What to Do When You Find One Long Gray Hair in Your Ear

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Step two: Get a better look

According to science, you can never see an ear hair in the privacy of your own bathroom. In fact, the only mirror that will reveal an ear hair is the one at the restaurant you’ve chosen for tomorrow’s date. (Close second: the mirror hanging above the croissants in the boardroom where you’re about to give your presentation.)

To see what the eye can so easily miss, you’re going to have to get creative. Carry your shaving mirror out to the yard. Go wherever you can find natural light. Even better, use your phone to take a close-up photo. With flash, friend, with flash. Put the thing to your ear like you’re talking into the wrong side of it, pull back two inches. Snap.

(Writer’s note: When I tried this picture-taking method to figure out how to describe it… I FOUND ONE LONG GRAY HAIR IN MY EAR.)

Step three: Know where they come from

The most pernicious of these zombie whiskers grow from the part of your ear known as the tragus. The tragus is that that one little part at the front that you push to block out someone who’s telling you the end of “Breaking Bad,” or detailing their married sex life, or blasting Nickelback.

The traitor – I mean, tragus – is so small and unassuming, but he has a dark side. Literally, his inner side, the one not graced by daylight, is where the hair comes from.

Step four: Attack the dark side of the tragus

You can find and uproot stealthy hairs by gently pinching a pair of tweezers in the zone behind the tragus. It’s like you dropped the TV remote behind the couch and you’re trying to pick it up with a pair of tongs, without knowing quite where it is. (This simile works: In both cases, you’ll be surprised what you find back there.) Here are some specific tips on that DIY method.

If the tragus mounts a counter attack, take it up with an expert. But in most cases, regularly completing this inspection will keep the creatures of the night at bay. You won’t look like a character from Labyrinth. You won’t have to wonder if your date has a lazy eye. You won’t overreact when someone describes you as “distinguished.”

You’re going to be fine. Now check the other ear.

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