Ear stretching is a specific type of body modification that affects the earlobe. Many people stretch their ears so they can wear “spacers,” or earrings with holes in the earlobes. Ear stretching can be a fun way to decorate your body, but you need to understand how to take care of the stretched skin, so it heals correctly. Here’s what you need to know about how it can affect your health.
What Is Ear Stretching?
Ear stretching is the process of expanding an earlobe piercing hole over several months. This is a type of aesthetic body modification. Some people stretch the hole just a little bit to accommodate larger earring posts. Other people stretch their ears until it’s possible to see through the hole.
Ear stretching allows people to wear unique types of jewelry in their ears known as “spacers” or “gauges.” Some people stretch their ears because of cultural traditions, while others just like how it looks. You can safely stretch your ears with the right tools, but you should understand how it affects your health first.
Impact of Ear Stretching on Your Health
If you choose to stretch your ears, you need to make sure you do it slowly and carefully. Your skin doesn’t stretch like this on its own, after all. If you irritate your ear or stretch it too quickly, you can suffer what’s known as a “blowout.”
Blowouts are formed when you stretch the ear too quickly. The inner ring of skin around the piercing will become red and irritated, and potentially even lumpy. It will most likely be itchy or painful, and you may also experience an infection.
These blowouts are the result of your skin being stretched too far and failing to heal properly. Instead of slowly forming new skin cells in the stretched area, the stress caused microtears that became irritated. If you only slightly overstretch your ear, a minor blowout may develop, which can be reversed with the proper care. However, the blowout could become permanent if it gets infected.
You should also know that, after a certain point, your earlobes will not return to their original size on their own. If you stretch your ears above 2 gauge (6mm) size, you will likely need surgical assistance to return them to their original condition.
What to Expect From Ear Stretching
When you stretch your ears, you’ll use tapers, or spikes, made of body-safe materials to slowly start widening your piercings. You insert these tapers into your piercing, and they will sit in your piercing and slowly stretch it over time. Some people will also use an oil or lubricant to help the taper slide through the piercing more easily.
Stretching your ears can take months or years, depending on how large you want them to be. During this time, your ear will be sensitive. However, they should never be painful or stressed. A good rule of thumb is to go up one gauge size every four to six weeks. This gives your ears time to fully adjust before you expand them more.
How to Help Your Stretched Ear Heal
The entire time you’re actively stretching your ears, they are slowly healing themselves. Taking precautions during the stretching process can help you avoid blowouts and infections. Here’s how to protect your ears while you’re gauging them:
- Always take your time. If you’re not sure if your piercing is ready to go up a jewelry size, then wait. As your gauge gets bigger, it will take longer for your ears to recover. Taking it slow can help you avoid having to drop down in jewelry sizes for your ears to heal.
- Keep your ears clean. Clean ears are less likely to get irritated or infected. Always wash your hands before touching your piercings, and sterilize your earrings and tapers with alcohol before putting them in. You can also rinse your ears with a homemade saline solution to reduce irritation and keep them clean.
- Use the right jewelry. Many people are allergic to certain metals, especially nickel. Use body-safe materials like steel or acrylic in your tapers and earrings to avoid an allergic reaction that can lead to a blowout.
- Massage your ears. Some studies suggest that gently massaging your ears with a moisturizer like coconut oil may help some people reduce scarring. That keeps your ears in better condition so that they can withstand more stretching. Massage your ears once a day to keep them healthy while you stretch.
Association of Professional Piercers: “Stretching Your Piercing.”
Dermatologic Surgery: “The Role of Massage in Scar Management: A Literature Review.”
Dermatology: “The History and Current Trends of Earlobe Stretching.”
Pediatrics: “Adolescent and Young Adult Tattooing, Piercing, and Scarification.”
Ear stretching is the process people use to get piercings that are wider than a standard ear piercing. It is possible to stretch an ear piercing up to the size of a finger, or even bigger in some cases.
So you’re thinking about stretching your ears? Here we’ve put together some useful information on how to do it safely and (almost) painlessly. But don’t forget this is just a guide – if you’re serious about stretching your ears, talk to a piercing expert for tips and find out how much they charge to do it professionally.
What gauge should I start stretching with?
You need to have a standard ear piercing in the first place, and it is essential you don’t begin stretching your ears until the holes are completely healed. It will be less painful and less likely to get infected if you ensure your skin has strengthened first.
