How to Gauge (Stretch) Your Ears

Size 6 Tunnel Gauges
Size 6 Tunnel Gauges (Image: My ear, gauged to 6G)

Gauged, or stretched ears have become more and more mainstream. Stretched lobes once could only be seen in the hardcore/indie scene at shows. Now, anyone interested in the "tribal-look" stretches their ears. The look is hip, and is a real eye-catcher.

Things You'll Need

  • Taper
  • Antibacterial Ointment (to help taper slide in easily)
  • Plug (no flare plugs are best for newly stretched holes)

In order for ears to be stretched, they must first be pierced. If your ears are already pierced, continue to step 2. If not, get them pierced! Ears can be pierced at most tattoo/piercing shops. Some piercers have gauges that can be used to pierce the ear with. The standard size for normal lobe piercings is about 20G or 18G. Some places will pierce with 16G if you ask, making stretching easier. Before you begin stretching recently pierced ears, take instructions from the person who did the piercing(s). The instructions may be to wait up to 6 months or a year in order for the piercing to completely heal. DO NOT IGNORE THESE INSTRUCTIONS! You may do a lot of damage to your lobe. I have heard many stories where people hurried to stretch their ears, and their lobes ending up splitting. This can be extremely painful, and your lobe may never heal back to normal.

Purchase jewelry! When ears are pierced and completely healed, you will need gauged earrings, or tapers. Tapers are the easiest way to stretch your ears. Most tapers are up to 4 sizes in one, cutting the cost of jewelry. Piercing/tattoo shops usually have a good selection of earrings, as well as Hot Topic and online stores.

What type of gauges should I purchase? Metal is the best way to go for newly stretched ears. It is easier to clean, whereas acrylic and other materials can harbor bacteria and lengthen the healing time.

To begin stretching.. - First warm up your lobes. Rub them between your fingers or use a warm, wet towel. Whether you're starting with 18G, 16G, or 14G, warmed lobes make stretching MUCH easier!

Choose a size to begin stretching with. - Which size you begin gauging with depends on what size your ears were pierced with/what size earring you currently have in your ear. If you're not sure, start with an 18G. If you do know, start with a size below your current size (18G to a 16G).

STRETCH SLOWLY! - Ease the taper into the hole. If it bleeds, your ear is not ready to be stretched. Usually, smaller gauges go in easily. For most people, stretching becomes difficult/painful around 8G, and the "point of no return" is about 2G. It is different for everyone and depends on the flexibility of the skin. Make sure to go about stretching slowly, because quick stretching could cause a blow-out.

If you plan on replacing the taper with a plug, choose a plug the size of the largest part of the taper. Line the plug up with the end of the taper and push it into the hole. Use only a plug with no flares (Flared plugs are different gauges between the flare and the center of the jewelry, and could cause blow-outs). Though they look cool, single and double-flare plugs should not be worn until your lobe is completely healed. If a double-flared plug is worn while the ear is still healing, it could get stuck in the hole and be difficult to remove.

Take your time! - Do not expect to get your ears stretched from 18G to 00's in a couple weeks. It all depends on the flexibility of your lobes. Either way, make sure to give each gauge time to get accustomed. It may take many months to stretch your lobes to the desired size. It is best to wait a few months between each stretching session. That way there is no need to worry whether your lobes are healed or not.

Tips & Warnings

  • Warm your lobes before inserting jewelry.
  • Metal jewelry is better then acrylic when first beginning to stretch.
  • Do not stretch lobes too quickly.
  • Lobes should not bleed during stretching.

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