ear stretching guide
This is a complete guide to stretching your ears! If you’re new to this, please make sure you read everything. I know it’s a lot to take in, but I want to make sure you end up with healthy, beautiful-looking ears! :)
Disclaimer: Yes, this guide may sound very anal when it comes to stretching, but I feel that it is something that must be treated seriously. I consider it to be a permanent modification. So, why not soak in the information that I have learned while stretching?
If your ears aren’t pierced yet:
- Tell your piercer that you want to stretch your ears. This will indicate that they must make sure the placement of the piercing will be exact. This is important, especially if you want to go to larger sizes.
- If you still haven’t found a piercer, please refer to the information I have about finding a piercer in my mod q + a.
- You must keep in mind that you will not be able to stretch right away. You have to wait at least a few months after the piercing is fully healed. Your fistulas must be fully developed so you can begin stretching. Piercings and stretched piercings heal from the outside in. If your piercing LOOKS healed, it doesn’t mean it IS healed.
If you have been pierced much earlier, or you have waited the right amount of time after your piercing was healed, you are ready to stretch. Please keep in mind that after a certain point, your ears will be permanently stretched. You can stretch your ears up to a 2g before you aren’t able to go back to a regular piercing size. For some, it may be a 4g, and for others, it may be a 0g. Everyone is different in terms of how they heal. If you passed the “point of no return” and you don’t want to have stretched ears anymore, you can get them surgically modified back to normal.
If you want to stretch your ears, you must understand how sizes work. In America, you use the “gauge” system of measurement. The larger the number, the smaller it is. It goes by 2’s (14, 12, 10, 8, etc). Pierced ears are typically from a 20g - 16g. To stretch, you would typically start with a 16g or 14g, then go to a 12g, 10g, and so on. When you get to a 0g, you will go to a 00g (double zero) and it becomes increments of an inch. Yeah. It’s pretty stupid. If you live anywhere else, they use millimeters. Learn each size by the millimeter by using sizing chart.
If you want to know the best sizes to stop at, it’s a good idea to learn what sizes sell the most jewelry. I find that these sizes are usually very standard to stop at when stretching your ears: 4g (5mm), 0g (8mm), 1/2 (13mm), 5/8 (16mm), 3/4 (19mm), 1in (25mm)
You must also be aware of what happens when you DON’T stretch correctly. Yes, it is possible to do it horribly wrong and hurt yourself.
When stretching, you MUST make sure you don’t run into ANY of these problems:
- discoloration in the fistula
- thinning of the lobe
These things will lead to more serious problems that you can’t fix without surgery or being scalpelled in the future. If you continue to run into these problems, even at the smallest sizes, you will run into THESE problems:
Blowout: This is pretty much when the skin on the inside of your piercing is forced out the back. If you let it heal, it will leave a flap of skin on the back of your stretched piercing. This is NOT attractive, unless you find skin flaps to be attractive. You can try to allow the skin to absorb back into the fistula, but it usually doesn’t work. You will have scar tissue, which is more difficult to stretch.
Cat ass: After not taking care of your stretched ears, stretching too quickly, and bastardizing any of the instructions on this guide, your stretched ear can resemble that of a cat’s asshole. I find assholes to be unattractive in general, but this is, again, a personal opinion. You can try to do a ton of sea salt soaks and oil massages to help it look less asshole-like, but it probably won’t work. Getting scalpelled is probably the only thing that will help.
Thinning/Ripping: After stretching too quickly and forming too much scar tissue in one area of your lobe, your lobe can rip in half. This sucks and sounds extremely painful. Please don’t run into this problem.
Lack of bloodflow/Necrosis: Yes! This can happen! You’re still alive, so you want to make sure bloodflow runs through your stretched lobe. If your ear is thinning in one area, you are probably losing bloodflow. If it stays this way for a long period of time, you might develop necrosis.
If you don’t know what any of these things look like, or you’re just not getting it, please refer to this disturbing slideshow of everything we’ve talked about above. NSFW and may not be good for those that are squeamish. Trust me. You DON’T want to become any of these people in the slideshow. For the love of whatever you believe in. PLEASE do it right.