Once your standard ear piercings are completely healed it is important to continue to look after your ears by stretching them slowly and at the right size. Most standard ear piercings are at 18 gauge and you should only go one size bigger during each stretch. Most people start by stretching to 16 gauge.
How long should I wait before stretching to a new gauge?
Everyone’s body reacts differently to stretching, however it is recommended that you wait at least 6 weeks in between stretches. This will give your earlobes time to heal. However, the optimum is 2-6 months between each stretch. This will reduce your risk of tearing by allowing your ear lobes to thicken up and circulation to flow properly.
If you want to get to stretch to a large size, it is important to stretch slowly and look after your ear health! Hurrying the process might damage your ears permanently.
Will I end up with permanent holes after stretching my ears?
Most piercing experts suggest going no larger than 2 gauge if you want your ears to shrink back to standard size when you stop wearing earrings. Everyone’s ear lobes are different however and some people find that their ears don’t shrink back at all.
One important factor is your earlobe health, and stretching slowly can make a difference to whether your lobes will go back to standard size. If you have stretched your ears too quickly and tore your earlobes, this can make it harder for your earlobes to shrink back.
Sometimes and after a certain point, the only way to get your ears back to standard size is surgery, so it’s important to keep this in mind before you start stretching your ears.
How do I stretch my ears?
Now that you you’ve read about the basics, you’re ready to begin!
Using a stainless steel taper is probably the most popular method of ear stretching, especially at smaller sizes. Tapers are round at one end, normally the gauge that you are going up to, and then taper down to a point for easy insertion. Using a taper will help you safely stretch your ear over time.
Stainless steel tapers are recommended over other materials for a few reasons. First, steel is smoother than acrylic, which makes steel tapers easier to insert. Secondly, steel is able to be sterilized which makes stretching safer by reducing the risk of introducing bacteria.
When stretching your ear, hygiene is paramount. Always begin by washing your hands with antibacterial soap and make sure you keep your ear clean.
You can use lubricant on the taper – but don’t put too much on. Gently push the taper into your ear as far as it will comfortably go, then push it in slightly further until you can feel your lobes tingling. They may sting slightly but should not be too sore. Use the rubber O rings provided to hold the taper in place. The lubricant with help the taper go in easily and reduce the risk of tearing your lobe. Massaging the lobe or holding a warm cloth to it before the process will help the circulation and relax the tissue.
How do I look after my stretched ears?
After you stretch your ears dirt and skin cells can build up in the enlarged hole and create a discharge. This is actually a normal reaction that happens when you stretch your ears and it doesn’t mean your ear lobes are infected. You can fix it by making sure you wash your ears daily with Studex® piercing solution. Turn your taper gently while cleaning to clean all surfaces.
It is also important to keep your lobes moisturised to help aid ear lobe circulation and reduce the risk of tearing. You can use a product like jojoba oil or vitamin e oil for this.
What can I wear in my stretched ears?
This is the fun part: we have a wicked selection of stretchers, expanders, plugs and flesh tubes made from silicone, stainless steel, black steel and acrylic. Each piece is high quality, hypoallergenic and designed for use in piercings. Check out our range of plugs and tubes for more.
What is Stretching or Gauging?
Stretching is a form of body modification where a healed piercing is slowly expanded to accommodate a larger gauge (size) of jewelry called a plug. In essence, this is a process where you are gradually expanding the hole of an earlobe piercing. A small lobe piercing can be stretched to a much larger size when it is done appropriately. Many people refer to the stretching process as “gauging,” although the technically correct term for the act is “stretching.” Ear piercings are one of the most common piercings that are stretched, but they are not the only piercing that can be stretched. The act of stretching has been around for thousands of years and it has been seen throughout history as a rite of passage in tribal cultures. Ear stretching has made its way into western culture with growing popularity. One common misconception about ear stretching is that you need to have other body modifications to do this. But this is not true, both those with many modifications and those who only have ear piercings can stretch their ears and look great. There is no judgement in the body modification world when it comes to stretching your ears as long as you are doing it appropriately and safely.
Stretching your ears can be done for many different reasons and it is very much an individual preference. Many people stretch their ears simply because they enjoy the process, while others enjoy the vast array of jewelry and style options that stretching allows. How large you stretch your ears is a personal choice and preference, and this guide will walk you through the nitty gritty of the ear stretching process. Regardless of your reason for stretching, this website will help you stretch your ears properly and safely.
