A Change in Scents Of Self’s Testing Methods

My beloved Scents of Self readers, it is time that I come clean with you. I have very reactive skin. Everything from cardamom to pop tarts causes me to instantaneously break out in hives and rashes. As you can see from the picture, these rashes are not extremely severe, but they are painful. I have known for a long time that perfume aggravates these rashes, to the extent that I no longer wear perfume for any reason except for writing a review. As winter approaches and my skin gets drier, I am afraid that I will no longer be able to wear perfume even for that. My perfume testing is going to have to be confined to smelling perfumes on scent strips.

I have not shared this before because I have been worried that you, as readers, might feel that reviews in which perfumes are not tested on skin are not as accurate or legitimate. Will you continue to read Scents of Self even if the perfumes I review are not tested on my skin? (Please say yes!!!) By the way, this is not an “I told you so” moment for the IFRA. My skin is unusually reactive, and even if it wasn’t, just because I am unable to tolerate certain ingredients in perfumes does not mean that other people should not get to enjoy them!

37 thoughts on “A Change in Scents Of Self’s Testing Methods

  1. Ari, I will continue to read with pleasure!! I just started following you a few months ago and really enjoy your reviews and sense of humor. My nose is changing due to age and having chronic sinusitis living in MI but I still enjoy my perfume sniffing ! Each perfume experience is different!
    Shame about the Poptarts though!!

    1. Barbara, thank you so much for your support and kind words. It is probably for the best that I try to lessen my reliance on pop tarts anyway. What about living in MI has given you chronic sinusitis???

      1. Living in MI hasn’t really given me sinusitis but a dry climate would work better for me. I am congested but can’t stand taking the medication ! I am staying here because of my family and friends.

    1. Thank you so much, Pat! I plan to get the Roomba sometime this week- poor Zelda keeps sneezing! It’s extremely cute, but I don’t think she enjoys it much.

  2. Of course I’ll still read!

    I enjoy the whiff of perfume wafting off a scarf just as much as that floating up from my wrist, and think that your reviews will be just as delightful.

    You know, whenever we see images or video of perfumers working on a perfume, they’re smelling it off strips, so I think you’ll be okay πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you so much, Dee. I know that Luca and Tania often express disdain at the idea of skin chemistry, but I’ve also seem perfume bloggers criticize reviews in which the perfume was not tested on skin. The perfume lovers I know in general are the loveliest people imaginable, so I’m not surprised that everyone is being so understanding!

  3. Oh, please, please, keep on writing, I enjoy your posts so much..
    I want to know your opinion on fragrances even if only strip tested, I love your sense of humor,I like very much your relationship with Zelda Fitzgerald and so on, and so on…

    1. I wish Zelda was as excited about her relationship with me as you are! She usually expresses her excitement through biting my nose while I try to sleep. Thank you so much, Irina! I’m so glad to hear that people don’t seem to mind scent strips.

    1. I agree with the lovely K above: I’m not really here for the perfume anyway—it’s your particular brand of charm that keeps me coming back πŸ˜‰

      Take care of that skin!

  4. I’ll definitely still read! Have you thought about spraying your hair (not too close to scalp/neck, obviously)? I’ve heard of plenty of non-skin places that people wear perfume so you can still appreciate how a perfume develops over time. I love Nuits de Noho and Grammercy Park btw! Thank you for the samples, and keep writing!

    1. I’m so glad you liked the samples, Jenn! I definitely need to give the hair a try. The issue is that right now it is shoulder length, so there isn’t that much hair between my scalp and my neck!

  5. Oh Ari, how awful that your skin is so sensitive! Of course we’ll keep reading your perfume reviews, no matter how you test them. I’ll let you know when I get your package – thanks!

    p.s. hope that rash goes away soon πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Julie. My skin has only been this bad for about a year or so, so I hold out hope that someday I will be able to freely enjoy my perfumes. They are getting very lonely 😦

  6. Oh, you poor soul! What a nuisance and a pain for you.

    I’ll definitely keep reading, and I hope that the reactivity and soreness lessen over time.

    Look after yourself,

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  7. As long as you keep putting the perfume on the same spot, you’ll only have 1 small area of horrible rash. That’s still worth it, right? lol.
    Of course i’m kidding. What i really meant to say is you can spray it on me and smell my skin for your review!

