Friday, September 26, 2014

Fragrance Wars

The other day I realized that I had accidentally purchased disposable razors with scented handles.

Scented. Fucking. Handles.

As a society, we have apparently decided that it's not enough that every product we put on our body has a smell, now the tools we use to do so must smell as well. I am fanatical about avoiding artificial perfumes, but I never even thought to check goddamn RAZOR BLADE HANDLES.

Don't mind me, just heading to the shower.

There are plenty of very good reasons to avoid synthetic fragrances, but let's back up a minute and make the assumption that you, like many people, don't mind and maybe even enjoy perfumed products.

You step into your shower, where you use your Berry-scented shampoo, Lily Essences conditioner, Pink Grapefruit body wash, Mint Julep facial scrub, Cashmere Rain shaving cream (wtf?), and your stupid ass Venus razors with the "tropical scent" handles.


You step out into your bathroom and take a big whiff of your Clean Linen plug-in. You slather some "Pasión de Tango" deodorant, moisturize with your Rose facial oil, and spray a little "Fresh Fragrance" hair product into your hair for some texture. Gotta moisturize those newly-smooth legs, so you grab some Pumpkin Latte and Marshmellow body lotion (it's fall, after all!) Perhaps you're expecting your period, so you make use of a "Clean Fresh Scent" pantyliner, then wash your hands with some Crisp Morning Air handsoap and follow up with Berry Blossom hand lotion. Oh, and let's not forget a puff of Chanel No. 5!

You walk into the other room to get dressed - your laundry detergent claims to smell like a Butterfly Kiss, but you're not sure how that's even possible. Next it's time to slap on some lipstick that smells curiously of Gummy Bears, some Watermelon blush, some Chocolatey-smelling bronzer and Vanilla-scented mineral eyeshadow. When you come out into the living room, looking fab and ready to start your day, you realize that it's smelling a bit musty in there- but hey, it's nothing that a little Midnight Storm Febreeze won't take care of. Just for good measure, you light up a Summer Wish (equally perplexing) candle.

At this point, you smell like a Yankee Candle shop operating upstairs from a funeral home. You are the olfactory equivalent of taking everything in your fridge, putting it in a food processor, and calling it soup. Migraineurs scream and run at the first whiff of you. Airplane seatmates sniffle and dab at watering eyes. Dogs are confused by you.

But honestly? Unless you're actively trying to avoid scented products, this is probably the sort of stuff you'll end up with in your home. Fragrance is ubiquitous- it's in EVERYTHING. It is literally even in products marked "Unscented", I shit you not. (Men, you are not exempt- your soaps, shaving creams, colognes, deodorants, detergents, and god-help-you "body sprays" are just as bad. Though I don't think we've started scenting your goddamn razors yet.)

Of course, you can't smell these smells. Your nose is used to them, so except for that first powerful whiff when you open up the bottle or light up the candle, you don't even notice them. One of the most shocking things I learned when I gave up scented products was just how much EVERYTHING smells- once your olfactory receptors have recovered from their constant fatigue, you'll be amazed what you can smell.

So you don't smell particularly good to yourself, since you don't notice. Other people either also don't notice (being used to synethtic fragrance themselves) or notice and find you, frankly, unbearable (and that's if they're lucky and don't end up with a splitting headache, nausea, or congestion.) And all the while, the dang stuff is fucking with your hormones and slowly giving you cancer (among a jillion other things.)

So why? Why do it? Marketers want you to buy perfumed stuff because our olfactory memories are so intensely strong and linked to emotion- if you associate a particular smell with someone or somewhere you love, you'll want to smell more of it, and you'll pay money for the privilege. (It also nicely covers up the odors of the other nasty chemicals used in a lot of products- which is why "unscented" often...isn't.) Stores will pump scents into the air to affect your buying behavior and mood state - it sounds like some creepy Big Brother shit, but it's true. Restaurants will slap an air freshener into the bathroom outlet to hide the fact that it smells like pee all the time. They don't care if they're pumping you full of neurotoxins, just as long as you keep giving them money. Please, stop encouraging them!

There is a 0% chance that your handsoap smells like this.

