So I wrote this on Reddit but thought I’d post it here as well for anyone looking for impressions from somebody who has insane levels of scent sensitivity:
Okay so ever since the first day I saw the Dyson Zone announced, I've wanted a pair. I know for a lot of people even after all the mask stuff related to covid were still worried about looking weird wearing them. And realistically, if you're someone who never has issues with air quality, or is a smoker, or in general do horrible things to your lungs on the regular, you won't see the value in this product. Without the visor they're just a set of very good headphones. But at the same time, you can get very good headphones for much cheaper.
There are however people for whom this product will be life-changing. It is estimated that up to 30% of the population exhibit varying levels of negative reactions to perfume and other airborne irritants. This is often expressed as either migraines, asthma attacks or headaches.
Me? I get migraines. Isn't a migraine just a bad headache? No, but sometimes yes? The headache is often a part of it. And for years I thought I just got headaches and I had no idea why, because perfume is so prevalent in our society, I didn't know what it was that was making me sick. It wasn't until I started breaking out in hives that I saw a specialist who did a skin test and told me that I was allergic to a common ingredient used in nearly all perfumes.
After that, I cut out all perfumed products from my home and got better. But then I started being much more aware of things and realized when my headaches kicked in it was almost always because somebody had put on scented hand lotion near me, or I was near a woman who was tossing her long hair about spreading small amounts of perfume into the air from her hair products. And as I've gotten older, it's only gotten worse. I used to be able to work in an office building and just keep a fan near my desk to blow away bits of perfume that wafted off nearby people. But at this point in my life, I'm basically stuck doing work from home. Even though a lot of companies will say that they have scent-sensitive policies, as a rule, HR will never enforce them. (I was literally let go from one job once where somebody decided he didn't like me and started spraying cologne in the office because he thought causing me pain was funny. Keep in mind, it's not like I'm a complainy person. I'm generally very likeable, you have to be when you have to ask a bunch of people who don't know you to not wear the things they normally wear when they'll be around you. I'm also funny and helpful, so it's not like this was a revenge sort of thing, this guy just liked the fact that he could hurt somebody with a disability and there were no consequences. Before I left he'd also gotten in trouble for getting into a shoving match with another guy, and sexually harassing a woman.)
How sensitive am I to perfume? Very... stupidly... insanely... to the point where you contemplate throwing yourself from your 12th-storey balcony because you just don't want to walk through another cloud of perfume from the laundry room on your apartment's floor in order to get out of the building.
In less subjective terms. I once had a very bad reaction in my own apartment because a neighbour's 'air freshener' from a company called Scentses was creeping in under the door of my apartment shortly after moving in. My air purifier which has a display that shows the number of parts per million in the air was showing a 9. Normally when the air is as clean as it can be, it'll show a 3. If I just leave the windows open to get some fresh air in my apartment, it'll get up to around 17 just from things like pollen etc.
When the reactions happen, the closest thing that I can say is that it's like being on magic mushrooms, but bad and painful. I feel like I'm not me anymore. I can't be happy, I get not just scared, but terrified and completely irrational. Emotionally, I'm nuts and I don't get to choose to not be nuts. It's not just the physical pain, it's a feeling of helplessness. My brain stops functioning the way it's supposed to. Once when I didn't realize that someone had used a scented cleaner near my desk at an office, I sat for probably 15 minutes feeling progressively dizzier and confused while I tried to type =sum( and then select some cells in Microsoft Excel, so that I could add two two-digit numbers together. When I say it breaks my brain, I'm not exaggerating. The worst part is, is that if the irritant in the air is very small, I may not even be able to smell it despite the fact that I'm hypersensitive to scents and often can smell minute amounts that everyone around me says they can't.
So when that happens, if my brain breaks before I realize I'm being exposed to something, I may not be smart enough to connect the dots that I'm feeling dizzy, my thoughts are muddied, and I'm in pain, so that means I should be leaving. So often times I'll stay until the reaction is absolutely unbearable before I finally realize, "Oh, I'm reacting to an irritant in the air. I need to flee."
So yeah... call me Bubble Boy if you want to. My condition is very bad. But you know what? There are people who have it worse than me.
So how well does the Dyson Zone work for me?
