How To Tell Someone Their Perfume Smells Bad

I know this is Tip-sy Tuesday, but no, I don’t know how to tell someone their perfume smells bad. Someone went to Google, searched on that phrase, and found my blog.

And I could really sympathisize with that person. Many of us have needed to know exactly that. How do you tell someone that their perfume literally makes you sick.

There just isn’t an easy way. For many years, I thought that my problem was an allergy. And many people don’t really understand the difference there. Why not call it an allergy? Well, to get technical, an allergy is an immunological response to something – an allergen.

Unfortunately, some people interpret “I am allergic to your perfume” as “I don’t like your perfume”. Well that’s not what is meant. For example, I’m allergic to coconut. I happen to like coconut, a lot. I occasionally even have a craving for a Mounds bar. But I don’t give in to that craving because of my allergy. Another example, I’m allergic to cats. And I love cats! In fact, my cat is currently sleeping on my desk while I type this. That is an allergy that I have learned to deal with.

But perfumes and fragrances are another matter. In fact, rather than being an allergy, my reaction is a neurological reaction. Which explains why sometimes, with a migraine, I just can’t even think straight. And that can be very scary.

The reactions people have when I tell them that their perfume bothers me are strong. I once had a lady sit down next to me on a bus – she had the aisle seat. Immediately, I knew there would be a problem with her perfume. Her response? “I like this seat, I’m not moving.” And so, I got up and moved, although I was sorely tempted to remain and tell her that often my reaction included projectile vomiting!

I’ve also had people – even family – inform me that they have lost too many rights already, and that they have a right to wear their perfume. Sadly, between perfumes and air fresheners, this type of attitude has denied me my right to be out in public.

So, perhaps my tip today is more for the wearers of perfume. If someone tells you that your perfume bothers them, try to look at the world from their point of view. Do you have any idea how hard it is for us to tell someone that? We don’t make it up. We certainly don’t do it to attack you. It’ just a matter of our trying to survive in this world.

The next time someone lets you know that they react to your perfume, just say “I’m sorry, I’ll try not to wear it in your presence.” And then do it!

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5 thoughts on “How To Tell Someone Their Perfume Smells Bad”

  1. Thanks for you web site. I was not able to sing in a university chorus concert today that I’d spent an entire month rehearsing for, hours and hours, because of perfume in the sopranos. It helps to know someone else has a web site so I don’t feel so alone. I am starting to feel that I will have to give up singing entirely because of this. And you do not want to get me started on the elevators at work. I sometimes just push the next button so I can get off as soon as possible, but by then it is sometimes too late.

  2. Willy –
    I am so sorry that you had that experience. I do understand your problem, and it is shared by more people than either of us know.

    Some day, we should swap elevator stories!

  3. My son is 14 and is MCS (allergic to all petroleum based products) and had to leave the Transformers movie that he really wanted to see. Two teenagers came in late and sat in the “loveseat” behind the last row where we were sitting. My son is extremely allergic to Axe men’s cologne and started to have an asthma attack. I asked the the teenagers politely to please move since my son was having a severe allergy to their perfumes. They complied. However, it was too late and we had to leave and my son had to use oxygen to help him breathe again. My son cannot attend public school and is missing his friends. If anyone knows of fragrance and chemical functions that teenagers can attend please let me know. If I don’t find anything, I plan to start a “safe, non toxic” events and outings for children of MCSs. I know my child is not the only one out there…we have a school district that is nearby that is fragrance free…the only one I know of in the United States!

  4. Edit to my previous post: I am looking for fragrance and chemical FREE functions that teenagers can attend in Missouri or surrounding states.

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