January 28, 2024


During a recent long-haul flight, my wife and I ended up a few rows behind a guy wearing a very strong perfume. Even seated four rows away, we could still smell it for a couple of hours. It got me thinking why we even use perfume.

Much like the cigarette of the late 19th century, perfume is often seen as a symbol of sophistication. But it's essentially a cloud of chemicals that, like cigarette smoke, can be less than pleasant to everyone but the person wearing it. Interestingly, the word "perfume" comes from the Latin per, meaning "through," and fumare, meaning "to smoke," literally translating to "through smoke."

Back in the days, perfumes served to mask body odors in times when regular bathing wasn't a thing. But now that water comes magically from the tap, its necessity is debatable.

I personally stopped using perfume to save space in my travel bag. Then I realized I didn't miss it.

The main concern with perfumes is their composition: a mix of unknown chemicals. If you're in the rare group of people who knows every ingredient and is comfortable with them, you might not need this article. Unfortunately most people are unaware of what they're spraying on themselves.

Here are a few considerations that might change your mind about perfume use.

Loss of smell

Constant use of perfumes will desensitize your sense of smell, just like how constant exposure to loud music will deteriorate your hearing.

For the longest time in my life, I used to use shampoo (which contains fragrance). I would smell its scent when showering and that was about it.

After quitting shampoo for about a year, I used it once again. For the following 3 days, I could smell the fragrance from my hair. I even had a small headache on the first day.

Taking care of your smell will also improve your perception of flavors when eating, making you enjoy food even more.

Health considerations

Perfumes often contain synthetic chemicals like benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and phthalates. These can trigger allergies, asthma, and hormonal disruptions.

From skin irritations to respiratory problems and hormonal imbalances, perfumes have various potential effects. The synthetic chemicals may even disrupt the endocrine system, affecting reproductive health, mood, and metabolism.

Impact on others

Perfumes can be quite intrusive, similar to how cigarette smoke can invade personal space. Others may experience discomfort, allergies, or headaches due to your fragrance, especially in confined public spaces.

Restaurants that are truly concerned about their guests' dining experience often tell their waiters to not wear perfume, as it can clash with the enjoyment of the meal.


Purchasing expensive perfumes often feels like self-indulgence. But in reality, much of the cost goes towards marketing.

Perfume, along with shampoo and deodorant, can be reconsidered in the quest for a minimalist lifestyle. Getting rid of these items can be liberating and financially savvy.

The choice to use perfume is ultimately up to you, but know that if you decide to wear it, it might affect others. So, if you want a simple life, ditch the fragrance. You're not going to miss it.