Does Ear Stretching Hurt?

Written by: Stretch It Body Jewellery

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Time to read 8 min

Model With Stretched Ears
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Stretch It Body Jewellery

SIBJ is one of the world's leading online specialist retailers and wholesalers in ear stretching kits, plugs, aftercare and body jewellery. We have over 10 years of experience in selling high-quality, unique ear stretching jewellery providing the knowledge, expertise and tools to stretch up confidently and safely.

"Patience is key to a successful stretching process. This is why the importance of gradual increments and mindful healing shouldn’t be underestimated."

Ear stretching has evolved across the centuries, with different techniques, symbolism and, yes, pain barriers too. It was originally a tribal marker, indicating unity and belonging by identifying who belonged to a specific group. On the other hand, lack of ear stretching indicated who was out and definitely not part of the gang.

The ethos of ear stretching has gone in the opposite direction since then, defying cultural stereotypes. In the UK, it found a niche in subcultures like punks and goths. Now, ear stretching has a broader appeal to men and women.

It’s become a highly personal accessory, adding artistic flair to your individual style. The new era of ear stretching is expanding and connecting diverse people with a shared passion for this unique form of self-expression.

But there’s one thing that’s bound to be on your mind when you’re ready to dive in – Does ear stretching hurt? Brilliant question!

It Can Do, But It Shouldn’t!

Model With Stretched Ears Wearing Rose Gold PVD Tunnel

We get it. You wanted the perfect stretch yesterday. But there’s just one small catch… Rushing can lead to discomfort. Worse still, it can have dangerous consequences, resulting in thin, unhealthy, and over-stressed earlobes.

But the art of ear stretching needn’t be marred by pain when it’s approached with care. So, the answer to the burning question is no. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it doesn’t hurt when it’s done correctly.

Patience is key to a successful stretching process. This is why the importance of gradual increments and mindful healing shouldn’t be underestimated.

In short, stretch in haste, repent at leisure. And we really don’t want that now, do we?

So, let’s take a deeper dive into the secrets of a pain-free experience, and the tools and techniques for making a statement without suffering for your art!

What Do You Need for Ear Stretching?

Ear stretching involves lots of different bits and pieces. Each one plays a crucial role in the stretching journey. From ear gauges and stretchers to flesh tunnels and tapers, it’s a good idea to understand what’s what. So, get yourself prepped up to ensure a successful and pain-free experience.

And there’s no better place to start than an ear stretching kit. It’s the ideal solution for most people, for many good reasons:

One stretch doesn’t fit all

Every ear stretching kit is available in a diverse range of sizes and materials to suit your individual needs.

Ear Gauge Inserted In Ear

Ear stretching by numbers

Professional kits have everything you need, whether you’re getting started or you want to take it up a notch and go larger. They can include -

  • Ear tapers – Spike-shaped stretching tool for piercings, so-called because they’ve got a small end and a big end, or a thin end and a fat end. Tapers are just for stretching. They’re not suitable as jewellery. So please don’t think of going there and doing that.
  • Earring gauges – It’s a technically incorrect term for jewellery worn in stretched piercings. Semantics aside, there are tons of options to suit your personal mode and lifestyle choices.
  • Ear tunnelsEar flesh tunnels come in hundreds of sizes for the newly stretched to the old hands. There are many and varied styles too, to match your vibe.
Select your gauge size

Peace of mind

There’s something reassuring about an ear stretching kit. You’re safe in the knowledge of professional tools and instructions for pain-free stretching.

Peace Of Mind

That’s the bells and whistles covered. But what about the actual process, preferably without any bone chilling moments?

What Ear Stretching Techniques Are Least Likely to Hurt?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, louder for the people at the back. Ear stretching shouldn’t inflict any pain when it’s done right. But like any rule, there can be exceptions. So, let’s walk and talk through the most commonly used stretching methods circa the 2020s:

Dead Stretching: The Patient Path to Healthy Lobes

Dead stretching is gradually increasing the size of your piercings without any active manipulation, hence the term "dead". Unlike other methods, it relies on the body's natural healing process and introduces larger jewellery only when the lobe has fully recovered.