Tips for Going Fragrance-Free (or at least Freer)

  • Read the labels. As I mentioned above, "Unscented" is sometimes meaningless, but "Fragrance Free" or "Free and Clear" is usually okay. Still, to be safe, look at the ingredients labels- avoid anything that lists fragrance, perfume, parfum, or fragrance oils. It's important to do this even when shopping at "natural" stores or for "natural" products, as many things claiming "With Lavender Essential Oil!" will also sneak in some artificial fragrances as well. One of the grossest things about fragrance is that companies don't have to tell you what's IN them because it's considered a "trade secret"... it could contain pretty much any kind of nasty poison they want to include. 
  • Don't forget things like dish soap and laundry detergent! Laundry detergent is particularly insidious, and if you start un-fatiguing your sniffer, soon you'll realize just how bad it is- when I buy second hand clothes, I have to wash them repeatedly and let them air out in the basement for months before I can stand to wear them. (New clothes usually need at least a wash or two, but aren't as bad.) Vinegar in the wash water helps, especially if you soak it (baking soda helps too, but may cause it to fade a bit.) 
  • If you want smells, consider natural sources. Essential oils do give some people headaches (or sniffles) but by and large are much safer than synthetics, and more and more products rely on them instead of their chemical alternatives. They're much less "sticky," too- if you wash your hands with soap scented with EO, the scent will fade very soon after, whereas conventional soap smells can stick for HOURS. (Just remember- don't use EOs on your skin at full strength, dilute them with a milder oil! A little goes a long way.) Many beneficial skin oils and butters have lovely scents on their own- my current deodorant is made with cocoa butter and coconut oil, and while it's not very strong, my armpits definitely smell like some sort of delicious confection. Linens can be stored with sachets of dried herbs to help keep them from getting stale in the closet (or you can just wash them again right before you use them, if they've been away for a long time.) 

Hello, I am delicious, and oh so useful.

  • Even if you don't choose to ban fragrances from your life entirely, at least be picky. If you want to smell like your expensive perfume or fancy body lotion, you shouldn't be using 20 other products with different smells at the same time. Soaps, hair products, detergents, shaving creams, etc really do not need to have smells- all they do is cling and compete with whatever smells (deodorant, perfume, lotions) you are actually intending to put on. (And don't even get me started on scented make-up, wtf is THAT about?) Figure out what you actually want to smell like and eliminate the rest so you don't smell like potpourri vomit.

A Disclaimer:
Yes, cutting artificial scents out of your life will probably make you more sensitive to them. Walking past Abercrombie & Fitch will feel like chemical warfare, and if you're a hugger you'll soon learn what detergent all your friends are using. But the trade-off (besides all that "not putting poisons in your body constantly" stuff) is that a healthy, less-fatigued schnozz is much better for smelling good smells- things like actual vanilla, actual pumpkin lattes, actual clean air and autumn leaves. Given how entwined smell is with taste, I wouldn't be surprised if there were benefits there too.

(By the way, those scent names up there? All totally real products. I think Gain detergent wins for originality- Sweet Sizzle, Icy Fresh Fizz, Moonlight Breeze, Dreamy Desire..... and I'm always amused by scents claiming to be "Fresh" or "Clean Air." Oh the irony.)

Gas mask photo by Vivian Aubrey, butchered by me... she would never commit such crimes against Photoshop.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Feelin' Skirty, Sept 10-22

Hat: Fave (handknit)
Shirt: OP (as in Walmart, I think... I got it second hand and it's my favorite ever.)
Skirt: Windsor (old, but they've got a lot of pencil skirts.)
Tights: xhilaration (probably? I don't know, I own a lot of opaque black tights.)
Boots: Minnetonka (these are a few seasons old, but these are similar.)

Hat: Suture (handknit)
Sweater: Mossimo
Dress: Lux
Socks: unknown, but probably from Sock Dreams
Boots: Mossimo

Sweater: Roxy
Socks: b.ella, I think. Believe it or not they are different from the last pair.

Shirt: The tag just has a bunch of spiderwebs on it instead of a name (?!)
Tights: cheap random-ass nylons like the kind you buy in an egg or whatever
Socks: unknown, but probably from Sock Dreams
Boots: Blue Suede Shoes (I find it disturbing how many brands just straight up don't have a website. At least TRY, geez.) 