  8. That’s really bad luck, and I feel for you that you can’t enjoy this hobby to the full.

    And as for your concern about people’s reactions if you only test perfume on fragrance strips – I would continue reading if you just visited a mall where there was a department store in which there was a perfume counter. But you only went into Radio Shack and Starbucks, say. You know, the “singing the phone book” and “mating habits of aphids” analogies…

    : – )

    1. Oh, what a sweet thing to say. I do often go to the mall just for Radio Shack! I like the many random gadgets that will probably only ever get used as cat toys!

  9. I’m so sorry to hear u have that! I’m sure it’ll be reversible with no lasting damage.

    I’m a perfume LOVER, I enjoy wearing perfumes and using scented products! so I’m tired of those darn IFRA regulations and the growing hysteria about chemicals in consumer products… I think it is happening because of ignorance. A bit of advice is healthy, but I disapprove the huge paranoia. We seem to entering a new Dark Age, where scientific fact no longer counts for anything and truth is measured by Google hit numbers. I’m often thinking about potencial fragrance damage allergies, as it seems that studies have shown that shortness of breath or asthma-like symptoms (which I personally recently have been noticed just a bit) have been caused by fragrances. So, like you, I’m little bit worried about the same… 😦 but in a reasonable way. I think Perfumes probably are not involved in these, but it is some other inhaled allergen. For example, today I’m not wearing perfume and I haven’t smelled any perfume at all, and I have ‘that’ sensation on my breathing: I’m sure it’s all about the fireplace!!! (the fumes from wood), so probably all I have to do is ventilate the house more often, or just to repair the fireplace.

    Probably you will not be allergic to ALL fragrances, but you cannot tell what it was.
    … maybe you were just an excessive user of perfume (a perfume abuser), due to the amount of testings, and you just need a little rest, or just to spray on the clothes for a while. πŸ˜€

    “until the 20th century, perfumes were made from natural ingredients derived directly from plants and animals, and as fragrances became cheaper and more widespread, they also became more synthetic”… I think it could be related to this?

    Don’t worry and Of course I’ll keep on reading! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for your continued support, GeM! I have also noticed an odd movement away from science and back towards a “natural” way of life. As my father often says, nothing is more natural than the bubonic plague! I hope that your asthma symptoms clear up soon!

  10. Ari, keep on writing. I have enjoyed your humor and sharp wit, so
    I will continue to read your blog however you test your new perfumes. Maybe you can enlist a friend for a test patch of skin since you will not be able to use yours. I want to thank your for
    the sample and adorable photo you included. I appreciate that you
    took all the time, effort and expense to send them. I will always be a big fan.

    1. What an incredibly generous thing to say, thank you so much. I’m so glad that you liked your sample! I would make my boyfriend test things for me, but everything goes sweet on him.

  11. I won’t say anything new, but I want to comment anyway.

    I read most blogs that I follow not for the proper reviews but for good stories, humor, impressions and thoughts. No matter how exact your description of the scent is it won’t substitute my own experience. But if you absolutely love ten perfumes that I love as well, when you tell me about the eleventh that you also love, do you think I’ll actually care if you just snifed it, tested on paper or are writing about it while lying with the IV in your arm to treat anaphylaxis caused by spraying the perfume all over your body? Well, I would care about the latter, but the point is: keep writing!!! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you very much for caring whether I need an IV!!! That is also my favorite thing to do with perfume, to use it to tell stories. Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing enough proper perfume reviewing on this blog, but I think that telling stories is my strength. I have a good enough nose, but I think it’s best to leave the serious, objective reviews to excellent blogs like Now Smell This.

  12. Undina very eloquently expressed why I regularly read certain perfume blogs and I want to assure you that I will continue to read yours whether you are testing on paper or skin.
    Please be gentle with your skin. My sister developed contact dermatitis and it only eased when she avoided all products (skin, laundry, cleaning, atmospheric, etc.) with fragrance or other known irritants. Her dermatologist gave her a hideously long list, but it has helped: she no longer has a rash on her chest at all, let alone one that was so painful it was difficult to wear clothes of any kind.
    And, her trigger that started the the whole crisis was not perfume, but the adhesive on the leads attached to a heart monitor that had to be worn for 24 hours.

    1. Oh my goodness! Your poor sister! Perfume was also not the original trigger for my rashes, but it does seem to make them worse. I should definitely look into my laundry detergent.

    1. Thank you so much for your support! God, wit. It’s so strange to hear someone say that. I just think of myself as awkward and nerdy and weird, but I’m so grateful to hear that someone interprets my ramblings as “wit”!

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