Tag Archives: headache

Fragrance Free Solution: UV light pocket purifier for cleaning without chemicals

I have heard of UV light used  in industrial situations like disinfecting hospitals and  air filter systems on public transportation like buses. Now a company is offering it as a consumer product.

Photo courtesy Purely Products

Pocket Purifier by Purely Products

Purely Products created the pocket purifier. It is a small device that uses UV-C light to destroy germs. It is recommended for use on hard surfaces like countertops, children’s toys,  cutting boards, computer keyboards, and cell phones. They do warn about exposing the light to your eyes, this can be harmful. They also say it should not be used on your skin.

For someone like me who has health issues with fragrances and most cleaning products, this may be worth $20. I like the concept of being able to easily disinfect my keyboard and cell phone too.

Here is the link to their website if you would like to purchase or get more info.


If you have experience with this product or have any other fragrance free solution, please leave a comment.


Rolling Stone Magazine Reeks

Lately Rolling Stone Magazine stinks. It’s not the articles… it’s those smelly perfume ads. Is there anything more offensive than somebody spraying perfume on you that you didn’t choose? That is what it is like when Rolling Stone arrives in my mailbox.

Yes, Eddie, I agree this magazine smells awful!

The last couple of issues of Rolling Stone have at least two scented ads.  These ads are so pungent that (even after I have ripped them out) my hands smell like perfume when I handle the magazine. I may not be able to read them without fearing a headache even after airing them out.  When I asked customer service if I could have an unscented version, they said they do not offer one. All the other major magazines offer this service, it is a shame they will not.

Rolling Stone is a Rock and Roll magazine. Why must it smell like a 14-year-old boy trying to get laid? Hey editors, can you please talk to your sales staff? If this is the trend, you are going to lose this subscriber and I can’t believe I’m the only one.

Ambient Scenting Revealed: Businesses Pump Fragrances to Encourage you to Spend $$$

I recently bought a purse from a large name department store. The bag is banished to the guest bedroom because it reeks. It will air out there for a month or so. This purse has been soaking in the scents of its store for a while. Many stores are scenting their air with fragrances.

This can be done by large units in air conditioning systems or small motion controlled units hiding under a shelf on a promotional display. There are a lot of companies out there delivering a myriad of devices and smells to businesses, this marketing technique is called ambient scenting and it’s taking off.

These fragrance pumping devices are found in stores, hotels, casinos, cruise ships and even public buildings. They may be trying to mask an unpleasant odor or they may be trying to seduce you into spending more of your money. They may also be making you sick, but more on that later.

Shopping Malls: ripe with ambient scenting

The concept is to use smells to create brand recognition. A signature scent that may evoke certain emotions or memories. My friend Kelly says that Cover Girl powder has a unique scent to it and when she smells it she instantly recalls Cover Girl and the positive feelings she has towards their makeup. Companies are taking scent branding beyond their products and are using it in their stores and promotional displays.

Most people know that the popular teen clothing store, Abercrombie & Fitch keeps their stores smelling of their cologne, Abercrombie’s Fierce. If you walk into one of these stores you will be greeted by their signature scent.

Scent Air, an ambient scenting company, boasts on their website about some of their customers.

  • Sony Style Stores – a signature fragrance of  “citrus, vanilla and other secret ingredients”
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts – entrances use a white tea fragrance
  • Four Points by Sheraton Hotels – lobby and common areas smells of “Pinwheels in the Breeze”, a Yankee Candle designed signature scent
  • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino – Uses a HVAC system to pump “Coconut Spice” through 135,000 square feet
  • Bloomingdale’s–  Baby Department smells like baby powder, coconut in the swimsuit section, and Lilac fragrance in Lingerie. Seasonal scents like chocolate, pine and sugar cookies waft there as well.
  • Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando – Smell of “Ocean” in the lobby and “sugar cookie” and “waffle cone” near the ice cream shop.
  • Celebration Health MRI facility – smells of “ocean” and “coconut” to relax patients receiving MRI’s.

Scent air offers many ways to distribute fragrances from devices that can be hooked up to large building air conditioning systems with intensity controls to point of purchase sprayers that can be mounted on a shelf display and be triggered by motion sensors. Scent air is so high-tech they custom make units large enough for theme parks and the military to use in simulation training. They even created scent distribution devices for street billboards. Scent air is just one of many companies offering ambient scenting devices.

