Extra Fragrance for All…

I recently read an article about how synthetic fragrance is becoming the new second hand smoke. It’s in everything. And causing a wide variety of symptoms in many people! 

In fact, it’s very hard to avoid even if you try… 

And by the way… you can react a couple days after the actual contact…

Here’s a couple examples:

Just this week, we were out shopping and stopped at A.C. Moore. Right in front, as you walked in the door, were the new fall displays with apparently the scented candles. I mean I didn’t see them. But we sure smelled them. We went straight to the section we needed, they didn’t have what we wanted, so we then walked out. By the time we walked out, my PB commented that his eyes were stinging. We were in the store less than 5 minutes.

Earlier this week, a friend messaged me that she was thinking of me because she’d woken up with hives over half her body and intensely itchy. I immediately sent her all my best tips on dealing with that, since I know first hand how horribly uncomfortable that is! Then down to the WHAT. We tracked it back to some new hand soap they had started using a couple days prior. Ingredients? “Fragrance”. Her hives were not on her hands, where the soap would have been used… But on her body. 

Last week, another friend saw a comment I made on Facebook, and messaged me asking for tips on dealing with fragrance. She had a situation where she hugged someone and something that person was wearing gave her a headache. And she related also having trouble when she’s out running- if she runs by a house venting their drier outside and they are using a drier sheet it effects her. 

I personally can expect some nice welts on my face after hugging someone wearing perfume or strongly scented beauty products.

I haven’t yet decided if I should stop hugging people… 

Skin Care & Beauty Products 2015

This list has been updated for 2016!! See the new list HERE!

makeup_brushesSince the allergy testing I decided I would pick products, and stick with them for at least a month. It can be super overwhelming picking your beauty products. The advertising is intense- offering to solve your every problem…. but how about a product not full of harmful chemicals, that I won’t be allergic to??

So here is my current list. Yes, it’s short and sweet. Less variable, less chance for disaster! If all goes well with these items, I may add 1-2 new items a month. But so far I’m very happy with this list 🙂

Hair & Body

Body Lotion: Aveeno Skin Relief 24 Hr Lotion

Face Lotion: same as body OR occasionally coconut oil

Soap: homemade by my mother (Leaning Ladder Farm)

Shampoo: Baking soda (no poo) OR Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Shampoo (mostly baking soda, shampoo once a month or less. Mostly for hairdresser’s use)

Conditioner: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Restorative Conditioner 

Styling Product: Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie & DevaCurl Mist-er Right


Foundation: Honeybee Gardens Pressed Foundation

Blush: Bare Minerals Blush

Mascara: Honeybee Gardens mascara (LOVE this stuff!!)

Lips: Honeybee Garden Natural Lipstick OR Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm (If I ignore the “natural flavor” ingredient in Burt’s Bees, I’ve not had problems with it… but technically that’s not on my safe list!)


Laundry Soap: Seventh Generation 4x Ultra Consentrated Free & Clear

Fabric Softener: Seventh Generation Free & Clear (I don’t use fabric softener, but use this to make my own drier sheets.)

Dish Soap: Seventh Generation Free & Clear

Dishwasher: Homemade OR Palmolive ECO (We are still working to find something we like. We have harder water, so it’s a challenge to find a soap that works well.)

Hand Soap: Seventh Generation Hand Wash

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Allergy Testing Oh Yeah…..! {journal}

The first week of March I did allergy testing through the dermatologist.

He did patch testing, which involves putting patches of common skin allergens and chemicals on your back on a Monday. On Wednesday they take them off, and then check them again on Friday. There is no showering, no sweating, no allergy meds…

My back on Monday, and then on Wednesday
My back on Monday, and then on Wednesday

And as I chose- no interactions with the outside world or people….

However for my pain and agnony (it really wasn’t that bad…unpleasant at best) I got some results! Which in and of itself is amazing since the chances of finding out what you are allergic to through this method is about 33-36%. 

I had 3 that reacted between Wednesday and Friday. At least one, maybe two, were itchy by the time I got home from them putting on the patches! Under the watchful eye of my PB, we took pictures with my phone and documented the changes so my dermatologist could see. Which in his words “saved this test”, since I couldn’t live in his office for a week… And my worst reactions happened between visits.

After seeing him Friday I came home and almost immediately showered 🙂 I had one more patch turn red at that point. And then the following week I got major hives in one tiny little spot on my back (they are actually still fading despite allergy meds and topic steriods!) We added those 2 to the list as well.

My list of allergens from the test:

Nickel (commonly found in jewelry)

Quaternium-15 (preservative is beauty products)

Balsam of Peru (aromatic, both cosmetic and food sourses)

Lyral (or Hydroxymethylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyde) (fragrance)

Propolis (waxy resin made by bees)

Thankfully my dermatologist office sent me a PDF safe list that is generated to avoid your allergens as well as their cross reactors. It’s generated through the CARD database, which has an iPhone app, but it is currently not working so I’m using either the PDF or web version. 

Basically, everything with fragrance is out for me. And that is not “unscented” that is “fragrance free”, because unscented generally just means they used chemicals to cover up the smell of the rest of the chemicals. Certain companies of cosmetics and beauty products are out depending on the preservatives they use.

Over this past weekend I finished sorting and reading the labels on all my beauty, hair, and lotion products. Which I actually had a pretty big collection of; stuff I’d tried and never used a lot of, stuff I kept around hoping to use some day when my skin calmed down, stuff I wasn’t fond of, stuff I love, stuff I used once and a while, and stuff I used every day… The collection is going to be a lot smaller going forward… 

These used to be full!
These used to be full!

It was a bit depressing quite honestly. After going through drawers and makeup bags and shelves, I’m left with 2 hair products, 2 eye shadow palettes, 3 eye pencils, 1 foundation (that’s way too old and I didn’t even like when it was new), 2 organic mascaras, a couple lip colors, and 2 tinted lip balms (if I ignore Burt’s Bees “all natural” aroma/flavor). I cheer myself up with the fact that a handful of my besties are about to be blessed! 😉

Give away pile
Give away pile

I also found it difficult because my more natural product brands are not on my safe list from the dermatologist, but I can’t see if they don’t make my safe list or are just not in the database. Since a lot are smaller companies, I hope for the latter… I’ve also been using the EWG Skin Deep database to check stuff, since most my allergens don’t get good marks, the products they are in don’t either. 

Going forward I obviously need to find products that don’t include any of my known allergens, or their cross reactors, but also I will be looking for products that get a good score (low number) on the EWG Skin Deep database.