(Last Updated On: November 17, 2020)

This article will help you understand why your earbuds keep falling out and what you can do to keep them on.

Many people prefer earbuds since they offer more portability and convenience than their bulkier and heavier headphone counterparts. However, most of them are faced with a daily struggle: keeping the earbuds on especially when used while jogging, exercising, or any other rigorous activity.

Worse, for some, earbuds can pop out even when they’re merely walking or just sitting on their office chair.

girl wearing earbuds, specifically, airpods
girl wearing earbuds, specifically, airpods

This is not only a frustrating experience but it can be a scary one as well. If you’re using wireless earbuds that keep falling out, there’s a constant fear that you’d somehow lose them unknowingly and waste money in the process.

Luckily, there are many different ways to address this problem and this article will guide you through all that. So without further ado, let’s start!

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The Difference Between Earbuds and In-Ear Monitors

Before getting into nitty-gritty of how to keep your earbuds on, let’s first address the confusion regarding the difference between earbuds and In-ear monitors (IEMs).

Airpods as sample earbuds (From: Unsplash)
Airpods as sample earbuds (From: Unsplash)

Earbuds are a type of very small headphones that are worn directly in the outer ear, facing but not inserted into the ear canal. These are only meant to sit on the outer part of your ears (antitragus and concha).

Additionally, one of the most noticeable characteristics for earbuds is that their ear tips are non-replaceable and are usually made with plastic.

White IEMs (From: Unsplash)
White IEMs (From: Unsplash)

In-ear monitors (IEMs), on the other hand, are small headphones with similar portability to earbuds but, unlike the latter, these are inserted directly into the ear canal itself.

IEMs are also usually categorized by their replaceable ear tips commonly made with soft silicone material. However, there are some models that come in different ear tip materials, style, and sizes as well.

Many people still confuse and interchange earbuds and IEMs. Fortunately, whether you’re using earbuds or IEMs, this article will help you address the problem of keeping them on, once and for all.

What Makes Your Earbuds Fall Out?

While earbuds and IEMs are made to fit snugly into your ears, there are still some instances when they keep falling out. The following are some of the most common reasons why:

Unique ear size and shape

Square ear, pointed ear, narrow ear, sticking-out ear, round ear free lobe, attached lobe, and broad lobe (From: 123rf)
Square ear, pointed ear, narrow ear, sticking-out ear, round ear free lobe, attached lobe, and broad lobe (From: 123rf)

As with the majority of products in the market, most earphones (especially earbuds) come in a one-size-fits-all size that is designed to cater to the majority of the population.

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration states that the standard size of the ear canal is approximately 2.5 cm in length and 0.7 cm in diameter. This standard sizing is what most earbuds try to follow.

However, it was found that each person’s ears are actually more unique than fingerprints. This makes this one-size-fits-all approach to not really cater to a lot of people most of the time.

Basically, if your ears are bigger than the standard size, it will fall out because the earbuds won’t have anything to clutch on to. On the other hand, if the person’s ear size is smaller than usual, the earbuds won’t be able to go deep enough and will most likely pop out.

Eartips materials

As mentioned earlier, most IEMs manufactured today are fitted with silicone ear tips while earbuds usually have plastic tips.

Unfortunately, these materials are more prone to becoming slippery whenever earwax and sweat accumulate in the ear. That’s why, while both are standard materials, these also tend to fall off more easily than other materials like foam or fabric.

Earwax could be getting in the way

According to a study, earwax impaction is a major health problem worldwide affecting about 6% of the general population.

Our ears have the capacity to clean themselves but certain external factors sometimes prevent them from doing so. And two of those external factors can be as simple as wearing earbuds and even cleaning your ears with cotton buds.

Essentially, the earwax build-up will cause the ears to get too slippery and make it harder for earphones to hold on to the ears properly.

Aside from that, in worse cases, impacted ear wax takes up a lot of space inside the ears and prevents IEMs from being placed further inside the ear canal. This stops them from having enough surface to clutch on to, eventually making them fall off with just some slight movements.

