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Why Do We Experience Nose Blindness and What Can We Do About It?

Sense of smell gives us and all living creatures information about the world around us. It alerts us to food, dangers, and other changes in the environment.

When the smell receptors in the nose detect fragrance, they respond by transmitting the scent to the Olfactory Bulbs located high up in the nostrils. These bulbs are full of nerves that relay those messages to parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, emotion and smell identification.

It's a primal instinct for us to follow our noses and allow our sense of smell to tell us what's going on around us, but have you ever noticed your perfume fade to nothing throughout the day, but others still compliment you on your perfume? Or have you spent lots of money on a high-quality diffuser that after only a few hours, you don't smell it anymore?

Well, it's not the perfume or the diffuser... it's your nose!

Working with essential oils means I experience nose blindness a lot when making products. It's extremely annoying, but luckily my partner is there now and again to confirm that that things smell beautiful and just as they should!

So what is nose blindness?

Nose blindness or Olfactory Fatigue is the common experience of losing sensitivity to odours after prolonged exposure.

Nose blindness is a temporary, and completely natural sensory adaptation that occurs when you're exposed to a particular smell for a certain amount of time. This could be a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. When this happens, the receptors in your nose stop responding and ignore the odour because it's no longer providing the brain with any new information. This in turn enables you to be ready to identify new and potentially dangerous smells.

An extremely common example of nose blindness is not being able to notice certain odours in your own home. This may be the smell of cigarette smoke, that well-known dog odour, or certain foods that contain garlic and spices.

For someone new entering your home, these smells would be extremely noticeable the second they walk in the door, and depending on how strong they are might be quite offputting. Unfortunately, you wouldn't know because you've been around these odours long enough for your nose receptors to stop responding to them.

can you prevent nose blindness?

Unfortunately, you can't stop nose blindness but for good reason!

It's an entirely natural phenomenon and an important one because it allows you to be able

to detect potential dangers, like a gas leak in the home, smoke and fire or a leaky waste pipe.

Nose blindness can last for as long as you are around a particular scent. If you were to leave the area for a while or go for a walk outside, when you return, you'll be able to smell it again, if only for a short time before it happens again.

When it comes to home fragrances there are a few things you can do to reduce the effects of olfactory fatigue and enjoy your favourite scents.

  1. Alternate the essential oil blends you use in the bath

  2. Swap your diffusers around to different rooms now and again

  3. Leave the room for a while and go for a walk to reset the senses

Alternatively, add your reed diffuser to an area of the house where you don't spend all of your time, ie. a small downstairs toilet, utility, office or reading room. Or wash out your electric diffuser and use another oil, alternating each day for a new fragrance.

Have you experienced our mood-boosting blends yet? If not, browse our online shop for something to brighten up your space.


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