The process of ear stretching is a relatively simple, but time consuming process depending on your goal size. It is advised to only start stretching your ears after the initial piercings have fully healed. Usually around 4-6 months and to only stretch at a rate of 1mm every 4-6 weeks. There are a variety of ways to stretch your ears, some better than others and some which shouldn’t be used at all. Such as, dead stretching, taping, using weights, large gauge initial piercing, insertion pins, dermal punching. Dead stretching is the process whereby a larger object is simply pushed through a piercing. Dead stretching is only recommended when the tissue is ready and when using a piece of jewellery which is not too big for the piercing otherwise you run the risk of tearing your ear lobe and causing damage. Using the taping method to stretch your ears is a safe, cost effective way of stretching your piercing. It involves using Teflon tape, available online and at some retail shops. The process of taping is relatively simple, all you need to do is wrap one layer around your jewellery every couple of days which when reinserted will stretch your piercing minutely.  The things to look out for are uneven wraps of tape which can cause a misshapen hole and small micro tears if the jewellery is being moved around a lot. Using weights is a method of stretching which is in some cases is fine but others it is not recommended. Wearing heavier jewellery such as stone in your stretched piercing can help your piercing to stretch as it will distribute weight around the whole piercing site, whereas wearing a heavy bcr will create uneven pressure on the bottom of the piercing. If having stretched ears is something you do not want to wait to achieve, depending on your anatomy you will be able to have your initial piercing done at a slightly larger gauge or be dermal punched. These will create instant stretched piercings; however both have their good points and bad points which your local piercer will be able to run through with you if this is a service they offer. To see a copy of my stretching guide please follow this link: http://www.bodymattersgold.com/blog/ciarons-ear-stretching-guide/ As with other piercings, jewellery for your stretched lobes comes in various shapes, sizes and materials. The sizing part is simple as you’ll know what size you have stretched your piercing to. Choosing a shape and material is a different story as there are so many options.

Materials

Stone– Stone is a natural material which dependent on the type of stone will be very durable or very fragile. Obviously goes without saying if you drop it on a hard surface you will damage your jewellery. It comes in various colours and styles which if you’re looking for something a bit different these are for you as you can get some fantastic colours in some stones such as some forms of obsidian, agates, fluorite and many others. The important thing is not to expose your stone plugs to too much direct sunlight as this can cause them to change or lose a bit of colour. Wood – Wood is a material that has been used for many years to make ear jewellery. Just like stone it has many variants some better than others and some that should be completely avoided as not all woods are as biocompatible as others.  Some cause irritation and others are toxic and not suitable for wear. It is advised not to expose your wood ear plugs to heat or moisture as this can cause the wood to swell and crack allowing bacteria to harbour in the small cracks. If you have irritated or sensitive skin it is recommended not to wear wood.

Titanium – Titanium is a fantastic material for wearing in fresh and healed piercings. It is an inert metal with zero nickel content which means people with metal sensitivities and nickel sensitivities should have no issues wearing it. It is lightweight, nearly half the weight of steel, durable, strong and resistant to corrosion so is suitable for long term wear. The great thing about titanium is that it can be anodised which is a process changes the colour of titanium. The colours range from browns to blues to yellows and even multicoloured. Steel – Steel is a very durable metal, but can also be very heavy in large sizes. Some people find they have reactions to low quality steel as it has traces of nickel in it. It is advised that if you have sensitive skin to only wear this in healed stretches. If you do have issues with wearing steel, titanium is a cheap, suitable replacement.

Horn/Bone – Horn and bone are two organic materials commonly used to make jewellery for stretched ears. Jewellery made from horn is usually made from water buffalo horn and bone jewellery is often made from animals which are killed for their meat. This makes this option not suitable for vegans. Horn and bone jewellery needs to be regularly oiled with a product like beeswax as they are both materials which absorb oils.

