Ear Stretching Guide
All about tapers and how to use a taper to stretch your ears
To begin your ear stretching journey, you'll need to know all about tapers. A taper is going to help you safely stretch your ear over time. Tapers are normally made out of acrylic or stainless steel and are exactly as they sound; tapered. They are round at one end, normally the gauge that you are going up to, and then taper down to a point for easy insertion. First, you'll need to learn all the details about sizes and material. These are very important factors when picking the right taper.
Acrylic tapers are going to be your cheapest option. The material isn't good to wear since it can hold bacteria, but you can stretch with it if you need to. You'll need to make sure you wash everything beforehand because if you happen you tear your ear, the acrylic has more of a risk of carrying bacteria than steel. Don't get me wrong, they are okay to stretch with (never wear tapers), but we recommend steel.
Steel tapers are recommended for a few reasons. They are easier to stretch with than acrylic because they are slicker than acrylic. Steel is able to be sterilized which results in a safer stretch because you won't be accidentally introducing bacteria. They are in the same shape as the acrylic tapers; just in a different material.
Steel Tapers - Concave
The concave steel tapers are just like the steel tapers; they're safe to stretch with since they can be sterilized and are easier to use than acrylic. However, there is something special about these tapers compared to others; the concave part. This means that they have a dip in the back where you can put your new plugs at. As you're pushing the tapers through, this puts the new plug in place without the hassle of having to wait until your ear is ready to put the new size in. With steel tapers, when you stretch you normally have to wait a bit or fight with the new, bigger plugs to get them in. This is what makes the concave tapers better. They make the job quick and easy. These tapers are a bit more expensive than acrylic or steel, but they are worth the few extra dollars!
What gauge should you start stretching with?
This is probably the first question that most people have when they begin stretching. After making sure that your ears are fully healed, you can start stretching at a 16 gauge. Most regular piercings are at 18 gauge. You'll only want to go one size bigger during each stretch. You need to remember than your ears have never been stretched before and that they will need to be taken care of. The first step to proper care is to start stretching slowly. Stretching slowly and at the right size will help you stretch more in the future.
How far can I stretch without permanent holes?
When it comes to stretching "beyond the point of no return", there are a lot of opinions and for good reason. Every persons ear lobes are different and have different elasticity. However, we won't know what exactly that point is until we reach it and most people don't want to. Most professionals in the piercing world suggest going no larger than a 0 gauge, preferably a 2 gauge. If you stop at this point, you should have no problem with your ears shrinking back to normal. Of course you have to keep in mind that every person is different but you should be able to take your plugs out at this point and your ear lobes should go back to normal within a few months.
There are a few other things that can factor into your lobes going back to normal. As said in the beginning, stretching slowly and carefully with help with your ear lobe health. If you took your time and didn't skip sizes, this will greatly affect your chances of your ear lobes being able to shrink back down to normal. If you have stretched way too fast and tore your ear lobes, it's going to be harder for your ear lobes to shrink back down to a normal size. There are so many reasons to not skip sizes when stretching and this is one of them!
Have you stretched way too far and are scared that your ear lobes are never going to shrink down to normal? This is possible if you have stretched to a very large size. There is one way to get your ears back to normal and it's surgery. This is something that you want to keep in mind when stretching is the fact that you may need surgery if you stretch too big and then don't want your ear lobes stretched anymore. Another reason to take good care of your lobes!
How long do I wait between stretches?
This is also another popular question that has a lot of opinions. Because of the fact that everyone's body reacts differently, this answer varies. It is recommended that you wait at least 6 weeks in between stretches. This will give your ear lobes time to heal up and become a little loose. However, we recommend that you wait 2-6 months before stretching again. This will really give your lobes the optimal time to heal, reduce the risk of tearing, let your ear lobes thicken up, and get your circulation back in your skin. Your ear lobe is a part of your body and it needs taken care of! Remember, if you want to get to a large size, the key is to stretch slowly, not quickly!
Time to Stretch!
Now you know what to stretch your ears with and how you're going to do so. You've probably already picked out the tapers you're going to use and you're wondering what to do next. The first thing you need to do is wash your hands and anything going in your ear lobe. This will help keep the stretch clean and reduce the risk of infection. Then you'll want to pick a lubricant. You can use jojoba oil, vitamin e oil, or the lubricate we offer on our site. The lubricant with help the taper go in easily and reduce the risk of tearing your lobe.
You'll want to put the lubricant on the taper and your ear lobe and then slowly put the taper in. You should do this slowly and it shouldn't be painful. You don't need to rush through this process, however your ear should stretch pretty easily. Once you have the taper through, you'll put the plug in right after.
What's the tape wrapping method and how do I use it?
The tape wrapping method is usually used once one gets above a 0 gauge. The tape wrapping method helps to stretch your lobes slowly and carefully. It is used by a lot of people who stretch over an inch as well. What you do is take tape (we will talk about the kinds of tape a little later) and wrap it around your current plugs. You will wrap the tape around your plugs two or three times. This may not seem like a lot but it is. You will then lubricate then, put the plugs in, let them heal, and then do the same thing until you get to a bigger size. These few wraps of tape on your plugs will help to slowly and safely stretch your ears. It will reduce the risk of tearing greatly because your lobes will start to thin the bigger you stretch.
How often should you do the tape method?
This varies but you should be okay to tape your ears two or three times a week. This will take longer than using a taper but it will help you keep your ear lobes thick and healthy for the bigger sized gauges.
What kind of tape can I use?
