How to Gauge Your Ears

Three Parts:Stretching the EarsFurther Stretching and AftercarePrintable Gauge Chart

So you're considering stretching your ears? Well before you start you should have your current piercing placement looked at by a reputable APP piercer to see if you'll run into any complications. Also ask yourself how much you're looking to spend on jewelry. Stretching your ears, correctly, healthily and happily is not cheap and you need to be ready for the investment. If you are still considering, you need to know that the key to stretching your ears is to be patient and informed. Obviously you'll need a little informing if you're searching how to stretch your ears. This guide will give you all of the information you need to successfully stretch them instead. The steps below will focus on how to correctly stretch and what jewelry is safe for insertion into the body. Remember, gauge is a size measurement. Never refer to your stretched ears as "gauges".

Part 1
Stretching the Ears

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    Invest in some proper jewelry. You will need a pair of glass or titanium no-flare or single-flare plugs. When stretching up from 20g (standard earring size), you will want your jewelry to be 18g. Ensure that you buy jewelry made of a quality material, such as implant-grade titanium or glass.
    • Terms such as "stainless" or "surgical" are not real grades of metal and are not implant grade materials. They are merely terms to make you think what you are getting is a safe piece of jewelry when in reality it's actually garbage. (The surface or "polish" is very poor and rough and allows bacteria to harbor in the nooks and crannies.)
    • Organic jewelry (wood, bone,) should never be worn in a freshly-stretched piercing. Organic pieces often are -/+ .5mm in diameter because they're made of organic material. Wood should not be worn long-term even in healed piercings because it is porous, and therefore likely to cause an infection.
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    Prepare yourself and your surroundings for the stretch. Begin by washing your hands and jewelry-free earlobes thoroughly with warm water and soap. Your titanium or glass plugs should still be sealed in the baggies they arrived in from a reputable seller. It is crucial not to use jewelry that arrives with a broken seal.
    • When you order jewelry from a reputable source, you ensure that your jewelry comes to you sterilized. You don't own an autoclave, so the best thing you can do is buy from a reputable source. If you're not going to an APP-certified piercer, an online alternative to order jewelry is Body Art Forms (supporting your local APP piercer is way better though.)
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    Open the sealed jewelry bag and have a lubricant ready to be used with Holey Butt'r, Vitamin E Oil, Jojoba Oil, or Coconut Oil. Emu Oil is also an excellent non-vegan option.
    • Never use Vaseline, Neosporin or tea tree oil. If those are your only options, run to the store for proper stretching supplies.
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    Using clean hands, massage your ear lobe to soften up the tissue and encourage some nice blood flow to the area. Be sure to put lubricant on your jewelry as well and then begin to try and insert it. If you feel resistance, pain or discomfort stop immediately and return to your previous size. Don't be discouraged! Let your body take it's time, it will only reward you in the end.
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    If your stretch was successful, and you bought a no-flare plug, then place an o-ring on both the front and back of the plug to keep it in place. If you bought a single-flare plug, then place an o-ring on the back to keep it in place. It's important that you bought a plug with a decent wearable size so that the o-rings do not rub against your earlobe.
    • Remember that tapers are a tool used by piercers to insert jewelry. They are not supposed to be used to stretch piercings or be worn as jewelry either.
    • Using tapers to stretch can result in scar tissue, blow outs, tears and many other complications. If worn as jewelry, the uneven weight distribution can cause also cause blow outs and tears as well as thinning of the lobes.
    • Remember everybody heals at their own time. With most people, one ear readily wants to stretch more than the other. The ear that gives you a hard time stretching commonly referred to as your "bitch ear". If one piercing will accept the new size, but the other one is uncomfortable or hurts when you try to insert the jewelry, do not force the new size. Simply wait a month and then stretch the other piercing to match the successful first. Never rush a stretch just for symmetry.
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    After both plugs are securely in place, soak them with a sterile saline solution on cotton round (something that doesn't have tons of loose fibers). It can be found in the first aid section in walmart for a very good price as well as in a pharmacy for a bit more. Do not use eye contact solution or just regular saline solution. The key word to look for is sterile.

Part 2
Further Stretching and Aftercare

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    Clean your piercings daily. However, an APP-certified piercer in your area can check your piercings and give you their personal cleaning suggestion if you would like a second opinion. Once the stretch has settled down a bit, it's okay to remove your plugs to clean them.
    • Make sure that you clean both the plugs and your piercings thoroughly to remove dead skin cell buildup and other bacteria.
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    Massage. Also once the stretch is not longer irritated and settled (no pain or discomfort at all), feel free to remove jewelry daily and massage your lobes with Vitamin E Oil, Jojoba Oil, Emu Oil, Coconut Oil or Holey Butt'r. Massaging daily allows your epidermal tissue to retain integrity while promoting cell growth. Remember to put your plugs back in once the massage is over. It's best to do massages just after cleaning your piercings.
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    Give your lobes a break. Sleep without your plugs in once the stretch has really settled and you're comfortable in doing so.. This relieves the stress that's put on them by your plugs, which gets worse the larger you stretch. Skipping this step can result in thinner lobes due to the restricted flow of oxygen, blood, and nutrients.
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    Wait before you consider stretching again. The key is to listen to your body, there is no secret to having amazing lobes, it's just patience. Usually the rule of thumb is to wait a month or two when stretching at smaller sizes (20g-10g.) However not everybody will heal from a stretch that fast. You'll know when your ear is ready for the next size when your current jewelry is loose or the front flare slips through your ear lobe through out the day and is in no pain or discomfort either. At that point you should try stretching up and inserting the next size using the same steps supplied.
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    Never skip sizes. Keep in mind that you should not force your ears to stretch if they are not ready within this time window. Everybody is different. Past that point you should wait a few months in between sizes, for some it may take 3 months to be able to comfortably insert a 0g plug. For others it may take 6 months for their ear to loosen up enough for the stretch. Don't compare yourself to others and be sure to listen to your body.

Printable Gauge Chart

Printable Gauge Chart


  • If you're underage, ask your parent or guardian for permission before attempting this.
  • If your ears are not currently pierced, get them done by an APP-certified piercer. Not only will you be able to control your starting gauge, but there are no downfalls.
  • Always review your order forms when purchasing jewelry. Many sites do not accept returns for sanitary reasons.
  • Check that your school/work dress code covers piercings and body modifications so that you can plan accordingly.
  • Stretching too quickly can result in blowouts, "cat butt", and torn lobes. The first two may be fixed by removing your jewelry permanently (downsizing), and massaging daily. If that doesn't work then scalpelling or minor surgery is in your future.
  • Department store earrings are 20g, and made from low-quality materials. You shouldn't purchase or wear them.
  • Never shove the taper in your earlobe.


  • Never put objects (ex. pencils) through your ears. The bacteria on these objects can cause severe infections. Do so at your own risk through jewelry such as ear skins, eyelets, or tunnels if you must.
  • Never unnecessarily touch or move a healing piercing, as this can tear the fistula. Avoid going into bodies of water such as: pools, hot tubs, and bathtubs to avoid infection.
  • Always get pierced by an APP-certified piercer. A piercer without that certification isn't dedicated to his/her job, and often uses low-quality jewelry that can cause infection. The shop and tools, including needles, are often unsterilized.

Things You'll Need

  • Healed Pierced Ears
  • One Pair of Plugs of Appropriate Material (Listed Above)
  • Vitamin E Oil, Jojoba Oil, Emu Oil, Coconut Oil or Holey Butt'r
  • Two to Four Clear O-Rings
  • Sterile Saline Solution
  • Patience
  • Money you're willing to invest

Article Info

Categories: Ear Piercing