Category Archives: Body Piercing Education

How-To-Stretch-Your-Ears-After-Downsizing

Downsizing is a great way to deal with a variety of common ear stretching problems, from irritation to tears. But can you stretch your ears after downsizing? And can you go back to your previous gauge? The answer is a resounding yes in both cases: most people can stretch back to their previous gauge and beyond. The exception would be if the problem was a serious one, such as extreme ear thinning – in some cases the downsizing may have to be permanent. Every case is different, so it is important to make the right decision. If you are unsure or simply need a little advice, I always recommend consulting an experienced professional piercer.


How To Stretch Your Ears After Downsizing

It is important to ensure that your ears are fully healed before you begin to stretch again. For this reason I recommend waiting 2-4 weeks after downsizing. Your ears should feel fully healed, with no pain or discomfort. You can then stretch your ears in the same way that you did initially. I’m sure that you are already knowledgeable about ear stretching, but for good measure, here is my basic method for re-stretching your ears:>/p>

  1. Clean your stretching taper and lubricate both the taper and your piercing with a skin-friendly oil e.g. olive, hemp or jojoba oil. Massage the piercing with the oil.
  2. Push the taper gradually through your piercing. Take your time and pause if needed.
  3. Once the taper is pushed fully through your ear, align the end of a flesh plug with the end of the taper. The plug should be the same gauge. Then push both the taper and plug through your ear until the flesh plug is fully in your piercing.

As with any time you stretch your ears, I recommend stretching no more than 2mm at a time and allowing 2-4 weeks before stretching again. If you find it difficult to stretch back to your original gauge, it is likely that your ear is not yet fully healed. In most cases, you will simply need to wait a little longer before re-stretching your piercing.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Stretching tapers are an excellent way to stretch your ears and a real essential for your ear stretching kit. But what are stretching tapers? As you can see below, a stretching taper is a piece of jewellery that tapers at one end. The large end will be the size that you wish to stretch to. This allows you to slide the stretching taper through your piercing, gradually stretching the piercing. Once you have passed the taper through your piercing, you can remove it and insert an appropriately sized piece of jewellery, e.g. a flesh tunnel. Using a stretching taper is one of the easiest and safest way to increase your gauge, as well as one of the most comfortable.

How To Use A Stretching Taper

Using a stretching taper is safe and straightforward. However like all forms of body modification, it must be done carefully and safely to avoid damage to your piercing. I recommend that you ready my previous post How To Stretch Your Ears before you begin, because it outlines the best way to safely stretch your ears and avoid some of the most common problems.

Whenever you stretch your ears, it is important to do so gradually and listen to your body. Stretching should not be painful, merely uncomfortable. If you experience sharp pain or bleeding, stop immediately. You may be stretching too quickly, or perhaps your piercing is not fully healed. Listen to your body and start again when you feel comfortable. That said, here is my method for using stretching tapers.

  1. Start with a clean taper and clean, healthy, fully healed piercing. The taper should be no more than 2mm larger than you current gauge.
  2. Lubricate both the piercing and taper with a natural oil e.g. olive, jojoba or vitamin E oil.
  3. Insert the end of the taper into the piercing and start sliding it through the piercing. There may be a stinging sensation but it should not be painful.
  4. Once the taper is pushed fully through your ear, align the end of a flesh plug with the big end of the taper, as if it were part of the taper. Then push both the taper and jewellery through your ear until the flesh plug is fully in your piercing.
  5. Our Favourite Stretching Tapers

    We have hundreds of different stretching tapers available but you can see my favourite stretching tapers below. I recommend using steel tapers, as they are non-porous, non-irritating and easy to clean. They are also cheap, which is important if you will need multiple sizes.

    Steel Stretching Taper Pin

    Steel Stretching Taper Pin

    Darkside Stretching Taper

    Darkside Stretching Taper

    Glow In The Dark Stretching Taper

    Glow In The Dark Stretching Taper

    Steel Crescent Stretching Taper

    Steel Crescent Stretching Taper



    This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


If you are researching ways to stretch your ears, you may have heard of the “taping method” of ear stretching. But what is the taping method? And crucially, is it a safe or effective way to stretch your ears? Now obviously I wouldn’t have posed those questions if I weren’t prepared to answer them, so in this post I will explain just what the taping method of ear stretching is! Put simply, the taping method involves wrapping tape around your stretching jewellery and then using it to stretch your ears. This allows you to increase your gauge by small amounts and stretch gradually to your desired gauge.

