Earplugs for blocking water from the ears are made of silicone and come in three forms: moldable, pre-molded and custom molded. Moldable earplugs form a seal over the outer ear opening, whereas pre-molded and custom molded earplugs sit inside the ear canal.
Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone earplugs (*Est. $2.75 for 2 pairs) are reported to be highly effective at preventing water from getting into your ear, something swimmers will appreciate. These user reviews are backed up by studies published in two highly respected journals for ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. Users also say they are also very comfortable because they sit outside your ear rather than in it. Mack's Pillow Soft earplugs also have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 22 decibels (dB), and some reviewers say they've used them for sleep and on airplanes.
Exclusively designed for blocking water, Mack's AquaBlock earplugs (*Est. $4 for 2 pairs) are also made of silicone, but these are pre-molded and sit inside the ear canal. Experts like the triple-flanged design, which allows for greater flexibility in fit and provides multiple barriers. Users find these earplugs to be soft and easy to insert. Unlike Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone earplugs, Mack's AquaBlock earplugs should not be used by children under age 7, anyone with ear tubes or anyone who has had recent ear surgery, so they are not as versatile as the Pillow Soft earplugs.
While Mack's Pillow Soft are best for swimming and bathing, AquaBlock are a better choice for other outdoor activities in cold, wet environments, such as surfing and kayaking, where you need protection from the elements, but you still need to be able to hear well.
For scuba divers, regular swimming earplugs are not recommended. Instead, look for earplugs that can stay in place during the increasing pressure of a descent. The manufacturers of Doc's Proplugs (*Est. $12.75 for 1 pair) say their vented earplug "helps ears equalize under water." Reviewers agree, saying they are very helpful for easing ear decompression and keeping cold water from flooding into the ear.
Young swimmers might like Putty Buddies (*Est. $6 for 3 pairs) , moldable silicone earplugs in bright neon colors designed especially for kids. They are well-reviewed by users for ease of use and excellent water-blocking capabilities.