This is an intensive walk-through that will answer any and all of your questions when it comes to ear stretching. We have a “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)” section or your questions could be answered in the step-by-step stretching guide. Stretching your ears is a journey, it does not happen immediately, and you will be joining a community of people who have been on a similar journey. Every stretching journey is different, so you will get a unique perspective on how to stretch your ears the correct way. And, you can take the comfort of knowing you are not alone when it comes to running into troubles.
Each step of this guide will provide you with a different aspect of stretching. This includes the very basics of stretching, what you might need for tools, tips on the beginning stretches, aftercare guidelines, and what to do to take care of your ears after you have stretched them successfully.
Looking to stretch or gauge your ears?
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My 0g holes, complete with glass eyelets and sawblade o-rings.
Not Sure How to Stretch Your Ears?
Then you're in the right place! Stretched ears can look great and be easy to achieve, but if you don't know what you're doing (and I didn't when I started), then you could be in for a lot of pain and misery and even do permanent damage to your ears. You don't want that! You want to keep your ears fabulous for years to come.
Done right, though, it's a perfectly safe process with minimal discomfort. As long as you're careful and patient, you should be able to stretch your ears to whatever size you're after without any drama. And once you're done, let the compliments roll!
What's in This Guide:
- What to Do Before You Start Stretching
- Things You'll Need
- A Note on Plug Materials
- How to Do Your First Stretch
- Help! I'm Bleeding!
- The Taping Method
- Stretching Aftercare
- Troubleshooting Your Holes
The standard 'I am not a doctor, this is not professional medical advice' disclaimer applies to all of the information on this page. I am also not a piercer! I'm just an average person who stretched their ears and made mistakes and learned things along the way. This is just what I figured out myself.
If something about your ears is making you worry, get thee to a doctor! You do not want to have something horrible and permanent happen to your ears because you ignored a gut feeling about something being wrong.
Tip: Get Pierced With a 10g Needle
Haven't had the piercing you want to stretch done yet? Then you've got an opportunity to make stretching easier by going to a professional piercer and asking them to pierce it at a larger gauge. Piercing needles go up to a 10g, and a needle piercing will leave less scar tissue than a gun piercing, making it easier to stretch!
Things to Think About Before Stretching Your Ears
Before you start poking tapers in your ears, here are some things to think about:
- How long have you had the initial hole? A piercing that's years old should be fine to stretch right away, but you shouldn't be stretching one that's only just healed. Give it a month or two after initial healing time before you start to stretch.
- What size would you like to stretch to? It's worth looking at the kinds of plugs you want to wear and figuring out what sizes they come in. Also, consider things like dress codes at work and how easy it'll be to hide your stretched holes.
- Are you allergic to any materials that might be used in plugs or tapers? Be extra careful about allergies and newly stretched piercings. They're not quite an open wound, but they are more sensitive than regular, undamaged areas of skin.
- While you'll be able to reverse a stretch up to a certain size—that varies person to person—there's a point at which that stretching is for life or until you can get your lobes surgically fixed. Be sure you're willing to commit to stretched holes before you go past the point of no return!
Tip: Stretching on a Budget?
If your funds are really limited, here's a tip for you: You only need one taper in each size. You can stretch each ear separately with just the one, though it's faster doing both at once. You will still need two plugs, obviously, if you're stretching both ears.
Things You'll Need to Stretch Your Ears
- Tapers and plugs for each gauge between where you are and your goal size. You can get stretching kits for this, but you should avoid acrylic plugs since they're porous and harbour bacteria that will irritate your piercing and make your ears smell (and no one likes smelly ears, right?).
- Some kind of balm or moisturiser. This should at very least contain vitamin E. Almond, jojoba, tea tree, rosemary, and lavender oils are also beneficial. Gauge Gear stretching balm is pretty awesome, but you can probably pick something up in your local drugstore or supermarket.
- A lubricant. Vaseline is okay, for a well-healed piercing, but a water-based personal lubricant is ideal for stretching and much safer.
- At larger sizes, you may need PTFE or bondage tape to increase your gauge. More on that below!
- Patience. Patience is huge when it comes to stretching your ears, and completely necessary, but well-rewarded. (I was impatient at times. It hurt. I learned a valuable lesson about waiting for the things you want.)
