If you’re new to it, the world of male grooming can be a bit like stepping into the gym for the first time. Technique is crucial, and without somebody there to spot you and offer guidance on how to get the most out of your routine, it’s easy to waste your time. So, consider us your personal trainer. But instead of building your biceps, we’ll be focusing on building your personal care regime so you can look and feel fresh every day.
When it comes to body parts that get a lot of usage, you might not think about your ears first - but over time they can gather quite a bit of muck. You might be tempted to reach for the cotton swabs, but before you do, consider the evidence that suggests we shouldn’t ever be putting anything into our ears. There are countless news articles regarding the danger of removing earwax from your ear canal with swabs and other gadgets - which is great. Our ears are self-cleaning. But what should you do if you feel like your ears might need a little help? Sometimes earwax can build up and requires removal. Here are a few - safe - ways to clean your ears.
If you’re feeling like you need to clean out your ears, it’s probably because of earwax, or cerumen. It’s totally normal for the body to produce it, and it’s actually very helpful for protecting and lubricating our ears. If you didn’t have earwax, your ears would end up itchy and dry. Cerumen is antibacterial, which means earwax actually acts as a filter, keeping dirt and dust out of your ears, and trapping germs so they can’t go deeper. When we chew or move our jaw, the body moves old earwax out of the ear canal to the opening of the ear, where it usually dries up and falls out.
If you use a cotton bud, or something else pointy, to root around in your ear, you can end up blocking your ear canal with the earwax that forms in the opening. When you use a cotton swab, you push the wax in deeper - and this can lead to infections, eardrum ruptures, and serious hearing loss.
Throw away your gadgets
Cotton swabs and other small or pointy objects (pencils, bobby pins, safety pins - ouch!) are a no-no, but also avoid using ear candles, which are often recommended for blocked ears. Studies have shown they’re not at all effective, and in fact they can cause injuries. The FDA has found these hollow candles can cause burns, and even pierce the internal workings of your ear. Don’t risk it.
Don’t underestimate the power of warm water. Because earwax is water soluble, you can soften it by simply taking a hot shower. When the water gets steamy, tilt your head to one side and let the water flow into your ear canal - then, tilt head the other way so it flows out. Make sure you’re not too close to the shower head, you don’t want the water spraying directly into your ear. If you prefer to take a bath than a shower, you can use a flannel or washcloth to drip water into your ear - it’ll do the same thing.
Oil + Water
If plain water isn’t doing the trick, you can try adding a little salt, which can help to remove the earwax. To make your own, take a teaspoon of salt and completely dissolve it in a cup of warm water. Grab a cotton ball (not a bud!) or simply a washcloth, and drip the salt water into your ear canal. Let it sit there for a couple of minutes before tilting your head in the opposite direction to drain it out.
Using oil is a wonderful way to soften earwax. This trick works with baby oil, glycerin, mineral oil and olive oil. Start by warming the oil by simply letting the bottle stand in a bowl of warm water. When the oil has reached a comfortable temperature, use an ear dropper to apply three or four drops to the ear you want to clean. After about ten minutes, tilt your head to encourage the oil to trickle out. You might be left with a little excess oil in your outer ear, but you can use a washcloth to get rid of it.
Instead of risking permanent damage with an earbud, try these safe methods for cleaning your ears or getting rid of earwax at home. If you have pain, itchiness, or odorous discharge, you might have an earwax infection, and should see a healthcare professional. Pop in to see your pharmacist - we’ll give you advice.