Office Chit-Chat: Is Your Perfume Too Powerful?

 Susan breezed into the break room one morning and someone hovering around the coffee pot asked, “What perfume are you wearing?” 

“Everyone asks me that,” Susan said. “I don’t know how they know I’m wearing it. I just put it on and forget it.”  

And that’s the problem. The flowery scent arrives at the same time Susan does, but it hangs in the air long after. Others are caught in the whiff that lingers in the break room, the hallways, the elevator and the workspace. 

Many co-workers are hyper-sensitive and prone to allergies. All the while, Susan is unaware that something as innocent as a splash of cologne can cause a strong negative reaction. And that subject is a sensitive one. 

Here are 5 ways to be sure your perfume is not too powerful for the office:   


1) Be Super Scent-sitive 

It’s hard to imagine that what smells divine when it’s spritzed on your wrist at the cosmetic counter can cause a variety of symptoms in a closed, often-windowless space. In tight quarters at work, moving away from a scent is not easy and co-workers may be forced to breathe your heavy fragrance. For many, getting a big dose of cologne means getting a big headache. 


2.) Be Fragrance Free  

“I had to talk to someone about wearing too much perfume to work,” one HR director reported. “There were a lot of complaints because everyone in the office could smell it. Even her boss complained. Of course, he didn’t want to tell her.” 


Talking to an employee about her scent is an embarrassing situation and she was offended, the HR director said. Not long after, the employee quit her job and left the company. Unfortunately, perfumes that are fabulous when worn socially are often too much for office wear. It’s better to save everyone the discomfort of airing a sensitive subject by going to work fragrance free. 


3.) Don’t Try to Be a Celebrity

Annual sales in the perfume industry often top $25 billion, according to industry reports. So naturally, the famous and not-so famous want to cash in. The list of celebrity signature perfumes is huge, ranging from rock stars to movie stars and sports stars. Plenty of other big names join the line-up, too--one of Donald Trump’s fragrances for men is called (no joke), Eau de Toillette. (It’s tempting to ask if it smells like money). 


But let’s remember that celebrities walk the stage or the runway and fly in private planes. They don’t breeze into the break room, work in our office or sit next to us at a staff meeting. 


4.) Be Less Stressed

After hours, aromas can do more than please. They can soothe stress. Seriously? Yes, say specialists in the field of aromatherapy. Aroma therapy uses plant extracts--essential oils--for the purpose of altering a person’s mind, mood or cognitive functioning. Practitioners claim that aromatherapy helps reduce anxiety, enhance energy levels and improve short-term memory. Clinical evidence is weak, but what could it hurt to indulge in an after-hours massage, slathered in essential oils? 


5.) Experiment with Alternative Aromas

These popular aromatics have potential benefits (maybe!): 

• Lemon Oil. Said to be uplifting and effective for reducing stress. 

• Lavender Oil. Believed to soothe wounds, burns and skin irritations. Lavender Oil (and lavender bath salts) are also believed to induce relaxation and clarity of mind. 

• Angelica Oil. Known in the Middle Ages as the Angel’s herb. Angelica oil is promoted for the relief of stress and fatigue. 

• Peppermint Oil. Distinctly minty! Peppermint oil is said to improve blood flow and awaken a tired mind.