Ear stretching originated from tribes in Africa, Eurasia, and other indigenous lands. It was practiced for cultural, religious, and traditional purposes. Today, it is a body modification to show individuality and stretched lobes is more of a fashion statement.
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Step 1: Caution!
Before Stretching, it is important to remember that the larger you stretch, the least likely your ear hole will return to its normal size or even close up. There is a "point of no return" which is said to be between 0g, and 2g. This number can vary between different people significantly, because everyone's skin structure and elasticity is different. THIS IS A COMMITMENT! If you go too large, or your ears do not close up, the only way to get your ears to their old shape would be to get them sewn up and fixed by a plastic surgeon.
Step 2: Ear Piercing
The first step for this journey is to get your ears pierced. If you already have holes in your lobes, Congrats! If you don't, go to a local piercing/ tattoo shop. I highly recommend a professional piercer pierce your ears than anyone from Claire's or that uses a piercing gun. Piercing guns are less sanitary than a hollow needle that a piercer uses. Also the piercing needle on a gun isn't hollow. It ruptures the skin by forcing a larger hole in the lobe, while a hollow needle "cuts" the hole out of your lobes. The piercing should be done at a 16g or 14g to help the process because tapers are usually only sold in 14g and higher. It also makes the first stretch less uncomfortable. If you have normal earrings, that's okay! The typical earring size is around 20g, and you can go straight to 14g from that size. The size difference from 20-14 is fairly small. After a fresh piercing, you need to wait until it is fully healed, which takes 1-2 months. Now it's critical to consider what your stopping size might be for your ear lobes. Stretching is Addicting!
Step 3: Supplies for First Stretch
The supplies you need: - 14g Tapers and Single Flare Tunnels -Vitamin E Oil -Rubbing Alcohol
Step 4: The First Stretch... 14g-0g
After you have a healed ear piercing, remove your current jewelry, and store it away. Stretching is always easiest fresh out of the shower. It relaxes and moisturizes your skin and lobes. Next, wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap to avoid contaminating anything. Then, sterilize all the tapers, tunnels/plugs, and your lobes with alcohol. Use the Vitamin E oil on your lobes. Deeply massage the oil into them. After that, lube the taper with the Vitamin E oil, and insert the taper into your lobe. Be gentle! Do not apply too much force on the taper, or it will tear your lobes and cause possible irreversible damage. If the pain level is more than a slight discomfort, stop the stretch and continue at the earliest, 1 week after the previous stretch. The taper should be all the way into your lobe now. Grab a single flare tunnel of the corresponding size, line the back of the single flare tunnel to the front of the taper, and push the tunnel into the taper, replacing it with your new, larger tunnel. It is highly recommended that you wait at least a month for healing time in between stretches. This method works flawlessly up to 0g.
Step 5: How to Stretch 2g-0g+ (Recommended)
If you care to journey past the "point of no return," It's recommended that you don't use tapers for larger sizes because it may cause tears, and blowouts easier. This method is called the "Taping Method." For this, you need either Plumber's tape or Teflon Tape, and the supplies from the first stretch, besides the tapers. Stay away from electrical tape or any tape with adhesives. The adhesives on the tape can irritate your lobes. Sterilize your hands, ears, and plugs now. After you have the tape, get a single flare plug/tunnel of your current size, and wrap the tape around the wearable part of the jewelry at least 2 times to ensure it won't come unwrapped. Rub vitamin E oil onto your lobes and onto the plug, so it will slide in your piercing easier. Wait at least 2-5 days after every wrap before adding an additional layer. Eventually, the plug will grow in diameter slowly and will reach the plug of the next size up for you to wear.
Step 6: Aftercare
You've just stretched your ears and glad to be at your new size, but the work isn't over yet. Leave the larger size tunnel in your ear for a week before removing it to ensure your ear won't shrink back up and cause trouble getting the piece back into the piercing. Also keep hands and other things, especially face washes and soaps, away from your lobes. Everyday, I recommend Bactine to cleanse your ears after a stretch, or to clean plugs, then massage vitamin E oil into your lobes to encourage blood flow. The vitamin E oil will break down any scar tissue, and moisturize your lobes. The increased blood flow will encourage your body to thicken the lobe, which prevents the all to common, thinning lobes.
Step 7: Blowouts and Tears
If your ears ever bleed while stretching, that is a bad sign. Stretching causes minimal microscopic tears to your lobe. Stretching too fast or too hard can cause severe tears, and possibly, even the infamous blowout. A blow out is where the inside of your piercing, the fistula, is forced to the back of the piercing from inserting a larger sized object in your ear to quickly, or before your ears are fully healed and ready for the next step. A blowout can appear as a flap of skin on the backside of the plug and tends to be unsightly. If your ears ever bleed, downsize your earrings ATLEAST one size, and clean twice a day with bactine, then rub on vitamin E oil. If the blowout isn't too severe, your ears will take back in the flap of skin and heal back normally. If you don't size down, or your ears don't heal correctly, a flap may form on the back of your ears. The only way to get this removed is surgically. Take your time stretching and be gentle! That bigger size you've had your eye on isn't worth severe damage to your precious lobes.