guide

I didn’t realize my 15+ years of personal and professional experience in fragrance free products had turned me into an expert until I was writing my wedding invitations, asking guests to avoid scented products so I could walk down the aisle without my gas mask. Suddenly, the trickle of questions coming my way became a torrent. And as the availability of unscented products in both natural and mainstream markets has exploded in recent years, so also has my enthusiasm to connect people with the exact right thing for them. Because going fragrance free should never be a sacrifice of anything except smell.

It’s time for the myth that you must choose between fragrance free and effective products to be busted.

It’s time for “fragrance free ” to become a feasible lifestyle option to anyone who chooses it for any reason.

It’s time to inhale the smell of hope.

Welcome to your future.