Ear hair is both mysterious and polarising. Some people are genuinely repulsed by it, whereas others find it to be the cutest thing ever. Whatever your feelings are, like it or not, ear hair is a standard fact of life for many guys—74% of them, according to a 1984 report in the New England Journal of Medicine. So for you 74%: instead of falling to your knees weeping and moaning “Why God, whyyyyyy?” into the cold, uncaring universe, just know that you can overcome this brutal fact of life. But like any enemy, in order to conquer and destroy your ear hair, you must first aim to fully understand it.
What Science Says. That you’re doubly screwed: The same androgen hormone that triggers male-pattern baldness, DHT, is also responsible for causing a surge in ear and nose hair growth. In other words, the moment hair starts falling from your head, it begins filling your ear canal and nostrils. It’s called—what else?—the Androgen Paradox. DHT acts as a kind of steroid on the hair follicles now flowing from your ears and nose, causing them to become larger as you get older. So if you’re starting to lose the hair on your head, chances are that, in a few years, your earlobes are going to start looking like a mohair sweater.
Another Reason Why It’s There. Who the heck knows? Aside from the fact that it’s a filter for dust particles and pathogens and helps prevent infections, not much else is known about ear hair’s raison d’être. So while it may seem that your ear hair simply exists as a way for your hormones to troll you, its presence is probably a good thing.
What Other Guys Make of It. “In high school I was on some kind of medication that, for whatever reason, caused some abnormal ear hair growth,” says 28-year-old John. “It was terrifying. I tried shaving it at first and nearly went full van Gogh on myself—not really, but ears do bleed a lot if you nick them. They sell nose/ear hair trimmers on the internet. Any person who has ear or nose hair and doesn’t invest in one of those things deserves a lifetime of celibacy.”
No Sex At All? Can That Possibly Be True? Not according to 30-year-old Magnolia. “I found myself weirdly attracted to a guy with ear hair the other day. To be clear, though, it wasn’t inner, old man ear hair, which should be removed at all costs if you’re younger than 80 years old. My guy had this pale, fluffy down on his earlobes. I have no idea if he was even aware of it, but I could see the light shining through it. I’m sure that if anyone ever made him aware of it, he’d try to find a way to remove it. But I thought it was cute in a feral kind of way, and it made me want to pet him.”
How To Tame It. You definitely don’t want to get rid of it completely. Again, it serves a purpose other than reminding you that you’re going bald—keeping a lot of nasty shit that floats around in the air out of your body. But you can trim the most noticeable hairs with a small pair of grooming scissors, or like John suggests, buy an electric razor with a specific attachment for ear hair. Avoid trying to shave the inside of your ears with an actual razor or plucking them, both of which have the potential to damage your ear canals. Hearing > vanity.
Ear Haircon. Yoda, for the obvious reasons.
Guinness World Record Holder(s). Get ready for some drama! Radhakant Baijpai from India achieved the world record for longest ear hair in 2003, measuring in at 13.2cm (5.2 inches). However, Baijpai was dethroned in 2007 by Anthony Victor (also from India) whose ear hair stood at 18.1cm (7.1 inches). But wait, there’s a twist: As of 2009, Baijpai’s ear hair once again made global headlines, having retaken the ear-length lead at a whopping 25cm (9.8 inches). Yet, somehow, Victor’s 2007 world record still stands. It’s sort of like Leno vs. Letterman, or Rocky vs. Apollo. But with ear hair.