For the longest time I didn't use fabric softener because my dermatologist told me the chemicals can cause breakouts on your skin. Seeing as how I'm a side sleeper (anyone else raise your hand?!), and I end up burrowing my face in my pillow by dawn, I avoided fabric softener for years.
The pioneer when it comes to good-for-the-planet cleaning products has enlightened me to these method Softener Infused Dryer Cloths, $5. I am already a devoted method fan so if I was to attempt fabric softener it would be via them. Most dryer sheets contain animal tallow (ew) that leaves a gummy residue. These wet cloths infuse plant-based softeners right into the fabric as it dries. I have been using them for about a month now and I am happy to say I am break out free, well, mostly. They come in four flavors: water lily + aloe, lavender + juniper, sweet water, and nectarine blossom (the Fab fave).