Stretching (or gauging) your ears is a serious body modification, that should not be taken lightly.
We have put together a guide of how to stretch your ears in the safest possible way, but take accept no responsibility regarding any damage that you may inflict on yourself by using the guide.
Tips before you begin stretching
If you have recently had your ears pierced you must wait at least 4 to 6 months to allow your piercing to properly heal. Once it has healed completely you can being the stretching process.
Set yourself a 'Goal' size. This 'Goal' size can depend on many different aspects of your life. Are you still at school? Will stretching your ears hamper any future job prospects you may have? etc... Once you have thought these through and set yourself a 'Goal' then make sure you stick to it. It can sometimes to be easy to get carried away and exceed your 'Goal' size.
As a general rule of thumb, if you stretch to about 8mm or smaller, you ears will return to normal once the plugs have been removed (dependent on age/skin elasticity etc..) This is generally known as the 'Point of no return'. Once you go past 8mm you will often have a hole in your ear, and will need to be dedicated to lifelong wearing of plugs/tunnels.
Stretching your ear lobes using tapers
The most common way to stretch your ears is by the use of tapers. Tapers can be bought in a set, or individually. We would recommend that you purchase each taper and a matching plug/tunnel size individually as it prevents you from getting carried away and stretching up your ears too quickly and causing your ears damage.
You must first establish the size of your current piercing, and then stretch to one size up. NEVER skip sizes! Here is a list of some of the sizes available:
|2G||6.0 - 6.5mm||1/4"|
|00G||9 - 10mm||3/8"|
Once you have got your taper, you first need to get some water based lubricant, such as Bio Oil/Emu Oil (never used an oil based lubricant like Vaseline) rub a generous amount of the oil into your ear lobes and gently massage them. This will warm your ears up and make them more supple in order to help ease the taper through your ear.
Now take the correct size taper and rub some oil onto it. Take the taper and slowly start to push it into the front of your piercing.
You will need to apply some pressure to get the taper through, but do not force it. If you start to feel overly uncomfortable, stop.
Once you have got the taper right through your ear, so that the end is just sticking out of the front, put the rubber O-rings on the front and back to keep the taper in place.
Leave the taper in your ear for a couple of hours in order to let your ear get accustomed to the new stretch, but do not wear the taper in your ear for prolonged periods.
After a couple of hours, again take some water-based oil and rub it around the stretch and slide the taper out of your ear.
You should now be able to insert a plug/tunnel into your ear quite easily. Start by inserting a plug/tunnel that requires O-rings rather than a saddle plug.
Once your ear has settled down and got used to being that size, you can swap the plug/tunnel with O-rings to a saddle plug/tunnel.
Again, I reiterate, DO NOT skip sizes when stretching your ears and leave at least 4 weeks before stretching up again.
How to look after your stretched ears
Once you have taken the decision to stretch your ears, you must be prepared to look after your stretches.
The main thing when looking after your stretches is to keep your ear lobes nice and supple by gently massaging a water-based oil (Bio-Oil/Emu Oil) into your ear lobes at least once a day for 2-3 minutes.
This can be done before you go to bed, but is very important for maintaining your stretches and keeping your ear lobes in a good condition.
Another good idea is to wear organic material plugs/tunnels such as wood, horn or stone to keep your stretches nice. These materials are natural and let your ear breathe which reduces swelling, itching and redness that other man-made materials such as acrylic/silicone may cause.
If you do find that your ears begin to itch, feel sore, look red or anything else it is advised to switch to a different material type. Everyone is different, and are affected by different materials, so just keep a close eye on how your body reacts to different materials.
How to look after your plugs
Looking after your plugs is almost as important as looking after your ears.
Wooden plugs require the most care to keep them in a good condition. Here are a few tips to keep your wooden plugs in good order:
1. Make sure that you rub a bit of water-based oil over the plugs each day when removing/inserting your plugs. Wood is a natural material and was once alive, and needs to be kept supple otherwise it can start to split.
2. Never submerge your wooden plugs in water for prolonged periods. Remeber to take them out before you have a bath or shower. If they do get covered in water make sure that you dry them off and then rub a generous amount of a water-based oil (Bio Oil/Emu Oil) into them to make them supple again.
3. Never leave your plugs in direct sunlight as they will heat up and dry out causing them to split, warp and discolour.
Buffalo Horn, Bone and Stone plugs are more resilient than wooden plugs, but still require care to keep them in the best condition possible, so it's a good idea to apply the above to every kind of organic plug/tunnel that you own.
What to do if you have a 'Blow Out'
If you have forced a plug/tunnel into your ear a little too hard and split your stretch you can get what is known as a blow out. This is when the flesh from your stretch becomes exposed and usually manifests itself as a dark colour lump from the back of your ear.
If this happens, or you begin to notice it happening, the best thing to do is to downsize your stretch by at least 1 size immediately to allow your body to try and repair itself.
After at least 4 weeks, or longer if you feel that your stretch hasn't healed properly, you can begin to stretch up a size again.
Blow Outs are not the end of the World, but need fast action in downsizing in order to repair them before it's too late and it becomes permanent.