Ears may be too close to the jaw

Anatomic illustration of the distance between the ear and the jaw. (From Pixabay)
Anatomic illustration of the distance between the ear and the jaw. (From Pixabay)

To give a brief background, our skulls have temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in front of each of our ears. These connect our jaws to the temporal bones of our skulls.

TMJs are responsible for the different everyday movements we make such as chewing, talking, and yawning.

The closer your ears are to your jaw, the closer they are with the TMJs. This means that simple movements like talking or chewing can alter the size and shape of your ear canal. These movements and changes in the ear can wiggle the earbuds out of place, causing them to fall off.

Since earbuds only clutch on the outer portion of the ears, this problem occurs more frequently when using earbuds than IEMs.

You may be wearing it wrong

Sometimes, the only problem why your earbuds keep falling out is that you’re wearing them wrong. Since most earbuds are designed and molded specifically to fit either the left or the right ear, placing the wrong earbud on the wrong ear will most likely cause the earbuds to fall off.

Additionally, some earbuds, like those with around-the-ear designs are designed to be worn in a special manner. Not utilizing these designs will bypass the manufacturer’s attempt in fixing the earbuds’ fit.

Sample Around-the-ear earbuds - Avantree E171 (From: Amazon)
Sample Around-the-ear earbuds – Avantree E171 (From: Amazon)

Your earbuds are not meant for the activity you’re doing

Since not all earbuds are made to withstand rigorous activities that require so much jerking and jolting (i.e. breakdancing or doing gymnastics), some earbuds may not be able to stay put even if you repeatedly adjust them.

Basically speaking, if you’re planning on using your earbuds for specific activities like working out, it’s best to invest on devices that are actually made for those types of activities.

The Importance of a Good Earbuds Fit

The quest for finding earbuds that fit you perfectly can admittedly be hard. However, the additional benefits of good-fitting earbuds far outweigh the amount of effort you may put into looking for them.

Aside from keeping the earbuds from falling off, here are a few more reasons why securing a good earbuds fit is important:

Ensures greater comfort

The ears are one of the most sensitive parts of the body. When too much pressure is applied to the ear’s pinna (the cartilaginous outer portion of the ear that is visible to human sight), needless sore, irritation, and discomfort may result.

Even small nuisances can become unbearable over time. If the earbuds are a little too heavy or a little too large for your ears, these may not just cause simple annoyance but even worse ear aches.

Affects sound quality

Audiophiles stand with the principle that good-fitting earbuds offer better sound quality and overall greater immersive audio experience than ill-fitting ones.

Earbuds that fits snugly on your ears usually boosts the bass, making it sound deeper and punchier. Furthermore, it prevents hollow sound effects from intruding your listening experience.

Better noise isolation

A good fit is also equal to a good seal. This improves the noise isolation function of headphones, enabling them to block more ambient sound from ruining your listening experience.

Additionally, if you’re wearing active noise cancelling earbuds, a good seal ultimately boosts its noise cancellation properties, and, in turn, helps you have better focus and concentration.

Earbuds with Active Noise Cancellation is great for blocking low-frequency sounds while a pair that has a good seal helps block out higher frequencies. So having a good mix of both in one pair of earbuds is a great deal.

How to Keep Earbuds From Falling Out

After identifying the possible causes for your problem, addressing the problem should become easier. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Wear your earbuds the right way

It is essential for you to wear your earbuds correctly if you don’t want them to fall off involuntarily. Since earbuds and IEMs have different wearing styles, here’s a quick guide on how to wear each of them properly:

How to wear earbuds

Man adjusting his earbuds. (From: Pexels)
Man adjusting his earbuds. (From: Pexels)

Since earbuds only rest on the outer part of your ear, you can put them on in just three easy steps:

  1. Look for the “L” and “R” markings on each earbud.
  2. Place the earbuds in your ears accordingly.
  3. Make the necessary adjustments with other parts of the earphones.