An Extra Note on Stretching Gear
As tempting as it probably is to use cheap and brightly coloured acrylic plugs for your new stretches, don't do it. You need to leave a stretch for a minimum of two weeks, and during that time, you'll have a lot of bacteria build up in the plastic. Live with boring steel or glass (although they can look really cool! Honest!) until you're at your goal size or taking a long break, and don't wear any other material long-term.
Glass and steel are the best because they're non-porous and sterilizable. You can boil them at home, and that should be more than adequate, but you can also take them to your local piercer and get them to autoclave them for you, usually for a small fee. Autoclaving is just lab-grade sterilisation, and worthwhile if you're finding your ears get infected easily. You should, as an aside, not use a piercer who doesn't have an autoclave.
Also, don't get double-flared plugs to stretch with. You'll never get them into a fresh stretch and you'll only hurt yourself trying. Double-flares are only for healed stretches. Use single or no-flare plugs to gauge up.
Getting your ears gauged can be a tricky business. Over time, you’re basically stretching the pierced hole in your lobe to a desired size. Thus, there are certain things to know if you get your ears gauged that differ from regular piercing maintenance. Gauging isn’t something that will happen overnight — and it will likely take a lot of time and patience. However, if you’re a fan of the aesthetic, the results will hopefully be more than worth it.
Once the territory of emo and pop punk kids, ear stretching has seemingly hit the masses and undoubtedly looks great on anybody. With the array of different plugs, tunnels, and other gorgeous ear jewelry available nowadays, gauges can suit a variety of sartorial tastes. It’s no longer associated with the alternative subcultures of our teen years in the earlier 2000s.
A personal fave ear stretching siren of mine whose lobe embellishments I love is singer Melanie Martinez. Her sugar-coated, kooky style is not dissimilar to Katy Perry’s in those “Teenage Dream” days, and she’s been spotted in gem-style, bejeweled plugs that remind me of toys from the 1990s.
I decided to speak with pro piercer Ashley of Venus by Maria Tash in order to get the inside info you’ll want to know if you’re a fan of stretched earlobes, too.
1. Your Earlobe Holes May Never Get Back To "Normal"
Ashley tells me, “Whether or not the lobe will shrink up again after stretching has to do with a few factors: Elasticity of the person’s skin and how long the person waited between stretches besides the main ones.”
She adds, “There is no guaranteed size at which someone could plan to stop and remove their jewelry and expect to have them go back to a ‘normal’ size — my ears personally are stretched to 1 inch and, after having left jewelry out for four months or so due to laziness and a hectic schedule, my ears shrunk back to almost half the size. They were still smaller than they had been, but not small by conventional standards.”
This is definitely something to consider if you’re contemplating having your earlobes stretched, as they might not go back to their original size.
2. You Can Repair Gauged Earlobes
However, getting your ears gauged isn’t completely irreversible. Ashley says, “The good news is that if someone wanted their earlobes to go back to their original size, they could always be stitched up by a plastic surgeon.” Although surgery is probably not ideal, at least it’s an option for folks who want it.
3. You Should Wait Eight To 10 Weeks Between Stretches
“Personally, I recommend most people wait at least eight to 10 weeks between stretches (or longer! I waited about six months between each stretch) to ensure that the tissue has recovered enough from the previous stretch, to support going bigger without causing any tears to the tissue,” Ashley informs me. So don’t try to rush things up, otherwise you may risk tearing your tissue.
4. Tears Can Cause Scar Tissue
Ashley tells me all about what tissue tears entail. She explains, “Tears not only cause discomfort but, if they happen regularly, can cause scar tissue to build up which will complicate future stretches. They can also prevent the skin from shrinking as quickly as it otherwise would, in the case that someone changes their mind and wants their earlobes to shrink back up.”
If you think you may want your earlobes to shrink back later down the line, it’s probably wise to try your best not to tear your tissue.
5. Pain While Stretching Probably Means You’re Damaging The Tissue
“When enough time has lapsed between stretches, the stretch simply feels like slight pressure,” Ashley explains. However, “Pain while stretching is usually a good sign that someone is stretching too quickly and damaging the tissue.”
6. You Should Care For New Gauges Like You Would Your Average Newly-Pierced Ears
Contrary to what you may think, “Care is no different than a traditional earlobe as it is the same thing, simply on a larger scale,” Ashley tells me. So if you’ve had regular pierced lobes in the past, caring for newly gauged ears should be simple.