Benefits of Stretching Your Ears With Tape

The benefits of the taping method include allowing you to stretch your ears in small increments, which is ideal if you wish to stretch more slowly. It also means that you can get multiple stretching gauges from one piece of stretching jewellery, saving you money. You can also create in-between gauges that may be hard to find or expensive larger sizes.

How To Stretch Your Ears Using The Taping Method

As with any ear stretching method, it is important to do your research, using high quality materials and listen to your body. I recommend reading our general guide to How To Stretch Your Ears before attempting the taping method, as it will tell you all you need to know about stretching speeds and how to avoid common ear stretching risks.

I recommend using high quality PTFE tape, also known as plumber’s tape or Teflon tape. PTFE tape is made from a biocompatible plastic that is also used to make body jewellery. It is non-toxic and will not irritate your skin. It is very thin, which allows you to build up the diameter gradually. Do not use electrical tape, because the adhesive on the tape may contain carcinogens and other harmful chemicals.

You Will Need:

  • A stretching taper in a non-porous material e.g. steel, titanium or glass
  • PTFE tape
  • Lubricant – we recommend jojoba oil, olive oil or Vitamin E oil

The Taping Method

  1. Begin by wrapping a couple of layers of tape around your stretching taper. I do not recommend stretching more than 2mm at a time.
  2. Smooth out any wrinkles in the tape.
  3. Lubricate with plenty of your chosen oil.
  4. Insert slowly into your piercing. This should merely be uncomfortable and you should never have to force the jewellery through. If the taper will not go in or you experience sharp pain, stop. You may have added too much tape or not enough lubricant. Remove a layer of tape and try again.
  5. Once the taper is in your ear, you can either slide it all the way through and insert appropriately sized jewellery, or allow it to heal for a few days before adding more tape. I always recommend inserting jewellery, but you know your body best.

For full information on ear stretching aftercare, please see my post How To Stretch Your Ears, Part 2.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Wooden-Stretched-Ear-Jewellery

During the process of stretching your ears you may notice an unfortunate side effect – the smell! Some people are lucky enough to never suffer from ear funk but it is common when you first stretch your ears. It may not be pleasant but never fear – stretched ear odour is completely normal and easy to get rid of.

So what causes the stretched ear odour? Odour is the result of sebum and dead skin cells being trapped between your skin and jewellery. Your skin produces oil called sebum that keeps it soft and healthy, as well as shedding dead skin cells. This happens all over your body, but if these products become trapped under jewellery, they can lead to odour. It does not mean that your ears are disgusting, but they do need to be kept clean – just like the rest of your body.

The best way to reduce odour from stretched ears is to practice good hygiene and wear skin-friendly jewellery. I recommend cleaning your stretched ears a couple of times a week – any more and you may irritate the skin. The easiest way to clean your stretchings is in the shower – simply remove your jewellery and clean thoroughly with warm water. You can also use unscented anti-bacterial soap if needed. After you have finished bathing, massage your ears with natural oil or moisturiser e.g. jojoba oil, cocoa butter, Vitamin E oil etc. Then reinsert your clean jewellery. It may also help to remove your jewellery regularly to allow the skin to breathe.

Many people find that ear odour reduces when they reach their desired gauge and allow their ears to heal fully. While you are still stretching your ears, they rarely get the chance to “settle” and heal fully, so the skin may produce excess build-up. Once they are left alone for a while, build-up reduces and so does odour. You should also avoid using alcohol-based substances to clean your stretching gear. This will dry the skin, causing it to produce excess oil. Unscented anti-bacterial soap is sufficient and will not interfere with your skin’s natural processes.

Best Jewellery To Reduce Stretched Ear Odour

Jewellery can also make a big difference to stretched ear odour. Most people notice increased odour when they wear acrylic jewellery, because it can accumulate bacteria. Wooden jewellery, on the other hand, tends to greatly reduce odour and most people find that their ears do not need cleaning as often. Wooden plugs and tunnels allow your skin to breathe and also irritate the skin less, so it produces less build-up. Silicone jewellery may also reduce the odour – it is non-porous and non-reactive, so it does not accumulate bacteria or irritate the skin.

Personally I wear either wood or silicone tunnels and clean/massage my ears once a week. This works for me and I do not get any odour at all from my stretched ears. Everyone is different, but with regular cleaning, massaging and appropriate jewellery you should be able to reduce stretched ear odour once and for all!


