Archive for the ‘Fragrance-free’ Category

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.

Cleaners

  • 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. 🙂

A doctor who listens: priceless

[A portion of this post was originally posted on Sherri Blossoms on January 21, but it’s relevant here, too, so rather than rewrite it all, I’m copying it.]

I went to the doctor last week, finally. I haven’t been since I found out for sure I was having a reaction to fragrance. Besides the cost, I wanted to wait until I had eliminated as much fragrance from my world as possible, to stabalize and see what healed and what didn’t. It seemed to be going pretty well, and then The Time of the Migraine hit the reset button, and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.

I ended up crying at the doctor’s office. I feel pretty dumb about the blubbering, but it just serves to show how frustrated I am by the whole thing, how much I really need to figure this sinus thing out. The X-rays showed nothing abnormal (it so cool to see inside my own skull) so he gave me a course of antibiotics and steroids.

I told Doc I’d been dealing with this problem for 6-7 years, but as I look back I think it’s been closer to eight or nine. I’m not sure if Doc believes me when I tell him how my old doctor dealt with these chronic problems. With the backward lens of time and experience, it seems like the old doc hated me. I wish I could see what he wrote about me in my chart.

It won’t surprise me at all if antibiotics clear it right up. The old doc refused to consider it. I love having a doctor who listens to me, even when I’m crying.

And oh yeah, I told him about the fragrance thing and he didn’t laugh at me. He didn’t get defensive. He didn’t dismiss it. He said some people have sensitive airways, and that was it. I’m hoping that the fragrance sensitivity will shake out when my sinuses are healed. I’d probably never go back to the old level of stinkiness, but at least I’d be able to be around people again, which means writer’s cons and a job and TCoB in general. To be normal would be the height of awesomeness.

I’ve been nominated for an Okie Blogger Award!

New reader Georgie said:

Stopping by visiting all the 2008 Okie Blog Award Noms-Congrats on your nom!!!!

And I said, “Huh???” I thought there must have been a mistake, but nope. It’s true. Poison Scents has been nominated for an Okie Blog Award in the “Best Unusual Blog” category. Am I the only fragrance-free blogger in Oklahoma? I guess maybe I am. I always knew I was a weirdo.

So to whomever nominated me, I am honored. Surprised and honored. Thank you.

Here are the voting instructions, as per the Okie Blog website. I can’t vote for myself, but I’d be grateful if you could force all your Okie friends to vote for me. 😉

Voting

Only Okie bloggers with active Okie blogs at the start of nominations (Jan. 2) are eligible. “Active” is defined as having at least one blog post during the last 60 days of 2008. An “Okie blog” is defined as having at least one active blog author residing within the state of Oklahoma. All Okie Blog Awards are decided only by Okie bloggers. A blogger cannot vote for his or her own blog.
A blogger can only vote for one blog per category.
The voting period ends on Feb. 7, 2009.
Copy and paste the following entry list with your vote for each and send to obawards08@okiedoke.com

Categories

Best Overall Blog ——
Best Political Blog ——
Best Family Blog ——
Best Humor Blog ——
Best Audio Blog ——
Best Looking Blog ——
Best Unusual Blog ——
Best Writing Blog ——
Best Commentary ——
Best Culture Blog ——
Best Inspirational Blog ——
Best Commercial Blog ——
__________
You must include a link to your own blog in the email.

Your blog address ———

I haven’t been very posty on here lately, but I have a good reason. Fragrance-related, of course! I’ve been in Migraine City for the past couple of months, and can’t seem to get caught up. Plus, it seems like everything I think about posting has some sort of “poor me” factor, and I just can’t stomach that right now. However, I had a good doctor visit yesterday, so I do have something good to report in the days to come.

Thanks again for the nomination and the millions of votes I will get!

Today: Wal-Mart. Tomorrow: the world!

From the comment section

I just saved a comment from the spam pile. Daniel writes, “Flame retardants do outgas from electronic devices and they are toxic in many ways. they are neurotoxic, immunotoxic, hormone disrupting and endocrine disrupting.” I’d like to direct you to his website, Outgas Report, which links to a ton of information about the problem of outgassing. Much more than I could ever list here. Thanks for visiting, Daniel!

