Archive for Ear Piercings
I love my body. I love my tattoos. I love my piercings.
Whenever I decide to get a new tattoo or body piercing, family and friends are bound to ask “What will they think of you at work?” or “Won’t that look unprofessional?”
Fair questions, I guess. As a working professional at the age of . . . well, forget my age; it can be a challenge to balance the professional me with the actual me. My job involves meeting and taking with people all day, everyday. At work I am not Kate, I am usually called Dr. C or Professor. The vision students—and other professors—have of how a college professor should look often doesn’t include tattoos and body piercings. I have to consider how my piercings can affect how well I can do my job.
But I love a challenge and I have found a balance that works for me. More and more places of business are relaxing their policies on body art due to increasing workers–blue collar, white collar, Ivory Tower alike–who have visible ink and piercings. With a little research, forethought, and persistence, I discovered that there are a wide range of piercings which are fashion forward and professionally appropriate.
Ear piercings are considered very safe and easy. Aftercare and reducing the risk of infection can be easy as well. With over a dozen different places for piercing on the ear (and double that for both ears!) there are countless combinations of styles to suit your professional appearance.
I decided to get my anti-tragus pierced. I have three piercings in my left ear lobe along with a BCR in my left tragus. It seemed natural to add to my right ear where I have only two ear lobe piercings and I liked the proportional look of balance piercing my tragus and anti-tragus.
Experienced piercing professionals will have an informal, informational routine to the piercing process. James, my piercing artist, made me feel at ease immediately. We chatted about music and movies as he carefully set out the tools and jewelry, taking his time to show the sterilization labels on all the instruments, and putting on his latex gloves.
James and I discussed the placement of my piercing; he cleaned the outside of my ear he made a small mark in washable ink for where the barbell would go. After looking in the mirror, making some placement adjustments, he cleaned the outside of my ear again.
It was time to lie back on the piercing bench.
Did it hurt? No more or less than my other piercings. Stillness and steady breathing are important. Give yourself something to squeeze, hold on to a friend’s hand. It only takes a second. The tragus and anti-tragus on ears have very few nerve endings and, therefore, pain is minimized in comparison to other body piercings.
Aftercare can be a challenge for a working professional with a hectic schedule. Thankfully there are a wide range of products that are effective, safe, and convenient. Follow the instructions your piercing professional gives you, don’t be afraid to call them with questions or concerns.
If you are a working professional, find your balance. It can be done.
Love your body. Love your tattoos. Love your piercings.
Welcome to the Final Installment of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Keeping your lobes healthy is continuous process. Using products like Hold Fast stretching balm or jojoba oil keeps the skin soft and moisturized. These also help reduce scar tissue and thicken your lobes, and can reduce blow outs over time if used daily.
What is ear funk and how do I fix it?
Your ears, like any area of skin, shed dead cells. This becomes trapped in between your lobe and jewelry after several days of continuous wear. The dead skin cells build up and cause your ear lobes to smell. You can remedy/avoid this by removing your plugs and washing your lobes or wearing organic plugs, as the porous nature of the material will absorb the cells.
Wearing Double Flared or Saddle Plugs:
People often find difficulty in wearing this style plug in sizes 0 gauge and under. To insert a double flare plug, lube your lobes beforehand, then place the plug in at an angle. Be sure to never force a piece of jewelry into your ear.
Organic Plug Care:
Materials that fall into this category are, wood, horn, bone, coral, stone, and the like. Wood in particular should be kept dry to avoid cracking and swelling. Using an oil such as jojoba is recommended to condition the wood and give it shine. Simply massage a small amount onto the jewelry.
If you experience swelling, redness, itching, discharge and/or hotness you may have an infection. It is recommended to downsize the jewelry and allow the ears to return to normal. Wearing steel or glass is a good option for irritated ears as the non-porous material minimizes the risk of prolonging infection. If you feel the problem is serious, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Find the Other Portions of the Guide:
Welcome to Part 2 of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Methods of stretching:
Tapers are one of the most common ways ear are stretched, especially within the range of 14-00 gauge. A taper is a straight piece made usually of acrylic or steel that is smaller on one end and gradually increases in diameter.
Types of Tapers
Acrylic tapers are the least expensive and an easy option for most. The are light weight and come in many colors and patterns. Acrylic tapers though, can not be sterilized and may be a bit harder to get through the ear.
Basic steel tapers are higher quality than acrylic but remain a good option for those on a budget. They can be sterilized as they are non-porous and can be autoclaved. Also, they slide easier through the ear. Due to the flat back to them, they require a steady hand when switching from taper to plug.
Concave Steel Tapers (Highly Recommended):
Concave tapers are the best and highest quality tapers to use. Like the basic steel tapers, they can be autoclaved and sterilized for a safe and clean stretch. They also have a concave back (an indention on the end of the taper) so that the plugs actually fit inside of the taper so when you’re ready you can insert your taper, put the plug into the back of the taper, and follow through. These tapers are bit more costly but well worth the price.
Time to Stretch!
-Get a good quality lubricant such as Surgilube or jojoba oil.
-Lube your ears thoroughly as well as the taper.
-Insert the taper up to the base of the larger side.
-Once through, follow your plug through after the taper.
-Don’t worry if it takes a few minutes, take your time!
The Wrapping or Taping Method
Once you reach about 0-00 gauge, you will find this is a good option for stretching, as the jumps between sizes increase. Wrapping is simple, you take your current size plug ( we recommend a straight plug or tunnel; non-saddle plug) and wrap between 1-3 layers of tape. You can trim or tuck the excess into the tunnel. Doing this about once per week is the recommended pace. It takes about 1-2 months but it allows for healing time and has minimal risk for damage or blow outs.
Types of tape to use are PTFE tape and Bondage tape. These are non-toxic and won’t irritate your skin.
Find the Other Portions of the Guide:
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
-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.
Find the Other Portions of the Guide:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you will have guessed, these are earrings that have a dangling element or charm of some type.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more about earrings and amazing ear modifications, check out the rest of our Ear Piercings category.
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.
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.
For more fun piercing close-ups, don’t forget to subscribe to our awesome YouTube channel.
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.
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.
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.
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.