Most of the time, I prefer listening to my favorite music through a good pair of Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones, but I'm a fan of using earbuds when I'm working out. They are small, easy to carry around, and I can buy them on the cheap, which is important because ruining a good pair of headphones with sweat is annoying and expensive. The downside to having inexpensive earbuds is that they are sometimes ill-fitting and tend to fall out when moving around too vigorously.
You could definitely invest in a pair of headphones specifically designed to endure workouts, but that would mean spending some moolah you may not have in your budget. If you want to keep your earbuds in place, but don't want to put out a lot of cash, you can try this do-it-yourself solution with the help of Sugru for less than $12.
What the heck is Sugru?
Simply put, Sugru is a moldable glue — that looks and feels like sticky tack — which will take on any shape you mold it into. It has a lot of potential practical applications, one of which gives you the ability to make a molding of the shape of the inside of your ear that you can apply to a pair of in-ear headphones or earbuds.
How to make a pair of earbuds fit better with Sugru
I was intrigued by the idea of having my workout headphones fit into my ears more securely, and decided to try Sugru out for myself. I'll take you through the entire process step-by-step. Everything you need is pictured above; your earbuds, a pair of scissors, some tissue, and of course, a pack of Sugru.
Step One: Turn the silicone sleeve on your headphones inside out.
Using your fingers, roll back the silicone sleeve of your earbuds — the part that goes into your ear — until it's completely inside out. You'll need a pair of headphones that has this silicone sleeve to achieve the desired effect. You couldn't do this with a pair of Apple EarPods. Most of the more inexpensive earbuds come with a silicone sleeve that you can flip inside out.
Step Two: Open the pack of Sugru
Using a pair of scissors, open a packet of Sugru by cutting on the dotted line. I picked the color blue specifically so you would be able to see it better in pictures, but it comes in a variety of colors. I recommend using a color that blends well with your earbuds so if you get any on the outside of the mold area, it will be more difficult to see any mistakes.
Step Three: Make a small ball with some Sugru
Take some of the Sugru from the packet — you don't need much, just a pinch — and roll that into a ball between your index finger and your thumb. Don't worry if it isn't a perfect sphere; you'll quickly destroy the ball anyway.
Step Four: Roll the ball into a tube
Using your fingers and the palm of your hand, roll out the ball of Sugru into a tube or sausage-like shape. Try to make it as even in diameter as possible; however, you don't need to stress about it too much, you can always pinch some off if you have too much.
Step Five: Wrap the Sugru around the headphone
Place one end of your tube of Sugru down on the headphone behind the inside silicone sleeve and then wrap the tube around until it meets the other end. If you have any extra Sugru, make sure to pinch it off and discard it.
Step Six: Roll back the silicone sleeve so it's over the top of the Sugru
Gently press the Sugru down so it's firmly attached to the headphone and then roll back the silicone sleeve so it sits over the Sugru.
Step Seven: Place the headphone in your ear
Put the headphone in your ear and lightly push it into your ear for about 20-30 seconds, allowing the Sugru to mold to the inside of your ear canal. Remove it and let it sit for 24 hours to set and dry.
That's it! You're ready to do the other side by repeating steps one through seven again!
You'll notice in my picture above that I did one side much better than the other. My first attempt — pictured above on the right — I used a little too much Sugru; however, despite the less refined looked it still produced the desired effect. Plus, had I used a less bright color of Sugru, it would be even less noticeable as this picture depicts, which is why I recommend using a color that closely matches your earbuds.
The headphones are much more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time and during all three of my workouts in the last five days, they haven't fallen out once since I made an ear mold for them with Sugru.
As for sound quality, the headphones sound exactly the same as they did before I applied Sugru. On its website, Sugru claims that the moldable glue will dampen outside noise providing a minor noise-cancelling effect; however, I personally have not noticed such an effect.
Is it worth it?
You may not want to go around putting glue on a really expensive pair of high-end in-ear headphones or earbuds and I can totally respect that decision; however, if you have a pair of relatively inexpensive headphones that always fall out of your ears, I would totally recommend giving Sugru a try.
Not only has it decreased my frustration during workouts and other rigorous activity, it has increased the comfort level of wearing my in-ear headphones for extended periods of time. That's a win-win in my book!
For three packets of Sugru, you're looking to spend $12 plus an addition $3 for shipping (if you don't get free shipping), making the entire cost for this solution about $15. Plus, the time it takes to complete the task of "installing" the Sugru is about 10 minutes, which means the most time-consuming step in the process is the recommended 24-hour wait period for the Sugru to set and dry.
All in all, for the amount of time and money I spent on Sugru, I now have a more comfortable pair of inexpensive earbuds that I can use while working out, without worrying about them slipping out while I'm jumping around. #worthit.
Will you give Sugru a try?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.