When you are allergic to perfume

Monday October 04 2021

When testing the perfumes, smell the perfumes at intervals to give the scent time to register. PHOTO / FILE

By Isaac Ssejjombwe

Perfume is a mixture of fragrant oils, aroma compounds, fixatives or solvents.

These can be natural or man-made. Perfumes give humans, animals, or living spaces a pleasant scent when used.

No perfume smells the same because of the differences in chemistry, temperature and the body odour but some perfumes react differently to different bodies. 

According to Kenneth Otieno Okello, a perfume connoisseur, before buying any perfume, you need to understand the chemistry of the perfume. 

“What smells good on you may not smell good on another person so buy a perfume that suits your personality,” he says.

Concentration of the perfume, determines longevity, silage and projection.


Okello advises that one should avoid alcohol based perfumes as they might be resposnible for your allergies. PHOTO/ISAAC SEJJOMBWE

“So when you think of buying a perfume, think of a scent that reflects your personality, triggers your memories, makes you attractive and suits the moment and definitely one that will not make your skin react, ” he advises

Applying perfumes

“When applying perfumes, you need to identify your key points and these are always the most concentrated parts of your body. It’s advisable you concentrate on the key areas which are, below the chin, behind each ear, around your chest areas and one between your arms,” adds Okello who also happens to be the owner of perfume plus, a perfume store, at market plaza shop B40.

Perfumes reactions

“When you spray a perfume on your skin, several factors affect its fragrance. For example, the pH value of your skin, the acidity of your skin fats, what you eat and your hormone balance influences how the perfume will smell and react with your skin,” Okello says.

He adds that someone with high skin fat is unlikely to absorb fragrance oil concentration in the skin, this is likely to reduce the irritation levels and reactions to the perfume, the pH comes in handy especially if the same perfume is worn on different weather, you are likely to react on a high heat (summer time) with a perfume that has high concentration oil levels as opposed to the same perfume worn on winter or low heat - reaction is lesser. 

Perfumes and allergy

If there is skin irritation in any form, it probably means you may have sensitive skin or maybe allergic to one or more components in your fragrances. Withstanding all, you may still wear a perfume but you have to be guided by identifying natural versus synthetic.

“Always go for the natural fragrances. They have less irritation because they have less allergens,” advises Okello.

He further says you should identify the notes of a fragrance.

“The base notes of a fragrance can tell major ingredients of the perfume and you must always refer to them before you buy or try a fragrance. It is therefore important to read the list of allergens that most brands and perfumes give to their labels just to be sure you are not buying perfumes that contain any allergens that you react to,” he says.

Most importantly, avoid alcohol based perfumes because  it could be the alcohol causing the irritation. It is imperative to use wax-based perfumes or oil-based ones or use baby fragrances that are alcohol free hence less irritation.

Differences in perfumes

There are two types of perfumes and they serve different purposes. 

There is the EDT which is the Eau Detoilet and EDP which is Eau de PARFUM) and they have the differences in oil concentration of the fragrances.

An EDT has an oil concentration of 8-15 per cent whereas an EDP has a concentration of 15-30 per cent. So if you are looking for a longer lasting, sticky and strong perfume always buy an EDP whereas when you want a lighter version soft and not sticky, you should go for an EDT.

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