Archive for Ear Piercings

Jan
26

Ear Stretching Guide Part 1

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Welcome to Part 1 of Our Ear Stretching Guide!

The practice of expanding the ear lobes goes back about as far as human history, from King Tutankhamen to the Iceman; a mummified body from 3300 BC, stretched lobes are a tradition across the world.

The typical jewelry worn in stretched ear lobes is called a plug, the size of the plug is the gauge. Plugs come in many materials and styles, from metal to wood, and from tunnels to ornate hanging designs. Finding what works with your body and style is all a part of the experience!

 

If your ears aren’t pierced yet:

-Find yourself a reputable piercer, certified piercers in your area can be found through

www.safepiercing.org

-Tell your piercer you plan on stretching your lobes, this is important because of the placement of the piercing on the ear lobe. Ear piercings for standard earrings are usually placed more towards the face, in the event that the client wishes to have multiple ear piercings. Ear piercing placement for stretching is placed centrally on the ear lobe, to ensure the skin around the plug will be even as you stretch.

-Make sure you let your piercing heal before you begin to stretch.

 

What size do/ should I start stretching at?

Most people find that 16/14 gauge  is a good starting point, especially if you’ve been wearing regular earrings daily for a long period of time.

How big can I stretch my ears before they won’t go back to normal?

This is a tricky question, because everyone’s body is different, but in the body modification community the generally accepted answer is between 2-0 gauge.

Other factors on whether or not your ears will return to normal include: how fast you stretch and if you skip sizes. Stretching too quickly or skipping sizes can do more tearing of the skin than actual stretching and can also lead to blow outs and scar tissue. It’s important to take your time and be patient with your body. Waiting a full month between stretches is recommended.

What is a blow out?

A blow out is the result of stretching too fast and/or skipping sizes. It causes the skin on the inside of your ear to be forced outwards, causing a flap on the back of your stretched piercing. The recommended action to remedy this would be to down size but it is best to be avoided if possible as a blow out that is allowed to heal is permanent.

Will stretching my ears hurt?

Stretching your ears should not hurt, if you are experiencing pain this means you are stretching too fast. Reaching the next size is exciting, but moving at a pace your body is comfortable with is important.

 

Watch as modified cutie Jen gets a daith ear cartilage piercing.  (Look for the needle at about 22 seconds.)

First, the piercer cleans Jen’s ear thoroughly, being careful to get the cartilage all around where the daith will go.  He then marks dots and a circular guideline, to show where the jewelry is going to lay. Our piercee approves the placement, and a hollow needle receiving tube is moved into place. She’s instructed to take a deep breath and exhale slowly, and the hollow piercing needle is gently pushed through, then corked. Next, the needle is chased with a BCR, which is meticulously squeezed into place with a pair of special jewelry pliers.  A little final cleanup, and Jen walks away with an awesome new daith piercing to add to her collection.

 daith ear cartilage piercing

Daith piercings were first performed in 1992 by piercing legend Erik Dakota, but they’ve definitely come along way since then, and are now worn with a variety of body jewelry such as ball captive rings, horseshoe barbells, and clickers.  As a contemporary piercing, the daith has seen a steady rise in popularity, though it still remains less common compared to other ear cartilage piercings.

types of daith piercing jewelry

For more about daiths and other ear piercings, check out our Ear Piercings category, and don’t forget to follow us on YouTube for loads of fun close-ups of real piercings being performed.

Nov
08

Body Jewelry Update: Dazzling Driftwood

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wooden plug fashion

The short summer may have left us longing for a few more days of fun in the sun, but there is a way to recapture those summer feelings without freezing in crop tops and short shorts.  Organic wood plugs with gothic, alternative, and spiritual motifs create a feeling of carefree chic, even on the darkest and coldest of days.  These little dangly beauties are not your average wood on the beach, and whether paired with youthful grunge or a more clean and sophisticated wardrobe, the one thing they’ll never do is leave your fashion sense adrift.

cool dangle style wooden plugs

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using home ear stretching kits

So you’ve decided that you want to stretch your ears, but would prefer to do it from the comfort of home?  Well in that case, first thing’s first: you’ll want to get a home stretching kit.

