The first time I heard of a nose warmer was a few freezing New York City winters ago when I desperately Googled “nose warmer” to see if such a thing existed. It did exist: on Etsy. Many vendors sold hand-knitted nose cozies that loop around your ears and look like this.
Maybe there's a reason these aren't a common winter accessory: they are really ugly and awkward. I felt like I could never wear this in public without everyone staring at me. So I abandoned my dreams of a warm nose.
But here’s the thing: one of the most unpleasant aspects of winter is that feeling of your nose being frozen after spending more than five minutes outside. I feel like my nose gets colder than any other part of my face. Yes, I do wrap scarves around my face, but they slip off. And I was still curious about the nose warmer. So this winter, I decided to order one and review it for you.
I opted for the rounded kind instead of the kind that looked like a snowman's carrot nose. I settled on one from the Etsy shop KnittingOleBag. I picked out grey, a subtle color I hoped would help me blend in while wearing this ridiculous thing on my face. I guessed I was a size medium, but really, how do you know your nose size? It cost $7 including shipping.
I received my nose warmer and it looked exactly as pictured. I tried it on and immediately noticed one annoying flaw: The top set of strings can get pretty close to your eyes. My eyelashes were brushing up against the yarn. I could sort of fix it by pushing the string down a little, but it was still annoying.
I wore my nose warmer when I walked to the bus one morning and completely avoided eye contact with everyone, so I don't know if I got any stares. But my nose did stay warm. Later that week I wore it while walking on the Upper West Side and people definitely stared at me. I really wanted to take it off but I told myself, "No, you have to wear it for at least 10 minutes for journalism. Then you can take it off."
When I showed it to my coworkers, they were all incredulous that such a thing existed. Only one coworker thought it was cute. When I told them that it was $7, one of them said, “Any amount of money is too much to pay for a nose warmer.” Ouch.
Nose warmers have been around for a while. The Etsy shop AuntMartyMadeIt claims to have been making them since 1970. The author of this newspaper article in Mother Earth News from 1979 also claims to have invented them. Here are the few vintage photos of nose warmers I could find on the Internet.
There are numerous patterns on the Internet for knitting your own, like this one.
Although the nose warmer does its job, I don’t think I’m going to wear it outside of my own home again.
Me and my nose warmer
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Madeline Raynor is a New York City-based writer. She is a Blog Editor at BUST. She has written for Splitsider, The Billfold, Death and Taxes, Mashable, Indiewire, and Time Out New York. She loves all things Tina Fey. Word to the wise: her first name is pronounced with a long “i,” like the red-haired girl from France. Follow her on Twitter @madelineraynor_.