Invisible Foam Ear Plugs: How to Hide Foam Ear Plugs
Concerts, clubs, bars with music, and other loud places are environments where it can be advantageous to wear hearing protection in order to avoid hearing damage.
But often people choose not to wear protection, because they do not want others to notice it.
Foam earplugs are the most common kind of ear protection.
Fortunately, foam ear plugs can be very well hidden and made as good as invisible. They are the most discreet ear plugs if hidden correctly, because of their low profile.
They can be hidden so well, that nobody will notice you are wearing them, unless they stand on your side or slightly behind you and look straight into your ear canal and use a flashlight. If well hidden, then it is impossible to see the ear plugs from the front. They also will not be noticed from casual glances from the side or behind you.
The most likely way someone notices them, is when you turn your head so someone can shout into your ear, so you understand them better.
The steps to hide earplugs include inserting them properly into the ear canal, cutting them a bit shorter, painting them black or using flesh-colored earplugs, or wearing head cover.
1. Insert Ear Plugs Properly Into the Ear Canal
Insert them properly into the ear canal and do not have them sticking out of the ear like an inexperienced foam plug user.
The picture below shows a wrongly used ear plug. The plug is supposed to be in the ear canal and not in the outer ear. Wrong usage also significantly reduces the amount of hearing protection.
And below is a picture of a correctly inserted ear plug.
To insert a foam plug correctly, roll the plug in your fingers until you cannot compress it any smaller. See the picture below.
Then insert the plug into your ear with one hand and pull your ear back and up with the other hand. This helps to get the plug into the ear canal. See the picture below for how to pull.
2. Cut Them a Bit Shorter
Most ear plugs stick out of the ear canal when inserted. By cutting them a bit shorter, this visible part can be minimized. However, cutting them shorter also means that some of the hearing protection will be lost.
If the plug was too strong to begin with, then this might even be desired. Foam earplugs usually have very high sound reduction to start with. In my own experience, even a cut foam ear plug is still much stronger than most reusable ear plugs.
The picture below shows a ear plug (Bilsom 303) that was cut shorter.
Here is a picture of the uncut plug in a ear.
And below are two pictures of the cut earplug. The cut earplug is less visible. It fills out less of the outer ear.
In the picture below is another earplug (Uvex) that was cut shorter.
The uncut earplug is well visible in the picture below.
The uncut earplug is even visible from the front as shown in the picture below.
And below is a picture of the cut ear plug. It is probably not going to be noticed by most people unless they look directly into the ear for whatever reason.
I never had difficulty getting the cut earplugs out of my ears again. At worst, it took me two or three attempts until I succeeded using my fingernails. And should I ever fail, the plugs do no harm and I will always get them out using tweezers at home. When I insert the plugs, I try to always let just a tiny little piece stick out of the ear canal into my outer ear.
If you are very serious about hiding your earplugs then you can go so far that you need tweezers to take them out again. The plugs are then truly invisible and only someone looking directly into your ear canal and using a flashlight will be able to recognize them.
3. Use Flesh-Colored Plugs or Paint Them
Using flesh-colored plugs instead of violent yellows and oranges significantly reduces their visibility.
However, not many plugs are available flesh-colored.
There can also be reasons why you want to wear a specific plug, maybe because it has the perfect amount of noise reduction or sound quality for where you are going – but damn, it is not flesh-colored. What do you do?
Paint them! Use a water proof marker to get the job done. A black permanent marker works surprisingly well.
The picture below shows a foam plug that cut shorter and painted black.
The two pictures below show that this cut and painted ear plug is almost invisible.
The picture below shows a flesh-colored earplug that was painted. As visible, even for flesh-colored earplugs, painting them slightly black can reduce their visibility.
4. Wearing Long Hair or Head Cover
Wearing long hair or something similar to a wool hat or headband will perfectly hide whatever you have in your ears.
Disadvantages of Foam Ear Plugs and Alternatives
This article is about foam ear plugs only. Foam earplugs also have disadvantages. Their sound quality is not so good as they muffle the sound.
If the environment is not so loud, then it will be more difficult to hear and talk with other people.
If the environment is very loud, however, you will probably be better able to talk with people than without ear plugs. This is because your ear can understand the voices better when everything is quieter. The advantage of noise reductions outweighs the disadvantage of sound muffling.
The low sound quality is also a disadvantage if you want to enjoy a concert in high sound quality.
There are alternatives to foam ear plugs with higher sound quality. Fortunately, these alternatives are also not very visible. The best alternatives are custom made musician earplugs that have high fidelity sound. Many of these custom made ear plugs are more visible than well hidden foam ear plugs, but they might still be sufficiently hidden depending on how important it is for you. If you go to many concerts or are clubbing often, then custom made earplugs could be a worthwhile investment. Another alternative are reusable earplugs, but almost all of them are more visible than well hidden foam ear plugs or custom made ear plugs.
See the article Invisible Ear Plugs for Concerts, Clubs, or Loud Bars for a more in-depth discussions of the alternatives.
I mostly use Uvex (see pictures above) foam ear plugs and cut them shorter by up to about 1/4 as in the picture above.
They are flesh-colored.
They have a sound reduction of around 24dB, which is low for foam earplugs, but sufficient for where I go. I do not get the full 24dB, because I cut them shorter, but so far it was sufficient.
Hearose also produces flesh-colored ear plugs.
They have a stronger sound reduction of around 32dB. Uves was always sufficient for me, so I do not use them.
Bilsom 303 (Howard Leight by Sperian)
These plugs are colored in yellow and white (see pictures above)
I used them when I was younger. I started using them, because they have better sound quality than most of the free ear plugs distributed at clubs or concerts. This helps to enjoy the music more and makes it easier to understand what other people are saying when talking with them. But they are stronger with 32dB than the Uvex earplugs. They are available in two sizes.
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