She's allergic to my cologne. Oh no!
January 24, 2017 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Tuscany smells good on me. Sadly, she's allergic. How do we find a perfume / cologne that doesn't bother her?

Tuscany suits me. I've worn it since high school, so there's a lot of sentimental value / scent memory tied to it. I recently remarried, and my wife loves it on me too, but she's allergic to it. Like, if I haven't showered and scrubbed thoroughly, anywhere our skin makes contact she breaks out in hives, and if I'm not careful putting it on she goes into a massive sneezing fit, the whole works.

Since perfume manufacturers don't disclose their ingredients we can't check for the usual suspects (lanolin, latex, some other stuff)

So besides trial and error, how might we go about identifying a new scent for me that (1) is pleasant and (2) hypo allergenic, at least to my wife?

Thanks in advance, team.
posted by ZakDaddy to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In before Axe Body Spray. /ugggh
posted by ZakDaddy at 12:56 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Go somewhere that can custom make a scent for you? This way you can ask them to avoid using the very ingredients your wife is allergic to.
posted by zizzle at 12:59 PM on January 24, 2017

....that's.... That's a thing??
posted by ZakDaddy at 1:02 PM on January 24, 2017

Some people have trouble with alcohol-based perfumes but not perfume oils. You might want to check out some samples from the many perfume oil companies around the web: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Haus of Gloi might be good places to start. The latter makes custom blends.
posted by holborne at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Another common fragrance ingredient that people are allergic to is propylene glycol. Something to watch out for.
posted by amtho at 1:10 PM on January 24, 2017

If you don't know the ingredients, the only way is by trial-and-error.

I must say that I have hayfever and dust allergies, and I'm highly sensitive to any sort of scent (I can smell cigarette smoke from a block away). Such scent-sensitivity (although maybe in your wife's case it's by skin contact?) is pretty common among people with such allergies.

So maybe do your wife a favor and go without?
posted by My Dad at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2017 [10 favorites]

Your wife could get an allergy test and then you could seek out perfumes that are advertised to be "that thing-free"?
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:32 PM on January 24, 2017

One of the notes is oak moss, a common allergen that's been replaced with synthetic versions in many fragrances, but maybe it's still the real thing in Tuscany? So you could try something without that
posted by KateViolet at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2017

You could try using a pure essential oil.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:47 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

seconding holborne's suggestion of samples - many perfume companies like you'd find at the counters of a nordstrom offer little tiny sample bottles so you can try it for a week and see if she has a reaction before spending your money.
posted by carlypennylane at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2017

Samples are your friend. One option is Sephora's Cologne Sampler, you get 15 samples to try and a coupon to redeem for a full size bottle for $65--so if you like any of them enough to buy, the samples are basically free.
posted by impishoptimist at 3:09 PM on January 24, 2017

You could go to Surrender to Chance and buy samples of a similar style and notes. This Basenotes page indicates it is a 1980s masculine with notes of Bergamot, Geranium, and Patchouli, and the reviewer compares it to Azzaro Pour Homme. This page on Fragrantica described it as an aromatic fougère (that's a style) and someone also compares it to Azzaro Pour Homme. If you really want to wade into fragrance blogs and forums, find a place where people who are into vintage masculine fragrances hang out - Basenotes is a good start because it's pretty dude-heavy. I'm not as familiar with the masculine side of frag-land, but some names I've heard of are Goodsmellas, Scented Hound, and What Men Should Smell Like.

I don't think you're going to get that 80s vibe from any contemporary mainstream masculines like the ones from Sephora, because the styles these days are mainly aquatics and gourmands.

The niche world has been exploring vintage styles and fougeres more recently, although not as much as the feminine vintage styles. A notable new release that harks back to the 80s is Él by Arquiste (see this review), so you should definitely get a sample of that. Tom Ford is probably another brand worth sampling, especially the private blend. Dudes I know who are into niche seem to really like the Parfums de Marly brand.

Good luck and happy hunting.
posted by matildaben at 6:14 PM on January 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sephora is definitely the way to go. They will give you a completely free sample of any perfume or cologne they have in the store. It comes in a tiny spray bottle and holds enough for three to four applications. You just pick a bottle and ask an associate if you can get a sample. I'm not sure if there's a limit on the amount of samples they'll give you per visit but I've walked out with up to four at a time with no issues.
posted by DSime at 6:16 PM on January 24, 2017

Agree with getting samples, disagree with perfume oils being a better option. The large perfume makers are more accountable, and honestly, "natural" is not a virtue here.

There's no such thing as a hypoallergenic perfume, unfortunately. Trial and error is about the only way to discover what might be the culprit, I'm afraid. Best would be to choose together.

Depending upon the age of your bottle, it may have oakmoss in it. Which might be the problem ingredient. If it is new (from 2014 on, I think), then it will not contain oakmoss.

As a perfume collector with serious allergies, I find men's fragrances to be more problematic because of the prevalence of wood, moss, leather, and lavender. For instance, Bulgari Black is a masterpiece, but it makes me very ill, very fast.

I hope you find something that works for both of you.
posted by monopas at 9:20 PM on January 24, 2017

Thanks everybody, lots of good ideas here. Wish us luck!
posted by ZakDaddy at 8:12 PM on February 15, 2017

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