Another company named Prolitec created scents for a large retailer in Europe comparable to Wal-Mart. They created a “Wine Cellar” scent for the wine section and “Nature After Rain” for the checkout line. For hotels, Prolitec claims it turned a pool’s chlorine smell into fresh flowers and masked bad tobacco and moldy odor. Prolitec also supplies a major casino in the Southeast with ambient scenting to hide tobacco smells there. Prolitec suggests its products to cruise ships, malls, fitness centers, schools, health care facilities, theatres, and airports. Here are some of Prolitec’s clients they have listed on their website…

  • Bebe
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Hollister
  • Samsung
  • Diane Von Furstenberg
  • Hilton
  • InterContinental
  • Sofitel
  • The Breakers
  • Palm Beach
  • MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
  • Bellagio
  • Harrah’s
  • Bliss Spa
  • GE Healthcare
  • Lifeline Fitness
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Henry County Health Center

Event planners may contact another scenting company called Scentevents for their parties. They have quite a list of events on their website which they provided this service.  It ranges from weddings to movie premieres to theme parks to museums. They carry a wide range of scents including crayons, rotten fish, fresh-cut grass and bubble gum.

Ambient scenting may just be an interesting marketing technique to most people but it can make some sick. Many people suffer from allergies, asthma, migraine headaches and multiple chemical sensitivities. All of these can be triggered or made worse by fragrances. When someone walks into an establishment there is no way of knowing whether fragrances are being pumped through the air.

I get headaches triggered by fragrances. Trips to certain businesses mean I will be popping Excedrin before the afternoon is over. I thought it was probably the fragrances of the other people in the store but now I suspect it has to do with the fragrances these stores are using. I am now a lot more savvy to this and avoid those stores. I wonder if these businesses even give consideration to people like me. Do they think about the customers they might be losing because their marketing technique makes them ill?

I’m not saying all scents are evil. I enjoy the vanilla wafting through the air from Ben N Jerry ice cream shops. That fragrance does not give me headaches, maybe it’s just natural vanilla?

If you are like me and suspect an establishment is using a fragrance that is making you sick, please speak up. Tell the manager. Write the corporation. That business would most likely want to know and if enough people complain perhaps it will create change.

And for those businesses using Ambient Scenting, it would be nice if you disclosed it somehow. A sticker in your storefront window perhaps or a disclaimer on your website. I would love to know before I plan a cruise or book a night at a hotel whether or not they use this kind of scenting. I know this will likely never happen but it really should.

Ambient Scenting is widespread, don’t take my word for it…. here are some links to check out and as always your comments are welcome.






If you want to know more about how fragrances can affect your health, how prevalent scents are in our society, or how to have a fragrance free lifestyle please browse other articles on this blog “Smell Inc. The Perfuming of America”.

NYC Health Department bans fragrances

The New York City health department is enacting some new rules for their employees to encourage healthier lifestyles and set better examples. This includes employees to refrain from wearing strong fragrances.  As someone who suffers from fragrance induced headaches, I applaud them. Click on the links to read more.




What is a migraine and why do fragrances trigger my headaches?

When I often tell people that fragrances can give me migraine headaches, they say something about allergy issues. Most people do not understand that a migraine headache is a neurological disorder and can be triggered by fragrances.

I get migraines because my brain easily gets over stimulated. It’s this stimulation that tells my brain to increase production of certain chemicals. These chemicals can cause other reactions to happen which can result in nausea, throbbing pain, blood vessels dilating and constricting, difficulty concentrating, and a range of other unpleasant side effects.

The best way for me to manage my headaches is to avoid my triggers, keeping the stimulation under control. I think of it on a point system. It takes 100 points to get a headache. Not sleeping 7 hours is worth 25 points, eating poorly is worth 25 points, chocolate is worth 10 points, smelling strong perfume is worth 65 points, drinking 2 cups of coffee is worth 15 points, stress can be worth 35 points and so on. If I combine too many triggers in a day I’m done for. And yes, fragrances would be the trigger I assign the most points to.