How to wear In-ear-Monitors

Girl wearing blue IEMs
Girl wearing blue IEMs

For in-ear monitors, since they require to be inserted inside your ear canal, they need the users to exert a bit more effort in putting them on as compared to earbuds. Here’s how:

  1. Look for the “L” and “R” markings on each earbud.
  2. Place each ear tip on the right ear.
  3. To place them inside the ear canal, pull on your earlobe with your other hand and gently push the ear tip further inside.
  4. Adjust the IEMs accordingly.
Make sure to do this carefully as pushing them too far may damage your ears. For a more detailed explanation on how to properly wear headphones/earphones, you can check out this in-depth guide.

Choose the right ear tips (for IEMs)

Different sizes of ear tips (From: Amazon)
Different sizes of ear tips (From: Amazon)

Most IEMs have replaceable tips with different sizes included in the product packaging. While most IEMs are fitted with medium sized ear tips out of the box, you should test all the other ear tips included to see which one fits you best.

If it feels too loose or too tight in the ears, try out other sizes. And if none of the provided ear tips really fit comfortably, it could be better to buy a separate set.

When upgrading, you can also opt to change the ear tip material to memory foam tips for better comfort, sound isolation, and fit.

Memory foam is the most recommended ear tip material since it adjusts to the shape of the users’ ear canals accordingly.

Avoid using cotton swabs

Avoid using cotton swabs (From: Pexels)
Avoid using cotton swabs (From: Pexels)

You might have been used to cleaning your earwax with cotton swabs for ear hygiene, however, this is actually highly-discouraged by medical professionals.

This is mainly because, using cotton swabs can actually prevent your ear from conducting its natural cleaning system. They have the tendency to push the earwax deeper into the ear canal rather than out, causing excess earwax to build up.

Aside from earwax build-up, using cotton swabs can also cause infection and injury to the ears thereby causing an increased risk for potential hearing problems.

You might be asking: “If the most common way of cleaning our ears isn’t recommended, what should I do?”

If you really want to rid your ears of earwax yourself, you can follow these steps:

  1. Carefully add a few drops of baby oil into your ear to soften the earwax inside.
  2. Once the earwax has softened, irrigate your ear using a bulb syringe and add warm water.
  3. After irrigating, tip your head to one side to drain the water from your ear.
  4. Use a clean cloth to pat dry the outer portion of your ear.
If you suspect an earwax build up, it’s still best to consult a primary care physician who can do professional and safe earwax irrigation on your ears.

Wear ear warmers over your ears

Man wearing earphones and ear warmer (From: Amazon)
Man wearing earphones and ear warmer (From: Amazon)

Another practical solution is to wear ear warmers over your earbuds.This provides more protection to the ears and actually holds the earbuds in place.

Pro tip: Choose ear warmers that aren’t too tight to keep it comfortable, especially for bulky earbuds.

This is only recommended for cold weathers, especially when running in the winter, since it can be too uncomfortable to wear in the summer/in warmer weathers.

Third-Party Accessories to Stop Earbuds From Falling Out

If all else fails, you may need to invest in some third-party accessories to keep your earbuds in place. Here are the top third-party accessories you may try:

Comply Isolation Plus

COMPLY Isolation Plus replacement earbuds (From: Amazon)
COMPLY Isolation Plus replacement earbuds (From: Amazon)

These Comply Isolation Plus replacement eartips are made for IEMs. They are specifically designed to block out and cancel external noise in order to provide superior audio experience.

Its Super-Soft Memory Foam material helps prevent earphone fatigue by adapting to the ear’s natural shape. Moreover, this memory foam is actually 30x softer than the average silicone ear tips.

This is perfect for those who are looking for comfortable replacement ear tips that have a snug fit but doesn’t fit too loose nor too tight.

Ougual earbud covers

Red and black Ougual earbud covers (From: Amazon)
Red and black Ougual earbud covers (From: Amazon)

These Ougual foam earbud replacement sponge covers are perfect for earbuds with 13-18 mm. diameter tips. The thick sponges are comfortable to touch and adds a layer of stability to earbuds that helps keep them from falling out.

