Stretched ears make for some of the most stunning piercings. They are such a popular modification for many reasons... Not only are they an eye-catching and prominent piercing on/near the face, but the sheer customization of this piercing type allows for a unique and fiercely individual look. Beyond a wild statement piece like a pair of decorative weights, stretched ears also can be adorned with simple tunnels, matte finish plugs, and natural stone plugs for a more subdued (and dare we say, professional) look.
Of course, when a person is first starting their ear stretching journey, they probably have a few common questions. You might be wondering:
"How far is too far?" "How big can I stretch my ears before they won't close" "Can I stretch my ears too big?"
We're here to answer all of your stretched ear questions!
How Big Do You Want to Go?
Before you start stretching your ears, it might be a good idea to get a plan of how big you'd eventually like your lobes to get. Are you looking for a smaller, subtle look? Or are you planning on going as big as your lobes will allow? Get a good idea of how big you'd like to stretch your ears so you can plan accordingly.
Stretched ear jewelry like plugs, tunnels, or tapers are measured by gauge size. Gauge refers to the thickness of the jewelry in question.
Keep in mind that there is indeed a "point of no return" when it comes to stretched lobes. Depending on the individual, your ears can stretch to a point where they may no longer be able to heal fully-closed without surgical intervention.
There are many factors that play into this "point of no return" like: the size of your ear lobe; your age and skin elasticity; and the placement of your initial lobe piercing. If you're trying to stay in a "safe" range and think you may want to fully heal your lobes someday, 2g (6mm) to 00g (10mm) is probably the largest you'll want to stretch.
Listen to your Body
blowout (n.) - a ring of irritated skin that forms behind stretched ear jewelry. Usually an indication that the lobe is being stretched too quickly
Some people have fantastically supple earlobes with plenty of room to stretch and stretch to their heart's (or lobe's) content! For others, stretching can be a long and slow-going commitment. While you stretch from one size to the next, it's important to understand that every body is different. Your stretching process is going to be unique to you.
In general, you should view stretching as more of a "marathon," rather than a "sprint." Stretching too big, too fast is one of the worst things you can do to your lobes - it could result in a blowout, a ring of irritated or inflamed skin that forms around the back of your jewelry. Blowouts are both painful and unsightly, and it can put your stretching journey on hold. It can even risk the long term health of your stretched ear entirely.
Instead of racing to your desired size, try to enjoy your ear stretching journey no matter how long it takes. Be kind to your lobes, and slowly and gently push them to the next size whenever it feels comfortable. This may take months (and even years) of patience, but the extended health of your ears is worth it in the long run.
How Big Is Too Big?
This is ultimately a decision that you need to make for yourself! If you're comfortable with having stretched ear holes for the rest of your life, the only limit is what's safely accommodatable by your ear anatomy.
For someone with "free earlobes," you may be able to reach bigger sizes like 1" (25mm). For someone who has "attached lobes," you may only be able to reach a size like 3/4" (19mm). Ultimately, if you are safe, patient, and dedicated enough, you could even stretch to sizes much bigger than 1" (25mm), although plugs different than 1" will be a more extreme look.