With certain perfumes/ fragrances all it can take is a whiff of a passerby and my brain starts to tingle. I know I have to be extremely careful the rest of the day or I need to take Excedrin as a preemptive strike.  I am in complete control of most of my triggers except fragrances. People close to me avoid fragranced products but all the acquaintances I run into in a day, well that’s a different story. I don’t expect everyone to stop wearing fragrances but I would hope people would keep them a little more to themselves. You should not be smelling them unless you are in their personal space. When they walk past you and leave a scent trail, well that’s a bit much.

Why is my nervous system so sensitive? I suspect genetics has something to do with it but I’m not certain.

There are good resources out there that give more details about the chemicals involved in migraines, here are a few….

A short video that contains animation which shows the biological process of a migraine headache happening and explains which chemicals are involved… http://video.healthination.com/usnews/migraines.html

Magnum – Migraines awareness group detailed article about myths and facts of Migraines…  http://www.migraines.org/myth/mythreal.htm

HealthCentral- a website that has lots of good information on migraines…. http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/understanding-migraine-000097_3-145.html

It’s all in your head

How do you know it’s not all in your head? Yep, I hear that often when I talk to acquaintances about my headaches. People are actually bold enough to question my sanity out loud.

These are the people who after I confide to them that fragrances give me headaches, they respond with I LOVE my perfume. After I assure them that their perfume isn’t bothering me, they start questioning me. It’s probably hard to believe that something that gives them so much pleasure can bring others so much pain.

I read a blog entry on MSN’s Workbuzz recently which discusses this issue of fragrances in the workplace. Hundreds of comments were from people who suffer like I do but there are some who just don’t understand and label us as whiners and crazy. If you would like to see the blog…


It’s well known that some people are affected negatively by perfumes. Fragrances can cause asthma attacks, allergic reactions, and migraine headaches in some individuals. It’s a physical response not a mental one.

Here are some links to established medical associations about migraines and fragrances…



Top 5 Stores I’d Like to Shop in but CAN’T

Since fragrances trigger headaches for me, I won’t be wandering in a Yankee Candle store and you can bet I only visit stores like Perfumania in my nightmares. While I avoid the stores that are obvious olfactory overloads, there are some stores I avoid that seem too fragranced for what they sell. These are shops that the idea of browsing them is out of the question for me. This is my list of the top 5 stores I’d like to shop in but can’t.
  1. Bed, Bath & Beyond
  2. Pier 1 Imports
  3. Joann Fabrics & Crafts
  4. Victoria Secret
  5. Macy’s
Bed Bath & Beyond and Pier One Imports are in a league of their own. These two stores are so fragrant that I can get a migraine headache within minutes of stepping inside.
BED BATH & BEYOND– A year ago, there was a frying pan I wanted and the only store I knew had it was Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was on sale and I had one of those $5 off coupons. So on a good weekend day I decided to do a strategic strike with no time for browsing…. get in & get out. I quickly found the frying pan and grabbed a plastic spatula on the wall next to it and off I went. The spatula has a rubber handle that absorbed the store’s fragrances. I washed that spatula at least 50 times now and it stills smells of the store. It’s over a year old and still reeks. Why is their store so smelly? Is it just the candles they carry? I think they must also pump a fragrance through the store as well. Next time you walk in one of these stores notice how the smell greets you. I find it overpowering. Until they change their stinky ways, I am not going in their store again.

PIER ONE IMPORTS– Big time olfactory offender. When I just walk past their doors the smell wafts out and attacks me. Scented candles galore, air fresheners being tested and who knows what else is contributing to the cloud of fragrances. I can’t even window shop this store without being at risk for a headache.

JOANN FABRICS & CRAFTS– Joann is in a different class as the first two offenders. I can on occasion make a mad dash in there to grab one supply. I just hold my breath when I’m near the candles and I don’t linger. I do not shop there when I’m feeling migraine-y. I do wish they would tone it down with the smells.

VICTORIA SECRET – Some stores are better than others. I think it depends whether the associates are actively spraying their perfumes in the air or not. It’s really hard to avoid the perfume section since it is located with the cash registers. And it’s not just the stores. I have ordered clothes from their catalog and some had to be aired out because they reeked of perfume.

MACY’S– I’ll still step into a Macy’s on occasion. I stay far way from the perfume counters. If I buy an item from their store I must quarantine it to the guest room for weeks to let it air out. I would love to shop Macy’s like most people and wander about the store but doing that is risky business for my head.

Are there stores that bother you because of their use of scents? Please comment.