The History, Method, and Warnings of Ear Gauging


Stretched piercings have been around almost as long as piercings themselves. At least one version or another of all modern piercings has existed in earlier times. Stretched earlobes were common thousands of years ago, in Asia especially. The practices of many African and South African tribes today include stretched lips, some of enormous size.

Body piercing has become mainstream in modern society, and with it an interest in stretched piercings has grown as well. It is most common amoung young people and people of many subcultures.

Typical ear tapers in various sizes.
Typical ear tapers in various sizes.

Stretching Method

 There are many different methods you can choose from to stretch your ears. Some work really well and are a great idea, others, not so much. Please remember that you should always wait at least one month between stretching. You should wait at least 2 months for sizes over 6g. Failure to stick to this could result in your earlobe puckering, being very thin, or even tearing completely apart. It's worth it in the end to be patient. Your ears will look much better, and your lobes will stay intact.

  • Tapering: The most common way to stretch ears today. Tapering involves the use of a taper (a rod that is larger at one end, specifically made for this purpose). It is lubricated and pushed though the hole until the larger end is flush with the earlobe. Larger jewelry is then pushed though, parallel to the end of the taper. The come in various sizes and are measured by the larger end. They are usually approximately 2-3 inches long.
  • Dead Stretching: No equipment is used for this method. Larger jewelry is just forced though the existing piercing. This can lead to two types of injury; a simple tear in the skin or a "blowout" in which the skin is pushed though the back of the piercing by pressure. A build up of scar tissue may also form making it harder to stretch in the future.
  • Weights: This isn't traditionally used in modern day practice. Large weighted jewelry can be used to stretch the piercing. It tends to cause the piercing to migrate and, especially in ears, leads to thinning of tissue that is disfiguring and needs surgery to repair.
  • Scalpel: This involves using a scalpel to cut the ends of the existing piercing, expanding it's diameter. This is typically used to alter the placement of a large piercing.
  • Silicone Plugs: These soft, malleable plugs are folded and inserted into the existing piercing. Once placed they expand and stretch the ear lobe. However, this is often a foolish decision because they are tacky and they skin can adhere to the silicone making it airtight. Bacteria and infection gets trapped in the ear and spreads internally.

Health Risks

 There are very few health issues directly related to stretching. Most properly stretched piercings do no create a wound and, depending on the individuals skin elasticity, most heal very well after stretching. A lot of people agree that 12.7 mm is the "point of no return" and the ear won't heal right if stretched past that point.

If done improperly, or too large, it can take minor surgery to correct and in some cases can not be corrected. Blowouts from over-stretching or stretching too fast with too much pressure, can cause scar tissue. Stretching too fast or skipping over gauges to a bigger one can cause bleeding and infection.

Gauge Size Chart
Gauge Size Chart

Comments 48 comments

ninja37 7 years ago


hmmm...O_o 5 years ago

i skip sizes dead stretch and all that but don't have any problms execpt my ears anrt really elestic-ee

hgf 5 years ago

there is no such thing as ear "gauging". a gauge is a form of measurement and describes the size of the earring, not the process in which to make your ears bigger, which is merely stretching.

hello 5 years ago

i jumpped from a "normal" earring size to a 6 to a 00 to 1/2" and nothing bad happened except it hurt a bunch but no blow outs or nothing

sdfhkjas 5 years ago

it's not as dangerous as this site makes it seem. i have twos and they're just fine. the only thing that ever gave me discomfort was dead stretching with a plug. going from 8-4 only using a plug hurts. i have a friend who went from normal to two and she's fine.they grew back normally.

Steven 5 years ago

Im at 9/16 right now and ive never had a problem, but when you get to the larger sises (00>) don't use tapers, theyl only roll your earlobe, stretch with a silicone, or if you can with a plug.

Lorelei  5 years ago

Dead Stretching... yes, no other type of equipment is used to stretch your lobes except the plug. I'm not sure that this article made it clear that this way is probably the best, most safe route to stretching your lobes. In fact this way will allow you to test your patience... considering you must wait about a month between each gauge. It will also give you the least amount of scar tissue.. as long as you use a wax/oil for your ears and are consistent in keeping care of your lobes. Mind that once they do get larger the less your ears produce essential oils to keep from drying and scaring. I hope this helps. Tappers are not the way to go... you honestly just need time, patience, and a little bit o' TLC!

Sam 5 years ago

I have actually heard that tapering causes issues, because it leads to one side of your hole being smaller than the other. I also hear that it works for a lot of people though. I just buy the spiral ones or dead stretch, but yet again, I still have itty bitty gauges, so who knows?

5 years ago

There are jewels (zircona-type, etc) that look like chunky little earrings but behind, the clasp is actually gauged. I'm not sure what the exact size of the gauge on these types would be.

Sam 5 years ago

i've been stretching my ears for a while (i'm at 1/2" now) and never had any discomfort. this article just makes it sound more painful than it really is & after 00 i'd recommend taping your ears. right now i'm preparing to tape mine up to 5/8.

Abigail 5 years ago

I'm at an inch and a forth and all I did was dead stretch and only waited about two weeks between gauges. I have had Bo problems and or discomfort with any of it.

