After several years of debating and putting it off, I decided to bite the bullet and began my ear stretching journey. For so long I wondered if it would be a painful process, or if it would look silly on me... But I've done my homework, and after working in the industry, I'm more familiar with the process. I'm confident and eager to get started and will share my thoughts and observations as a gauge up. So here we go....
I had a pretty easy stretch up to 4mm. Similar to the stretch up to 3mm, I had to wear the tapers for over a 48+ hour period to get them all the way through my ear and replace them with the 4mm screw back plugs, but other than that, no serious issues or pain. I am still sticking to mainly screw back acrylic plugs since my feelings on double flared and o-rings hasn't changed. I'll eventually pick out some of Bandaru's organic hangers to add to my collection once my ear feel healed... sigh... 4mm doesn't really look that much bigger than 3mm, so I definitely will be stretching up again in another 1-2 months.
The most frustrating thing about stretching your ears is talking to people, who have no experience with stretched ears, about stretching your ears. I understand that ear stretching is a little different than "the norm" but come on, man! Stretching isn't something that's only seen in indigenous tribes. At the moment, I usually get comments like "I didn't even notice. They look like a normal piercing!" or "Those are nice; I wouldn't go any bigger..." You would think these opinions stem from generational differences, but I hear the same thing from my grandma as my 20-some year old peers. Uhg, I'm doing all the work to stretch them out and you can't even tell I have stretched ears unless I take my plugs out. Hopefully I will soon get to a size that I will be happy with. Everyone else may have reservations about gauged ears, but I don't.
Since, I have had a plethora of earrings at the 3mm size I have not felt the "itch" to stretch up to 4mm. But, with everyone telling me to stay small, now all I want to do is go bigger! I plan on stretching up by the end of the month. My current earrings aren't loose per say, but they fit without any pain or tightness. It will be around 2 months between the 3mm and 4mm stretch, so I don't expect any issues. I'll let you know how it goes in the next week or two...
Two weeks of healing and now I have a plethora of hanger earring options to choose from for my newly healed 3mm ears. While I love my new hangers from Bandaru Organics (check out the twined look in the picture!), I feel like hangers are more for "special occasion wear." I was so proud of my new 3mm earrings that I mistakenly wore them to a family event. The first thing my nephews grabbed for when I picked them up were my "toy-like" dangling earrings. The situation could have gone downhill quickly if I hadn't been paying attention. Not only do I have several young nephews at home, but I also work in a warehouse and often sweat while I move heavy boxes and packing orders. I can think of several situations where big dangling earrings could get me into some trouble at work. Unfortunately, organic plugs that are around 3mm are mostly all double flared! Oh well, I'll take the easy route and stick with my unflared acrylic plugs with o-rings for a bit longer.
Stretching to 2.5mm has been a breeze; however at 3mm I got stuck, I mean the tapers literally were stuck in my ears. The cleaned and generously lubricated tapers were not moving through my ear. I figured I must have grabbed the wrong size... Nope, double checked with a caliper, these were 3mm, sigh... I gave up and just left the tapers in my ear over night and the whole next day, I know.. "Big No, No". However, after 24 hours I could finally push the tapers through and I was able to wear my 3mm plugs!
I was excited to stretch to 10G (2.5mm) because I wanted to try and wear a double flared plug. I easily stretched to 10G and then let my ears heal for a couple weeks. I picked a 2mm double flared black plated steel plug as my first double flared plug. I had seen the " like buttoning a button" videos of how insert double flared plugs on YouTube. This seemed easy enough. The second I got the plugs home and compared the hole to the flare I realized there is no way this is happening. Very disappointedly, I took the plugs back to work to measure the diameter of the flared edge. My 2mm double flared plugs had a 3.5mm flares. What??? The flare is so large that there is no way I would be able to get 2mm double flared plugs in my ear unless I had stretched to almost 4mm!