Not perfect. But yesterday as an extreme test, I tried to walk into the cleaning supply aisle at a grocery store.
To put things in perspective: when I go grocery shopping, I take a deep breath one aisle away, and I try and hold it as long as I can while I push my cart as fast as I can pass the end cap of that aisle to get to the stuff on the other side, and I still get enough that I'll have a bit of a headache.
Yesterday, I stood right at the end cap and being able to breathe there, felt so confusing. Now, I'll preface that by saying I had them set to the max airflow. But they worked. It was the strangest, most freeing experience. Because if I could stand there, I could go almost anywhere now, and now be sick. I'd get weird looks from old people. But I could be safe almost anywhere.
I decided to test it a little further and took a step into the aisle. I was still fine. Part of me wondered if these were god-tier filters and I might be able to walk the whole way through. They're not, and I couldn't. After two steps, I started to smell a faint chemical scent and knew I needed to get out of there. But it was amazing. I walked away and because I was immediately getting pumped super clean air into my nose and mouth and knew it was safe to keep breathing, I didn't get a reaction. I left, without even so much as a headache.
IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!
Now, I realize the number of people who have fragrance sensitivity/multiple chemical sensitivity/MCS (put them all in so that Google might pick this post up.) is pretty low. Most people just suffer from frequent headaches or migraines but don't connect the dots as to what's causing them. Even then a lot of times people with this condition will be working jobs where they feel they can't spend a grand USD on a set of headphones especially when they don't know that they'll actually benefit from them.
I'm not even American. I had to order these online, get them shipped to a place near the border and then drive down and pick them up. (I kept thinking they'd launch in Canada soon, but they haven't and getting any official time frame from Dyson.) I finally broke down and just ordered them from Dyson when they went on sale at the American Best Buy stores. (Thankfully Dyson price matched Best Buy since Best Buy wouldn't ship them to the places close to the border.)
Anyway, I realize that for a lot of you, you'll think this is a silly product and you'll continue to make jokes about it. But I just want you to know, that for me, this product is going to give me my life back in so many ways. And getting weird looks from cranky old men, and paying a $1340 CND after all was said and done is a price I'll gladly pay to be able to walk safey without having to worry about what somebody else is going to put in my body, without my consent, that is going to leave me broken and in pain for days.
I should say, you'll still be able to smell things when you wear these. When I walk in the parkade in my building, I still get a bit of a musty smell, and I still get some other smells. But the difference is, I don't feel my body reacting to the irritants, because they're large enough that they're not getting through the filters.
Also yesterday it was an exceptionally smokey day out, and when I used them outside with a lot of wind blowing, I still could tell it was smokey out, but it was still much better than it would have been without them.
Also, they're so much more comfortable than an KN95 mask. You can take deep breaths if you've been exerting yourself without getting that sense of having the mask pulled in and feeling like you're not getting as much air as you'd want. Also, with a KN95 mask, if an irritant gets inside the mask you might be breathing it back in over and over, whereas with these, you're constantly getting new clean air thrown in front of your face holes.
I will say, I'm a giant and I kind of wish that the visor had a bit more extension to it, as it barely fits onto my face while fully extended. So hopefully future releases will add a bit more extension. But again they do fit, but I suspect Dyson doesn't expect a lot of people my size to be using these. (Which might explain why they launched first in Asia.) But I also basically can't buy hats or anything so, it's not uncommon for things not to fit on my fat head. So kudos for them at least making them big enough for my head. Thankfully it's not like my skull is gonna get bigger.
Also if your MCS is even worse than mine, I have seen people putting on an N95 behind the visor. Personally, I hope I won't ever feel a need to do this. If you were someone working in an office building, I'd say you might want to also get a cheap desk fan or two and run them at a low setting on either side of your desk to make sure that no large clouds of irritants hang out in high concentrations near your desk after somebody walks by, but that probably wouldn't even be necessary.
Again, I can't stress how happy I am with these!
Oh and also before anyone says, "This won't protect anyone else from covid if you have it!" I don't care. I work from home, and probably won't have covid most of the time. If I do, I'll probably be stuck in bed for weeks on end because last time covid straight up kicked my butt. But that's what their own mask is for. Mine will keep me safe from covid, and anything that they decide to put on themselves not caring if it makes me sick!