Friday, March 9, 2012

Stretched Ear Care


I thought I would do a little informative post for you gals out there that like body modifications :)
Some of you might know that I have my earlobes stretched to 1/2". I've been stretching them since 2008 and they've been at a 1/2" for almost 2 years now, and along my stretching journey I have learned quite a few things  about proper technique and care of your lobes.


First thing first - Let's start at the basics.
Stretching is the correct term for, well, stretching the skin of your body which a piercing has gone through. The most common part of your body to stretch is your earlobes. Other common places are lips, belly buttons, noses, and eyebrows. Today, we're only talking about ears. Many people use the term gauging or gauge to describe the act of stretching or what size they have their ears stretched to. THIS IS INCORRECT. Any professional in the body piercing industry will laugh at you for saying that you want your ears "gauged" and they will correct you. Gauge is a form of measurement - it tells you how big the diameter of your jewelery is. It is incorrect to say "My ears are gauged to a 2/I'm gauging my ears to a 2." The correct way to say it is "I am stretching my ears, I'm planning on taking them to a 2 gauge," or "My ears are stretched to a 2 gauge."


The safest way to stretch your ears is by going to a professional. All professional piercers will stretch your ears for you, you just need to purchase correct jewelery and pay the stretching fee. Now, being real here: not many people go that route. I didn't, I did mine on my own. But if you're concerned about sterility, a professional piercing shop would probably be the best place for you to go.

If you are going to do it on your own, sterility is KEY to a healthy healing process and healthy piercing. ALWAYS wash your hands before putting in any new jewelry or touching any of your jewlery, healed or not. Wear gloves. You want to limit skin-to-skin contact as much as possible to keep the transfer of bacterias to a minimum. Use some type of lubrication such as petroleum jelly, and NEVER EVER EVER skip sizes. That's how you get blowouts. They're not pretty.

This is what BodyArtForms has to say about stretching a piercing:
"For jewelry you will need to start with a taper that has a flat or concave back, and a non-flare plug (with a flat end) OR a single flare eyelet. DO NOT stretch with a double flare eyelet because that will essentially stretch you two sizes at once. ONLY use steel, titanium, or glass jewelry in your piercing after the fresh stretch while it heals. DO NOT use organics or acrylic. Do not use pinchers or claws to stretch because it's uneven and doesn't flatten out at a certain gauge like a taper does.


Everyone has a goal in how far they want to stretch their piercing. And you want to get there as quickly as possible, but stretching takes time and patience. Only stretch up one gauge at a time. NEVER skip a gauge! This could rip your piercing, cause infection, and just overall make your piercing very ugly and nasty looking! Listen to your body. Stretching does sting a bit, but there should absolutely be no blood or excess tearing. DO NOT force or shove a taper through your piercing! Estimated healing time chart between stretches
Fresh piercing to first stretch: Approx 5 to 6 months16g to 14g - 1 month14g to 12g - 1 month12g to 10g - 1.5 months10g to 8g - 2 months8g to 6g - 3 months6g to 4g - 3 month4g to 2g - 3 months2g to 0g - 4 months0g to 00g - 4 months
Soak your piercing in warm water (or take a shower) to help relax and soften the tissue right before you stretch. 
Get some lubricant (For a natural approach use jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, or emu oil. For a basic approach use Neosporin or similar products) and spin the tip of the taper 1/3 into the lubricant and remove any excess. Having too much excess lubricant can make your taper and jewelry slippery to hold onto. 
Put the small end of the taper in the piercing and SLOWLY push it forward to the larger end until you meet some resistance. Look in the mirror and if the taper is more than halfway through the stretch should be fairly easy. Take a deep breath and as you exhale slowly push the taper until you only have about 1/4" of the taper left to go. You should now be sitting on the level end of the taper. Your stretch is done and you're ready to put the jewelry in. Do not take the taper out. If you feel a small burning or stinging feeling then your stretch was perfect, but it should not be causing excessive pain. 
Line up your plug to the end and slowly use the plug as a way to push the rest of the taper out. This way you have a clean stretch from the taper to the plug. 
Your done! Treat your newly stretched piercing as a new piercing. Wash it daily with an antibacterial soap. Do not touch it with your hands throughout the day.
This is for people who have stretched and then may one day decide to let their piercings close up.Keep in mind that everyone's body is different, so this is not a set in stone rule, just a general guide to most people.
If you are at smaller gauges (say 10g, 8g, 6g MAYBE 4g) then your chances of it closing are pretty good.
Most people agree that 2g is the "point of no return". If you go to a 2g, expect it to be permanent. If you do take it out, it might shrink down to a 6g or 8g.
Just remember, any type of stretching should be viewed as a permanent modification. Think about it very hard before you make these choices, ESPECIALLY before going to the larger gauges like 2g and up."

