Ever thought about stretching your ears? Here’s The Krafty Lady’s guide to how to do it safely and (almost!) painlessly… Don’t forget that these are just basic tips – if you’re seriously thinking about it you should go to your local piercing expert who can take a look and give you advice based on your specific requirements – some piercing experts also stretch ears, so it’s worth finding out how much it will be for a professional job. And it’s almost always best to go to an expert if you’re thinking of stretching anything other than your ear lobes!
1. Firstly, you’ll need to have a piercing in the first place. NEVER begin stretching your ears until the holes are completely healed up – it can be best to wait three times as long as it takes to heal before you even think about buying your first stretcher. It allows the skin to heal and strengthen before becoming traumatized by stretching, and will hurt a lot less!
2. Okay, so you’ve had your piercings a while and you go out to get your new stretchers. A normal piercing hole is 1.6mm in width – this can vary slightly, and it’ll be worth finding out from whoever pierced you before you buy your first stretcher.
3. A steel taper is probably the easiest and most comfortable way to stretch your ears. You’ll need to know the measurements of the widest and narrowest part before you buy it, and as a beginner it’s best to go for stainless steel tapers as they do not absorb bacteria and infections. Most people tend to start stretching up to 2mm, so start with a taper that is 1.6mm at the narrowest end and 2mm at the widest point.
4. Don’t take it too quickly! Stretching should never be too painful and it certainly shouldn’t bleed. Massaging your lobe or holding a warm damp cloth up to it before the process will help circulation and relax the tissue in the lobe. AND ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS WITH ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP IF YOU’RE STRETCHING A LOBE YOURSELF.
5. Lubricant can be used on the taper – but it’s not recommended to put too much on, as it could slip out of your hands. Water itself can be used, or perhaps a mixture of tea tree oil and vitamin E. Push the taper into your ear as far as it will comfortably go, then push it in slightly further until you can feel your lobes warming up and tingling, but not painful – they may sting slightly. Then, use the rubber “o” rings provided to hold the taper into place.
6. Well done! That’s the first step. Now it’s up to your body to decide how long it will be before you can stretch again. Everyone is different – it can take people a matter of weeks to stretch to 6mm, some people can take months. NEVER rush the process – you could end up damaging your ear for good. And never stretch too far too soon – it’ll hurt! You must always wait for your ear to heal properly before you begin stretching again.
7. Don’t forget that stretching to 8mm or over could mean risk of damage to your ears if it is not done properly, and 20mm or over and there’s no going back, (although again this can vary from person to person, so be sure a larger hole is what you want before you begin stretching to any size)! But it IS different for everyone.
8. After stretching your ear will probably be slightly inflamed and may sting a little, but as I said before – THERE SHOULD BE NO BLOOD. If your ear does bleed, it means that you have done some tissue damage and it’s best to take the taper out and to let the ear heal completely before you begin stretching again.
9. It’s really important that you keep your ear clean. Dust and skin cells build up in the enlarged hole and create a cheesey discharge (lovely!), so clean your ear with a mild saline (salt water) solution or antibacterial soap – unfragranced soap is even better because it won’t cause any irritation. Do this once or twice a day. Turn your taper gently to prevent it sticking and to clean around the inside of the hole. And always wash your hands before doing so!
Congratulations! You’ve done your first stretching – easily, cleanly and almost pain-free! Now you can go and have some fun choosing your first lot of funky stretchers – there are loads available on the market so have fun!
To ensure you get accurate advice go and see your local piercing specialist who’ll be happy to help out! And don’t forget we sell all kinds of stretchers, so check out http://www.thekraftylady.co.uk/ for some ideas of what you’ll get to wear once your ears are fully healed. We’ve also got a brand new forum on our site which you can log in to via your Facebook account, so no need to sign up to use them. Pop by if you have any questions and hopefully someone will be able to help. Have fun!