Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Problem with Perfume...

By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye

I have a problem with perfume—several problems actually. The first is, I’m desperately allergic to most of them. I avoid the fragrance aisles in department stores, I think those people who walk around with perfume spritzers are the devil incarnate, and I can’t shop at Hollister or even walk past Bed Bath & Beyond without a few puffs of my inhaler.

I was at a conference a few years ago where they asked the attendees not to wear perfume because there are people in the world, like me, who start wheezing and coughing when exposed to those who bathe in noxious scents. I sat two rows behind a woman who obviously had not gotten the memo and reeked of Ew d’ Putrescent. My throat closed, my bronchi constricted, and I began wheezing and coughing. I had to leave the workshop before it began, but even that didn’t help. The pungent perfume clung to my clothes and forced me back to my room for a quick wardrobe change. Two days later, my clothes still held that foul scent.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore perfume—well, the few I’ve found that I love and can wear without requiring a trip to the emergency room. When I find one, I covet it. I keep the beautiful bottles on the mirrored tray on my dresser, pull the cap off and take a sniff, and sigh in contentment. But I don’t wear them. Sure, if I go out for a special occasion, I’ll put it on, but how many special occasions do I get? Not enough. I’ve always thought that wearing perfume on a daily basis was a waste of money. The stuff certainly isn’t cheep.

There was one perfume that for some reason, I wore often: Trish McEvoy, 9, Blackberry and Vanilla Musk. I couldn’t help myself, I loved it that much. It was light and dark, decadent and soft. I bought a small bottle and used it all up, and for the past three years, I’ve saved the empty bottle—wanting to buy more, afraid I’d forget the name, the number, and heck, if I took the top off and sniffed really hard, I could still smell the scent. But with a family of five including three expensive teenagers and the turn in the economy, it was difficult to see the necessity of perfume. The empty bottle sat on my dresser.

Last Monday, on the way to drop my mother off at the airport after a wonderful weekend visit, we stopped at the mall to grab a bite to eat and ended up at Nordstrom’s Café. Now going into a mall with my mother is dangerous. If shopping were an art, my mom would be Monet. If she’s not working, she’s shopping—it’s been her life-long hobby. Over the years, she’s dragged me through every mall on the Eastern Seaboard and made me hate shopping. While at Nordstrom, I took a swing past the Trish McEvoy counter for a spritz of my favorite perfume, I asked the price and found they had a special on a gift box with a big bottle of 9, and a small bottle of 9 Sexy for the same price as one big bottle—what a bargain. I made a decision at that moment, that when I received my advance for my NAL contract, I would run back to Nordstrom and buy that gift set. It would be my one atta’ girl present to myself. It killed me to walk away without purchasing it–I was strong. But then, I was also with my mother. On our way out of Nordstrom, she purchased a sweater, turned to me and said, “I’ve got a present, so now you need one. Come on, let’s go back and get you that perfume.” I was floored and elated.

The next day I was getting dressed, looking at the beautiful bottles on my mirrored tray and thought, no, I won’t wear it because I don’t want to waste it and then I thought, how stupid is that? What good is having perfume if you don’t wear it? It’s like banking all your money and never spending it on anything but bills, never enjoying it. Not wearing make-up unless you’re going out-on-the-town. Not buying flowers unless you’re having company. I’ve decided that I’m going to literally and figuratively wear perfume every day, no matter what. I’ll do it for me. How can it be wasteful if I enjoy it? I just realized, after all these years, I’m worth it.


krisgils33 said...

I'm not a big fan of perfume, it makes my skin itch...badly. I don't understand those people who douse themselves in it, especially when it's the really cheap kind that smells more noxious than sulfer.

Minna said...

Have you heard about scent dispensers:

Minna said...

Apparently, with those scent dispencers you wouldn't have to wear the perfume on your skin.

Diane Kelly said...

I used to love a scent called musky jasmine made by loves baby soft, so yep it was intended for preteens but i loved it anyway. I agree that we should use the stuff we love rather than waiting for a special occasion that might never come!

Terri Osburn said...

I have a similar problem with perfumes, except it's not a respiratory thing. It's a "I feel sick!" thing. Must avoid perfume counters/stores. I've found that men are much more likely to douse themselves than women. Couldn't count how many guys walk past my office and leave a cloud behind them.

But I like the idea of wearing it if you love it. I can do body sprays, so long as I keep it to vanilla or something like Buttercream Frosting. Or Iced Cupcake. (You see a pattern here.)

I've never heard of this Trish McEvoy #9 but that description sounds like something I could do. Must look into this.

