1. Stretching the earlobes has become very popular in recent years. Before you start, it is important to know that all ears have different sizes and shapes. For example; some earlobes are attached to the face while others are detached. In the latter case stretching is usually considered somewhat easier, and it is often possible to reach a diameter of 30mm. When you have earlobes that are attached closely to the face, chances are you will not be able to get beyond a diameter of 12mm.
The position of the piercing you are planning to stretch is very important. It should be sitting slightly above the middle of your earlobe if you plan to reach larger sizes.
2. The best way to start stretching is to take small steps to bigger sizes so that you’re sure you’re not going too fast. You start with 1.2 mm and gradually stretch the piercing to 1.6 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm and so on. Wearing heavy piercings and earrings helps accelerate the stretch process. As long as you are patient, transition gradually to larger sizes, and stay at the same size for a minimum of two weeks your ear will heal significantly faster and much nicer.
3. In most cases, the piercing can be stretched directly to 3mm with a titanium tunnel. This, however, requires you to go to a professional studio as this can only be done by an experienced piercer.
4. When you stretch properly it is unusual to experience any bleeding. It is very important that you pay attention, listen to your body and remain patient. Often a piercing hole can still heal up when stretched no further than 8mm, but this really depends on whether the stretch process went well and that the hole has not been forced.
5. Many people have positive experiences with the use of silicone tunnels during stretching. You can, however, only start using these when you are at a slightly larger size, around 6 mm, because silicone is generally considered difficult to stretch with smaller sizes.
6. Baby oil or other natural oils can help prevent unpleasant odours but the stretching itself is best done by using Betadine ointment. Betadine will make the skin soft and supple while disinfecting at the same time. You can also choose to use True Jelly, a gel that is specially designed for the stretching of piercings.
7. If you want to gradually move on to the next size when stretching, it is also possible to wear a heavier ring or titanium spiral in the ear. The weight helps to significantly accelerate the stretching process in an even way.
8. Remember that when you’re not wearing your jewellery or stretcher for a few days, your hole can shrink and could even end up being a few sizes smaller!
9. The best time to stretch is right after showering, when your skin is smooth and clean. Massage the skin for a few minutes before stretching, so that your earlobes will be even more flexible.
10. Never stretch with dirty hands and try to avoid touching the jewellery in between stretching or cleaning.
11. Make sure the jewellery used to stretch with is clean. You can disinfect your jewellery with alcohol or another type of disinfectant if necessary.
12. Be careful with pets. Cats and dogs can accidentally touch your fresh stretched piercing while playing so make sure this does not happen.
13. Our answer to the question “How often should I clean my tunnel/stretcher?” is: at least once a day to avoid unpleasant odours. Note that if you have recently stretched by using a tunnel, it is important you do not take the tunnel out during the first two weeks, as it can be very difficult to put back in your ear.
14. Stretching your ear should not hurt too much. If this is the case, you are probably moving too fast or doing something wrong.
15. The best materials to use when stretching with tunnels are stainless steel or titanium. Additionally, you will often see people use acrylic tunnels. Acrylic tunnels are fine if you want to keep the same size. The disadvantage of acrylic is that the tunnels are not heavy enough to stretch further with. Another problem is that the backside may get damaged when you attempt to clean the tunnels. Stainless steel and titanium can easily be cleaned with alcohol without any problems.
16. However, acrylic spirals and expanders are excellent to stretch with because you can twist these carefully and stop in time before it starts to hurt.
17. Glass is another material that is perfect for stretching as it is super smooth. The only disadvantage of glass is that it’s easily breakable, so you’ll have to be extra careful.
18. Always check if your jewellery has a smooth finish and doesn’t show any seems or cracks or crazes. A good piercing should sit comfortably in the ear.
19. Never use gold tone jewellery for stretching. When your ear is stretched to the desired size and properly healed you can wear these without a problem. Stretching with gold jewellery, however, can be dangerous as gold plugs and tunnels often contain more than 0.4 mg of nickel and some people may experience allergic reactions.
20. Jewellery made from organic and natural materials (wood, horn, bone, stone) will certainly cause less unpleasant odours due to the natural unevenness in the rim. Because of these small imperfections, the piercing gets more air, creating a smaller chance of nasty smells.
21. Brass piercings have been very popular lately. There are beautiful tunnels, spirals and plugs available made of this material. Brass jewellery is best to wear later when you have reached the desired size.
22. Many people wonder to what size they can stretch. This depends on the person. When there is less than 2 mm between the inner edge of your piercing hole and the outer edge of your earlobe is it not advisable stretch any further. This is too risky and may cause you tear your earlobe or get a blow out.
23. When you have a blow out or if your ear starts to bleed, it means that your piercing hole is stretched too rapidly. Go to your piercing studio as soon as possible so that they can look at it and give you advice.
24. The best thing you can do at home when you have a blow out is to go down to a smaller size and therefore wear smaller jewelry. In many cases, it is recommended not to wear any jewellery at all. Soak your ear in a salt solution, a couple of times per day. Do not use any oils, this will only cause more irritation. Oils may only be used when your ear is completely healed.
25. Make sure you are well informed before you start stretching your ear. If necessary return to the piercing studio if you have any doubts or questions. It is understandable that you want to be able to wear beautiful tunnels and jewellery as soon as possible but patience is key. When you follow the professional advice you will certainly succeed at stretching!