How-To-Stretch-Your-Ears-2

Welcome back to our instructions on how to stretch your ears! In Part 1 we discussed how to determine your current gauge and what materials you will need. Remember, ear stretching is safe but it is always important to take care. If you feel that something is not right, stop immediately and consult a professional piercer. Now we can move on to the actual stretching method and start stretching your ears!


Step 3: Start Stretching Your Ears

The best time to stretch your ears is after a hot shower, when the skin is soft and malleable. I recommend stretching no more than 2mm at a time. Your piercing should be fully healed – at least 4 to 6 months since it was pierced. Never stretch a piercing that feels or looks sore – wait for it to calm down before you stretch.

I recommend stretching one ear at a time. It is usually uncomfortable to sleep on a freshly-stretched piercing, so this allows you to sleep on the unstretched side. Plus, it means that you can focus on one side at a time and then bring the other ear up to the same gauge – don’t worry, you’ll only be lopsided for a short time!

  1. Wash your hands and gather your tools. As discussed in Part 1, you will need a stretching taper and unflared flesh plug in your desired gauge. You will also need a suitable lubricant, such as jojoba oil. Clean and dry your stretching taper and jewellery thoroughly.
  2. Remove current jewellery and massage your piercing with your chosen lubricant. This will help to soften the skin.
  3. Apply a little lubricant to the small end of the stretching taper and begin to push it slowly into your piercing.
  4. Pay attention to how it feels. Some soreness or discomfort is normal, but you should not feel sharp pain or strong resistance while stretching you ears. This is a sign that you are not ready to stretch to the next size yet – perhaps your ears are not fully healed? This can be frustrating, but try to be patient and never simply push through the pain. This can lead to skin tears and blowouts, which can leave permanent scars.
  5. Continue to push the taper through your ear. If you feel that you need to pause for a moment, take your time.
  6. Once the taper is pushed fully through your ear, align the end of the flesh plug with the big end of the taper, as if it were part of the taper. Then push both the taper and jewellery through your ear until the flesh plug is fully in your piercing – congratulations, you have just stretched your ear!
  7. Place an O-ring on either end of the flesh plug to keep it in place.

Step 4: Ear Stretching Aftercare

Freshly-stretched ears require little aftercare, but it is important to pay attention to how it feels. Your ear may feel hot and a little sore, but sharp pain or bleeding are not normal and indicate that you may have damaged your ear. If this happens, downsize to your previous jewellery, clean with saline and allow your ear to heal fully before stretching again.

Assuming you have stretched your ears successfully, the best aftercare is to leave your ears alone for a few days. Sleep on your other side and take care not to bump them when you get dressed. You should also keep your hair away from the stretching. You can use saline to clean around the jewellery if needed, but this is not often necessary.

Step 5: What Next?

After stretching, your ears may take up two months to heal fully. Always allow 1-2 months before stretching again – even if they feel fine. This allows the fistula (piercing hole) to stabilize and fully adjust to its new size. I also recommend waiting 1-2 months before wearing flared jewellery – doing this too early can irritate the fistula. After 1-2 months the piercing should no longer feel tight around the jewellery and you should be able to remove it easily. Massaging the piercing with oil can help increase softness and blood circulation to the stretching. Once your stretching is stable and no longer feels tight, you are ready to stretch up to the next size. Follow the same method and remember to stretch slowly to avoid damaging your ears – everyone’s ears are different but you should always err on the side of caution to avoid permanent damage. Happy ear stretching!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.

How-To-Stretch-Your-Ears-1

Stretching your ears is a safe but dramatic way to modify your appearance. As with any body modification it is important to do it safely, using a method that gives you the best possible chance of a good, healthy result. Today I will explain the basic method of how to stretch your ears. This method is what has worked for me personally, combined with the advice of experienced piercers.
As with any modification, it is important to listen to your own body – if something does not feel right, stop immediately. Also, if you are unsure about how to stretch your ears or have more questions, I suggest consulting a professional piercer to make sure you are completely confident. Most piercers will be happy to help.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I have assumed that you already have your ears pierced. This method is intended for ear stretching only and should not be used for other piercings – if you want to stretch any other body piercing, please consult a professional piercer. So let’s get started!