I'm curious if anyone actually wears double flared plug below 8mm. Since my ears start shrinking when I wear smaller plugs even if worn for just a few hours, what would happen if I stretched to 4mm and then wore 2mm double flared plugs? I would be able to get them in, but my ears would shrink and then I would need the "Jaws of Life" to get the earrings out!! Why are double flared plugs even made in smaller sizes? At least flares for 8mm plugs only go up 0.5mm to 1mm, which is fine when the flare diameter isn't over half the wear size of your plugs. At least I found some double flared steel tunnels that are screw fit (check out the picture).
O-Rings can end up being a little annoying. They fall off when I am sleeping and they can be difficult to put back on after cleaning my plugs. I am done with o-rings for the time being. I have a pair of double flared plugs calling my name, but I just need to figure out how to put them in... I read that the trick to wearing flared plugs was to stretch to the next size and then put in the flared plugs for the size smaller. I may just try this out when I stretch to 10G.
I had a surprise visitor for Christmas and he had a surprise for me. My impulsive childhood friend came home with 6 bloody holes in his ears. I week before he had decided that he wanted gauged ears, but didn't want to put in the time by stretching out his ear piercings. He went the "easy and quick route" and in a few hours went from having no ear piercings to having three large punched out holes in each ear. His smallest hole is 5mm and the largest is 10mm. Did I mention that he was impulsive?
His descriptions of his ear punching experience are kind of horrific, but pretty much what I expected. I don't think he completely understood what was going to happen since he wore a brand new white shirt to the piercers, which was completely ruined by the time he was done. Hello!! Getting hunks of your flesh taken out of your ears may cause some bleeding...! He almost passed out when getting the procedure done because of the pain and blood loss. His ears proceeded to bleed for 3 days after the procedure and I don't think he slept to well either. A week later his ears were scabbed up and gross looking. Luckily for him, he loves them scabs and all. But hearing about and seeing the result of ear punching makes me feel justified in my choice in stretching my ears instead of making my ears into a fleshy punch cards. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!
I went to ask my stretching guru Brandy, a coworker who has stretched to 25mm, for her opinion. She helped me come to the conclusion that the waiting a month is really a safety guideline that can be broken when at the smaller gauge sizes if completely healed. It is only 0.4mm and if my ears are healed, it hopefully won't be an issue to expand up. I went home and got ready to stretch. I took a hot shower to loosen up my ears and grabbed the jewelry, ear lube, and cleaning equipment I needed. I decided to try an acrylic talon taper and the taper went right through my ear like butter. The taper gave me none of the issues that most of the internet claims that acrylic will do. I do understand the risk in using acrylic stretching kits and plugs to stretch and heal but my current experience at the smaller sizes, acrylics are working out better for me.
So I am getting impatient; a month is forever to wait to stretch to the next gauge size. My ears have been stretched and then healed at 14G for a little over two weeks. 14G to 12G is only 0.4mm. All I can think about is the one set of hangers that I can wear from Bandaru Organics' collection that is waiting for me once my ears reach 12G. I want to stretch a little further because the plugs are hand carved and can vary in size; I also only want to wear them in well healed ears and make sure they are not causing any stretching since they are organic.
So, I wore the steel plugs for the whole weekend and I realized that I have a habit of touching my ears constantly, but doing so I noticed a distinct difference between acrylics and steel jewelry. The steel plugs don't let your ears breathe, so all of my sweat and skin oils were all over the jewelry! I know the reason most experts suggest to use steel tapers is fact they are non-porous and it makes sense, I didn't think in practice it would make the jewelry so slippery you can barely unscrew them to get it out. The wedding was formal, but there was still dancing at the reception so I may have gotten a little sweaty while getting down to the YMCA. I come from a long genetic line of sweaters, so other people may have a different reaction to steel, but at the moment, I have decided to forgo using steel plugs on an everyday basis and stick to the acrylics... I'll let you know how it goes.
