Do you know that feeling when you’re in the pool, and a lot of chlorine comes up your nose? It’s not charming at all, and it stings quite a lot. When swimming in the sea of Thailand last year, I noticed that salt water is easy on the eyes, but a lot harder on your sinuses. Wearing goggles is no option for me, as I do not like the look of my face in them, and a noseclip wasn’t any prettier.
Internal noseplugs; a solution at last?
Around this time last year, after filming in the sea for the first time, I decided to have internal noseplugs made up. It was quite a search to find the one person who makes them – and luckily enough, he lives right near me (well, in another city, but still, what are the chances, right?). As it turns out, the Tomnose (as the plugs are called) are made exclusively by Tom van der Hoff, who has developed a way of producing them all by himself, using clay, silicones, a special oven, and a whole lot of tools. Once I was able to reach Tom, I had an appointment within the week, so I dropped by on a rainy afternoon.
Having the Tomnose internal noseplugs made
Having the Tomnose made is not exactly comfortable, though it usually isn’t too painful, either. The maker puts a special substance up your nose (quite deep) that has to harden before it can be pulled out. After that, Tom cuts off the pieces that are unnecessary and fits it with your nose a couple more times to ensure a perfect fit. The shape is good when you can blow just a tiny bit of air out of both nostrils, and can’t inhale at all.
The first time the plugs were removed (the unfinished product), it hurt quite a bit. Tom explained to me that this is quite unusual however, and was probably due the fact that my nose is small but my sinuses are huge. Lucky me.
After the shape is done, Tom makes a mold from the plugs in order to create a soft silicone version of the plugs. This takes a few days because they need to be baked in a special oven, after which he sends the plugs to your house in a small fabric bag.
So does the Tomnose work?
In a word, yes. It works perfectly. It really is nearly invisible – when I wear it, it is completely invisible from the sides and only slightly visible en face. Putting them in is uncomfortable for a second but once they’re in, there’s no pain at all – just an extreme feeling of a stuffed nose. This is only annoying for the first minute while your not yet in the water; after that, the annoyance disappears completely and is replaced by an immense freedom to move around any way you like underwater.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself…