Ear Canal

Ear Wax

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Ear wax – What is it?

Ear wax is made from oil and sweat produced inside the ear canal which is then mixed with dead skin and hairs.

Why do we have it?

Wax forms a protective acidic coat. Normal ear wax makes the canal waterproof and has a natural protection against infections. Wax is only made in the outer ear canal, and makes a sticky mound that keeps out water and traps dust and insects.

How do ears clean themselves?

Your ear canal is lined with skin. New skin cells grow from the centre of your ear drum, outwards, and down the canal like a conveyor belt. This forms a protective layer called keratin. It takes six months for the skin to move from the ear drum to the outer ear.  

Wax is made only in the first 1cm of the canal. It is made up of dead skin, oil, and hairs, and constantly dissolves the keratin coming down the canal. The wax and keratin make the ear waterproof, antibacterial, and antifungal. Wax also keeps out water, insects, and dust.  

What colour should it be?

Most people have golden brown coloured wax, but the colour of people’s ear wax can vary from almost colourless grey to nearly black. All wax becomes darker over time.

What is normal wax?

There are many types of wax. When there is a high skin content it can be very hard. If it is mostly wax it can be very runny and soft. Some people’s wax is dry and flaky and in some it is extremely sticky. Normal wax has no smell.

Why do some people get a wax build up and others don’t?

All ear canals have curves, these protect the ear drum when objects enter. Some people have more severe curves than others. As we age the outer canal drops with the wrinkle process (so even our ears get wrinkles!) but the bony inner canal remains the same, this causes the ear canal entrance to become oval, therefore more narrow. At the same time as we age our skin production slows down tending to make wax thicker and stickier – so it’s no wonder it gets stuck!

Wax Softening Drops & Sprays

  • soften and liquify ear wax
  • are not recommended before micro suction
  • many of them irritate the ear canal skin

TOLBECS recommends that NO wax drops are to used before your consultation

  • wax drops cause a deaf, mushy uncomfortable ear
  • drops confuse the diagnostic view
  • melted wax often moves to cover the ear drum and creates a temporary deafness
  • molten wax makes removal more difficult, time consuming and noisy for the client


Ear trouble? Book an appointment now!