Why I Stopped Using Perfume

Truth is, I can’t say why I ever started using perfume. I suppose at some point there came an expectation that a girl can’t smell like herself, she’s got to smell like flowers or something. That must have been around junior high or so.

The point I stopped wearing perfume was after I attended my first ACFW conference. American Christian Fiction Writers has a strict no-fragrance policy at its conference. As I heard it, at some time in the past, someone at a conference went into anaphylactic shock in reaction to an overly-fragranced attendee. Like, a hospital-level attack. So now there’s a total ban on fragrances.

Photo by Vaughan Willis • freeimages.com

Photo by Vaughan Willis • freeimages.com

At first, I felt weird going out in public with no scent on. As if that were somehow aberrant behavior, like not bathing.

But you know what? ACFW attendees don’t stink. Not only did the absence of fragrance not bother me, but it the freedom from it was quite refreshing.

So when I returned home, I remained fragrance-free. Haven’t missed it.

You know that feeling you get when you walk past the perfume counter at a department store? That feeling you’ve just been tear gassed? That gets ten times worse after you’ve started living fragrance-free.

A couple of months ago I was attending a seminar, and wound up sitting next to someone wearing a combination of flowery perfume and baby powder. I so wanted to get up and find another seat, but I didn’t have the nerve to do that. I just toughed it out, but I thought of that poor ACFW attendee being hauled to the hospital on a gurney because gas attack. I’m really glad I’m not allergic to fragrances.

The experience got me thinking about perfume. Its use goes back to ancient times, but you know…they didn’t have the hygiene practices we have. They probably needed it way more than we do.

I just don’t have any use for it.


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

5 comments on “Why I Stopped Using Perfume

  1. I didn’t know ACFW has a fragrance free policy. That’s good to know for those of us who are fighting chemical sensitivity issues, and makes me think better of them.

  2. Those of us who are allergic to perfume thank you.

  3. If people wore ancient perfumes (resins, flower extracts, etc.), living in the world wouldn’t be as much of a migraine hell. It’s the modern fragrance factory stuff that bothers me. But I suspect that really sensitive people can’t even handle either.

  4. Anything with orris root, an ancient scent extender, makes me flee, sneezing and choking. Fortunately vanilla (favorite scent) seems to be strong enough that orris root is not added to vanilla candles, so those I can burn in the house.

  5. I almost never wear anything, not because I have a reason for or against, but because I’m lazy.
    My deodorant is scented, though, and I wear lotion which sometimes is scented. And if I’m going out, I’ll sometimes spray some on, because my hubby likes it.

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