Step 1: Determine Your Current Gauge

Before you can stretch your ears, you will need to determine the current gauge of your ear piercings. If you had your ears pierced with a gun, they were probably pierced at 1mm, whereas if you went to a piercing studio they are more likely to have been pierced at 1.6mm. For this post, I will be sticking to measurements in millimetres, which is standard in the UK and Europe. In the USA, they use a wire gauge system. You can view the gauge equivalents of any millimetre size using our BJS Gauge/Thickness Chart.
It is important that your piercing is fully healed before you begin to stretch your ears – usually 4 to 6 months. Your piercing may feel ready much earlier than that, but even ear piercings take a long time to heal and you risk permanent damage if you begin stretching before your piercing is fully healed.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Now that you know what size your piercing is; you can gather the materials that you will need. None of these items is expensive, but it is important to use the right tools. To stretch your ears you will need:

Stretching Tapers

Surgical steel stretching tapers are the easiest and safest tools for ear stretching. They allow you to ease up to the next size and are easy to keep clean. You can also use acrylic tapers, but they are harder to keep clean. You should stretch just a couple of millimetres at a time, so buy a stretching taper 2 or 3 millimetres bigger than your current gauge.

Lubricant

Using a lubricant will make the stretching process easier and more comfortable. It also reduces the risk of tears and blowouts. I recommend using a natural oil for lubrication. Some people use petroleum jelly but it is more likely to harbour bacteria, so I would stick to oil. Jojoba oil, hemp oil, Vitamin E oil or plain old olive oil are all good options.

Jewellery

You will need some jewellery to wear once you have passed the stretching taper through your ear. Your jewellery should be the same gauge as your stretching taper. I recommend an unflared flesh plug. A steel flesh tube is ideal. Because you are using unflared jewellery, you will need 2 O-rings to keep it in place – here at BJS we include free O-rings with all our unflared jewellery.

Make sure that your tapers and jewellery are clean and dry before you start stretching your ears. Obviously you should also wash your hands and have everything laid out before you start.

Check back next Wednesday for Part 2, where we’ll talk about how to start stretching your ears!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.

When researching how to stretch your ears or reading others’ stretching experiences, you may hear the term “dead stretch” or “dead stretching”. But what exactly is dead stretching? Put simply, dead stretching means going up a gauge by simply pushing a larger piece of jewellery into your piercing, without using a taper. So to dead stretch from 6mm to 8mm, you would simply force a 8mm plug into the piercing. I do not recommend dead stretching as a healthy way to stretching your ears. It puts unnecessary pressure on the piercing and can lead to all sorts of issues. Using a taper is safer and more comfortable, even if you think that you could easily get larger gauge jewellery into your stretching.

Risks Associated With Dead Stretching

Dead stretching your ears greatly increases the risk of blow-outs, earlobe tearing and uneven stretching. It is usually more painful than stretching with a taper – even if you can force the jewellery through pain-free, you are likely to experience pain and/or other issues soon after. The risks are even worse if you do not use lubrication when you dead stretch. To force larger jewellery through your stretching, you may have to use quite a lot of force. This puts a lot of pressure on the stretching and can distort it, leading to the aforementioned risks. Stretching is healthiest when the pressure on and trauma to the earlobe is minimised – by using lubricated, tapered jewellery and stretching gradually.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Salt-Soaks-For-Ear-Stretching

Salt soaks are an easy and effective way to treat a sore or irritated ear stretching. A salt soak essentially consists of submerging your ear stretching in a warm salt solution. This cleanses the piercing and draws out any infection or pus, giving it the best possible chance of healing. Ear stretchings are easily irritated e.g. by stretching too quickly, by cheap jewellery or a grain of dirt getting between your skin and the jewellery. In most cases, a few salt soaks will calm the irritation and leave your ear feeling much better. If the irritation is serious I recommend downsizing temporarily, continuing salt soaks and consulting a professional piercer if it does not improve.

How To Do A Salt Soak

Performing a salt soak on your ear stretching is both quick and easy. Ideally, try to use non-iodised sea salt and distilled water, as they have fewer impurities. You buy both from health food shops, but regular table salt and (ideally filtered) tap water will do. To perform your salt soak:

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 250ml boiling water in a clean heat-resistant container such as a ceramic mug.
  2. Stir with a clean metal spoon until all the salt has dissolved.
  3. Allow to cool to a bearable temperature i.e. similar to a drinkable cup of tea.
  4. Fill a clean shot glass (or similar container) to the brim with the salt solution.
  5. Submerge your ear stretching in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it cools.
  6. Rinse with cold water to remove any residue. If there is a lot of lymph etc. use a clean cotton bud, taking care not to leave any fibres behind.