Glass – Glass is a good choice for wear in stretched lobes as when made lead free they are inert, biocompatible and strong. However, once again make sure you don’t drop them on a hard surface. It is advised to store these away from your metal plugs as these can scratch the glass and make them unsuitable for wear. Precious Metals – Gold has been used in body piercings for a very long time however not all gold is equal. Gold is measured in karats which determine the purity of the gold. The minimum standard advised for wear in healed piercings in 14ct gold which is 58.5% gold and 41.5% other alloys. BMG gold’s are all mixed nickel free, including our white gold which is a mix of palladium and silver to give a bright white finish. If there is too much of certain alloys such as copper no matter how high the karat of gold this can cause reactions such as itchiness, irritation and swelling. Gold is a brilliant metal to wear in stretched ears, but only if it is alloyed for use in piercings.

Platinum is the perfect metal for wear in stretched lobes. It is completely inert, has a bright white finish and is very strong. It does not react with bodily fluids and also does not tarnish. However it is a very rare metal which means it is also very expensive so is not a very common material worn in piercings.

Acrylic /Silicone – Acrylic is one of the most common materials worn in stretched lobes. It is cheap, comes in a variety of colours and designs and incredibly lightweight. Acrylic is also very fragile and tightening the threads on a plug too tight can cause the backing to snap. It is also very easy to scratch which can cause an uneven wearing surface. Be careful with exposing acrylic to temperatures to warm or to cold as this can cause the material to warp. Silicone is a soft, flexible form of plastic which also comes in many colours and qualities. Silicone is usually very sticky and can stick to the inside of your stretched lobe so it is important to clean regularly with mild soap and water to avoid irritation.

Extra Information – Point Of No Return, Tissue massage & Aftercare When people first think of stretching their ears the first thing they usually ask is what size is the maximum they can go that allows their piercing to close to normal earring size. This size varies from person to person and a variety of factors go in to this such as skin elasticity, age, piercing placement, the method used to stretch. Generally speaking the size is anywhere between 6mm/2 gauge and 12mm/ ½ inch. Another thing that is regularly asked is how to care for stretched lobes. Once healed you will need to clean both the stretched lobe and your jewellery using a mild, non scented soap and warm water, make sure both of these are dried afterwards. If you find that recently after a new stretch you have irritated skin/bleeding/tightness around the stretch downsize your jewellery immediately to the previous size and clean your stretch like it was a new piercing with a saline solution.  Another problem that can occur from stretching is a blowout. These happen when a piercing is stretched too quickly and a section of skin is pushed out of the piercing channel. Once this happens it can be permanent but there are things you can do to minimise this and occasionally get rid of it altogether. The first thing to do is remove the jewellery and insert smaller jewellery; you can try and insert this from behind to push the skin back into the channel. When it comes to your next stretch you can insert the taper from the back as well. Daily tissue massages can help break down the scar tissue, use  a biocompatible lubricant like vitamin e oil or jojoba oil and for a few minutes each day and just roll the tissue between your  thumb and finger firmly, this is also helpful for healed piercings without blowouts. Don't forget to check out BMG's exclusive range of Ear Tunnels, Ear Plugs and Ear Flares - All handmade with precious metals, diamonds and gemstones. We have also custom made stretched ear jewellery, you can see these in our Custom Galleries.

  Ear Stretching Size Guide:
Gauge (AWG) Inches - Fractional Inches - Decimal Millimetres
20g 0.032” 0.8mm
18g 0.040” 1mm
16g 0.051” 1.2mm
1/16” 0.062” 1.587mm
14g 0.064” 1.6mm
12g 0.081” 2mm
10g 0.102” 2.5mm
1/8” 0.125” 3.1mm
8g 0.129” 3.2mm
6g 0.162” 4mm
3/16” 0.188” 4.7mm
4g 0.204” 5mm
¼” 0.250” 6.3mm
2g 0.258” 6.5mm
5/16” 0.312” 7.9mm
0g 0.325” 8.25mm
00g 0.365” 9.26mm
3/8” 0.375” 9.5mm
000g 0.410” 10.4mm
7/16” 0.438” 11.1mm
0000g 0.460” 11.6mm
½” 0.500” 12.7mm
9/16” 0.562” 14.28mm
5/8” 0.625” 15.87mm
11/16” 0.688” 17.46mm
¾” 0.750” 19mm
13/16” 0.812” 20.6mm
7/8” 0.875” 22.22mm
15/16” 0.938” 23.8mm
1” 1” 25.54mm