So, I have worn the acrylic non-flared plugs for a week and still no issues; however, I have a wedding to go to. Neon acrylic plugs with black-o-rings will not look very nice in a formal dress setting, so I looked into getting a steel pair of plugs to wear that would hopefully look nicer. The only plugs I found were screw fit, which have been a pain to use and push through my ears. Thankfully my ears had stretched up to be comfortable at 14G+, so I was able to wear the steel screw-on plugs using my regular cleaning routine. Perfect! The steel plugs looked great! Off to the destination wedding for the weekend.
I took the plunge. Even though I planned on only stretching with steel, I put in a pair of 14G acrylic non-flared plugs since I didn't have a pair of steel non-flared and non screw-on plugs available to use. The cheap hip earrings from Target or Claire's always aggravate my ears without fail. I highly expected to wake up to red and irritated ears, like I have many times before, but it was a miracle! My lobes were completely fine! All I needed to do was clean with hydrogen peroxide and use an ear lube I bought on Amazon. I've been wearing the acrylic plugs for a couple days now and no issues... PERFECT!
Today I went ahead and put the 16 gauge (1.2 mm) curved tapers in my ears. They slipped easily though both piercings without any pain, so I decided to try the 14 gauge (1.6mm) straight tapers. The 14 gauge tapers fit nice and snug without any pain all the way to the end, but when I tried to follow through with the 14 gauge plugs, the screw part of the screw-on plugs hurt, so I didn't force it through my ears. I'm just wearing the straight tapers for the day, but there's no way I can sleep with them, so I will have to find a 14 gauge earring that doesn't have a screw-on part or just wear the smaller 16G curved tapers when sleeping. You can see from the picture that the straight taper does not sit perfectly straight in my ear, so I don't want to wear the tapers too much as I'm worried they'll cause uneven stretching. Since one of my piercings is already diagonal, I want to avoid uneven stretching if possible.
Every evening I take out my earrings and clean them. The first night I made the mistake of using rubbing alcohol to clean the earrings, and it dried out my ear. The next night I used hydrogen peroxide, which was a much better choice. I suggest buying a bottle of peroxide for cleaning, if you don't have any on hand.
After several years of debating and putting it off, I bit the bullet today and began my ear stretching journey. For so long I wondered if it would be a painful process, or if it would look silly on me... But I've done my homework, and after working in the industry, I'm more familiar with the process. I'm confident and eager to get started! Since I've had my ears pierced for about ten years, I assume it will be easier to begin stretching. Unfortunately, my right ear is pierced diagonally (as a result of shoddy mall pagoda piercing), but I'm hoping that as I stretch, the hole will even out. Here we go....
I did some "shopping" at work and chose my beginner earrings. I decided to start with a 1mm (or 18 gauge) earring. I've already picked out a few smaller gauge earrings (you can see them in the pictures); for now I'm sticking to stainless steel because I have a history of mild allergic reactions to cheaper metallic jewelry. My first "gauged" earring is technically an illusion (fake) 3mm plug, but it's tight enough on my current piercings that I figured it'd be a great starter.
My impressions of small gauge sized screw-on plugs I had some slight difficulty with inserting the screw end of these screw-on earrings: the screw felt weird going through my straight piercing and was a bit painful in my diagonal piercing. If any of you are choosing your first earrings, I'd suggest you avoid screw-on styles for the smaller gauges.
Having issues with finding small size plugs? Luckily for me, I was easily able to find smaller gauged sized plugs at work, but you may have issues locating good 14mm or smaller earrings. I highly suggest using barbells or rings from other piercings such as eyebrow, tongue, nipple, belly button, etc. opposed to "traditional" style plugs. if you don't already have barbells and rings from other body piercings, they are readily available in all sorts of sizes, and they're pretty affordable. Personally, I like the circular barbell or ring style. I found some affordable steel curved tapers in 16 gauge (1.2mm), but the tapers didn't come in the smaller 18 (1mm) size.