Ear Stretching Guide
Ear stretching is a form of body modification and self-expression that has been practiced for eons. It is first recorded in Ancient Egypt and is even seen in almost all depictions of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Historians have also credited sub–Saharan Africa as being an originator of gauging ears. Whatever the reason you are interested in stretching your ears, it is important to do so slowly and safely. I am going to go over tips and tricks to successfully stretch your ears.
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First step is that you must get yourself a regular lobe piercing (if you do not already have one). The standard lobe piercing is 20GA or 18GA. Depending on the piercer they may even go as big as 16GA for the initial piercing. It is extremely crucial to let the initial piercing heal completely before attempting any stretching. It can be several months before your lobes will be fully healed. Most experts recommend waiting 6 months, even if your ears seem fully healed. If you do not wait for the piercing to heal, you risk increased chances of tearing and infection and even scar tissue that can prohibit your ears stretching further.
Next Step now that your ears are fully healed is getting ready for your first stretch. It is always recommended that you take a hot shower or bath and massage your lobes with jojoba oil to lightly stretch the skin before attempting to insert your new gauge size. What size gauge you begin with will determine what size to begin stretching with. If you already have a regular lobe piercing at 20GA, your ears may have stretched a little naturally from normal earrings or possibly stretched even farther with the wear of weighted earrings. I would never recommend going up more than one size at a time, this is the only exception, 20GA or 18GA who already had their lobe piercing you can go up to an 18GA or even 16GA to start your stretching quest. To be more specific, if you were not initially pierced, I would stick with going up to 18GA before attempting the 16GA. That is unless of course you were pierced at 18GA, in that case if you are fully healed you should have no problem going straight to 16GA. Please remember as you move forward on your ear stretching quest that you must be patient, as this does not happen overnight. It can be extremely detrimental to your lobes to try and move faster than your ears are ready for. Stretching your ears should not be painful. It can tingle, sting or be slightly uncomfortable, but you should not feel any significant pain. If you do feel significant pain, go down a size and massage your lobes with a saline solution.
It should take on average 2 months for your lobes to heal from the first stretch. Please keep in mind that experts recommend waiting 6-8 weeks even if you feel they are healed. As you keep stretching, you are going to want to extend your healing time for each size until you are at your ideal stretch size. Now that your first gauge size has healed completely, you are ready to go up one size. For the next step in stretching, it is recommended to stretch with tapers. Tapers are cone-shaped plugs typically made from many materials, but the safest is 316L stainless steel. 316L Stainless steel is considered the safest due to its non-porous surface, you will have the least chance of infection if cleaned regularly, and the material is affordable. Do not use acrylic, silicone, wood, or stone tapers in freshly stretched ears. I recommend purchasing one of our Ear Stretching Kits. It is also recommended to use an ear safe lubricant such as Jojoba oil to help insert them in your lobe. We have the taper style and the single flare tunnel plug style. The reason some people prefer the taper style to the single flare tunnel plug style is the design and functionality of the cone shape. You can easily adjust your taper to the best stretch as you move along in your journey. Also, some people may have difficulty with the insertion of the single flare tunnel until you get to a little larger of a stretch. With the taper you will use O-rings which are silicone rings that will keep the taper in its place. It is quite easy to adjust. You are going to keep slowly stretching your ears the same way as above until you get around 0GA. Please keep in mind the stretch zone between 4GA and 0GA is referred to as “the point of no return” Most people’s ears will shrink back to their original size or close to it when stretched smaller than 4GA and the plugs are removed for good. Once you go past 4GA, your ears may never shrink back to their size, and you may need to get them surgically closed if necessary.
Once you have reached about a 0GA or higher, it is recommended to use single flared tunnels and use the “Taping Method”. The taping method is simple and straight forward. This method involves using skin safe tape such as PTFE or bondage tape. Always make sure your hands are washed when handling the tape and plugs. Next, take the tape and wrap it around the wearable area of your plug 2-3x. Believe it or not, this is a very safe and effective way to gradually get yourself to a larger stretch. You should leave the initial addition of tape in your ears for 2-3 weeks and then take them out wash the plugs and add 2-3 more layers of tape. You will keep doing this straightforward process every 2-3 weeks, and you will notice a difference in your stretch. Depending on the tape chosen, you may need to use ear safe lubricant to glide the gauges into your lobes.
Please keep in mind that everybody is different, and the elasticity of your skin will play a big factor in how quickly you will get to your desired stretch. The number one thing you are going to want to avoid besides infection is blowouts. A blowout is when you stretch your ears too quickly and a fistula will form due to the excess of pressure, you can see it through the skin, it can look pretty gnarly, but it is possible to heal. The easiest way to progress your healing is to go down a size and use a saline solution like Neilmed and soak the actual ear several times a day until it heals completely, which may take some time.
One thing you must look out for when stretching your ears is the dreaded smell that not everyone, but a lot of people experience. Having some smell is common due to the fact your ears are expelling a natural liquid called sebum that is your body’s response to the stress from the stretching of the ear lobe. This issue can easily be taken care of by cleaning your jewelry and lobes often and correctly. We also offer piercing conditioners called "Holey Butt'r Ear Cream" & “Smelly Gelly” that also acts as a deodorant and stretching balm. If your smell gets out of control and is not tamed by cleaning, then you may have an infection, and you will want to seek professional advice.