Shawnda 5 years ago

I stretched my ears from 3/4 to 7/8 with silicone plugs, it was fine for about 3 months and then I had raw skin out of no where and then infection. Had to take my plugs out and now im starting all over again.... It IS foolish to stretch with silicone plugs, and when your in the bigger plugs having silicone all together is FOOLISH, don't do it.

jwofford 5 years ago

stretching with silicone is ok if you put them in just long enough to get to the next size and then put in a normal plug

Jasmin 5 years ago

Using tapers is the best way to stretch your ears. Plus if you want the taper to go in with a little bit less pain then lubricant it with vasiln or neosporin. And it is best to wait 3 weeks to one month but if you are an impatient person then it's okay to wait at least one week to enlarge your ears again.

Travis 5 years ago

you don't want to use vasoline because yet it does make it lubricated good , its not an anitbacterial gel .

Mia 5 years ago

I just upped from 8s to 4gs I skipped 6gs because im inpatiend and before it was 8s it was i thinks 14s or maybe 12s anyways i have dead streatched both times and have no problems other then mild discomfort from the stretching, but no blowout or any ripping. But it reall depends on who you are and how your made i guess.

Reebz 5 years ago

If yall are gonna stretch, use tapers and to lubricate it, use vitamin e oil or jojoba oil. using neosporin or vaseline or other things as lubricant is not good. it is too thick and will not absorb into your ear like it needs to. and the jojoba oil and vitamin e oils will help to keep your ears healthy to prevent blow outs and prevent your lobes getting too thin.

Matt 5 years ago

Ive used many of the methods above, and all seem to have there pros and cons. But i can tell you one thing, if you use vaseline to lubricate, you will be sorry. Like Reebz said, it does not absorb into your lobes and will cause a MAJOR infection in the long run. CHeers

beans 5 years ago

Gauging is just another name for it. Just like some people call it spacing. Just cause stretching is what you deem most appropriate, it's not the only name for it.

kewlaid 5 years ago

fi your going to use tapers to stretch buy the ones at hot topic that also come with the plugs...use the tapers to stretch leave it in for about two weeks then stick in the plugs for the simple fact that tapers do not stretch to the actual size it says...for ex. 00 plugs are larger than 00tapers becaue the end on the bakk of the tapers is smaller

MIKE 5 years ago

Im at 1" and my lobes are fine. no infection or scar tissue. I stretched by gettin a taper and plug set. i would put the plug behind the taper and use soap or oil for some lube and push the taper all the way through to the plug. I found this worked very well till i got to about 7/8 then i used silicone.

Nate 5 years ago

well i use tapers and plugs all the way tell double zero and only waited like 2 days and went to 7/16 with silicone ones and i blew my ears up and had to start all over and no im at a 0 again and i have silcone i was just wanting to no really what is the best way

Christopher glass 5 years ago

Wow I have an inch an a half this site is full of shit I went from standard earing to 1/2's in 3 days no problem use vitamin e oil it helps an use tape on hard stretching every laire is thicker leading to a bigger gauge

HaleyMae777 5 years ago

umm i taped my ears from a 18 to 8 and then 8 to 4 in one week. Nothing happened. A lot of people are trying to tell others what's best or what not to use but really its up to you and depends on you(i.e. skin elasticity, sizing, patients) Any way my friends a pro piercer and he says vaseline is fine to use.

cool beans kid 5 years ago

i dead stretched my ears to a 14 gauge. but i just started stretching my ears like a few days ago. i didn't use anything special i just forced them through.

Satan's_minion 5 years ago

i have 1 1/2 gauges i went from a 18 to a 4 from a 4 to a 00 a 00 to a 1/2 then to a 11/16 to 7/8 to 1 inch to 1 1/4 then to 1 1/2

Kaitland 5 years ago

I skipped sizes. I'm not exactly which sizes I skipped though. I'm really cheap and didn't want to go but them if I was just gonna use them once then go bigger so I just went out to my dads shed and found a bunch of different size nails and used those. I think the first pair I actually bought was a 4g then I went to 0g and now I'm at 00g and my parents just found out and almost grounded me so. I'm not allowed to go bigger. I have used nails taper and silicone and it doesn't really matter to me they all hurt. But they my ears are fine now. I'll probably go bigger when I'm 18.

sup 5 years ago

my ear r 5/8 and i fill right about it

mattyp1995 5 years ago

I jumped from a reguler earing to a 0 and it hurt like hell but i used a taper so it wasn't hard to get through.

londonontario 5 years ago

stretched my left ear from a piercing needle to 00g in 5 days... no blow out no nothing its fine i prefer dead stretching over tapering..