Ear stretching kits are essentially a set of tapers or expanders that span a range of sizes, making gradual stretching possible.  These sets usually include a single taper of about nine different sizes within your given range, complete with matching rubber o-rings to help hold each item in place.  For example: a stretching kit for those who need to go from a 14 gauge (slightly larger than a standard piercing) to a 00 gauge (about 10mm in diameter) will include one taper of each size in between.  In other words, one 14 gauge, one 12 gauge, a 10 gauge, an 8, a 6, a 4, a 2, a 0, and finally the desired size of 00 gauge.

 nine piece ear stretching sets

Since most kits will only include one of each size taper, it’s a good idea to grab two complete kits, so that both ears can be stretched to the same size at the same time.  For those who are willing to stretch at different rates, a single set can be used, with each taper piggybacking from one ear to the other.  For optimum results, it’s recommended by most piercers to use some type of lubricating balm or oil in conjunction with your tapers, which will often help minimize discomfort and assist with easing each new larger size through.  Stretching dry or upsizing too quickly can increase the risk of damage to the piercing skin, or fistula.

Want to use tapers to stretch but hate having to wear them too long?  No problem.  You can always choose to invest in interchangeable taper plugs instead.  These are a collection of three parts that when assembled together can make either a taper, or a regular screw fit plug.  This means that you can use the taper to stretch, then once it’s through, unscrew the long pointed end and replace it with a simple plug end.  That way you’ll avoid the annoyance and risk of trying to remove a standard taper and push a new plug through your freshly stretched lobe.

 three piece interchangeable expander sets

Remember, even if you stretch at home, your neighborhood piercer is always a good ally when it comes to body mod, and he or she will be willing to share a wealth of knowledge that can streamline your process, usually free of charge.  For more about plug jewelry, tribal mods, and stretching, check out the rest of our Plugs and Gauging category, and stay tuned.

Categories : Plugs and Gauging
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Studs

These are simple, small earrings that are composed of a single fixed decoration (usually a half inch or less in diameter) and a post that comes equipped with a rubber, acrylic, or metal backing to hold the item in place.

 stud style pierced ear jewelry

Dangles

As you will have guessed, these are earrings that have a dangling element or charm of some type.

 pierced earrings with dangling charms

Drops

Drop earrings are a dangling style that involves a length of chain or wire with a decorative piece at its end.  This creates the look the charm being suspended or having “dropped” from the ear.

 drop style pierced earrings

Hoops

The moniker “hoop” applies to many different types of earrings, but generally those that are composed of either a single large loop, or a smaller ellipse of some kind from which other elements may dangle.  Earrings that include a small hoop resting close around the lobe are often called huggies.

 hoop style pierced earrings

Threaders

Rather than a closure, threader earrings are those that have a fixed curved portion from which two long chains or ends dangle.  The free end is meant to be threaded through the piercing until the curve rests in the fistula, allowing the earring to remain in place.

 threader stile ear jewelry

Chandeliers

Chandelier earrings are items that involve a complex hanging structure composed of a fixed element coupled with multiple dangling portions, the look being similar to that of a classical candle or bulb chandelier lamp.

 chandelier pierced ear jewelry

Closures

Hoops, dangles, drops, and chandeliers may come with a variety of different earring backs, including post, fishhook, huggy/hinge, leverback, leverback post, and kidney wire.  Each of these closures is used to its full advantage when incorporated into particular styles and designs.

 all different styles of earring closure

For more about earrings and amazing ear modifications, check out the rest of our Ear Piercings category.

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Check out this awesome video of Stephanie getting her rook piercing done by James at American Skin Art in Buffalo, New York.  Look for the money shot (actual needle insertion) at about 17 seconds.

First the piercer cleans the ear thoroughly, and then proceeds to mark the area where the rook piercing will go.  Stephanie approves the placement, and the needle and receiving tube are carefully put into place.  Next, our piercer tells his client to take a deep breath, and expertly pushes the needle through her cartilage, corking the free end to avoid any mishaps.  A ball captive ring is then pushed into place and carefully secured through the use of some expert tools.  Just a quick final cleanup, and Stephanie is ready to enjoy her rockin’ new rook.

rook ear cartilage piercing

The rook is an ear cartilage piercing performed where the fossa (the flat upper plane) and crus, or inside edge of the helix, meet.  That visible outcropping of cartilage just between the inner and outer conch areas?  Yep.  Right there. Although it’s been around since the 90s, (first popularized by famous piercer Erik Dakota) the rook piercing is still fairly rare and provides a beautiful and unique look, whether alone, or paired with other piercings.

the ear anatomy in relation to rook piercings

For more fun piercing close-ups, don’t forget to subscribe to our awesome YouTube channel.

 

the stretching lifestyle

In tribal cultures the stretching of ear lobes and other soft tissue piercings is predominantly performed with a single method: dead stretching done with gradually larger pins and plugs.  In the western world however, there are a variety of techniques for achieving a stretched look, many of them primarily contemporary in origin.