7. Stretching Can Be Done With A Tool Called A Taper
Ever wondered how stretching actually happens? Ashley tells me, “Stretching can be done with a tool called a taper: It is skinny on one side and the size of the larger jewelry on the other end.” She divulges, “My favorite style of jewelry for stretching is a plug made of glass; they usually have rounded ends which slide gently into the piercing and facilitate a simple stretch without the use of any tools.”
8. It’s Best To Get A Professional Involved With Stretching
Ashley says, “It is always preferable to have a professional assist with stretching as when one uses a taper on their own, they can be tempted into stretching before the tissue is ready. There is a YouTube video that comes to mind where a girl is stretching too fast and manages to rip her earlobe in half — yikes!” Well that’s definitely enough to put anyone off DIY stretching for life.
9. Don’t Skip Sizes When Stretching
Although it may be super tempting to skip sizes, Ashley warns, “One should not skip sizes when stretching. This, again, can cause painful tearing with potentially irreversible results.” Patience is a virtue for a reason, guys.
Whether you’re just an admirer, you’re planning on getting your ears gauged, or you’re an ear stretching veteran, these handy tips should have you covered.
1. Stretching the earlobes has become very popular in recent years. Before you start, it is important to know that all ears have different sizes and shapes. For example; some earlobes are attached to the face while others are detached. In the latter case stretching is usually considered somewhat easier, and it is often possible to reach a diameter of 30mm. When you have earlobes that are attached closely to the face, chances are you will not be able to get beyond a diameter of 12mm.
The position of the piercing you are planning to stretch is very important. It should be sitting slightly above the middle of your earlobe if you plan to reach larger sizes.
2. The best way to start stretching is to take small steps to bigger sizes so that you’re sure you’re not going too fast. You start with 1.2 mm and gradually stretch the piercing to 1.6 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm and so on. Wearing heavy piercings and earrings helps accelerate the stretch process. As long as you are patient, transition gradually to larger sizes, and stay at the same size for a minimum of two weeks your ear will heal significantly faster and much nicer.
3. In most cases, the piercing can be stretched directly to 3mm with a titanium tunnel. This, however, requires you to go to a professional studio as this can only be done by an experienced piercer.
4. When you stretch properly it is unusual to experience any bleeding. It is very important that you pay attention, listen to your body and remain patient. Often a piercing hole can still heal up when stretched no further than 8mm, but this really depends on whether the stretch process went well and that the hole has not been forced.
5. Many people have positive experiences with the use of silicone tunnels during stretching. You can, however, only start using these when you are at a slightly larger size, around 6 mm, because silicone is generally considered difficult to stretch with smaller sizes.
6. Baby oil or other natural oils can help prevent unpleasant odours but the stretching itself is best done by using Betadine ointment. Betadine will make the skin soft and supple while disinfecting at the same time. You can also choose to use True Jelly, a gel that is specially designed for the stretching of piercings.
7. If you want to gradually move on to the next size when stretching, it is also possible to wear a heavier ring or titanium spiral in the ear. The weight helps to significantly accelerate the stretching process in an even way.
8. Remember that when you’re not wearing your jewellery or stretcher for a few days, your hole can shrink and could even end up being a few sizes smaller!
9. The best time to stretch is right after showering, when your skin is smooth and clean. Massage the skin for a few minutes before stretching, so that your earlobes will be even more flexible.
10. Never stretch with dirty hands and try to avoid touching the jewellery in between stretching or cleaning.
11. Make sure the jewellery used to stretch with is clean. You can disinfect your jewellery with alcohol or another type of disinfectant if necessary.
12. Be careful with pets. Cats and dogs can accidentally touch your fresh stretched piercing while playing so make sure this does not happen.
13. Our answer to the question “How often should I clean my tunnel/stretcher?” is: at least once a day to avoid unpleasant odours. Note that if you have recently stretched by using a tunnel, it is important you do not take the tunnel out during the first two weeks, as it can be very difficult to put back in your ear.
14. Stretching your ear should not hurt too much. If this is the case, you are probably moving too fast or doing something wrong.
