For quite some time now, it’s been a goal to stretch my ears. Not a lot, just a little (or so I like to tell myself). But it’s a very complicated process to begin. It requires a high level of commitment and patience. Research for undertaking such an endeavor can prove to be disheartening, as horror stories of blown out and torn earlobes are scattered across the internet. That’s why I chose to personally speak to people who have already been stretching their ears for ages and have awesome plugs. The information I gleaned from various first-hand sources gave me confidence about my potential ear-stretching adventure, because now I know the steps required to go about properly stretching (it mainly involves a lot of waiting, cleaning, disinfecting, and massaging) before I get to the right size. And this information I shall gladly share with you.
Most people don’t wait enough time until they size up and they also don’t use any kind of lubricant which makes them blow out or get infected. They also don’t clean them regularly when first stretching. I did all of those things and I didn’t have any problems. The customers that I had when I was piercing always followed my advice and I never had any problems with theirs either.
— Miranda, 10mm (00 Gauge)
The main challenge was dealing with disapproval from some of my relatives. And I haven’t had a complete blowout but I did have a slight infection. When that happens, I just take them out, disinfect with alcohol and hydrogen peroxide and keep it clean.
— Bev, 9/16″ (14mm)
It’s hard being patient. It takes a long time to stretch up and do it correctly. Blow outs really hurt and they can scar your lobes. They also set you back to a smaller size if you let them heal. To let them heal, you have to take your plugs out and wash them regularly with soap and warm water. Some people also use vitamin E oil.
— Norelle, 32mm (~ 1 1/4″)
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I had a blow out once because I stretched too fast and you always have to take time for this. It’s not happening overnight, right? I had some Bioil oil for scars which I just massaged my lobes with. And the scar was gone within a week. But if it’s infected, I always use a simple antisepctic and no creme because then it gets too wet, I would say. When it was dry and not easy to stretch, then I used a marigold creme and I really love that stuff! But for me (because I finished stretching), the most important thing is to clean them with water — every day! Because it will always be a “wound” and it has to be clean. Sometimes when you wear a different material as usual it smells awful after some time. It’s so crucial to clean your ear and the plugs regularly.
— Carolina, 40mm (1 37/64″)
My ears are very easy to work with. However, the only problem I’ve ever had is stretching too fast with tape. People add a layer of tape every day but my ears wouldn’t take that. So I ended up blowing them out a few times. When they do blow out, I always — no matter what — take my plugs out and immediately let them breathe and heal on their own time. I help the healing go faster by using jojoba oil and gentle massaging. Also, massaging the lobes while taking a hot shower helps enormously! Someone once told me to soak my ears in salt water and that helps your ears stretch easier but I have yet to try that!
— Cassi, 47.5mm (1 7/8″)
Patience is definitely the biggest challenge about stretching. So many people want to rush to the next size sooner than they should… Without proper stretching comes blow outs, tearing, etc.. And infection typically comes from improper care. After all, people have been stretching piercings for thousands of years and didn’t have all the fancy stuff we have today. Gotta keep it clean and let it heal. I get asked about ear stretching less than I used to. Maybe because body modifications are being more widely accepted and available? Who knows. It’s all personal preference!
— Riley, professional piercer at Studio 54 Tattoo
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Well, if they get infected and get swollen or start to hurt/itch, then I take my plugs out and clean my ears very carefully until it’s healed. This may take up to one week and your ears are eventually going to be smaller again. But it’s necessary to give your lobes a break. The most difficult thing to prevent blow outs was to wait before every new stretch until they were completely healed. Sometimes I didn’t wait long enough which wasn’t smart… So that’s why they got infected sometimes and that’s why I have a small blowout on my left lobe. It’s especially good to massage your lobes with jojoba oil or chamomile grease. This is calming for the skin and helps when it’s swollen or infected. It also makes your skin smooth as silk.
— Dave, 25mm (1″)
Featured image by Bev Frisk