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What Stress Sweat and Ear Wax Have in Common

April 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Do you Have Ear Wax Buildup?

Ear Wax Cleaning

Have you ever taken out your earbuds after listening to an album or your favorite podcast and noticed that it’s covered in ear wax?  Ear wax is annoying, yet it provides a very useful function in our bodies.

What Ear Wax Tells You About Sweat

Most people do not think that they have extremely sweaty ears. Unless someone is exercising, ears don’t tend to drip with sweat. You would be surprised to find out that ear sweat forms itself as ear wax. 

Ear wax is not wax at all, it is technically known as cerumen. Ear wax is made up of dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, but mainly sebum and sweat. Stress sweat may be a big player in the amount of ear wax you produce.  

Studies show that chemicals and hormones are released when a person is under intense emotion or physical stimulation. When stressed, you can produce up to thirty times more sweat than normal. So, if you suffer from ear wax build up you should address your heavy sweating or high stress levels first, as the amount of ear wax one produces is directly linked to sweat production.  

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The Sweat Glands Within The Ear

There are two sweat glands that can be found in the auditory canal of the outer ear. The ceruminous and the sebaceous. Both glands work to release sweat and secretions into the ear canal and combine with bacteria within the ear to form ear wax.  

These sweat glands are linked to the remainder of the sweat glands in our bodies. This means that if you tend to sweat on the heavier side, you are much more likely to develop a large buildup of ear wax. 

The Color and Texture of Ear Wax is Linked to Sweat

The color of your ear wax will also give you an insight to how sweaty you are. Some people produce wet ear wax, while others stay dry.


  • Off-white, yellow or light orange would be fresh ear wax, nothing to be concerned about.
  • Darker orange or brown ear wax is often old and has been harboring in the ear canal for a while. 
  • Yellow or green ear wax could be sign of an infection, while red wax would be a sign of injury or infection. 
  • If your wax is black, it has become impacted, and you will want to contact your doctor. 


  • White flaky ear wax could mean that you lack the certain chemical in your sweat that can lead to odor.
  • Dark and sticky earwax, however, means you will want to keep a deodorant handy as odor tends to be strong with this type of ear wax.  

How to Reduce Ear Wax Buildup

Cleansing your face and ear area is important for hygiene – especially if you are someone who gets large buildups of ear wax.

I recommend using a facial cleansing cloth throughout the day to collect excess sweat, dirt and bacteria on the face and ears to help prevent an overload of earwax. Simply using the wipe around and on the outer area of the ear will reduce the amount of dirt, bacteria and sweat that will travel into the auditory canal and contribute to build up.  

Aside from wipes, using safe home remedies or having your doctor remove ear wax build up is the smartest way to get rid of any discomfort your ear wax may be causing you. Avoid using cotton swabs as these tend to push the ear wax further into the auditory canal and can cause future damage to the ear.  


Mary's Fun Fact


Whale’s ear wax is like a time capsule as it is a fat-rich deposit that stores the same chemical data as blubber. Scientists note that this ear wax forms a plug that can remain for decades and when removed can reveal the animals’ exposure to pollutions and their stress levels

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Join the community

Subscribe to our blog, The Little Book Of Human Discomforts, to stay in the know on taboo human body topics that some may find too embarrassing to discuss. 

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