While in a professional setup, it is important for the employee to maintain decorum. This is applicable especially in the matter of personal grooming habits. Each company has a set of guidelines which the employee has to follow. But workplace etiquette does not need to be mentioned by the employer at all times. An employee must take care about how he carries himself. One of the major factors of physical appearance is the perfume one wears. It is important to note that all companies have certain inhibitions about perfume at work.

In government bodies like the US Census Bureau and government offices in Detroit, there is a legal move to outlaw perfumes in the workplace. Certain private companies have also followed their suit. At other offices, one is allowed to wear perfume as long as it doesn’t cause anyone inconvenience. But it is difficult to determine what kind of perfume is workplace friendly.

What to be kept in mind while wearing perfume at work

It is important to realize that the convenience of the colleagues in the workplace has to be taken into consideration. The employee needs to keep in mind the sensitivity of the people who work with him. The colleagues in close proximity to him can inhale the fragrance which will linger in the air for a long period of time. Excessive fragrance can cause nasal irritation, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and breathing problems. One might not be aware of a colleague’s health problems hence it’s better to keep the perfume subtle.

At times, it is not always the perfume which is the culprit. There are various laundry detergents, shampoos, soaps, and fragrant makeup products which may be responsible for emitting a strong smell. Therefore it is not always necessary that wearing perfumes must be avoided. One should take care if his hygiene products are not too fragrant.

Another reason why wearing strong perfume at work is not advisable is because it draws a lot of attention to the person wearing it. While passing by a co-worker or even on walking into the board room, people present will immediately notice the presence of such a person. This kind of attention gives a wrong impression of the employee. According to workplace etiquette, such people seek attention to make their presence felt. This can create a negative impression in the minds of the head of the company as well as the manager. Consequently, one should avoid strong fragrances at work.


When one uses perfume at work, he should make sure that the fragrance is subtle.

Is a ban on perfume necessary at the workplace?

The ban on perfume at work is a portrayal of the rigid work environment at some places. The principle of avoiding strong fragrances at the workplace is justified to a certain extent as it might cause a distraction to other employees. But one does not need to ban it altogether.

Use of perfume is a personal hygiene of certain people. It avoids body odor and emits a pleasing smell. Excess of anything is unfavorable and same is the case in the use of perfume as well. When an employee’s perfume is causing discomfort to someone, the manager can bring it to his notice in a polite manner. This will avoid any kind of miscommunication between the manager and the employee. At the same time, the workplace environment will not be very strict; instead, it’ll be a healthy one.


5 Responses

  1. linda

    If I understood correctly, you admit to understanding that fragranced products can cause “nasal irritation, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and breathing problems”, yet you seem to think that the distraction to healthy people caused by someone wearing too much fragrance is a bigger problem than the disabling or health harmful effects (34.7 % of) people suffer from fragrance exposures, and think that bans are too rigid a step to take, because a healthy environment is just about the communication?
    If I understand correctly, it sounds like you think it’s ok for other people to suffer adverse health effects from smaller amounts of fragrance as long as the amount of fragrance doesn’t inconvenience or distract you?

  2. Jim Sabatke

    For me, I don’t think about the motives of why fragrances are worn. What I do consider is all of the many times I’ve been rushed to an ER with screaming migraines, extreme nausea, and spending hours getting CAT scans and other tests to make sure I’m not having a stroke because my blood pressure is through the roof. That is how my body reacts to many fragrances, not only perfumes, but hair, deodorant, laundry, creams, bathroom sprays, and just about anything else fragrances.

    I find a reasonable expectation is that the personal fragrance field shouldn’t extend more than a foot from any person, if fragrances have to be worn at all.

    • Jim Sabatke

      I apologize for the bad spelling. I have a bit of trouble with Siri interpreting my words.

  3. Tammie

    I am sensative to smells. So any smells not just perfume gives me headache, dizziness, and problems breathing. The chemicals are toxic. Not just to people like me but to everyone. Stopping scents in the work place would result in more production.

  4. Julie

    Subtlety has nothing to do with it. If one of your co-workers has a sensitivity to a scented product, even a small concentration of it will suffice to set off a reaction. It would be best to avoid any and all scented products. Not only for the sake of your co-workers, but your own. The perfume industry is not governed like most industries. Their products fall under a proprietary law, which enables them to use toxic chemicals because they are less costly. When you see “perfume” listed on any product you could be exposing yourself to cancer causing chemicals. Substances call endochrine disrupters that can throw all of your hormones out of whack. Some cause neurological problems, while others can even alter your DNA. So to answer your question, “Is a ban really necessary?” My answer, “Only if you value your health and possibly your life”.


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