Step four is optional, but personally I find it easier to submerge my whole stretching in a small, full container like a shot glass as opposed to a mug. Salt soaks are great for any sore piercing, but you may have to get creative in order to submerge your piercing in the salt solution!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


When you stretch your ears, the most important things that you can do are a) stretch slowly and b) use high quality ear stretching kit. High quality stretching tools give you the best chance of a healthy stretching process and a good end result. This is because good quality tools will be made of biocompatible, lightweight materials that do not cause irritation or put undue pressure on the piercing. In this post I will outline the ear stretching kit that is not only my personal favourite, but is recommend by the majority of piercers and experienced stretchers.

For Stretching Your Ears

For actually stretching your ears, I highly recommend surgical steel stretching tapers. Here at Body Jewellery Shop you can buy these tapers individually or as a kit, as you can see below. High quality steel stretching tapers such as ours are finely machined with a perfectly smooth surface and will not irritate your ears. If you choose cheaper acrylic tapers, you may find that they irritate your ears and drag on the skin. Lubricant is also essential – either jojoba, Vitamin E, olive, hemp or almond oil. These natural oils reduce drag and pain during stretching. They also condition the skin and should be used to massage the earlobe both before stretching and during the healing process.

For After You Have Stretched Your Ears

After you have stretched your ear, remove the taper and insert an unflared flesh tunnel. My favourites are the steel flesh tunnels below. You should never leave the taper in, as this leads to uneven stretching and puts pressure on the new stretching. You should always use non-porous materials for your first post-stretching jewellery to encourage clean healing: either surgical steel or titanium.

For Healed Ear Stretchings

Once your ear stretching has healed completely and you have reached your desired gauge, I recommend wearing wooden flesh tunnels or plugs. Wooden jewellery is completely non-irritating, lightweight and very comfortable to wear. It reduces odour and stays the same temperature as your body. My own wooden tunnels have kept my ears happy for years and I find that they require less cleaning compared to metal jewellery. So there you have it, my favourite ear stretching kit!

Steel Stretching Taper

Steel Stretching Taper

Steel Stretching Taper Kit

Steel Stretching Taper Kit

Unflared Steel Flesh Tunnel

Unflared Steel Flesh Tunnel

Wooden Plugs and Tunnels

Wooden Plugs and Tunnels



This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Stretching your ears can be done safely if you know how, but as with any body modification, there are risks involved. Some ear stretching risks are reversible but they can lead to scarring and permanent damage to your earlobes. Thankfully, most of these risks can be avoided through careful stretching and doing you research before you start stretching your ears. In this post I will explain three of the most common ear stretching risks, how to avoid them and what to do if they happen to you. As with any piercing problem, consult a professional piercer if you are at all unsure or experience other problems while stretching your ears.

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

A blow-out occurs when you stretch a piercing too quickly. This puts too much pressure on the fistula (the hole formed by the piercing) and force part of the fistula out the back of the piercing. This creates a lip or flap of skin at the back of the piercing. The image on the right shows a mild blow-out, but they can be much larger. Ear stretching blow-outs look terrible and larger ones can be uncomfortable or even painful. The best way to avoid a blow-out is to listen to your body, massage with jojoba oil before stretching and allow at least two weeks healing time in between stretching. If you get a blow-out, downsize your jewellery immediately – this can prevent the ear healing in its blown-out shape. I also recommend massaging the earlobe with jojoba oil daily to soften the tissue. Do not stretch further until it is completely healed. Some people find that their blow-outs reabsorb, but in some cases they will never fully disappear.


Uneven Stretching & Thinning

Uneven Stretching

Uneven Stretching

Uneven stretching means that the outside of your stretching becomes thinner in one area. It is caused by stretching too quickly or by stretching with weights. As well as looking odd, extreme thinning can lead to a split earlobe. A split earlobe can only be repaired through surgery, but if you catch the thinning early enough it is reversible.

If you notice any unevenness or thinning, downsize by at least 2mm and massage daily with jojoba or Vitamin E oil. It is important to use lightweight jewellery, so that no weight is put on the thin areas. Allow the stretching to shrink and heal for at least 2 weeks before restretching gradually with lightweight jewellery. This process should thicken the tissue and help to even it out.


Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Stretching too quickly or without lubrication can lead to tears around the circumference of the piercing, as shown here. Tears are painful and can lead to thick scar tissue that makes it harder to stretch further. They can be avoided by stretching slowly with a lubricant such as jojoba oil. It is also important to use high quality steel tapers and stop stretching if you feel a sharp pain.

If your earlobe tears while stretching, immediately downsize to significantly smaller, lightweight jewellery. This removes pressure on the wound and prevents a subsequent blow-out. Allow it to heal completely before stretching again.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.