We are a small family business based in the South West with partner audiologists across the UK and Ireland. Owners Julie and Claire share 45 years of experience as audiologists at the ENT department at Treliske Hospital in Cornwall - a department that probably sees more exostoses than anywhere in the UK. Along with their colleague Tom Brown (who originally developed the acoustic filter before moving to New Zealand), Julie and Claire have seen increasing numbers of patients at increasingly younger ages presenting with advanced exostoses - surfer's ear. Their mission is to protect and educate water users about this debilitating but completely preventable condition and to keep more ears #SurfMouldHappy
Claire is supported by her husband, Chris who was brought up on the beach and still spends considerable time in the ocean. Julie, Claire and Chris know all too well about the importance of ear health and comfortable ear protection.
Ear Plug Fitting Video
If you have any issues at all with fitting your plugs, please do get in touch and we can provide a video call to ensure your plugs are fitted correctly and that they offer you the best protection and reliability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is surfer's ear?
Repeated exposure to cold wind and water will damage your ears! The repeated cooling effect stimulates the bone of the ear canal to develop multiple bony growths called Exostoses. It’s commonly known as Surfer's ear but don’t be fooled by the name, it is a progressive medical condition affecting everyone regularly entering British waters - wind surfers, kite surfers, SUPers, sea swimmers, kayakers, bodyboarders.…..
Unchecked it can cause blocked ears, reduced hearing, infections and severe cases require invasive surgery.
What is the difference between a custom fitted plug and an ‘off the shelf’ plug?
A Custom plug is made from an impression of your ear, so that it fits precisely. A bit like a custom suit it is made to measure and will fit your ears exact measurements.
Like a fingerprint, ears are unique. This is why it is very difficult to achieve a water-tight seal with an ‘off the shelf plug’
How long will they last?
If looked after, your plugs will last for years. However, ears continue to grow slowly which means in approximately 8/10 years you may notice your plugs are getting loose. It is then time for new impressions.
For younger users, especially those that are growing lots, it is advisable to get new impressions more regularly.
Are they suitable for children?
Yes, our plugs are suitable for children. With the improvements in wetsuit technology and increasing numbers of young people spending extended periods in the sea, our audiologists are seeing increasing amounts of surfer’s ear in increasingly young ears. We believe it is especially important to protect ears against regular cold water ingress during the growth years (11-18 years).
Can I get spare plugs and replacements?
Yes, all of our plugs are 3D scanned. This means once you have purchased a pair of plugs, identical replacements can ordered without the cost of impressions. Have a look at the ‘Shop’ page for pricing.
We can also provide other ear protection products, such as sleep plus, work plugs, bike plugs and many other plugs from the same impressions and hence at a reduced price. Please ask for more details.
If you require replacement cords, filters or pouches these can also be purchased separately.
Will they affect my balance?
No, the hydrophobic membrane of the filter prevents the occlusion effect experienced with a solid plug. This means balance isn’t affected.
Will they prevent Surfer’s Ear?
Yes. Surfer’s ear is caused by temperatures below nineteen degrees, flushing in and out of the ear canal. Surf Mould Pro plugs stop this flushing effect and thus prevent the bony growths (exostosis) developing.
Will they stay in and do they come with a cord?
Although a custom plug will be very secure it is not possible to guarantee they will stay in if sustaining a heavy impact. We therefore offer the option of a cord for those that want the added security. Some clients also like the cord as they reduce the risk of losing a plug when not in the water (when getting changed etc).
Our cords are detachable and come in two different styles, a short cord and a necklace cord. Some customers opt for the cord but then take it off once they are confident the plugs will stay in.
The necklace cords are particularly popular amongst the RNLI and instructors as they can allow the user to wear their plugs around their neck when not in the water.
How well can you hear through them?
You should be able to hear very well through your plugs. Our research shows an attenuation of 3dB, which is negligible in conversation.
Sometimes water may sit on the membrane if you have been under the water but this can be cleared with a quick upward swipe. Any more than this please let us know when you get your plugs and we will make a small adjustment.
What is an impression and what is the process?
An impression is a replica or cast of your ear. A small cotton stop is placed into the ear canal to protect your ear. Silicon putty is then placed in the ear and left to set. This usually takes approximately five minutes.
It is perfectly safe and does not hurt. Some people find it very relaxing.
What if they don’t fit correctly?
It is very unusual for our plugs to not fit comfortably. However, our manufacturers offer to make any adjustments free of charge within two weeks. We therefore ask that you try your plugs straightaway and inform us of any problems. Adjustments made later may incur an additional charge. We are also happy to check photos of your plugs in situ to ensure you are fitting them correctly or to take video calls to talk you through the fitting process.
How much do they cost and how do I get a pair?
Everything you need to know is on the shop page.
Will they prevent Swimmer’s Ear?
Yes. Repeated exposure to chlorinated and salt water can make the ear canal more vulnerable to inflammation and infection. This is regardless of temperature. Wearing Surf Mould Pro plugs will reduce the exposure and help to prevent swimmer’s ear.
Are they comfortable?
Our plugs were designed with comfort in mind and are made from a very soft clinical grade silicone. They are made using the same material that is used to make the earmoulds of profoundly deaf hearing aid users. These guys and girls need to wear their custom moulds from dawn until dusk so they need to be super comfortable and secure. We believe our plugs are the most comfortable plugs available and the regular feedback we get from customers certainly supports this.
What is included with the ear plugs?
Your ear plugs come with fitting instructions, a cord (if you ordered one), details of our other products and a neoprene pouch.
With the environment in mind, we have worked closely with Snugg Wetsuits, Cornwall to produce a pouch made from upcycled wetsuit offcuts. Like our plugs, each pouch is unique, is handmade and comes in a rainbow of colours depending on what has been in demand for the season.
Can I use them for diving?
Although our Surf Mould Pro+ plugs have not been clinically trialled for diving we have used them for depths of up to ten metres. Equalising has been possible because of the filter. We have not trialled our plugs for greater depths and therefore can not advise on their suitability.
Caution should be taken when wearing any plugs whilst diving and a solid plug should never be used as it will create an air pocket between the plug and ear drum which can not be equalised and could result in a barotrauma (burst ear drum).
Do they take long to make?
Once we have your impressions they are sent to our lab for processing. They use cutting edge technology to produce your plugs using 3D scanning. You should receive your plugs within approximately 3-4 weeks. We do offer a priority service of seven working days at a cost of £28.
What do I do if I have more questions?
If you have more specific ear health questions then please get in touch. Claire and Julie are passionate about supporting people to get in the sea without the worry of ear pain. You can get in touch through our social media channels or via the email or phone numbers below.
The Surf Mould Team
All the people listed below wear our plugs because they rely on them to protect their ears, because they are the most comfortable ear plugs available and because they value Julie and Claire's knowledge and expertise. They all provide invaluable feedback ensuring we can continuously develop our products and services. If you are interested in working with us then get in touch.
Ben and Lukas Skinner
Lee 'Pasty' Harvey
Sam Bleakley and family
Scott 'Mitch' Mitchell