Wearing perfume to work is an office style conundrum that rates as high as for whether you can wear high boots to work in winter or don floral prints for the Monday meeting. In the US, there’s actually been a legal move to outlaw perfume in the workplace. In the US Census Bureau, and government offices in the city of Detroit, it’s no longer allowed. While some private companies in Canada and the US have followed suit, others have followed suit, others have adopted formal fragrance policies.
It seems a little perfume can raise a lot of stink. Perfumes can trigger of allergies in the workplace. They can cause sniffling, dizziness, headaches, nausea and breathing problems. Many corporate in India especially hotels, banks, and airlines have fragrance policies in place. These policies guide usage of perfume addressing questions like how much, how little, how to wear it and what is acceptable.
The secret, of course, is application-a dab, a spritz, a touch, not a drenching. Perfume should only be applied on the pulse points-wrists and behind ears. Never on clothes. An ideal work perfume is mild yet long lasting. Anything from Hugo Boss, and Chanel for women. Be careful of the notes. Men shouldn’t go too floral and women shouldn’t pick woody notes. For winter, one can pick spicy notes too.
The scent should be undetectable to anyone more than an arm’s length away from you in any direction. As a general rule of thumb, go scent free at job interviews. If your office doesn’t have a fragrance policy, opt for a light perfume with no reapplication. And a deodorant is not a stand in for perfume. One is before you get dressed and for personal hygiene, the other is used after and for its feel good factor and never mix the two.
How to take the problem at the office?
1. If you are friends, tell them directly. If you are not, broach it when the person is alone and be polite. They may not be aware that their perfume is a problem. When people wear the same fragrance for a long time, their scent receptors may become immune to it, so they overspray.
2. Say “I am sorry to ask you this, but am really sensitive to scents, and think I’m reacting to something you are wearing….”. And then ask them to tone it down.
3. If the colleague doesn’t respond, get the manager in and ask her to raise the issue with the person.