A Beginner's Guide to Ear Stretching
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.