Now. These things can be very easily avoided. Just do it right and follow this guide! I made sure to put all the scary stuff first so you can understand what happens when you don’t follow it! :)
Before you start, you will need a couple things:
- no flare or single flare steel plugs/glass plugs and steel tapers, or a complete stretching kit (with both steel plugs and tapers)
- an oil or lubricant to help you stretch (more info as you read on)
- non-scented soap for sensitive skin (liquid form preferred)
- ptfe/teflon/plumbers tape or bondage tape (for larger sizes)
- sea salt or h2ocean (for sea salt soaks)
- someone that knows what they’re doing, at least for your first time doing this
- I provided you with links to supplies. If you can’t order things off the internet, go to your piercer. He/She can give you those supplies or help you stretch. (Only go to a good piercer that you can trust.) Do not get your stretching supplies from someone that has already used them to stretch with. It’s probably not clean. DO NOT go to hot topic, spencers, or anywhere in the mall for stretching supplies. You can buy their plugs only for when your piercings are healed. (The same goes for plugs that someone else has worn.) Don’t even go there for steel plugs. If you’re unsure what kind of steel it is, don’t buy it. Go to a place that can give you a good answer when it comes to what it’s made of. It’s important to understand what you’re putting in your body, especially when stretching. Do not stretch with acrylic, silicone, or any organic materials. These materials are porous and harbor bacteria. Some stones are less porous than others, but I think it would be best to stick with steel and glass. They are your best bet.
- There are many oils to choose from. If you ask people, they will give you different answers to what they prefer. The three oils that people tend to use are vitamin E oil, emu oil, and jajoba oil (pronounced huh-ho-buh). You can also buy holey buttr, which I have heard good things about. They all have different smells and consistencies. If you are not vegan or you are okay with using animal products, I usually recommend emu oil. It has the ability to regenerate skin cells and can thicken your lobes. Although, the others are also very good for you and moisturize your lobes. Just remember that it’s the massage that truly thickens your lobes, not the kind of oil you use. If you cannot order things off of the internet, you can find vitamin E oil at any pharmacy. I have also found jajoba oil at a whole foods. Some people like to use lotions and creams, but I recommend using oils because they have better staying power and don’t have any chemical additives.
- You want to make sure that you’re using the right soap to clean your stretched ears. Of course, after they’re fully healed at the size that they’re at, you can use any soap that you fancy. Although, you want to make sure it heals correctly, so get some unscented soap for sensitive skin. The most recommended soap is Provon cleanser. It’s a very gentle cleanser for unhealed piercings and stretched piercings. If you can’t afford this cleanser, you can use another unscented, liquid soap. If all you can find is unscented bar soap, make sure you keep in enclosed in a soap container. Many people find that liquid soap is the way to go because not as much bacteria collects and it’s much easier to use. Just make sure that if you use bar soap, you keep it very clean.
- The ptfe/bondage tape is good to have only if you plan on stretching passed a 4g or a 2g. The taping method of stretching is different from the tapering method and it’s highly recommended to stretch with tape at bigger sizes so you can have a much more gradual stretch. You want to make sure you ONLY use ptfe or bondage tape when using the taping method!! DO NOT stretch with electrical tape. Not only does it have adhesives, but it is also porous, so the adhesives can go through the tape. You can get ptfe tape for $1 at any hardware store. As for bondage tape, you can get it at any sex store or online. It’s more expensive, but you definitely get a lot of it and it comes in a variety of colors. Both tapes are nonadhesive and don’t stick to anything but themselves. They are both completely safe to use on your stretched piercings, as long as you take your time when taping. I will explain the process later.
Sea Salt Soaks:
- Piercers recommend sea salt soaks for cleaning new piercings. Please keep in mind that they are not a requirement for your stretched ears. I have met people that like to use sea salt soaks once in a while, and I have also met people that have never used it on their stretched ears. Although, if you want to use it once in a while or you need to know how to make it, it’s very easy and they are inexpensive to make! I have created a piercing book in my graphic design class and one of the spreads contains information on how to make sea salt soaks. Please refer to it here. You may want to make it full size so you can easily read it. It’s also a children’s book, just in case you think I’m insulting your intelligence, which I’m not. If you’re either too lazy to make a sea salt solution or you’re willing to spend the money, you can get H2Ocean, which works just the same.
Having someone there to help:
- It’s good to have someone there to help you when you’re stretching for the first time. It’s even better to have an experienced person talk you through it. Having someone around is optional, but if you’re reading this guide, you’re probably responsible enough to do it without help. Just sayin’.
Just in case it didn’t soak in, I will repeat things to make sure you fully understand:
- DO NOT get your stretching materials from the mall
- DO NOT stretch with acrylic, silicone, or organic materials
- DO NOT get your stretching materials from people that have already used them to stretch with
- DO NOT stretch with electrical tape or any tape with adhesives
Now that you have everything you need, you are finally ready to stretch!!