One way that large gauge lobe piercings are achieved is by performing the initial piercing with a larger gauge needle than normal (such as a 12 gauge piercing needle) and then allowing the piercings to heal with pyrex or titanium plugs, or ball captive rings.  Rarely a dermal punch may be used to accomplish an even larger initial hole, but this is mostly shied away from as the tissue is soft and easy to stretch.  Scalpeling and the “pierce and taper” technique are also generally frowned upon, and each involve more pain and longer healing time, as well as greater risk.

 risky methods of stretching

Many choose to stretch with the use of a stretching kit, which includes a tunnel or taper of each standard size across a specific range, say from 14 gauge to 00 gauge.  Tapering in general (using tapers and lubricant to enlarge  a healed fistula) is a popular contemporary method.  But some may decide to size up in even more gradual increments, utilizing a method known as “taping.”  This basically involves the use of non-adhesive tape, such as medical grade teflon tape, to wrap layers around the jewelry, resulting in a slowly progressing size enlargement.  Although they may take longer and require some excess investment, taping and tapering are lower risk approaches to ear lobe stretching and normally show favorable results.

kits for home ear stretching

More treacherous bygone techniques for lobe piercing enlargement have resurged in recent years however, such as weighting, which adopts the use of large heavy earrings or small weighted loops that stretch the piercing gradually as they dangle.  Once practiced by tribal societies in Southeast Asia, this unique type of augmentation has been largely rejected due to the risk of thinning tissue.  Unfortunately for most, only the bottom portion of pierced flesh will stretch, as the top and sides are not subjected to the force of the weight.

 pros and cons of using weights

There are multiple methods of stretching ear lobe piercings, each with an interesting and unparalleled cultural history, but persons from all races and walks of life show a number of stretched subpopulations.  Just one more way that body mod is connecting the human race.

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Sep
03

Stretched: the Magic of Mix and Match

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mixing it up with plug pairs

Classes have started again, and with a hectic schedule, unseasonable weather, and some major first day fashion scrutiny, you’re looking for something new and fresh.  Maybe something fun to wear in your stretched lobes?  Then look no further.

This season it’s all about fashion that’s fun, and one of the coolest ways to change it up is by mixing and matching what goes in your ears.  All of these wooden plugs are organic, available in sizes up to one inch, and sold separately for easy interchangeability.  You can even mix rich sawo wood with soft crocodile wood for a funky two-tone style effect.  Here are just a few of the sweet pairings you can put together:

cool mixable crocodile wood plugscool mixable sawo wood plugs

So regardless of what else is going on during the Fall/Winter season, at least you know your ears are taken care of.  One task down, 27million436thousand812 to go.  Isn’t higher learning fun?

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the trick to industrial barbell sizing

A little overwhelmed when shopping for new industrial barbells?  Maybe it’s your first time, or maybe you just love the fun look of bent and waved industrials but have no idea which one will fit.  And you don’t want to buy something that looks really awesome only to find it won’t fit, right?  Well if you give us just one minute, we can teach you how to measure so that it never feels like a gamble again.  Here’s the secret:

Think of the balls or spikes at the ends of your industrial as two points.  We’ll call them point A and point B.  Now, just like in math class, it’s your job to find the shortest distance between point A and point B.  That’s right.  It’s straight across.

 how to measure for length

No matter how wacky and wonderful the waves, dips, and spirals in an industrial barbell are, the length is always measured straight across from one ball to the other.  So if your poker straight project bar at home measures 37mm, then even the most interesting new barbell from the online store will fit, as long as you look in the specifications, and make sure that it lists a length measurement of about 37mm.

 cool industrial project bars

Much easier, right?  Now, time to go shopping.

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Check out this fun short video of Jalesa getting her industrial pierced by James from American Skin Art. And keep your eyes peeled for the needle insertions at around the 15 and 25 second marks.

industrial ear piercings being performed

As with all professional piercings, the area around the piercing site is first thoroughly cleaned.  Then a set of guidelines are marked where both piercings will be, including a connecting line to assist with the needle’s angle. Next, a pair of forceps are clamped into place, and the outer portion of the ear is swiftly punctured. Our piercee is instructed to take one more deep breath, and the needle is pushed through for the second and final time. Finally, the needle is chased with an extra long industrial barbell, and Jalesa is ready to show the world her new piercing.

Jalesa enjoys her new industrial ear piercing

Though often referred to as an “industrial piercing,” this type of modification is actually a set of two piercings, interconnected across the ear with a single piece of body jewelry.  For this reason the industrial may take longer to heal completely than an average helix piercing, but it’s definitely well worth the wait.  With proper attention and aftercare, healing will be straightforward, and you’ll be left with a versatile and interesting new mod.

For more up close videos of real piercings being performed, don’t forget to follow us and peep our channel on YouTube.