My favorite fragrance-free products

I’ve been in a lot of public places lately, which means a lot of fragrance exposure. I’d relaxed my defensive efforts–nose filters, mask, short excursions–because it seemed fragrance’s hold was lifting. I have tight, burning eyes and sinus pressure regardless of whether I go out now, and my short trips to the store and the longer outing to my friend’s place…Well, it seemed like those things weren’t making the symptoms worse like it used to. I thought my body was recovering.

I still think it is, but I’m finding out that repeated exposure can still build up. I’ve left only a day between each exposure over the past week or two–library, casino, grocery store, school enrollment, pizza place–and it has sure been taking a toll. I need longer rest time in a neutral environment between each outing to allow my body to metabolize the toxin. It’s such a relief to get back to my home, the most neutral environment I’ve found.

I’ve avoided making a list of fragrance-free products I use, because of laziness, yes, but also because until now I hadn’t tried enough of them to settle on a list of favorites. These products work as well as the ones they replaced, and in some cases better.


  • Clorox Green Works Natural dishwashing liquid, Free & Clear. I love this stuff. I also put it diluted in pump bottles for hand washing.
  • Soapopular hand sanitizer is completely inoffensive
  • Simplicity Hypoallergenic Non-toxic automatic dishwasher sachets
  • Borax is an excellent grease cutter. Nothing better for getting grease off appliances.
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar
  • Water. Seriously, do you need to use a chemical everytime you wipe the crumbs off the counter?

I have yet to find a suitable replacement for toilet bowl cleaner, so I just use ammonia or vinegar, whatever I’m in the mood for, but they don’t really get rid of the water stains. I’m still looking. Be wary of trash bags, because they often have fragrance added.

Body-care products

  • Earth Science Fragrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash, Fragrance Free (I prefer the store brand version of this, because it doesn’t seem to have as much of an odor and it’s cheaper, but this will be more easily found.)
  • Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap. Make sure it says “Fragrance Free” on the package and not “unscented.”
  • Dove Sensitive Skin antiperspirant. Again, make sure it says “Fragrance Free” on the package. “Hypoallergenic” doesn’t always encompass it.
  • Almay makeup contains no fragrance ever, as far as I can tell.
  • Lubriderm Daily Moisture for me, and Suave Natural Oatmeal Moisturizer for DH
  • Olay Complete All-day Moisture Lotion, Sensitive Skin.

Be wary of any feminine hygiene products, because they do not have to list any added fragrance. I once bought a package of Carefree panty liners and was surprised with fragrance, so I avoid all their products, just in case.

Along my journey through the house listing all my products, I found a couple of scented products that sneaked past me. One was the Dove “unscented” soap, the other was my husband’s hairspray, both of which don’t list fragrance in the ingredients. I assume they list the actual chemical name of the fragrance, but the research to find out which one would be a couple of hours. And it doesn’t matter, anyway, because they have to go. These could be the reason for my constant eye and sinus irritation, and also the reason for the decreased stamina outside of the house. I’ve put that soap on my face every single day for a couple of weeks.

Anyway, that’s my list. Here’s an interesting interview I tweeted yesterday about toxins in personal care products if you’re interested in such things.

Update: So guess what? I didn’t use the soap or antiperspirant, and I feel tons better. It’s like night and day. I’m so happy I could scream. 🙂


9 responses to this post.

  1. I’m glad you’re feeling better. 😀

  2. Posted by caroline on August 12, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    thank you for this! my sensitive skin has driven me crazy for years and I recently discovered that fragrance is the primary culprit. Thankfully I don’t get sick from it as you describe, just itchy/irritated/generally unpleasant skin.

    I’ve also been tricked by Dove’s “unscented” soap and by Aveeno’s “sensitive skin” products. I seem to have found some relief in the baby aisle with California Baby shampoo/body wash (so far so good).

    Do you have any recommendations for laundry detergents?

  3. I forgot about the laundry! I use anything with the words “Free and Clear” on the front. Free of perfumes and dyes. Every major brand has one version of this, but I use Purex because it’s cheaper. My second choice is All Free and Clear. If you use liquid softener, the only free & clear I’ve found is from Downy. I don’t use it anymore, now that I have some dryer balls, another way to reduce my dependence on chemicals.

    I’m very glad this post was helpful to you. I don’t update often, but feel free to add me to your reader. You can also stop by my main blog at Good luck with your allergy!

  4. Posted by Sophie's mom on August 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Fragrances are the #1 offender when it comes to my 7 year old daughter’s asthma. She let a bar of cetaphil turn to mush in the tub tonight and it set her asthma off. Will be trying another soap tomorrow. Such a challenging situation but we do what we can. Thanks for sharing your experience :).

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  7. Posted by Ary on June 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Did you ever find a garbage bag that’s fragrance free? I can’t find anything suitable for the kitchen trash. Thanks

  8. I’ve been using these:

    I emailed Glad a few years ago about fragrance in unmarked bags, and they assured me that there’s no fragrance in these. Any scent I’ve detected is just the smell of the plastic, which I’d be getting no matter which bags I use.

  9. […] I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not alone by far. There are many like me. Many, many, many and more… When I first became ill with sensitivities to a plethora of different synthetic […]

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