The Tapering Method
1. Wash your hands. It’s important that you have clean hands when you’re dealing with any sort of body modification. Wait until the water is warm. It’s always good to work with warm water because it helps your skin relax.
2. Wash your lobes with the warm water and unscented soap. This is also a good time to wash your taper and plugs with the same unscented soap. (Take off the o-rings before doing so)
3. Take the oil of your choice and massage your lobes with it. You only need a little bit of it.
4. Take the same oil and put it all over the steel taper.
5. Now take the taper and gently put it in your piercing. Make sure you go very slowly. If it doesn’t go through, you are either (a) not ready to stretch, (b) skipping sizes, or (c) you need to add more oil. It’s probably going to be choice (a) or (b). DON’T FORCE THE TAPER THROUGH. This will tear your lobe or give you a blowout. For your first time, just a tiny sting is fine, but PAIN ISN’T. If you’ve been trying to a little while and the taper won’t budge, this is an indication that your body isn’t ready. Put your old earrings/plugs back in and wait for a few weeks. Even if your piercer tells you when you should be ready, your body might not go by that same timeline. Some people can stretch a bit more quickly than others.
6. If you were able to get the taper through painlessly, then you made your first stretch! Keep the taper in your ear and put some oil on the plug. Now, put the plug up to the taper and follow it into your ear. It’s a little hard to do, especially at smaller sizes, but if the stretch wasn’t painful, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
7. Put on your o-rings.
8. Now, do the same thing with your other ear. The stretch in that ear will be harder or easier than the first ear. If it’s harder, it’s called your bitch ear. If it’s much easier, then your other ear was probably your bitch ear. Everyone has one. Just make sure the other ear is ready to be stretched. if it’s not, wait a week or two and try again.
9. After an uneventful stretch, you can change your plug to any material you like after a week or two. Wait at least a month or two before wearing double flare plugs.
Now that you just stretched your ears, it’s time to learn about waiting times!!! Yes! You have to actually wait until you can stretch again! But for how long? I have come up with a list of waiting times to give you an idea for how long you should wait:
My waiting times apply to EACH SIZE. So, 18g to 16g is a 1.5 month wait, 16g to 14g is a 1.5 month wait, 14g to 12g is a 1.5 month wait, and so on.
starting point - 8g: 1.5 months
8g - 2g: 2 months
2g+: 3 months (taping method preferred)
My waiting times chart should be followed at the MINIMUM AMOUNT OF TIME YOU SHOULD WAIT. If you think you should wait longer than the times given, then DO IT.
Why do I have to wait so long?!
Great question! The process of stretching is a very slow process. You are doing something to your body that it isn’t used to initially doing. You are not made of jelly. You are not made of playdo. You are not gumbi. You are made of skin, blood, and all that jazz. Do not think that because you’re young and invincible you can stretch quickly. The people in that slideshow probably thought that they could get away with stretching quickly, but no one can. Please, follow the guideline. Don’t think “Welllll it’s been a few weeks and I feel fine” or “one millimeter isn’t that big of a deal..” You need to give your body time to heal, then even more time for the piercing to loosen. Stretch according to YOUR BODY. It’s not a competition. It’s not a game. Being patient and following the timeline will help you win in the end! If you do as I say, you will have thick, healthy lobes that people will be jealous of. So please! Follow the timeline!
Okay, now that I harshly yelled at you, it’s time to discuss the taping method!! This method is great for those of you that are stretching farther than a 4g or a 2g. Just keep in mind that the timeline is still the same.
The Taping Method
1. Get everything that you need together: steel/glass plugs/tunnels in your current size (preferably single flared or no flared tunnels), ptfe/bondage tape, clean scissors, the oil of your choice, and unscented soap.
2. Wash your hands with the unscented soap. While you’re at it, wash your plugs and your lobes.
3. Dry everything off. If you’re using ptfe tape, begin to put the tape around your plug while it’s still on the roll. Make sure to avoid getting any bumps and pack it on the plug. Ptfe tape is very silky and hard to control sometimes, but it gets easier with practice. ONLY do one or two wraps around the plug. After you’re finished, cut the tape with clean scissors. If you’re using bondage tape, you will have to cut a strip of tape off the roll first because the roll is much wider than the plug. Again, do only one or two wraps around the plug.
4. If you’re using ptfe tape, you want to completely drown the plug in oil. Ptfe tape dries out your skin, so it’s good to put a lot of oil on it. Push the oil onto the tape until it becomes clear. Bondage tape doesn’t dry out to such an extent, but you still want to put on a good amount of oil so you can put the plug on.