15. The best materials to use when stretching with tunnels are stainless steel or titanium. Additionally, you will often see people use acrylic tunnels. Acrylic tunnels are fine if you want to keep the same size. The disadvantage of acrylic is that the tunnels are not heavy enough to stretch further with. Another problem is that the backside may get damaged when you attempt to clean the tunnels. Stainless steel and titanium can easily be cleaned with alcohol without any problems.
16. However, acrylic spirals and expanders are excellent to stretch with because you can twist these carefully and stop in time before it starts to hurt.
17. Glass is another material that is perfect for stretching as it is super smooth. The only disadvantage of glass is that it’s easily breakable, so you’ll have to be extra careful.
18. Always check if your jewellery has a smooth finish and doesn’t show any seems or cracks or crazes. A good piercing should sit comfortably in the ear.
19. Never use gold tone jewellery for stretching. When your ear is stretched to the desired size and properly healed you can wear these without a problem. Stretching with gold jewellery, however, can be dangerous as gold plugs and tunnels often contain more than 0.4 mg of nickel and some people may experience allergic reactions.
20. Jewellery made from organic and natural materials (wood, horn, bone, stone) will certainly cause less unpleasant odours due to the natural unevenness in the rim. Because of these small imperfections, the piercing gets more air, creating a smaller chance of nasty smells.
21. Brass piercings have been very popular lately. There are beautiful tunnels, spirals and plugs available made of this material. Brass jewellery is best to wear later when you have reached the desired size.
22. Many people wonder to what size they can stretch. This depends on the person. When there is less than 2 mm between the inner edge of your piercing hole and the outer edge of your earlobe is it not advisable stretch any further. This is too risky and may cause you tear your earlobe or get a blow out.
23. When you have a blow out or if your ear starts to bleed, it means that your piercing hole is stretched too rapidly. Go to your piercing studio as soon as possible so that they can look at it and give you advice.
24. The best thing you can do at home when you have a blow out is to go down to a smaller size and therefore wear smaller jewelry. In many cases, it is recommended not to wear any jewellery at all. Soak your ear in a salt solution, a couple of times per day. Do not use any oils, this will only cause more irritation. Oils may only be used when your ear is completely healed.
25. Make sure you are well informed before you start stretching your ear. If necessary return to the piercing studio if you have any doubts or questions. It is understandable that you want to be able to wear beautiful tunnels and jewellery as soon as possible but patience is key. When you follow the professional advice you will certainly succeed at stretching!
If you want to get a new piercing, it is now possible to schedule your appointment with us! Get pierced when it suits you! You can pay right away, so you don’t have to think about it during your appointment.
As with getting a new piercing, it’s incredibly important to do your research before stretching any piercing. It’s ideal to familiarize yourself with some basic information, especially since stretching can be a permanent change to the body.
You’ll want to think about the size or “gauge” you want to go to then keep in mind that it is going to take time and patience to get there. When stretching, you want to go up one size at a time to avoid tearing, blow out, and to prevent your ear lobes from getting too thin.
Never skip sizes. When you stretch, you are pulling the collagen molecules, skin cells, and everything else in that immediate area apart and asking your body to produce more of these cells in order to fill the spaces you’ve created during the stretch. This takes time so it is paramount that you go at a pace that your body is comfortable with.
The piercing that you are planning to stretch should be completely healed. If it is ear lobe, we recommend letting the piercing heal for 6-8 weeks. If it is cartilage, we recommend 6 months. Keep in mind these are guidelines and will not be true for everybody or every piercing. If you are new to piercing, we encourage you to consult a piercer before you begin stretching.
It’s vital to avoid creating scar tissue by stretching too soon. If you stretch a piercing that is not completely healed (wound does not weep, the area is not red, the tissue looks healthy and exactly like the unpierced skin around the immediate area), you will create scar tissue which is much less elastic and prone to tearing.
Ways to Stretch
Tapers are only recommended for smaller sizes. Once you get to a 0, we recommend using another method. A taper is a rod, usually about two inches in length, with a gradual increase in diameter.
You’ll put the smallest end in first and slowly push it through to the larger end. Then you can hold a plug to the end and push the taper out with it.
IMPORTANT – If there is a lot of resistance or if your skin turns white around the jewelry, DON’T keep pushing. Your ears are not yet ready to stretch and pushing the plug through could cause a tear or blow out, and possibly permanent scarring or other damage to your piercing.
Go back to the smaller size and try stretching naturally by gently pulling or tugging on the ear lobes. Try the tapers again in a week or two.