Most people assume that they can use regular tape, electrical tape, or duct tape and this is not true. You'll want to use tape that is not only safe for your ears but is also thin enough to use properly. You can use PTFE tape and Bondage tape.
PTFE is a great and inexpensive tape that you can use to stretch. The good things about it is that it is very good in price, non-adhesive so it only sticks to itself, super thin so you can slowly increase your size, and it doesn't irritate your ears like some tapes do (such as electric tape). It is about ½" in width so it fits well on almost all plugs under 1 inch.
PTFE tape is a popular tape used in the taping method. PTFE tape is cheap and thin and it won't irritate your ears. It isn't sticky like regular tape or electrical tape but it will stick to itself. This will make it safer when you are stretching. The PTFE tape is very thin and it will help you to slowly stretch your ears to a bigger size. Stretching 2-3 times a week will be easy to do with the PTFE tape.
Bondage tape is the second best tape used during the taping method. The bondage tape is self-adhesive just like the PTFE tape. It is wide enough to fit on your plugs but thin enough to be able to stretch with. It is smooth which makes for easy insertion after you have wrapped your plugs over and over. It is also just as safe as PTFE but just a little more expensive.
Does stretching too big and too fast really hurt my ear lobes?
Simply put, yes! Skipping sizes or stretching when your ear aren't healed can cause a lot of problems. You can easily tear your ears. This can introduce infection, pain and bleeding, as well as hurt the elasticity in your ears. When you stretch your ears too quickly, you really aren't stretching your ears but tearing your skin. This is the reason we ask that you wait at least a month between stretches, if not longer. You are really doing more bad than good. If you stretch slowly, you will be able to stretch your ears much bigger in the end. Stretch slowly and never skip sizes!
Gross Ear Funk, why do I get it and how can I fix it?
Ear funk, most commonly called ear cheese, is the gross smell that you'll notice once you start stretching your ears. No, this doesn't mean your ear lobes are infected or anything. This is actually a normal reaction that happens when you stretch your ears. In reality, ear funk is actually dead skin cells. I am sure you know that dead skins fall off as new ones grow. This is what is happening with your ears. The dead skin cells are building up and create this awful smelling stuff. You can fix it by making sure you wash your ears daily while you're in the shower or wearing some organic plugs!
Blowouts?! How do I fix it if it happens?
Blowouts are probably something you've heard of while researching stretched ears. A blowout is another common problem that happens when you stretch too quickly or skip sizes. A fistula is what the forms when your ear piercing is healed, like a tough circle of skin. When you stretch too fast, this fistula literally is forced out of the piercing. This will leave extra skin around your ears. Essentially to needto take your plugs out and let it heal. If you keep stretching with it, your blowout will just get worse. It can even take permanent.
There are a few ways you can fix a blowout. As I've already mentioned, you can just take your plugs out and let them heal. Or you can take them out and just put plugs that are 2 to 3 sizes smaller than where you were before you stretched. This will keep your ear lobes stretched while also allowing room for your ear lobe to heal. Healing a blowout is important because it can affect your ear lobe health and hault any further stretching. Besides downsizing a few sizes, you can also massage your ears a few times a day with vitamin e oil to help aid the process of healing along.
How do I insert double flared plugs?
Double flared plugs can be a pain to put in. What the flares are made to do is to keep your plug in. Because of this, that means the flares (not the plugs, just the outsides) are slightly larger than the size of your plug that you are putting in.
We recommend using the lubricant of your choice, for example vitamin e or jojoba oil. You can then lubricant both the lobe and the plug and start to put it in sideways. If you are putting the plug in at an angle, you are easing the process of putting this "larger" size in your ear lobe. You'll want to be careful doing this so that you don't tear your lobe. It isn't much bigger but you do still need to be careful.
The smaller your ear lobes are, the harder it is to wear double flared plugs.It isn't impossible, but it is a bit harder to put through. You could try the taping method that we mentioned above to help put them in, but you'll need to lubricate them before you take them back out.
Moisterizing Your Piercing
Keeping your lobes moisturized is important. Not only does it aid in healing, but it also helps your ear lobe's circulation and greatly reduces the risk of tearing and blowouts. This will keep your ear lobes thick and healthy and ready to stretch up to the next size. You can use jojoba oil, vitamin e oil, or our holey butt'r. Taking care of your ear lobes is a vital part of the stretching process!
How do I care for organic plugs?
Organic plugs need to be taken care of just like other plugs. Organic plugs are made out of wood, horns, bones and many other materials. Because they are made of living things, they need to be cared for. You don't need to do a whole routine, but you need to make sure that you know what you'll need to do to take care of them. For example, if you're using wood plugs, you'll need to know that when they get wet that will expand. And when you are using bone to make sure to use jojoba oil on them. This will keep the plugs looking nice and shiny just as if you were washing your steel plugs.
Do I have an infection? How do I treat it?
You'll probably know it when you have an infection. Be on the look out for anything unusual like red, swollen ear lobes, extreme itching, discharge, or a warmth coming from your lobes. This more than likely means that you have an infection. An infection in your ear lobes needs to be treated like any other infection as it can cause serious problems. The first thing you'll need to do is to switch your jewelry to something like steel or glass. This will help keep your ear from being irritated first of all. You'll want to downsize a size or two if you've just stretched your lobes as this can be the cause of the infection. And lastly if you feel that the infection is getting worse, you'll need to see a doctor. Infections are important to get taken care of as soon as possible so that they don't turn into something worse.