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Is “Nose Blindness” a Real Thing? What to Do When Your Essential Oil Diffuser Isn’t Having an Effect

aroma outfitters nose blindness diffuser not working as well

Aromatherapy can be truly life changing.

It can be used to give us a sense of calm, focus, confidence, improved sleep, and countless other benefits. Aromatherapy will rejuvenate your mind, body, and home.

…So when it doesn’t seem to be working, or not working as well as it once did, you can’t help but feel disappointed, or at the very least confused. It’s especially bad when an aromatherapy beginner has an experience like this, because they might throw out the whole practice all together—which, as you know, would be a real shame.

The good news is that a diffuser not having enough “oomph” is usually solved relatively easily. In today’s post, we’ll be looking at a few different ways you can resolve this issue and get back on track with your aromatherapy.

First, let’s examine what has become somewhat of an urban myth in the essential oil community: so-called nose blindness.

how to get more out of your diffuser

Is “Nose Blindness” Real and Can it Stop My Essential Oils From Working as Well as They Once Did?

The idea of “nose blindness” is more or less a made up thing (barring any actual olfactory injuries or disabilities).

What is real, however, is a phenomenon called sensory adaptation. This is an element of human physiology that basically means “you can get used to things.” Basically, we’re much more likely to notice changes in our environment than the things that stay the same.

Insofar as the olfactory system is concerned, a good example of sensory adaptation might be an unpleasant smell, say, from a wet dog. Imagine that you’re in a room with a smelly, wet dog—at first it would be awful, but if you had to stay in the room for an hour or two, you’d have become used to the smell.

Parents who have changed diapers will know exactly how this works. What was once gross becomes pretty much commonplace.

Similarly, good smells can fade into the background, like those produced by your diffuser and essential oils. This is because our bodies become used to what was once a new stimulus.

It’s important to note, however, that just because the “newness” of a smell can fade, the benefits from the essential oil should still be taking place. After all, you’re still inhaling the essential oil molecules. If you find that the benefits of your essential oils aren’t as noticeable as they once were when diffusing, the problem might be caused by some of the following things we’ll discuss below.

Potential Problem: Your Essential Oils are too Diluted

A very common cause of diffuser problems is when the oil or blend you’re using is too diluted. Double check your recipe, and if necessary, add a few more drops of essential oil to the mixture and see what happens—oftentimes this is enough.

However, sometimes the problem doesn’t have anything to do with your expert blending skills, but instead the oil itself. Newbie essential oil users often purchase cheaper oils, which tend to be pre-diluted with a carrier such as jojoba oil. Sometimes the dilution is as much as a 70/30 carrier-to-essential-oil ratio!

Make sure to double check that your essential oils are pure and not already diluted (especially before purchase—many companies purposefully make it less-than-obvious that you’re buying a diluted product). If you do happen to have diluted essential oils, don’t worry. You can still use them to mostly positive effect.

Until you can upgrade to pure essential oils, try using more drops of what you have at a ratio equal to the amount of dilution present in the oil. For example, if the dilution of the product is 50/50, double the amount of drops used.

Reminder: make sure to read our post What to Look For When Buying Essential Oils to make sure you get the right kind (there are no specific brand recommendations, just general guidelines to follow).

Potential Problem: You Don’t Have the Right Diffuser

Sometimes when your diffuser isn’t working well it doesn’t have anything to do with a mistake you made… it might just be because your diffuser isn’t right for you.

Either it’s cheaply made—there are many, unfortunately—or it’s not covering enough area to have the desired effect. This often happens when trying to diffuse in a large area. More on that in a moment in the next section.

If you think the problem is your diffuser itself, we definitely recommend picking up a new one in the Aroma Outfitters shop. We’ve personally given the design and manufacture of our diffusers plenty of TLC. They’re the diffusers we use ourselves in our own home. Make sure to check out our latest 500 ML iron metal diffuser which is a real beast.

Furthermore, you might want to learn the difference between ultrasonic diffusers and nebulizing diffusers, and why we think ultrasonic diffusers are the superior choice. Check out our post What’s the Difference Between an Ultrasonic Diffuser and a Nebulizing Diffuser? to find out.

what to do if diffuser not having an effect

How to Diffuse in Large Areas or Rooms

Trying to diffuse in a large open area (such as an office building) or in a big room can often require a little more planning if you want to make sure that you’re getting coverage throughout the entire area.

If you’re diffusing in a large room and finding that you aren’t having the effects you want, there’s almost certainly a solution. Usually, it’s going to be one of the following:

  • Tweaking the settings on the diffuser, e.g., using a “heavy mist” setting or similar
  • Increasing the amount of oil used
  • Using a higher quality essential oil (remember that dilution talk we had above?)
  • Strategic placement of one or more diffusers

To get the full scoop on this common diffuser problem, check out our detailed post on the topic: Diffusing in a Big Area? The Best Diffuser for Large Rooms and Spaces.

Make Sure You’re Using the Right Diffuser Blend


Sometimes you get “get things going again” by trying out a new diffuser blend or modifying your current favorite. You’ll find plenty of ideas here on the Aroma Outfitters blog. Start with a recent favorite, 7 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body, & Home With Your Essential Oil Diffuser, and then check out some of our seasonal posts like Aroma Outfitters’ Favorite Summer Essential Oil Recipes.

If you want to really dig in and learn more about diffusing a specific kind of oil, we have super-detailed guides about some of the most popular types. Learn more about Lavender, Black Pepper, Cypress, Bergamot, Sandalwood, or Helichrysum.

When Aromatherapy Works, it Really Works


If you came across this post because you’re new to aromatherapy and haven’t yet found the results you’re looking for, don’t give up!

Aromatherapy is a powerful healing tool that can leave you feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to tackle the day—every day. Make sure to get the right kind of diffuser and start feeling the difference for yourself.

Thanks for reading and until next time!

About the Author

Charity

Charity is a mom, wife and avid essential oil user. She teaches classes on essential oil usage and describes herself as a “forever student” of the oils. Charity resides in Colorado and is active in volunteering in her community.  

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