Why does perfume give me a headache?

Oh BABY — that dreaded headache and other reactions caused by a fragrance.

Maybe you have experienced a negative reaction or maybe you have heard your someone speak about it — whatever situation you find yourself in, you are here… looking for the answer as to WHY PERFUME HAS A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON SOME PEOPLE?

“While some thrive at the fragrance counter, taking the chance to sniff and spritz as many testers as possible, others get easily overwhelmed by scents. You might experience headaches, nausea, and dizziness from sniffing different fragrances and perfumes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to stop wearing a perfume completely — after all, that final spritz of perfume is the cherry on top of an amazing look.”

So, what exactly is causing the headache along with other reactions and how do you avoid them or take care of it once the onset of symptoms?

We too at Dossier wanted to get to the bottom of this situation. And, with some research and digging…

We found that it all boils down to 3 separate things!

1: Allergies to fragrances 

You may have guessed this one.

As many allergies are triggered by nasal irritation it would make sense that a perfume fragrance would cause a reaction. Symptoms can “range from classic “allergic” reactions, such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes; to headaches, inability to concentrate, and dizziness; to respiratory issues, such as breathing difficulties and wheezing; to skin reactions, such as itching, hives, and other rashes.

The specific reaction that can occur greatly depends on your personal body. Also, it is important to note that many pregnant women find themselves suddenly more sensitive to perfumes due to hormonal changes.

2: Sensory overload 

Ever heard of overstimulation?

Yup, this can be the cause of headaches or other symptoms. “Scientists suggest that while perfume can be extremely pleasant, it can cause a person’s blood vessels to swell and dilate, and, in turn, stimulate the nervous system in the brain associated with head pain.” We have experienced this is a store where there are lots and lots of perfumes around. 

“”It is similar to the tiredness: our eyes will get tired after looking at a screen for long periods of time.” If you find yourself feeling a little lightheaded from sniffing too many perfumes, get some fresh air or head over to a less overwhelming place.” The symptoms of overstimulation are simply a normal reaction to your body trying to regulate its senses.

3: Aroma that triggers an unpleasant memory 

This one actually surprised us.

But, after reading about it… it completely makes sense. It comes down to the fact that our sense of smell is connected to the memory area of our brain. “If you come across a fragrance that’s similar to the one your ex wore all the time or a perfume you weren’t a fan of in the past, you might find yourself feeling uneasy and stressed. “You can get a headache if a fragrance reminds you of a situation you didn’t enjoy, so it’s going to be about the notes, not materials,”” This reaction is simply a fight or flight response.

The negative feeling makes the body jump into protection mode and the headache is a signal to GO.


So, it seems that your body is trying to protect you from harm.

“It can be hard to imagine that what smells divine to one person can cause a myriad of miserable symptoms in another, but experts say that how our bodies respond to a particular fragrance lies in our individual physiologic makeup.” Unique to everyone, it is what you are born with that can send your body into a tizzy. Luckily there are a few things you can do to fix it once it happens and avoid it!

Three rules of thumb when a reaction happens: Let air in, drink water, and relax. These things will help flush out your body and calm your nerves.

However, more importantly, you might want to avoid the headache and discomfort altogether.

With that in mind, ““the most important thing you can do in that respect is to remove yourself from the offending fragrance.” Avoidance is really the most effective treatment.” As well as, “take note of any allergens that trigger you and steer clear of any of these products by doing research and asking an experienced fragrance expert for help.”

Paying attention to what happens to your individual body with a particular fragrance is the best thing you can do. The more aware you are, the more in the clear you should be — no headache, no itch, no sneeze, NO REACTION.

Dossier doesn’t want you to waste your money on perfume that you might be sensitive to. As we mentioned above, certain ingredients can cause a reaction while others may not. So, top help you get the most out of your money and your perfume experience, we at Dossier have created a wide range of perfumes for you to choose from.

Always listing all ingredients, we have also made it easy for you to buy online with bottles inspired by your favorite designer perfumes starting at the delightful price of $29. On top of that, we have made returns easy.

Every bottle you buy comes with a small tester, before opening the bottle you can test the perfume to ensure no reaction. If you do not agree with the fragrance, simply return the unopened bottle and we will refund you or exchange it for another.

Effortless and simple perfume shopping is Dossier’s mission! Shop Now


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