So you've decided to stretch your ears, eh? Welcome to the club! Stretched ears are a beautiful and expressive form of body modification, and we're excited about your interest to learn more. From gauging to aftercare, here are some helpful tips.
DISCLAIMER: Please follow these tips with discretion as everyone’s ears are different, and we will not be responsible for any issues faced (but we REALLY hope you don’t maim yourself).
Igor Russet Teardrop Plugs on @captainzombie
To prepare your ears for stretching, apply a warm compress to the piercing for several minutes in order to ease up the tissue and make the stretch easier. Then, wash the area, rinse well and pat dry. Once you’re ready for the stretch, apply oil around the perimeter of your piercing. You can apply one drop to the front and back of the piercing and massage it into your skin twice daily.
Stretching with a taper
First, apply 3-5 drops of oil to the front and back of your piercing and gently slide the stretching taper in until you experience mild discomfort. If your skin turns white around the taper, back the taper up slightly - a white ring of skin is a sign that you’re stretching too fast!
Once you’re happy with your stretch, slide a smaller o-ring onto the stretching taper, and stop right before the o-ring touches your skin. It’s normal for your piercing to feel uncomfortable for a few days, and you might also experience throbbing pain, itching or swelling.
Stretching with tape
Stretching with tape is a gradual and slow process. But the upside is that this method allows you to control exactly how far you want to stretch your ears each time.
First, wrap your plugs or tunnels with Teflon or PTFE tape. Soak or wipe your tape with alcohol before use to kill any bacteria that may be present.
You could start off with 3-4 rounds of tape, and increase the number with every stretching session. If you’re unsure about how many layers of tape to wrap around your jewelry, add one layer at a time and reinsert the plugs into your piercing until the the plugs feel tight. Wear your plugs for a few days until you’re able to slide them in and out easily.
Stretching with weights
Simply hang the weights from your healed piercing and allow gravity to do the stretching work for you.
It is advisable to begin stretching with weights only when your ears are stretched to about ½ an inch. Weighted jewelry should only be used on fully healed, stretched piercings.
Wearing weights for too long could result in the thinning of your lobes, and introduce uneven stretching due to concentrated pressure on one area of the lobe. Don't forget to give your lobes a break from weights to allow it time to rest and breathe.
After each stretch is completely healed, give your ears at least two more weeks to heal before stretching again. If you stretch your ears using proper methods – wait long enough between sizes and never skip sizes, you should not have open wounds to care for.
Note that you should only stretch healed piercings, and remember to always wash your hands before touching your piercing.
Oil massages are the best way to maintain healthy stretched ears. They break down scar tissues that were created by the piercing or built up during the stretching process. This should only be done when there are no open wounds or irritation.
You could use Emu, Vitamin E, Jojoba, or Bio oil. Massaging itself is more important than the oil you use, but Vitamin E oil is usually the cheapest and most accessible.
The best time for an aftercare massage is after a hot shower. Then, your pores will be open, allowing your lobes to better absorb the oil. All you have to do is apply a small amount of oil or product onto your fingertips and massage around your earlobes. If your stretched ears have been seasoned, it’s more effective to do the massage without any jewelry on. There’s no set amount of time for the ear massage, but if you have some time, why not give yourself a 5 to 10 minute massage? ;)
Treating wounded ears
If you stretch too fast and experience a rip or tear, it is advisable to clean your lobe area with hot sea salt soaks.
To prepare your sea salt soak, simply mix of ⅛ - ¼ teaspoons of sea salt into a cup of warm water. You could prepare your sea salt soak in a shallow dish or bowl, or a cup with a small surface area. This will make it easy for you to cup the solution over your ears and hold it there. Do this for about 5 - 10 minutes every day until your piercing heals.
Applying alcohol, peroxide or bactine to raw wounds can cause blistering, delay healing and kill healthy cells. So you should never apply these harsh chemicals to your ears while they’re healing.
Blowouts are complete buzzkills (trust us, you don't want to get one), and happen when you stretch your ears too fast. This causes great pressure on the inside of your piercing and the hole to twist inside out.
If you experience a blowout, it is advisable to downsize immediately in order to let your skin rest. Untreated blowouts might cause stubborn scar tissue to form. This affects skin elasticity and makes future stretching more difficult.
Happy stretching! We hope your stretching journey will be as painless as possible. If you’ve got any tips and tricks up your sleeves, let us know in the comments below!