Tape can be difficult to use with smaller gauges but is one of the best options when you get to a 0 or larger. You’ll cut the tape to fit and put a layer or 2 around the tunnel or plug every few days.
Our “Stretch It!” tape is a great option as it is skin safe, non-adhesive, and only sticks to itself. Adding tape gradually stretches your ears until you are at the next size.
Weights can be worn to help with stretching. You’ll wear the weights through a pair of tunnels during the day and the added weight stretches the ears very slowly. This helps stretch your ears naturally which gives your lobes ample time to build up more collagen cells.
Remember, patience is the most important element of any stretch.
IMPORTANT – Do not use silicone to stretch. Putting the next larger size into smaller holes can cause the skin to tear by trying to stretch it too quickly. If this happens, you will have to go down to multiple sizes. Depending on how severe the tear is.
Helpful Tips for Keeping Your Ears Healthy
- Jojoba oil will be your best friend throughout the stretching process. Jojoba oil is easily absorbed into the skin, is anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial. It is similar to the oils in our skin making it incredibly moisturizing which is just what your ears need during stretching.
This can be applied topically to your lobes and to your plugs. Put a couple of drops in your fingertips and rub into the area to moisturize your ear lobes. Do this in between stretches as well as during your stretch.
- Always wash your hands before stretching.
- Right before stretching, it can be helpful to apply a warm compress to the ears for several minutes each. You can also try putting tapers or plugs into your piercing while taking a warm shower.
- There may be a little bit of pain or discomfort as well as itching and swelling when stretching but there should never be bleeding.
- After each stretch is completely healed, give your body a minimum of 4 or more weeks to heal and regenerate the area. Time allows your body to heal completely by growing new cells and getting rid of cells it no longer needs.
- Don’t compare your stretching experience to someone else’s. Each body heals differently and there are many factors that contribute to this. Just because someone else was able to stretch at a fairly quick rate, doesn’t mean that you will be able to.
- There are many different materials that plugs are made of. Titanium, steel, wood, glass, stone, silicone, acrylic are just some of the options. When shopping for plugs, keep in mind that – Wood plugs have to moisturized with Jojoba Oil to prevent them from cracking and can’t be worn in the shower. Metal plugs can get cold quicker in the winter months.
What To Do in Between Stretches
Keep your ears clean. It’s easiest to take your plugs out in the shower and wash your ears with glycerin soap and warm water. You can also use lavender oil to keep things smelling good. Use a drop or 2 and rub onto plugs before putting them back into your ears.
Apply 2-3 drops of jojoba oil to your ear lobe and massage gently.
You can use ¼ teaspoon of our “Soak It!” sea salt mixed into 1 cup of warm water and soak your lobe for 3-5 minutes. You can do this with your plugs in and out. We do not suggest soaking with wood, bone, or horn plugs, or plugs that have decorative pieces inlaid, in your piercing as these natural materials can absorb water and be damaged.
What’s that Smell?
If you start to smell a little something, you’re not on your own. Plugs, and the piercing, can start to smell if they’re not cleaned regularly. The smell is caused by natural discharge from your body.
To help prevent the smell, we recommend taking your plugs out in the shower and washing with “Wash-It!” glycerin soap and water. You can also use our sea salt and soak your ears for 3-5 minutes with ¼ teaspoon of salt mixed into 1 cup of warm water. On top of these things, you can also use lavender oil. You can put this on your plugs to keep them smelling fresh!
If you are considering stretching your piercing but are unsure how to get started on your journey, then you have arrived at the right place. Here at Sacred Skin Body Jewellery, we not only supply ear stretching kits, jewellery and advice on ‘post-piercing’ care. We also want to be your go-to source for all your information about safe body piercing and safe stretching. Below you will learn more regarding the most customary traditions and methods for stretching earlobes in our ear stretching guide.
WHAT GAUGE SHOULD YOU START STRETCHING WITH?
Many people wonder how they can start stretching their ears. It is important to ensure that your ears are completely restored to health after the original piercing before you start enlarging it. To begin the widening process, you can begin with a 14 gauge or 1.6mm taper. A taper is a tool used for stretching piercings. It is wider at one end and gradually narrows. By using different-sized tapers , plugs and tunnels the ears (or any other body part for that matter) can be stretched to your desired size. However, you should only be looking to go 1 size bigger between each stretch.
