5 Fragrances for People Who Are Prone to Headaches

Sensitive to scent? It’s not just in your head. According to perfumer Douglas Little, "Strong colognes and perfumes, though otherwise pleasant, may cause your blood vessels to dilate and in turn trigger migraines." Here, he shares his insights on what to watch out for (as well as a guide to some of our favorite unoffending fragrances).

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heretic florgasm
Credo Beauty

Heretic Eau De Parfum In 'florgasm'

First things first: Douglas advises against chemical-based fragrances, which often contain ingredients like phthalates that can cause headaches and aggravate respiratory conditions. This delicate floral uses no synthetics and only pure oils and extracts to lightly scent your skin with a soft tuberose and jasmine veil. 

ellis brooklyn west perfume
Credo Beauty

Ellis Brooklyn Eau De Parfum In 'west'

"For people with severe allergies or sensitivities, I always recommend citrus as it’s known to combat migraines and nausea," says Little. We’re partial to this bright blend of blood orange, clementine and water lily because it smells crisp and clean (and not at all cloying).

vapour organic spirit perfume
The Detox Market

Vapour Organic Beauty Spirit

Another option? Solid perfumes. "For some people, it’s the inhalation of the fragrance particles that causes the migraine," explains Little. This twist-up stick glides directly onto your skin thanks to a base of sunflower seed oil and beeswax. And if you tend to favor a greener, woodsier scent, this is a good option for you as it's heavy on vetivert and herbs.

Buy it ($40)

goop orchard perfume

On that note, if you’re prone to migraines, skip the whole "spray and walk into a cloud of perfume" method altogether. Instead Little recommends applying it only on the wrists, behind the ears and—wait for it—the backs of your legs. Love a fruity fragrance? Goop’s newest addition features apricot (at peak ripeness).

behnaz rose perfume

Behnaz Pure Rose

With only two ingredients (rose petals and water), this airy mist is as simple as fragrance gets. Think of it as a light refresher for when you just want to smell better (say, after a sticky commute on the train). It’s impossible to overdo.  

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...