5. Put some oil on your lobe and put the plug in. This shouldn’t feel like a stretch. It should be extremely gradual.
6. Wait about 4 or 5 more days, then add one or two more layers of tape.
7. Having calipers is a great tool to have when taping. You can measure the plug when you’re not sure if you’re at the next size yet. This is better than lining the plugs up together then trying to stuff the next one in, only to find out that you’re not ready.
Keep in mind that the same timeline applies. After you taped up to the next size, wait three months. You can begin taping afterwards.
Here are a few things you should remember:
- Pain ISN’T normal when stretching
- DO NOT skip sizes
- DO NOT stretch too quickly
- DO NOT force the taper through
- DO NOT add too much tape at once
Dead stretching is another method of stretching your lobes. This means that you put in the next size without the use of tapers or tape; just the plug. This is possible because you would be waiting enough time for your lobes to stretch by themselves. Many people prefer this method of stretching because they like their lobes naturally stretching instead of expanding the piercing with tapers or tape. If you feel more comfortable with this method and have the patience to do it, I encourage it.
Here are some tips that can help you successfully dead stretch:
- Your waiting times should be at least two or three times longer than you would normally wait stretching with a taper. (For example: if you need to give your lobes at least 3 months before stretching with a taper, I would suggest waiting at least 6-9 months before dead stretching.) This will give your lobes enough time to relax and expand on their own.
- A good way to tell if your lobe is ready to dead stretch is gently pulling down your jewelry and seeing a generous gap between your plug and lobe.
- Use steel/glass plugs with rounded ends. This will make it a lot easier when inserting the jewelry. Also, don’t forget to use oil to help with the stretch.
Remember, dead stretching requires much more patience than tapering or taping. Do not try to dead stretch early. You will hurt yourself. Again, the reason why anyone is able to dead stretch is because they are waiting a lot more time to stretch. It is a very natural, healthy way to stretch and if you have the patience, your lobes will always be thick and healthy. If there is any resistance when putting the next plug size in, wait another month or two and try again.
Now that you are finally stretching your ears, you must take care of them! It’s not hard. Just add it to your daily routine!
1. Clean them! A lot of people complain that stretched ears smell bad, but if you clean them and take care of them every day, they won’t. It also depends on the person. Dead skin cells collect on the fistula. That gross stuff that is on your plug when you take it off is called sebum. If it’s still healing, then use the unscented soap you used to stretch them with. If your ears are completely healed, then you can use whatever you wash yourself with in the shower. Remember to clean them every day :)
2. Put oil on them! After you wash them, moisturize by massaging oil on them for 5-10 minutes. Watch your favorite show while doing this. Some people do this twice a day, others do it once a day. Do whatever fits in with your schedule.
Still want to make them thicker?
- Don’t wear plugs when you sleep. Allowing them to relax and let the blood circulate will help them get thick and healthy. If you’re scared that they’ll shrink, keep your plugs out for about 10 minutes during the day and see what happens. If they feel tight when you put your plugs back in, wait for about a month. Try it again. Of course, add on time if it works. If you stop wearing plugs when you sleep, your lobes will very gradually get thicker. It will take time to see results, but it will definitely work.
- The #1 way of making them thicker is downsizing. It doesn’t work for everyone and it depends on how thin your lobes are. I know that downsizing is kind of a bummer, considering that it took you so long to get to that point, but this will definitely help. Take your plugs out for at least two or three months. You will only get results if you wait this long. Trust me on this! Besides, when you downsize, stretching up will be much easier. I suggest waiting the same wait times when you stretch up again.
How to use sea salt solution
Again, this isn’t a requirement when it comes to ear maintenance. Some people like to do sea salt soaks once in a while. Don’t do it more than 2 times a day. It will dry out your ears.
1. After you make it, wait for it to cool down so it’s not scorching hot. It’s best to use while it’s warm.
2. Put it in a tiny container that will be easy to dip your lobe in with. one of those little egg containers or tiny tupperware will be just fine.
3. If your ears are healed, take out your plugs. If they’re not, just take out the o-rings. Dip your lobe into the solution. Keep it there for at least 5 minutes, or when it gets cold. This is also a good time to watch tv. Or youtube. I usually watch youtube.
4. Do this with both lobes. After you are finished, moisturize with oil. The sea salt solution can dry your lobes a little, so don’t forget to moisturize!
Again, never do sea salt soaks more than twice a day. It can really dry out your lobes and hurt them more than help them.
There you go! Now, if you have any questions about stretching, please don’t hesitate to ask. Whatever it is, I will do what I can to help, anon or not.
Also, if you find an error in this guide or want to add something, please let me know!!