Updated: May 14, 2022
Ear stretching is a method of expanding your current lobe piercing to allow for larger sizes of jewellery to be worn. This practice has its roots in a variety of cultures and has been performed for thousands of years, and more recently has become a popular method of self-expression.
Stretching your ears safely is key to hitting your goal size without injuring your ears. There are risks to stretching if you don't do it properly or if you try to rush. The most important thing to remember is that this is a slow process and it can take you many years to reach larger sizes. But don't let that put you off!
What do I need to do to begin stretching my ears?
First of all, you will need a completely healed lobe piercing. I recommend that you don't start stretching your lobes until you have had your lobe piercings for at least 12 months to ensure that they are fully healed and ready.
There are different ways to stretch your lobes, however, there are only two methods that I recommend to my customers: dead stretching and taping.
This sounds scary, but it is actually the safest and least painful way to stretch your ears.
Dead stretching involves inserting a new plug that is a small increment bigger than the jewellery you are currently wearing until you reach your target size. I recommend doing this in 1mm increments.
You should massage your ears with lobe-friendly oil, such as Jojoba oil, and gently push the new plug into your piercing. You should not feel any pinching or sharp pains. If it hurts, then you should stop and reinsert your original jewellery as your ears are not ready for that next stretch. Your ears will stretch naturally with the weight of the glass plug, however, this can take several months.
This method can be used in conjunction with dead stretching and is more commonly used at larger sizes, however, it can be used at any size. This method involves using ear stretching tape, a very thin tape that does not stick to your ears and wrapping a layer around your current jewellery before reinserting it. This allows you to stretch in much smaller increments than 1mm.
By building up the layers you will be able to slowly stretch your ears to your next size. This needs to be done very slowly and carefully.
This method involves inserting a long taper into your lobe to stretch your ear to the next size. I do not personally recommend tapers to my customers as they are generally considered unsafe due to their potential to cause tears and blowouts.
If you are set on using tapers to stretch your ears, make sure you only use them when stretching and do not wear them as jewellery. The taper should only be used to stretch the lobe until you can insert the next size of jewellery safely.
How long should I wait before my next stretch?
Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to this question, as all bodies are different. I generally recommend that you wait at least 3 months between stretches to allow your body to stretch naturally.
If you go too fast, you could experience one or more of the following:
Thinning of the lobe that can lead to ripping, tearing or tissue death.
Scar tissue build-up which can stop your stretching journey and lead to what is known as 'cat butthole' ears where your ears start to resemble... you guessed it!
Blowouts: a painful ring of tissue that makes it look as though your ear is turning inside out, which is as gross and painful as it sounds!
Pain isn't normal!
The most important thing to remember is that if you are trying to stretch and you feel pain, then stop. This is your body's way of telling you that it is not ready. It's a common misconception that stretching hurts, but this is completely wrong. People who are experiencing pain while stretching are either using an unsafe method, going faster than their body can handle, or both!
Stretching is a fantastic way to express yourself and the results can look amazing, but it's vital that you listen to your body and go slow, otherwise you can risk permanent damage. For more information on safe piercing, you can follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
What Size is next?
If you have a normal earring in then you are probably at a 1mm or a 1.2mm. You can ask your piercer to pierce you at a larger gauge but most people start at a standard earring size. The progression if pretty simple!
It is important for the health of your holes that you do not stretch more than 1mm at a time and allow plenty of time between stretches, this is different for everyone and can be anywhere from 12 weeks (3 months) to a year! DO NOT RUSH.
Wait what does that G mean?
Depending on who you talk to they may use G (or gauge) or mm (millimetres) to measure what size hole they have. Neither is better or more correct than the other. After 00g, there are no more G's, and people will either measure in inches or millimetres, again neither is more correct than the other.