Shopping·6 min read

There Are Actually Chic Earplugs on the Market, so We Tested Them

Loop Earplugs
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Loop
October 12, 2023

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Welcome to Skimm Tested, where we put products to the test and then give them a report card. (Check out all of our tried-and-tested faves here.)

The assignment…

To see if Loop’s discreet earplugs actually keep outside noise at bay during busy commutes, intense work days, and in any other environments where you want the noise level reduced.

What we tested...

Me and my coworkers, Sam and Abby, tested two kinds of Loop earplugs over the span of a few months. We tested their Quiet style (for sleeping and focus) and Engage style (for socializing). My boyfriend, who is also particularly sensitive to noise, also wore and shared his thoughts on the Quiet style to better inform this review.

Quiet ($24.95)

Loop Quiet Earplugs
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Loop

Straight A's in...

  • Discreetness. These earplugs are sleek and sit flush inside your ear, thanks to their minimal circular design. Compared to clunkier AirPods, people won’t be able to notice that you’re wearing them. For size reference, the carrying case they come with is also tiny enough to slip into a pocket. My boyfriend noted that he loves how these are great for an environment where wearing AirPods might not seem socially appropriate, but you still want the benefits of noise cancellation.

  • Noise reduction. This model provides up to 26dB of noise reduction. It won’t completely cancel out your surroundings, but it provides some silence to help those with noise sensitivities, and aid with sleep and focus. I mostly work from home in New York City, and found that this helped me get into a focused workflow, without having to reach for my headphones. But because of this level of noise cancellation, I can’t have full conversations while wearing them. These are best for when you’re alone or in situations where you won’t be engaging with others (like when working at a coffee shop).

  • Comfort. These are made from a soft-touch, flexible silicone that is easy to clean and feels lightweight. For me, they felt noninvasive inside my ear.

Room for growth…

  • Fit. While each pair comes with four sets of interchangeable ear tips for sizing, I still found it hard to figure out the best way to place the earplugs into my ear. Even after watching instructional videos, I struggled. It takes some tinkering around to figure it out. Abby noted that sometimes her earplugs fell out while sleeping.

  • Size. While I love how tiny these are, a downside is that they seem pretty easy to lose, especially because I tend to misplace my AirPods. And as Abby experienced, if these do fall out in your sleep, searching for them is a bit of a hassle.

Engage ($34.95)

Loop Engage Earplugs
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Loop

Straight A’s in…

  • Versatility. Abby noted that these are great for crowded bars, concerts, and social gatherings because they are able to block out unnecessary noise while still allowing you to hear things. Sam, who has sensitive hearing that reverbs in loud settings, wore these to a bachelorette party in Miami and to Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour. She raved about how they cut that uncomfortable reverb out, while still allowing her to enjoy music. They have up to 16dB of filtered noise reduction and also come with interchangeable tip sizes for the best fit.

  • Color choices. These come in a clear, jelly-like finish, which makes them even less noticeable than the Quiet style. Abby has the Rose ones, but Sam loves the Clear pair.

Room for growth…

  • How they feel. Because the Engage pair is slightly sturdier than the Quiet pair, Sam noted that she wished she wasn’t as aware of them as she is.

More about the brand…

Works best for…

  • Anyone that has sensitivities to sound or frequents noisy environments — from city living and busy offices to concert-going and other social events.

  • Those that want some sort of discreet noise-canceling option, without wanting to spend hundreds of dollars on headphones.

Gets extra credit for…

  • Pricing. The brand has a variety of earplugs for different situations and noise levels. I love how price-accessible the line feels — no product exceeds $60.

  • Sustainability. If you’re someone that needs to reach for earplugs often, these are better than disposable ones, since all you have to do is wipe them clean.

  • Portability. As I mentioned above, these are tiny. They can fit in the palm of your hand. It’s easy to keep them on hand at all times, and I love that they come with a case with a corresponding loop to secure on your keys.

How we did our homework…

  • Sam, and Abby, and I included Loop earplugs in our everyday routines over the span of a few months. We wore them in all kinds of noisy environments, from loud city nights at bedtime and daytime naps to busy office environments and social events. We also wore them any time we wanted to get into a deep focus mode at work, but didn’t want to put our headphones on. My boyfriend, who is particularly sensitive to noise, also consulted and gave his thoughts after wearing a pair for about a week.


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