A little bit of History

For thousands of years civilizations around the world have been using body modifications to make a statement. Whether to enhance their beauty and social status or to show they've entered adulthood, ear stretching was and still is a rite of passage in many cultures. While gauged ears may look cool it is a serious commitment that requires patience and a high tolerance for pain.

Otzi the IceMan, a mummy dating back to 3500 to 3100 BCE had stretched earlobes, and historical figures such as Buddah and King Tut are often depicted in art with stretched earlobes as well. For some, gauging has deep cultural meaning, like for members of the Mursi Tribe in Ethiopia whose gauges gain them a higher degree of respect, and for some gauging holds personal meaning, unique to the individual.


Ear stretching takes time and effort. If you don’t do it right, you can cause permanent damage or scarring, and raise the risk of infection. Let’s get into how to do ear stretching right, how to avoid any complications or unwanted side effects, and what to do if you want to reverse your ear gauges.

The first thing to do is get an ear piercing. This is as simple as going to a reputable piercing shop, getting your ear pierced, and letting the piercing heal for a few months.

Choose a piercer with a license to pierce in your state. Tattoo artists and estheticians often receive extra training on piercings. After the piercing has fully healed, then you can get all the equipment you need to increase the size of your piercings.

  • Tappers: long, spiky things you put into your piercings to start stretching out the skin. They come in various sizes (or gauges), depending on how much you want to stretch out your piercing.
  • Plugs: round jewelry you put in to keep your ear stretched. They’re made out of a number of materials (titanium, silicon, steel).
  • Lubricant and Oils: Try not to use any lubricants that have chemicals or additives in them, as these could irritate or infect your piercing.

Clean your piercings
Use a gentle cleanser daily to get rid of dirt, sweat, and other debris.  Keeping your piercings clean reduces your chance of infection and stinkiness.
Remember that your manipulated skin is being pulled in ways it is not used to so it may become very dry.  Using a moisture rich balm will help add hydration back into your skin to reduce the risk of cracks and tears.

If you're looking to go larger, always do it properly! Use a stretching oil that provides necessary slip for the jewelry to be inserted.  Never dry stretch and allow piercings to heal before further increasing your gauge size.