You give your eyes, nose, mouth, and hands the care they crave, but what about the missing sensory tool—your ears? Responsible for collecting and processing every sound you hear, ears also help keep your balance so you don't fall over. They play a huge role for our bodies, so why do we neglect their care in our beauty routine? Boston-based ear, nose, and throat specialist and facial plastic surgeon Jeffrey H. Spiegel, M.D., FACS will help you explain some of the most common hazards for your lobes and recommend the best ear care beauty practices.
The Wax DebateEar wax may seem a burden to most, but it actually protects the inner ear area from damage. The ear is self-cleaning, and uses its canal to naturally push out any excess wax. Any poking and prodding from your Q-tip is counterproductive, and actually propels the wax back into the ear. Dr. Spiegel also advises against ear coning and candling methods. "The whole premise is nonsensical," says Dr. Spiegel on the candle technique. "Ear wax is much too thick to be sucked out, and the vacuum force of the candle is non-existent." If you think your ears are over-clogged, see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for a cleaning.
UV & Environmental ExposureWhile ears naturally secrete protective oils, the outside of your ear (called the pinna) is often exposed to and affected by atmospheric elements, including UV rays and the harsh winter chill. "Ears are very subject to frostbite, so it's important to moisturize often," advises Dr. Spiegel. In the summertime, the pinna is often neglected and burns easily, and excess sun exposure can lead to certain skin cancers. To protect this sensitive area, Dr. Spiegel recommends using a physical sunscreen (a formula that uses titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as an active ingredient) with an SPF factor of at least 15. Make things easy on yourself and massage any excess product left from morning sunscreen application onto your ear lobes.
Metal Allergies & PiercingsCertain metallic molecular structures trigger all kinds of responses in the body, which is why many Beauties experience piercing allergies. The structures of gold and stainless steel are chemically inactive and stable, which is why most people can wear these metals without infection. The purer the gold is, (24k versus 14k, for example) the lesser chance of an allergy on human skin. "Gold is so inert that we can implant it directly beneath the skin without issues," notes Dr. Spiegel. However, metal alloys such as nickel are often problematic for sensitive ears, and can cause inflammation and encrustation.
As women age, piercings and gauges begin to stretch and can even tear the ear hole. "I've seen cases where women have accidentally torn their ear lobes from earrings," recalls Dr. Spiegel. To prevent unwanted stretching, remember to remover your heavy earrings every evening.