Another commenter, Julie, said, “I researched this problem because I have severe allergies to scents and chemicals, like bleach and other normal household cleaners. All I could find was to see an allergist.” Julie, what cleaners do you use? How about your family’s body products? Have you been able to find any you can tolerate?

~~~

I’m sorry I’m not more organized on here, y’all. It’s mostly due to laziness. Well, laziness plus my other blog seems to suck my blogging time. I’ve thought about doing some in-depth posts on, for example, the FF products I use. But that requires concentration, organization, multiple links…ugh! I’m more of a community organizer than a drill sergeant. It may have something to do with my sleepy chemical-laden synapses. 😉

One interesting development to report: At my local Wal-Mart I requested they carry a certain free and clear dish detergent which I have been buying at Wal-Mart in another town. I talked to a lovely associate named Cara, who listened patiently as I lamented my difficulty in finding FF products as well as the symptoms of fragrance sensitivity. She took my name and number and said she would speak with her manager and let me know what she found out.

The days went by, and I didn’t hear back. I expected that Cara had handed off my number to management and went about her business, and that management either didn’t order the product I wanted or they didn’t think about calling to let me know.

Well, Cara herself called me yesterday, just to let me know what was going on. It touched me that she had taken a personal interest in my plight. She said that they were still waiting to hear back from the buyers, who were not only ordering the single product I’d requested, but also looking into what other fragrance-free products they could find. Hallelujah! Hopefully they’ll come up with some shampoo, which I also mentioned, and lots of things I didn’t expect.

The moral of the story: It never hurts to ask. And sometimes you get an answer which goes beyond the query. Now I’m thinking of writing up a letter to the editors of my local newspapers. I have dreams of being a paid FF consultant for Wal-Mart, relocating to Bentonville, AR, and making sweeping changes in the world of retail.

But those things would require concentration, organization…well, you know.

You don’t know how I feel

On Good Morning America I saw a report about a lady with MCS who built a shed on her property as a trigger-free zone. It’s made of metal and contains only metal and glass objects and blankets made of organic material. A judge ordered the woman to remove the shed because they didn’t get building permits or inspections.

I’m not arguing about the legal aspect of the story. What upset me were some of the comments calling this woman, and by association all MCS sufferers, insane. To me, it smacks of the medieval folks’ belief that disease was caused by evil spirits, simply because they didn’t know about germs yet.

It’s simple. We are surrounded by synthetic chemicals; thousands of new ones are manufactured every year. MOST of these chemicals are not studied on the human body before they are introduced into products meant for mass-consumption. In fact, a lot of the chemicals we are exposed to in everyday products such as perfume and air fresheners are known carcinogens. It boggles my mind that more people are not at least considering the connection between rising chemical exposure and rising rates of autism, asthma, ADHD, depression, and cancer.

Some naysayers point to lack of research in the area of MCS as proof that it doesn’t exist. A flawed argument. A couple of people said that in a study they read (but didn’t provide the link) that certain MCS sufferers were exposed without their knowledge to substances to which they claimed sensitivity, but incurred no reaction.

First of all, if the study was real, I concur that their symptoms may have been psychosomatic. That changes the nature of their illness, but not of mine, and not of all MCS sufferers. When the symptoms come first, all other treatments have failed, and removal of certain substances relieves the symptoms, that’s about as empirical as a person can get outside the laboratory.

When I’m having a bad sinus day, I might suffer for several hours wondering why, then go outside and realize it’s my neighbor’s laundry day. Her dryer vents right between our houses, and the smell of the dryer sheets she uses hangs in the air. After this happened several times, it became clear to me that the fragrance chemicals seep into my house in low enough concentrations where my nose can’t detect it but my sinus tissue is still irritated by it.

Something that non-MCS sufferers might not know is that the effect can be very subtle. So subtle that even the sufferer herself may not attribute her slight headache or reduced cognitive ability to the trigger. It’s extremely difficult to measure the reactions, because it’s more of a quality of life thing than a yes/no thing. And the triggers can be widely varied, as can the reactions, plus we’re normally exposed to many substances at once so it can be hard to separate them. I could easily see where a person with MCS might attribute her symptoms to a red herring trigger.

Formerly doubted illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and depression are now recognized by the mainstream medical community, and I’m certain that as more and more people come forward, MCS will be widely accepted as a legitimate illness. Still, as with the aforementioned diseases, there will always be those who believe other people don’t know how they feel.