Far End Gear BudLoks earphone sport grips

Black Far End Gear BudLoks Earphone Sports Grips for in-Ear and Ear Canal Earbuds (From: Amazon)
Black Far End Gear BudLoks Earphone Sports Grips for in-Ear and Ear Canal Earbuds (From: Amazon)
Fun fact: This BudLoks earphone sport grips was developed by an avid runner and cyclist.

These earphone grips have soft, silicone wings that can enable users to carefully lock their earbuds in the crevices of their ears, keeping them in place while doing rigorous exercises or activities.

LICHIFIT Anti-Lost Strap

LICHIFIT Anti-Lost Strap Hanging Neck Rope Waterproof Sports Accessory
LICHIFIT Anti-Lost Strap Hanging Neck Rope Waterproof Sports Accessory (From: Amazon)

This anti-lost strap uses high-quality silicone material that is non-toxic, eco-friendly, and sweat-proof. This accessory is perfect for adventurous and active people as it lets you enjoy rigorous activities without having to worry about your earbuds/IEMs accidentally falling off the ground.

However, this accessory won’t stop your earbuds from popping out of your ears. Instead, this functions more as an added protection to prevent you from losing wireless earbuds if ever they fall out of your ears. Nonetheless, the additional security and protection it offers is a good upgrade for wireless earbuds.

4 Tips on Choosing Earbuds for Better Fit

If you’ve done everything listed above but your earbuds still don’t fit, switching to another pair of earbuds may be the best solution for you.

To help you with that, we’ve listed down some tips that can help you make the right choice:

1. Opt for true wireless earbuds

True Wireless earbuds, from the name itself, are earbuds or IEMs that connect to the audio source via Bluetooth. Unlike traditional earbuds, true wireless earbuds do not require cords or wires between them.

True wireless earbuds are recommended for people who keep having their earbuds fall off because of accidentally tugging the cables.

For wired earbuds, pulling the cords can not just make the earbuds pop out but also potentially damage your device. Going wireless helps you prevent that.

2. Get ones with ear hooks or over-the-ear/around-the-ear designs

Over-ear earbuds (From: Pixabay)
Over-ear earbuds (From: Pixabay)

Ear hooks or over-the-ear/around-the-ear designs actually clutch around your ears to prevent them from falling out. These are best if you intend to use the earbuds while doing activities that require a lot of movement as it offers a better and more secured hold than other forms of earbuds.

If you’re looking for earbuds that can withstand rigorous activities, check out our list of the most recommended wireless earbuds for working out.

3. Buy earbuds in person to see if they fit

Buying online may be the most convenient but nothing beats the assurance of having to try the earbuds on personally.

Don’t be afraid to ask the earbuds’ store if you can try on a pair you’re eyeing, as well as the other earbud sizes included in the box. This ensures that they fit your ear shape and ear size perfectly, and you won’t have to spend more money for replacement tips.

4. Consider getting customized earbuds

Unfortunately, some people have very unique ears and finding one that fits them perfectly can be too much of a hassle. If this is the case, you may want to resort to buying customized earbuds.

There are many brands that offer custom-made earbuds. These brands make earbuds that are specifically tailored for the user’s ears by using the exact measurements of the latter’s ear to create and mold the earbuds.

One of such brands is Ultimate Ears. Ultimate Ears let their customers choose between two fits: one that reaches the first bend of the ear canal (recommended for all-day comfort) and another that reaches the second bend of the ear canal (recommended for the most secure fit).

The only disadvantage of getting customized earbuds is the cost. Because they are actually made for you, they tend to be more expensive than most earbuds you can buy on the market.

Conclusion

Indeed, finding a good pair of earbuds that perfectly fit your ear shape and ear size can be quite the challenge. But the joy of finding the perfect earbuds will be unequaled.

Imagine listening to music or playing a game completely immersed in the great audio quality without the fear of your earbuds falling off or the simple joy of listening to music on the way home without the fear of dropping them on the train station.

Did you find the answers you’re looking for in this article? Let us know in the comments section below what you think. We’d love to hear from you.