Ear Stretching Guide

Stretching your ears can be one of the most rewarding forms of body modification, as the options for jewelry that can be worn at larger sizes are bold, impactful and create a unique aesthetic.

Jewelry is typically measured in gauges ranging from 20g (smallest) to 00g, with larger sizes referred to in inches or millimeters. In countries that use the metric system, measurements are often only in millimeters rather than gauges. We've created a gauge chart to show the sizes and how they relate to one another that can be found below.

The most important rule when stretching your ears is to never skip sizes. For most people, the initial stretch should be to a 16g or 14g. Make sure your ears are fully healed from the initial piercing before starting this process, at least three to six months.

While it is always recommended to have your ears stretched by a professional piercer, it is possible to do at home with a few key materials.

You'll need:

  • High quality steel tapers (never use acrylic).
  • Jewelry in the next size up in a non-porous material such as steel, titanium, glass or Pyrex. Only stretch with single-flared jewelry. You'll get to wear beautiful organic jewelry later, but it isn't safe for freshly stretched lobes.
  • Jojoba or emu oil to use as a lubricant. Avoid lubricants like Vaseline.

The actual process of stretching is relatively straightforward. Make sure your hands and materials are clean and very gently insert the taper. It should not be painful, perhaps a little tight or uncomfortable, but stop immediately if you feel tearing or begin to bleed. It can be helpful to stretch right after a hot shower. Once the taper is inserted, line the jewelry up with the large end and push it through. It should slide right in after the taper. It is important that you do not wear the taper after stretching. Then just repeat on the other side.

In larger sizes (about 2g and up depending in your anatomy), you may want to consider the taping method. This is where you slowly wrap small layers of Teflon, PTFE or bondage tape around your jewelry to gradually increase the diameter over a longer period of time.

Caring for a freshly stretched ear should be similar to the process you'd use for an initial piercing. Keep it clean using a gentle non-scented soap such as Dr. Bronner's and avoid touching it or applying abrasive chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Some people like to soak their freshly stretched ears in a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt in an 8 oz cup of warm water for five to 10 minutes once or twice a day to relieve soreness and aid in the healing process. Once the swelling has gone down, gentle daily oil massages with jojoba oil (avoid food grade oils) can also be helpful to stimulate blood flow to the earlobes and prepare the area for future stretches.

At this point, patience is very important. Your ears should be fully healed before you attempt another stretch, at least two months. Rushing the process can result in permanent damage to your lobes. During the healing process continue to wear your non-porous single-flared jewelry and avoid organics.

If you ever have questions about stretching, consult your local piercer.

Once you've arrived at your desired size and are fully healed, you can enjoy a whole new world of beautiful jewelry! Happy stretching.

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