The humble cotton swab, sometimes known as Q-Tips. They're the staple of every vanity; perfect for quick touch-ups and targeted applications for all sorts of creams and waxes.
However, they're best known for the one thing they should definitely not be used for -- cleaning out the wax buildup in your ear canal. While you may be searching for that squeaky-clean feeling, putting an swab in your ear can do you more harm than good and even land you in the doctor's office.
In the worst case, a quick clean can result in puncturing the delicate ear drum with an overzealous scrub. While a puncture can heal, it is extremely painful and can lead to conductive hearing loss. Regardless, while placing a swab in your ear will get out some of the gunk, chances are you'll just push you waxy waste deeper down -- past the proper point where it should be staying put. So, stick only to the outside of the ear.
Moreover, ear wax is there for a reason -- despite its dirty reputation. It holds antibiotic and antifungal properties that actually help keep your ear safe from infection and skin conditions, like eczema, from being triggered on the outer ear.
But what's a girl to do in cases where excessive waxy buildup is too much to take? While it's always best to see a doctor if you suspect a punctured drum or have severe pain, you can follow this routine to clear out a clog using a hydrogen peroxide mineral oil and glycerin solution in an eyedropper.
Now, spread the word and safe swabbing!