It is important if your ears have never been stretched before, that you take a lot of care in doing so. Most importantly, you need to start slowly with the stretching process. When you aren’t rushing the stretching and use the correct gauge/size taper, it will help you to widen the piercing safely, heal more effectively and allow you to stretch more in the future. If you rush the process, then this can result in splitting or ‘blow-out’. When it comes to ear stretching, patience really is a virtue.
Ear piercings are the most commonly stretched piercings, but to a certain extent all piercings can be stretched to some degree. However, cartilage piercings are usually more difficult to stretch and more likely to form hypertrophic scars if stretched too quickly. Dermal punching is generally the preferred method for accommodating larger jewellery in cartilage piercings.
HOW FAR CAN YOU STRETCH WITHOUT PERMANENT HOLES?
It is worth noting that every individual’s ear lobes are unique, and they all have different elasticity. There is no method to find out how far you can stretch your piercing until you reach it.
Further down the line you may decide that you want your stretched piercing to shrink back to its standard size. The honest truth is that they may not shrink down at all, everybody is different and as a result everybody heals differently. Some stretched ears may never close up and others will be able to stretch to a large size and shrink straight back down. The general rule of thumb which most professional piercers go by is around 6mm (2g) to 8mm (0g) for a maximum safe size. Although, as we mentioned everyone is different so, even at these sizes there is a chance that they will not shrink back down. In this case often the only option left to achieve your normal piercing size again is surgery.
If you start widening your piercing little by little, it can play a big role in whether your lobes will shrink back to their original size. As mentioned above, stretching carefully and gradually will assist with the health of your earlobe.
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO WAIT BETWEEN STRETCHES?
A lot of people wonder how long they need to wait between stretches. Since each individual’s body will respond in a different way, the reactions and healing times vary. However, we recommend that most people who stretch their earlobes, wait approximately six weeks between stretches. However, if the ear (or any other part you may be stretching) is not fully healed after the last size increase, it is very important not to use the next size taper and stretch it further. You are unique and you need to listen to your body, if the piercing is not fully healed then wait until it is before you stretch further. It will reduce the risk of tearing your earlobes, get your circulation back in your skin, and help your ear lobes thicken and heal safely.
Remember, your earlobe is a part of your body and you need to take good care of it. If you want to start stretching your earlobe and get to a large size without damaging or tearing your lobe, the key is to do it at a snail’s pace. We have a beautiful collection of tapers, stretching kits, plugs and tunnels for each stage of your ear stretching journey. So, you can look awesome every step of the way.
A sterile taper is the safest way to stretch your earlobe piercings when you want to achieve a larger piercing size. If you do not have access to a sterile taper, there are other methods and tricks to stretching your ears. Before attempting to stretch your earlobe piercings, a consultation with a professional piercer can help you to understand the rules, risks and dangers of stretching your earlobe piercings at home.
Wear ear weights attached to your current earrings. You can use fishing weights or professional piercing ear weights. Loop a piece of fishing wire through the top circle on the weight and secure with a knot. Tie the other end of the fishing wire to the bottom of your earring–if you are wearing spirals or jewelry that dangles–or thread the fishing wire through a tunnel plug.
Knot the fishing wire to secure the weight while hanging from your jewelry. Leave adequate room when tying the fishing wire around a plug or through a tunnel to avoid cutting off circulation to your earlobe piercing. Wear the weights each day for several hours for a month before attempting to insert a larger size plug into your ears.
Wrap your current earrings with Teflon tape. Roll the tape–sticky side facing down on the earring–once around your earring. Keep the edges of the tape lined up on your earring instead of overlapping. Tearing or ripping can occur from rough edges over overlapping tape and the stretch may be uneven, causing pressure on one side of your earlobe piercing. The tape will make your earrings slightly larger than your current size.
Purchase heavy jewelry, such as glass plugs or spirals to wear in between stretches. Insert the heavy jewelry into your earlobe piercings a week or two after each stretch to allow the weight of the jewelry to work for your next stretch. Wait a month or longer in between each stretch to give your earlobe piercings ample time to heal and gain elasticity while wearing heavy jewelry.
Stretch your ears with tapered jewelry or talons. Tapered jewelry is shaped like a cone, with a small and large end. The large end should be the gauge you are looking to achieve by the stretch. Attach o-rings to the front and back of tapered jewelry to ensure that the jewelry will not fall out of your ears.