To Dab or Not To Dab

“It’s always wonderful to be elegant, it’s always fashionable to have grace,it’s always glamorous to be brave, and it’s always important to own a delectable perfume!Yes, wearing a beautiful fragrance is in style at any age!”  ~C. JoyBell C.

I remember a time in my life when I couldn’t imagine leaving the house without a dab of fragrance nestled softly in many of the places I liked to be kissed. The exotic sweet spicy scent was a part of who I was. It made me feel happy and pretty and confidently me.

My vintage bottle of eau de parfum sits decoratively on a glass shelf in my bathroom. I picked it up the other day and took a whiff that became a whimsical journey of nostalgia and romance. I relived the magical night I met my husband for the first time. I smiled.

I wondered why I had stopped wearing perfume every day. After all, it had been synonymous with who I was for so many years. I guess it was the sign on my doctor’s front door:

“This office is a scent-free. In consideration of others who may suffer from chemical sensitivities and/or allergies, we request that you refrain from wearing scents such as perfumes, colognes, hairspray or aftershave when visiting this office.”

I kept running into similar notices in different offices, all provincial government buildings, schools and hospitals. And over time, my scent became that of my body lotion and face creams, safely dissipating by the time I ever reached any office.

It’s regrettable that the hundreds of synthetic chemicals used to make fragrances in today’s market are causing health problems for so many. Yet, from everything I’ve read, the global fragrances and perfumes industry continues to do billions of dollars of business and keeps expanding, not contracting. So who are these people that splurge on ephemeral scents? Do any of them live in my town?

I stood in my bathroom and took another whiff of my perfume. I was all dressed-up for an afternoon Spring Celebration Party at our local winery. Do I dare to dab or not to dab? What would you do?

Daily Prompt

15 thoughts on “To Dab or Not To Dab

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  1. J’adore perfumes and colognes. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother’s favorite from an upscale retailer. Scents are a magical way to lift us above the gritty grind of real life. However, I am one of those who gets migraines in church from a cacaphony of hair sprays and perfumes, so I don’t attend. I reel from sneezing in flower shops and daren’t walk into salons. My throbbing sinus is a continual haze through which I navigate all interaction, and my senses are usually dulled with handfuls of pills that keep my body from over reacting to every little thing. All this reacting is a new thing as I get older, and it’s no one’s fault. It’s up to me to steer clear and be ready. I miss scented soaps most of all. My revelation to why this was happening was finding out I have an autoimmune reaction to everything citrus, and that industrial limonene is used in everything from beauty products to cleaners. (This is not the same as citronella, which comes from lemon grass, and also not the same as citric acid, which is industrially derived from other cheaper sources.) I avoid all products using limonene in any form and seem to do great. I hope this helps other people who have problems with fragrances, and helps people who use them understand why there is a problem. Citrus is not naturally found all over the world, but citrus pervades and saturates our world all day long now. Citrus is not required to be listed as an allergen (yet), so it’s difficult to find it in ingredients lists. Limonene is used as an enhancer in beauty products, a sort of catalyst or potentiator that helps push other fragrances. It is usually what lends the ‘zest’, ‘sparkle’, and ‘bright’ to fragrance descriptions.

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    1. Thank you Janika for sharing your story and helping explain the chemical additives that make fragrance an issue for so many. I found this quote the other day: “It’s just that in the Deep South, women learn at a young age that when the world is falling apart around you, it’s time to take down the drapes and make a new dress.” I think you have done just that. 🙂

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  2. Kate, great post. I run into this all the time as a health writer. Fragrance ingredients are one of the most common allergens today. There are companies putting out “natural” perfumes made with essential oils, but I’m not sure how they are as I haven’t tried any yet. As I have written over the years about folks suffering from fragrances (and after suffering myself a few times around ladies who used a bit too much!) I stopped wearing my favorite perfume. I just started up again a couple weeks ago. Like you, I was reminded of so many memories and that lovely feminine feeling. Now I try to compromise—leave it off out of courtesy when in small, crowded places (like airplanes), but on my shopping, errand, or other days out? The perfume is going back on! Meanwhile, I keep my eyes open for a potential natural option.

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    1. It looks like we’re into “what is old is new again” – as up until the 19th century, perfumes were made from fragrant resins, flower essences, herbs, spices and other natural ingredients. I too have noticed a trend “back to the basics”. Colleen, I hope you find the natural scent that will last when applied and give you the feeling you seek. While doing some research for my article I discovered that my brand underwent a “reformulation” recently, so I too will be joining you in looking for a new product.


    2. I wear (a tiny bit of) perfume even if I’m going to my son’s soccer practice in jeans and sneakers. It’s light but still “perfume”. Interestingly enough, it’s only when I wear pure essential oils that people say something nice or ask about what the heck I’m wearing or that it’s too strong — pure oils seem to stand out more and cause more reaction from people.

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      1. I love it! My special perfume attracts more than just compliments – in the outdoors is also attracts wasps and other bugs, so I refrain when going out to play a golf game. Essential oils can be strong. I have some pure lavender oil that I dab on a candle in the bedroom. It’s quite powerful, but after I light the candle, the room transforms into a cozy, warm and heavenly place.

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  3. I still love to dab with my “signature” fragrance” of many decades. So admittedly I do still wear my perfume whenever I go out except if it is to the doctors or any other type of place where I will be in close contact with other people for awhile.


  4. I love this post! After many many years I finally found my own favorite scent, and like you, I never went out without wafting it around. Who knew about all these new allergies? But isn’t it lovely to recall all the special moments when aroma was part of elegance and grace?

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    1. Dor, I’m still wondering who all those people are who are scenting and keeping the markets booming. I dared and dabbed for the party, and felt that nostalgic added elegance come over me. Even hubby noticed it. 😉


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