You don’t need me to tell you how popular stretched lobes have become. You already get the idea. Here at the shop, I help literally all types of people with stretching their lobes. Clients love it because the selection or materials, colors, and types of jewelry really opens up with stretched lobes. Unfortunately, the infamous Google machine, the resource everyone turns to for any small amount of research, is fraught with false information. It’s hard to know starting out what’s safe, and what will destroy your ears. Not literally. There’s not really anything that’s going to make your ears explode off your head or something. But there are always things that can go wrong, and the idea is to prevent all of those things, right?
DO’S AND DON’TS:
DO: Start small. A lot of people will see the sizes we recommend to begin stretching with and be disappointed. Understandably. You’ve made the decision to stretch your ears! Yay! Off to our local shop we go… and the 14g single flare glass plugs might not be quite what you were imagining. The fact of the matter is, slow and gentle stretching will always be the way to go. Be patient and it’ll be rewarded, I promise.
DON’T: Try to hasten your stretching process with tapers. Tapers tend to encourage a forced entry, if you will. Sometimes, clients see a taper and think, “Well I can probably skip a couple sizes with this.” No. A thousand times no. I say this because I care about you. Don’t do it. An overly aggressive stretch can lead to lobe thinning, scarring, blowouts, and tearing. None of those are fun. The point isn’t to hurt yourself.
DO: Stretch slow. Your skin has a natural elasticity. Let it do its thing, it knows what to do. The most important of body art will always be to trust your body, do the right stuff and it will help you in return.
DON’T: Stretch with silicone. Not even medical grade. Don’t get me wrong - silicone is awesome. But only for healed lobes. Silicone eyelets are collapsible. You kind of scrunch them up, stick ‘em in your ear-holes, and they pop open. If they are the proper size, they’re fine. But stretching with silicone poses several risks. For starters, it’s similar to our taper argument: They encourage a forced stretch. People tend to do it because they like how quick and easy it might be to get that thing in your ear and pop it open, but that small amount of time saved will be extra time spent tending to injured lobes, and no one wants that.
SAFE STRETCHING METHODS
It’s always best to have your piercer stretch your ears for you, but if you're seasoned enough in the art, doing it yourself at home can be safe and effective. Leave the tapering to the professionals. If you're stretching at home, here are the two methods you want to stick to:
As I said before, your skin has natural elasticity. Therefore, the best way to stretch your ears is to slowly "dead" stretch them. This is done by stretching with a single flare plug made out of an inert, non-porous, body-safe material. Glass is my favorite for sure. It’s so slick, easy to clean, and the back of glass plugs are typically rounded, making the stretch more gentle. Jojoba oil makes a world of difference. Massage that good stuff on your ears for a few minutes about once a day, while you're watching Netflix or something. No big deal. This greatly increases elasticity in your skin, diminishing the chance of a tear or blowout. After a while, you’ll notice that the plugs you're currently wearing are becoming loose. A little (gentle, gentle, gentle) tug downwards on your plug may show a gap between your jewelry and your earlobe. This is so good. We love this. This is what you want. Once you’ve got gap, go ahead and head to your local shop to grab your next size. When you’re ready for your stretch, make sure your plugs are clean. (Soap and water is fine. Steer clear of first aid solutions like rubbing alcohol or Bactine. These can dry out your lobe. That’s bad news bears, man.) Lube up your lobe and plug with some of your jojoba oil, or whatever you decide to use. (No antibiotic ointments or petroleum jellies, though. Stick to the natural stuff. Some people like coconut oil or Vitamin E oil, but you want to stick with something ultra moisturizing rather than a skin protectant.) Wiggle that plug in, dude. It should slide on in with little resistance, it shouldn’t be painful. It might be a little tight, but that makes sense, right? Now repeat this sequence of events until you’ve reached your ideal size. Stretching your ears this way will help your lobes to look healthy and happy, instead of shriveled and angry looking.
Sometimes with dead stretching, there are particular sizes that can be super tricky to get in there. And since you don’t want to force it, it feels almost impossible to get up to that next size. Personally, my ears are not very stretchy. So the taping method works super well for me. But you can’t just use any tape. There’s no reason why wearing duct tape in your ears would be pleasant. You want a tape that will only stick to itself, like PTFE tape or bondage tape. I’ve used both, and I prefer the PTFE, but I know several people who prefer the bondage tape, so it’s up to you. (Fun fact: Going to your local adult store and asking the clerk for bondage tape for your ears will solicit the best “Wait...what?” face you’ve ever seen.) Wrapping the tape around the wearable surface of your plug will thicken it just a little bit. Make sure the tape is wrapped smoothly around your plug, avoid any little wrinkles or tears, and make sure your smooth the edges really well. Basically, you're dead-stretching your ear with this method, too. But verrrrrryyyyy slowly. Don’t go wrapping your tape around and around and around your plug, because you can still stretch too fast using tape. Slow your roll, buddy. (And here you have just read the literal best pun of all time. You’re welcome.) It’s important that you only tape your plugs when your ears are healed, stretching your ears again before they are healed is, again, bad news bears. Oil those suckers up good, too. Make sure your ears are moisturized like no other. Don’t be shy. It’s pretty difficult to over-do it.
It’s important to note that if your earlobes are unreasonably tender, bleeding, or unreasonably swollen, please contact your local piercing studio immediately for further instruction. A legit infection calls for medical attention. Watch for fever, pus, and red streaks branching out from the wound. If you notice any of these signs, head on over to the doctor and get that dealt with immediately, if not sooner. Your piercer is not a medical professional.
Well-stretched ears are much easier to care for when healed, and as I said before, stretching your ears nicely will prevent most complications before, after, and during the stretching process. Be nice to your body, and your stretched lobes will look RAD.