And what do they kill at the entrance to a Hollister?! In our mall, that store is by the roasted nuts stand. I have to hold my breath for about 50 yards. Don't even mention that Yankee Candle store.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Krisgils33 - Wow, that's horrible. I think perfume should be for the wearer, or the person who gets really close to the wearer, not the person more than three feet away--or two rows. Sigh... people need to learn that perfume is not for bathing.

@ Minna - Wow, that's so cool. Your link didn't work, but I found it anyway. Here it is for those interested: http://www.kaipaus.com/Kaipaus_Finland_Oy_Ltd/Kaipaus_Home/Kaipaus_Home.html

Thanks for sharing that. It sounds as if it takes so little of the perfume, it's good for frugal people like me!

@ Diane Kelly - I'll have to go find it and see. I adore Jasmine and remember buying Loves Baby Soft when I was a kid. I'd ride my bike to the Pharmacy just to see if they'd let me charge it to my parents' account. LOL

@ Terri - OMG, there's a Yankee Candle Store next to my Starbucks in Carlisle and I swear I can smell it through the wall, over the overpowering scent of coffee. They hide drugs in coffee beans to cover the scent so the drug sniffing dogs don't find it, but even coffee doesn't cover Yankee Candle.

Trish McEvoy is sold at Nordstrom (it's the only place I've found it) give it a try, I have a feeling you'll love it! Let me know what you think.

Brandy said...

Some perfumes steal my breath when people seem to bathe in them. Haven't people ever heard "a little dab will do you"? I wear perfume every day, but it's a light scent (and I lightly apply it) and helps me feel more feminine even as I never see anything more exciting than homeschooling my kids and a trip to the gym every day.

Heather said...

I had a simialr situation at a conference where attendees were asked NOT to wear it, yet half the women did. I too am highly allergic to perfume, so never wear it and try to steer clear of those who do.

Scents in general are a problem for me. Walking down the detergent aisle is just as much "fun" as trying to get past a perfume counter. I don't get people who douse themselves in perfume or cologne. It's supposed to enhance and allure, not mask and offend.

One of my favorite stores is Bath & Body Works, as they have so many fresh, clean fruity scents that don't affect me the way musk and floral ones do. I especially like their pomegranate and coconut-lime scents.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Brandy- You're a brave woman, homeschooling your kids. I home schooled my ballerina for two years so she could dance 90 miles away. She's dyslexic and dysgraphic, and when I pulled her out of school, she was 2 or 3 years behind in math and reading, we caught up and when she decided to move to live with a host family in Pennsylvania, so she could go to school and dance, she was above grade level. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done but so well worth it.

@ Heather - I can't handle the detergent aisle either. Heck, I can't even clean with most detergents any more. I'm allergic to cleaning so my husband does it most of the time. He doesn't do it as well as I would, so every now and then I'll clean, then I'm sick for a week. Still, it's almost worth it.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

You know what..I've "saved" cologne for special occasions. But within the last year I decided to heck with it and have worn it to bed so I could enjoy the scent!

While I'm not allergic to perfume, I have sat next to (or heck, WALKED by) people who either bathed in the stuff or spilled the entire bottle down their necks. It was awful.

And surprise surprise...What I like to smell may not be the same as you like to smell.

Here the other thing...when the request goes out to not wear cologne at conferences, why do so many people think it refers to other people but not to them? LOL

Julee J. Adams said...

Amen, sisters. I have had industrial cleaners put me into an asthma attack. I also have p@ssed people off when I was an instructor by telling them and their bosses they should not wear any scents to class, if they couldn't control the amount used. One said, "It's called layering." Don't care, it's too much. I wear Elizabeth Arden's Green Tea, a very clean, light scent and just a tiny touch each day. But that, earrings and some lip gloss are essential to my getting ready to do anything in the morning.

Robin Kaye said...

Cyndi - I like the idea of wearing perfume to bed. Last night when I pulled up my covers, I was still able to smell my perfume, it made me smile, of course, I had just posted this blog.

Julie - Good for you. I remember working in Florida selling furniture and there were several customers I had to ask someone else to help simply because the old ladies had so much perfume on, I couldn't breathe around them. Now it's the middle school and high school boys and their Axe--I have to hold my breath when I pass anywhere near the locker room. That stuff should be outlawed!

admin said...

"Now it's the middle school and high school boys and their Axe--I have to hold my breath when I pass anywhere near the locker room. That stuff should be outlawed!"
I couldn't agree more with the Axe problem :) beside being an awful perfume some people just don't read any perfume reviews to understand that most of the perfumes are different, with different ingredients and they fit different persons !

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