Health Lifestyle

An Overview of the Different Methods of Ear Stretching

Did you know that ear stretching is a tradition that began thousands of years ago as a type of beauty enhancement and is still practiced worldwide today?

If you’re thinking about stretching your ears, you’ll need to learn the most common ear stretching methods. You’ll also need to know how to stretch your ears safely and prevent infection.

Keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know about ear stretching methods!

Ear Stretching With Tapers

The most common method of stretching ears is using ear tapers. Tapers for ears are long and pointy, so they have a tapered end and a round end. The round end is the gauge or size taper you’ll be using, and the tapered end is for easier insertion.

Most of the time, tapers are made from steel or acrylic. Steel tapers slide through ear piercings much easier, but you’ll typically pay more.

In the US, you’ll find that a gauge is a measurement for jewelry size. Standard earrings are 18 or 20-gauge, so you’ll most likely need to start with a 14 or 16-gauge taper.

You’ll also need to get other equipment along with the tapers, which include:


A plug fits on the round end of the taper. Plugs can be made from steel, titanium, silicone, or organic materials like glass or stone.

Steel and titanium are the most durable, but titanium is less likely to cause irritation.

Some people also use ear tunnels with plugs or plugs alone. Ear tunnels are round earrings with a hole in the middle. To look at different plugs and ear tunnels, you can check out this selection of ear gauges.


You’ll also need lubricant to help the taper slide through your ear piercing easily. You can find high-quality lubricants in most jewelry shops, such as jojoba or coconut oil. Vitamin E is also a good option.

It’s essential to be sure the lubricant you’re using doesn’t have additives or chemicals, as this might cause irritation.

Ear Stretching Process Using Tapers

Firstly, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Next, sanitize the taper with rubbing alcohol before putting it in your ear.

Lubricate the entire taper and your earlobe before you insert it into the piercing. You shouldn’t feel any pain during this process. If you do feel pain, it indicates you’ve done too much stretching too quickly.

Once the taper is through your piercing, put the plug on the end immediately.

Ear Care

Stretched ears need care both during and after the stretching process. You’ll need to care for your ears properly by taking steps that include:

  • Washing your piercings twice daily with warm water and mild soap
  • Soaking your earlobes twice daily with one cup of warm water and 1/4 tsp of salt
  • Massage your earlobes once daily with jojoba or coconut oil
  • Avoid touching your piercings with dirty hands to avoid infection

If you notice a slight odor, you don’t need to worry. Sometimes a gauged ear can smell due to the dead skin cells that haven’t sloughed away during the stretching. However, if you still notice the odor after thoroughly cleansing the area, you should seek medical attention.

Gauge Sizes and Blowouts

You also need to be careful with how quickly you stretch your ears. If you stretch your ears too quickly, you can tear or damage the skin around your earlobe, known as a blowout.

Blowouts can cause redness, swelling, burning, bleeding, and fever, resulting in a serious infection. Severe blowouts can cause permanent scarring of the area.

Stretching too quickly can also cause your ear tissue to tear in half or even cause the earlobe skin to detach from the side of your face.

For these reasons, you shouldn’t go up more than one gauge at a time as you’re stretching. Be sure to wait between 4 to 6 weeks before moving to the next size. You may have to wait even longer once your gauge size becomes larger.

If you think you’re developing a blowout, taking action as soon as possible is essential. You’ll need to clean the affected area three times daily with a saltwater solution. You can mix 8 ounces of distilled water and 1/4 of salt.

It’s also best to go down two or three gauge sizes temporarily. Once your blowout heals, you can slowly increase the gauge size again.

Ear Stretching with Tape

Once you’ve stretched your ears to a larger size, typically a zero gauge, you can use the tape wrapping method to stretch them further. 

Tape wrapping or taping helps to stretch your ears carefully and slowly. Taping takes longer than a taper to stretch your ears, but it keeps your ear lobes healthy and thick. As a result, you’ll be able to wear larger-sized gauges.

Types of Tape

With the taping method, you can’t use duct tape or electrical tape. You’ll need to use tape that is safe for your ears and thin enough to use correctly. The best tapes for taping are Teflon PTFE tape or bondage tape. 

PTFE tape is inexpensive and non-adhesive, meaning it only sticks to itself. It’s very thick, making it easy to stretch your skin. Additionally, it won’t irritate your skin like electrical tape.

Bondage tape is also suitable for ear stretching. It’s non-adhesive and wider than PFTE, so it will fit nicely on your plugs and is thin enough to stretch well.

Stretching with Tape

To begin taping, you’ll need to wear plugs your current size. You need to wash hands with soap and water, and then cleanse your ear.

Warm water will soften your ear and make it more elastic. You can also take a hot shower before taping.

Then, wrap the tape around your current plugs approximately 2 to 3 times, and use a lubricant to place the wrapped plugs in your ears. Be sure to start small and avoid bumps in the wrapped tape.

You shouldn’t experience pain when inserting the wrapped plugs in your ear. Every 5 to 6 days, you can add one to two more layers of tape, and your ears will continue to stretch gradually. 

Ear Stretching Methods

Now that you know some of the common methods of ear stretching, you’ll be better able to choose which option is best for you.

Check around your local area for professional piercing and tattoo shops. They can give you more advice on ear stretching and recommendations on the different types of jewelry to use.

For more lifestyle and health tips, check out the rest of our blog today!