A veritable barrage of chemicals

In my research across the interwebs, it has become clear that most people who have developed a sensitivity to one chemical are probably sensitive to others as well. Here is a report by PBS on how chemicals pervade our lives. (Link found at the Refreshingly Free website.)

It would be impossible to take all the synthetic chemicals out of modern life, so for now we have to live with them, but my suspicion of all things chemical has been piqued by this fragrance sensitivity. We’re exposed to so many chemicals in products that we assume have been tested for safety, but as the PBS report states, “In fact, until they are proven harmful, most chemicals are presumed safe.” That means that we are performing experiments on ourselves on behalf of large corporations every day! Do they have our best interests at heart? I think not.

So I’ve been unable to completely get rid of my symptoms, though they are much improved with the efforts I’ve made to ensure that at least my home is fragrance-free. I’ve noticed that my eyes lose focus when I’ve been on the computer for only a half hour. Closing them while I type doesn’t help, as I would expect in the case of eye strain.

Well, today I found out that outgassing of chemical components used in lots of products, like computers and other electronic circuitry, carpets, office furniture, etc, can give off chemicals which can cause reactions similar to my symptoms. And this corresponds with my situation, as well. I used to sit on the couch in the living room with my laptop, and while my eyes did get tired looking at the screen, a short rest of 10-15 minutes helped immensely. Since my laptop broke I’ve been using the desktop computer, which is in a room filled with electronics: new washer and dryer, electronic piano, wireless router, cable router, printer, monitor, CPU, speakers, cordless phone base. I spend many hours a day in this room, within arm’s reach of all these things.

I’ll be able to put my theory to the test soon. Not only am I ordering the part to fix my laptop, but I’m going back to dial-up Internet, so I won’t be sitting for hours in this back room. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Fragrance-free-for-all

I have a lot of fragrance-related things to talk about so this will likely be long and rambling.

First of all, the euphoria that I felt after recognizing the problem got lost in depression. The depression was triggered by several factors, but I can’t discount the lack of fragrance as one of them. Don’t get me wrong, it is a HUGE relief to be able to say, “I have a headache because of _____,” instead of wondering why my body hates me. But it’s common knowledge that scents play a huge part in our lives, our memories, our comfort, and I have effectively eliminated those from my home environment, where I spend 95% of my time. I’m going through an adjustment period, I guess.

I made a fairly fragrance-fllled foray into the world this weekend. Saturday I scoured the thrift stores for clothes to fit my burgeoning figure (another adjustment to going FF?), then went to the grocery store. Sunday I went to Wal-Mart and spent much time near scented products looking for the non-scented versions. Ironic, isn’t it, that in order to go FF I have to first be inundated with fragrance? While at Wal-Mart I saw an old high school friend, and our hugs hello and good-bye left his cologne on my clothes. That part was worth it, but still.

Since my house is mostly FF, I can better observe the onset of symptoms when exposed to fragrance. Some chemicals instantly stab the bridge of my nose and some gradually make it harder and harder to focus. And I’ve figured out that that is the migraine trigger, the straining to focus all day after exposure. So that’s a bonus. All I have to do is learn how to do my chores and watch tv with my eyes closed and I’m fine.

TIP: It can take ten washings to get the fragrance out of your clothes, but I found that you can get rid of most of it by simply hanging them outside overnight. Two nights might be better. Inside doesn’t work. Outside.

It was a successful shopping trip, FF-wise. I’ve been buying All Free and Clear laundry detergent, but this Wal-Mart (not my usual one) had a free and clear version of Purex, which is a third less expensive. Bonus. While on that aisle, a clear bottle of dish detergent caught my eye. I didn’t want to believe it could be true, but it was! Clorox Green Works Free and Clear has no fragrance. When I realized what I had found, my eyes misted over. I kid you not.

I haven’t been able to wear make-up for a couple of months. This was the biggest deal. I kept my Almay eye shadow and mascara, but everything else had to go. Luckily, this was the period of time my chin decided to break out with a mystery rash which wouldn’t heal and I couldn’t cover up. Add that to the under-eye circles, and…oh, the hideousity. The circles are permanent, but the rash is finally clearing up, now that I can wear makeup again. *rolls eyes*

The prices of the “good” make-up sent me reeling, but I had no choice. I ended up with a mix of brands, going cheaper where I could.

TIP: The key to finding FF makeup is to look for the words mineral, natural, or organic.

I can’t say all makeup containing these words are FF, but that is what I observed in my shopping trip this weekend. I was able to find Physicians Formula equivalents in Maybelline and N.Y.C. for much, much cheaper.

What else, what else… Oh yeah, my home made soap is cured so I’ll be using it now. Stay tuned for details on that.