The mother of a Freedom High School student is imploring Freedom faculty, staff, and students to go without chemical fragrances in order to protect her son, who suffers from a life-threatening allergy. Brandon Silk suffers from an allergy to one or more synthetic substances contained in Axe body spray, a popular fragrance among his classmates at Freedom High School. Although Unilever, the manufacturer of Axe, has provided Brandon’s family and family physician with the ingredients in the offending product, there are too many individual chemicals — one fragrance has 180 components, according to Brandon’s mother — to make a patch test practical.
After Brandon’s most recent allergic reaction, at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, his mother felt she had no choice but to enroll him in cyberschool, which he has been attending from home. However, she has decided to give conventional schooling one last chance for Brandon, who has found cyberschool a lonely experience. “If any school can do it, it would be Freedom,” Ms. Silk tells the Express-Times. She believes that a public education campaign can instill awareness of Brandon’s allergy in his peers and convince them to ditch the body spray on school days in order to allow Brandon to attend Freedom.
Ms. Silk is calling the campaign, “Be SCENTSLESS. Be you.” Asking people to go without artificial fragrances is not without precedent. In 2010, Detroit city employees were asked to shun scented perfume, cologne, aftershave, and other similar products because individuals with allergies who came into contact with them were put at risk. In the spirit of community and helping people like Brandon be safe at school and work, the Allentown Health Examiner presents natural body care alternatives which have a history of low allergenicity.
An Etsy seller called ElegantRoseBoutique, based in Howells, Michigan, offers a low-allergenicity woodland deodorant, made with coconut oil, candelilla wax, sodium bicarbonate, arrowroot powder, essential oils, and organic cocoa butter. Manufacturer California Baby produces a line of bath, body care, and sun products that are free from the eight most common allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), display all ingredients on the packaging, and are available in scent-free formulations. One popular product, available online from Diapers.com as well as in many Target stores, is the Super Sensitive Shampoo and Body Wash. (Note: California Baby products were reformulated in 2012 and now contain sodium benzoate, an ingredient that can be problematic for some individuals.) Another bath and body line of products that is fragranced only with natural essential oils is Earth Mama Angel Baby. The Allentown Health Examiner wishes Brandon Silk and the Freedom High School community success in creating a safe environment for everyone, and looks forward to receiving recommendations on “scentsless” products.