Ear Plugs

“Ear plug connoisseur” is not a title I strove to achieve, but I’ve become an expert nonetheless. My requirements are fairly simple: cylindrical foam without a flange at the end, which makes them too long and applies pressure when I lie on my side. Seems easy to find, but it isn’t.

Flents Quiet Please! are my gold standard. Though even they have diminished in quality in recent years and no longer last as many wearings as they used to. I blame it on the recession. At less than $20 for 100 pairs from Amazon, at least they’re affordable, even though my internal environmentalist cringes whenever I throw them away.

I’ve been fooled recently by CVS’s version that looks to be identical. They are more rubbery than foam, which means they expand and hold their shape great. Unfortunately they expand so much that they exert enough pressure to make my ears sore, even when I don’t have a migraine. During a migraine, when my left ear often hurts, the earplugs make that pain excruciating. Also, they are so tight and impermeable that they cause moisture buildup in my ears even when I don’t have migraine night sweats. Ew.

Rite Aid, however, makes an excellent look-alike that I might even prefer to the latest incarnation of Flent’s Quiet Please! Unfortunately, they don’t sell them online and they have no stores in Arizona.

Because I wear ear plugs every night and often when I’m running errands — and I’m an environmentalist at heart — I’ve often considered custom-molded ear plugs, but Hart had a pair for a previous job and they never fit right, even after multiple adjustments. The potential hassle has kept me from pursuing this option.

Do you have a favorite ear plug or an experience with custom-molded ear plugs? Please share — I can’t be the only unintentional ear plug connoisseur with a story to tell!