Bodyartforms.com offers a full steel complete stretching kit that will take you all the way to a 0 gauge, it's available here. Of course, you don't have to stop at a 0 gauge, but follow the same protocol while stretching.
BodyArtForms also has one of the best selections of body jewelry around, ranging from plugs to hanging styles, to whatever other jewelry you might need. They have great customer service and fast shipping, and you get a free gift with every purchase!

Once your piercings have healed, then the fun begins :) You get to pick what jewelery you want to wear. There are so many styles and types of jewlery out there, the world is at your fingertips pretty much!

I prefer organic material for my jewelry such as stone, bone, horn, and wood. There's also acrylic, acetate, resin, glass, pyrex, and many others.

Plugs are available in 3 main types: no flare, single flare, and double flare.

No flare plugs look like this:

They have "no flare," and they have to be held in place by o-rings to keep them from falling out of your ears.

Single flare plugs look like this:

As the name implies, they have one flare, and are held in your ear by a single o-ring on the back of the plug.

Double flares (my personal favorite) look like this:

They have no flares, and the wearable area is the concave part in the center. The flare part is actually 1 size bigger in order to keep the plug in your ear without o-rings. I don't recommend this type unless you have good skin elasticity. I do, and therefore I use double-flared plugs.

Those are just some basic styles. The world is your oyster when it comes to body jewlery, and there are many more ornate styles out there!


But that's not all! 

So you're piercings are healed, you've got your jewelry...now what? You're not just done forever, there's still aftercare for both your ears and your jewelry involved.

Take out your plugs when you shower and swim - especially if they're made from an organic material. The moisture can cause the plugs to warp and/or rot...gross. While you're in the shower, cleanse your ears with a mild soap; I use Shea Moisture brand baby soap. It's made out of raw organic materials,  it smells super good, and it's moisturizing :3


When you're out of the shower, dry your lobes and put some type of moisturizing oil or lobe butter on them. Mine lobe butter is homemade from organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, and organic jojoba oil.


I just put a tiny dab on my fingertips and massage it into my lobes using my thumb and forefinger.

Lastly, insert your plugs, and you're done for the day :) Repeat every day, and you'll have beautiful, healthy piercings!
If you use organic materials, once a month you should polish them with a cotton cloth and some jojoba oil. 



Also, I'm "sponsored" by OmericaOrganic, a company that handmakes custom jewelry out of wood. They will literally custom make anything (well almost anything) for you, and all of their jewlery is made to order! They ship worldwide, and have awesome customer service. Since going "organic," I have ordered all of my wood from them. When you use my rep code, 09272010, you get 20% off of your first order!


These are only four of their MANY gorgeous styles!

Omerica Organic also makes standard sized earrings, belt buckles, and dog tags, and carries all you need for proper care of your new wood :) As the folks over at Omerica like to say: WOOD IS GOOD!


Just click that banner ^ or the one in my sidebar and they will take you straight to the site.



Happy stretching, and if you decide to blog about your stretching journey, be sure to let me know so I can follow you!


TTYL (Type to ya later!)





Sources: Google Image Search, BodyArtForms.com, and OmericaOrganic.com


1 comment:

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