Sunday Style : Stretch Your Ears, Not Your *&^@%!
Stretch Your Ears, Not Your *&^@%!
Ha. Now that we have your attention, we wanna dive right to it and talk all about ear stretching, from the 101 standpoint to insider tips from and the variety of body jewelry that goes with the territory, such as tapers, plugs and tunnels.
When we pulled our monthly reports, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the most popular item that has been trending for the last few months were ear stretching kits. Then we hopped on YouTube and saw the countless videos of the ear stretching process that’s been flooding the piercing video listings and knew that it was time to do a fresh new guide for ear stretching to help answer some of the questions that were floating on the web. Get your thinking caps out, piercing addicts, we’ll teach you how to stretch your ears the right way.
Pre-Requisites For This Course
- First and foremost, you must have a lobe piercing. This might be super obvious but you never know… the most widely stretched ear piercing is typically the first piercing on the lobe closest to your cheek, where you have the most soft tissue that can be stretched. If you grab your earlobe and begin to move up the ear, you can feel how soft and pliable the soft tissue is versus the cartilaginous part of the ear as you move up. The harder, thicker tissue up there is not ideal for stretching. Also, initial healing should be complete before attempting to stretch your ear
- A stretching kit of your choice will be needed for this. We’ve made some recommendations below with our favorite and best selling stretching kits below but you can use any high quality stretching kit in high quality surgical steel or acrylic if you are sensitive or allergic to metals.
- Patience and ability to follow directions. No, this isn’t a job description but it is your job to ensure the safe and healthy stretching of your ears so patience and ability to follow directions and not skip sizes are a prerequisite for you to get started. Allow 2 months of healing before sizing up to the next larger gauge jewelry. No cheating allowed.
Plugs, Tunnels, Tapers and the Whole Shebang
Before we get to action part of this guide, we’ll review the different body jewelry that will be used as tools for gentle stretching. It’s good to know the difference between ear stretching body jewelry…when you know they why, the how begins to make more sense. Regardless of which stretching kit you purchase, these are the standard stretching jewelry that will be included.
- Tapers. These are shaped like little icicles picks. They range from the tiniest looking like a tiny pin to the largest resembling an icicle. Each taper will have the size written on the bag or directly on the jewelry but some will be easier to detect by just looking at them, such as the smallest (14G) and the largest (00G). Tapers are used to open up the size of the piercing hole in a gradual manner and should not be used as body jewelry, with the exception of the 14G (the tiniest, skinniest one) since they are not evenly weighted (one end is larger than the other) so if worn as jewelry, it can potentially create a droopy, lopsided effect and that is not a cute look. Tapers come with 2 stretchy black o-rings that help keep the tapers in place.
- Tunnels. These appear to be…well, like tunnels. (Yep, the guys who names these creations was pretty darn concise) Tunnels included in the kit correlate with the same gauges of the tapers, so there should be a total of 18 pairs or 36 pieces of jewelry. Tunnels also come with a single o-ring to help secure the back and keep the jewelry in place. For the purpose of stretching, only single flared jewelry should be used – if you look carefully at each taper, you will notice that there is slight flare on one side of the tunnel’s rim.
- Plugs. Now we get to the good part. Plugs come is a wide variety of colors, sizes and materials including organic wood, semi precious stones and more. This is really the holy grail of why anyone even begins to consider stretching their lobes in the first place; all of the beautiful and bold looks that can be achieved with plugs. For the sake of ear stretching, organic wood and semi-precious stones or any other substance that is semi-porous should not be used.
Now the fun part, the actual process of stretching your ears. This is the part where you will need to exercise your ability to follow directions and test your patience. Always wash your hands thoroughly and be sure sterilize (steel tapers can be autoclaved) or clean/dry the tapers you will be using for the first stretch, most likely the one labeled 14G. You will also need to use some sort of lubrication to help the taper slide in. Do not skip this. There are many quality lubricants dedicated to stretching your ears and some natural everyday options such as coconut oil and jojoba oil that can be used. One other thing, try inserting your taper after a hot shower, this can help not only in cleaning the area well but to soften up the tissues around your lobes.
Start by gently inserting the lubed up taper through. GO SLOWLY… there is no glory in getting this done quickly. Most likely you will need to insert partially and let your ear get used to it for a few minutes or longer before pushing in further. It may feel tight and a bit uncomfortable but it should not be painful or bleeding in any way. Once you are able to get the taper to the thickest point, it’s time to grab the correlating tunnel and line it up flush to the taper for slow, easy insertion. Be sure the tunnel is flareside out as you do not want to push in the tunnel on the flare, which is wider than the circumference of the tunnel. Repeat this process in 6-8 weeks, 4 weeks at the ABSOLUTE earliest with the next size up. Do not skip any steps as rushing this process can cause permanent damage to your lobes that will require surgical and/or medical care to repair.
The process itself is easier said than done as the steps will be repeated with each gauge up. It can be tempting to skip steps to get to your desires stretch faster but know that this is the one time you will thank yourself for taking your time. There is no such thing as stretching too slowly, so take your time, be sure your lobes look healthy and healed between each stage and give it the proper aftercare it needs. Join us next Sunday for the tips and tricks to take care of ears during the stretching process.