Alexandra 5 years ago

I've stopped at 3/4ths.

katvonbuttons 4 years ago

my friend and i are both gauging ears.. she is more impatient than me and has had multiple problems.. she dry gauges using tapers or the horseshoe like hoops, her ears have bled a lot but she also skipped every other gauge until she tried 00g and she had so many complications she had to let it heal back down to 0g. i on the other hand haven't had too much trouble. i use a&d ointment when stretching.. i have used tapers, i hate them, once they are in and healed enough they flop around and get caught on everything, the horseshoe hoops are better, haven't dead gauged yet.. nervous but looking forward to it.. i am at 4g right now soon to go to 2, which seems like a lot of ppl hate putting 2's in.. going to 00g and then deciding if i wanna go a little bigger

Lucas 4 years ago

I think every type of gauging has it's pros and cons. Personally, I've only stretched my lobes using plugs. I found that if you play with the gauge inside your lobe, then it will stretch it even more than the plug you gauge up with won't rip or blow out your ear. I've only gauged up with plugs, and I've never had a blowout, and my lobes never tore. Do what you think is most comfortable for you. Currently at 7/16s.

martin 4 years ago

im currently at 1 1/4 inch and iv tried taping tapering ear weights and dead stretching. your ears stretch naturally because of the weight of the plugs so in my opinion a good way to stretch even though it takes a long time is letting them do it them selves.

edward 4 years ago

this site is stupid my ears are gaged to a 9/16 i went from having a 10 to a 2 to a 7/16 to what i have now and i never did have any problems i wear silicone tunnels and nothin has spread internally

mirah 4 years ago

right now i have the "normal" piercing but i really want gauges. i am scared that it will hurt or that if i decide to take them out they wont grow back. i don't want to go very big maybe 00 the biggest but i am still weary about it.

Dom 4 years ago

Just had a blow out going from a 6 to a 8 -,-

Raymond 4 years ago

I'm at 5/8 i've always used tapers and jojoba oil. Never use silicon your ears will most likely get infected. I plan to go bigger but i like how these tapers look too.

JAG 4 years ago

the best thing to do when putting your body through any kind of trial is to use the natural stuff for healing and comfort because your body absorbs it better. if you want a facile process with the best looking stretch, you will take your time. the problem with "skipping" is that in some people, the skin will thin out and get infected, the last thing you want is stretch marks on your ear lobe... *shutters* its just better to be safe than sorry.

Brenden 4 years ago

Hi. I'm at 7/8's. It seems like so many people here are ridiculously ignorant. Stretching is the correct term. Gauging is not. It's not debatable. And when people say that this guide is stupid and isn't true, you're being stupid. This is a general guide. Different people have different ears. But as a general rule, you shouldn't skip sizes. It can cause a scar tissue buildup and prevent you from going big later on. And wow! You didn't get an infection from something that someone else did? Wow! That's amazing! I though everyone was the exact same! I'm sure some people could get away with rubbing dirt in a bullet wound, and someone could die from a paper cut getting infected. Everyone is different. I skipped sizes, and my body isn't letting me get away with it. Stretching is a bitch now. I use Vitamin E oil or Jojoba on them and it helps soften them and breakdown the scar tissue. Vaseline is only a lubricant. Lotion would be much better, as it's good for your ears and a lubricant. Good day, and research before you comment.

Joe 4 years ago

To everyone commenting saying that they did this, or they did that and it worked. CONGRATULATIONS. Not everyone is the same; some people's ears are different and able to skip sizes like that. As for tapering, it is the best way to stretch. There is no need for concern with on side of your lobe being bigger than the other because almost every taper has a good inch or so of the gauge size you are stretching up to.

Beau 3 years ago

Good page, I was going to just use a match stick like they did in the stone age.

April 3 years ago

Do not dead stretch your ears or skip sizes. That's just asking for trouble. My friend did that and she heard a snapping noise and got a blowout , screwed her ears up real good. Tapering is definitely the best method. Switch from the tapers to the plugs after a day or two. I use a & d and loosen up my ears in the shower before each stretch and wait at least a week. That's what works best for me.

holly 3 years ago

Am I reading these comments right? Are people wearing tapers? That's not their purpose. Odd. If this is a first for you, do your research. Go to lots of sources, gets lots of advice. Don't just take the word of "some guy I know" or "my friend."

angel 2 years ago

cant wait to up gauges again ;)

superskwert 2 years ago

I am a female, currently introduced into stretching. I ordered my tapers and plugs off Amazon for about $25.00 and 100% stretching balm for $3.00 I thought it would hurt but being impatient I went from a 16g to a 4g within 3 weeks. No blow outs no infections. The balm helps to stretch m ears without bleeding and less pain. There is a pinch for about 5 seconds. I'm planning to go to 00g by the the first week of June. I think I look hot with them and my hubby who is almost at 1 inch loves them on me ♡♡

Zachary 23 months ago

so I have had my ear's gauged For a while and when I started, Normal ear piercing (16-14g depending) to about a zero or double zero I used Taper's but after that the bigger sized gauges weighed enough to stretch my ears to the next size after a littlethat the bigger sized bigger sized gauges weighed enough to stretch my ears to the next size after a little time, right nowgauges weighed enough to stretch my ears to the next size after a little time, right now Im at 3/4" and I probably wont go bigger then 7/8" butt have said this before Lol!!

heather 16 months ago

to say its foolish to stretch with silicone is a bit much i wear ear skins and my kids like to put their fingers in my holes so my old ones where falling out so i went up a size using the skins and they are just fine. i often take them out cleaning them personally i love using skins for stretching to a point and the weight method

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