This was my Halloweenified outfit for Hell's Hearsefest, an event that anyone in the area should absolutely attempt to attend someday.

Clearly, I had estimated the aesthetic of the event accurately.

Hat: Fave (handknit)
Sweater: Old Navy (ancient)
Skirt: MICHAEL Michael Kors
Socks: Urban Outfitters (similar)

I think when this month is over, I'll feel a lot more comfortable wearing skirts (which was the goal) but I'm also going to be really freakin' sick of it. And this is without even going out everyday...and having a few cheat days (because it's really hard to get all gussied up JUST to go to the post office, y'know?)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Skirtin' along, Skirtember 2-9

When you see how few outfits I have to show for September, you'll really grasp the full extent of how much working at home isolates you, haha. It appears that I left the house 3 times in 8 days (yikes.) In the interest of honesty, I did cheat and run two quick errands in jeans, though. So, 5 times.  (I've been posting these on Instagram as I go, so if you follow me there you've probably seen them. Look for the #skirtember tag.)

Hat: Garage sale find of the year, whoop whoop!
Tank: Thrifted and tagless, whomp whomp.
Shirt: James Perse (TJ Maxx always seems to have these, in various colors, for way less than that.)
Skirt: Vintage, no label
Tights: Urban Outfitters (Don't buy these ones if you're tall- they want to slide down so that the line is on or below your knee.)
Shoes: Ole standby's from Payless

Tank: H&M
Cardi: BDG
Skirt: Gap (thrifted and ancient... Gap is super excited about black denim right now though, FYI)
Tights: xhilaration 
Boots: Soda (I bought these for my halloween costume... scroll down a few posts and I bet you can guess what I'm planning to be, haha. I looked everywhere for a real leather pair but didn't want to spend $100+ on halloween cowboy boots, so, oh well.)

Let me tell you something about pestering your significant other to take pictures of your outfits: Eventually they may start getting bored. As a result this is the best picture I have of this one, haha. But that's an awfully nice ice cream truck, right??

Top: BDG
Skirt: MICHAEL Michael Kors
Tights: Urban Outfitters
Shoes: Aldo (I wish they still sold these- they look like black-on-gray wool chucks and I love them so, so much. I'm going to be devastated when they wear out.)

I'm a little ashamed that I've worn the black skirt twice when I still have plenty that I haven't touched. A lot of them just feel a bit more... formal, I guess? Ah well, I'll have to tough it out. For science.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Remember, Remember, the First of Skirtember....

Somehow, it's already September. This month means a lot less once you're out of school- especially if you're childless- but I'll never shake the urge to buy new notebooks and pencils. It also has the perfect weather for a little experiment I've been cooking up...

I have a pretty healthy collection of skirts, dresses, and tights, but I almost never wear them because tossing on jeans is so damn easy. So I've challenged myself (and you, if you want to play along) to celebrate the holy month of Skirtember.

The rules are simple: No pants outside of the house until October (exceptions can be made for things like manual labor, horseback riding, etc. But otherwise. Skirt 'em up.)

I'll post all my outfits, either here or on Instagram (bombasinedoll, btw) under the #skirtember tag (I thought I was being terribly clever with the play on words, but a quick Google search indicates that I am far from the first to think of it. Ah well.) Since I work at home there won't necessarily be an outfit everyday, but I'll try to drag my sorry ass out of my pjs at least a few times a week ;-)

Today's outfit is nothing to write home about, but it's hot as balls (and twice as muggy) so I wasn't really feeling "layers" or "tights" (I loathe having bare legs, so you KNOW it's gotta be gross out for me to go without.) 

Shirt: Bozzolo
Skirt: MICHAEL Michael Kors
Shoes: Aldo
Sunglasses: Garage sale junk
Necklace: Satomi Studio
Dogs: Out of frame because it's WALKIES TIME, dammit. 

(Speaking of dogs, do other people's leashes manage to get riddled with impossible-to-untie knots? Or are we just really talented?)

If you're feeling a bit skirty as well but need some inspiration, I've been hoarding pantsless Pins hardcore the last few days. Please do join in! 


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