Critics argue about the safety of dead stretching. Concerns have been voiced about inserting larger jewellery into the lobe. But it’s a surefire and safe approach when it’s done with due care and attention.

The industry standard recommends 1mm increments and warns against any temptation to skip of sizes. It’s easier to stay on track with innovations like SIBJ's Ultimate Dead Stretching Kit. These babies are available in 0.5mm increments, which offer an even safer and more precise stretching experience.

Tapering: The Misunderstood One

Ear tapers are simple but effective ear stretchers. All the same, they often receive a bad rap. Why? Because folks have the tendency to misuse and abuse them!

Use ear tapers properly and there’s no issue with safety. But they should only be used as ear stretchers and not as everyday jewellery. This, my friends, is where it can all go Pete Tong. You see, some people like the look of them and take to wearing them for extended periods. In addition, there’s the not-so-small matter of skipping sizes, (which isn’t exclusive to the tapering technique).

But truthfully, breaking the rules can lead to complications such as pain, bleeding and blowouts, (more on them later). You’ve been warned.

Taping: Enlarging Stretches Safely

The taping method is a gradual and cost-effective approach. In fact, it’s as simple as wrapping tape around your existing jewellery to increase the diameter. But we’re not talking about Sellotape!

The key to successful taping is using high-quality non-porous tape like bondage tape. This helps safeguard against any potential health risks and the physical pain that go with them.

If you’re new to taping or you’ve run out of your usual tape, why not try SIBJ's Premium Ear Stretching Tape? It’s a safe alternative to some of the more traditional options.

And the most important tip with any of these methods? Take your time!

Playing a Long Game Prevents Pain

Worth The Wait Wooden Sign

Forget the outdated mantra of "no pain, no gain,"! Ear stretching should be pain-free process with minimal resistance. This section is a biggie for making sure that’s the case.

It has to be one of the most FAQs in the stretching business – “How long should I leave it in between stretches?”

Annoyingly, a definitive answer simply doesn’t exist. But you can take a minimum of two months as a good benchmark. This gives ample time for your lobes to heal from any micro-tears.

And once your lobes have regained their elasticity, you’re ready for the next ear gauge size. Yay!

But steady on! Everyone's stretching experience is unique. It’s no wonder the healing time needed between stretches significantly varies from person to person and size to size. Some sizes need six months or more!

At the end of the day, it’s paramount to take things nice and slow. When you do, you mitigate the risk of infections, blowouts, and scar tissue formation. If in doubt do nowt to prioritise the wellbeing of your lobes. It’s much better to be safe than sorry, after all.

Prevention Beats Cure

Hopefully, gradual sizing is by now firmly embedded in your grey matter. But proper care is also crucial for pain-free ear stretching. And here are a couple of common sense ways to safeguard against complications, soreness and pain:

  • Moisturise your way to healthy holes – It’s essential to keep your lobes moisturised to prevent tears and maintain healthy skin. Specialised lubricants designed for ear stretching, like LobeLove Organic Golden Jojoba Oil and Holey Butt’r Balm, reduce friction during the stretching process.
  • Listen to your lobes - If stretching hurts, it’s a clear indicator something’s amiss. Sharp pain and bleeding suggest you’re stretching too quickly. There shouldn’t be any pain when you’re getting it right. So, don’t ignore what your body is telling you.

That’s all well and good. But what if something goes wrong?

Blowouts: What Happens When You Ignore the Warnings?

Complications can arise when stretching is rushed or not done properly. And one of the most common issues is a blowout.

This typically happens when scar tissue forms behind the jewellery, giving the piercing the appearance of turning inside out.

Blowouts are usually the result of stretching too quickly or overstretching, causing sharp pain, inflammation, lobe tears, and infections. Signs of infection include:

  • Burning
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Yellow pustulant discharge

Minor infections can be treated at home, while persistent issues require medical attention. Either way, take our word for it, you’d rather not.

So, what to do when you’re mad for a stretch but the idea of pain is holding you back?

Stretch Safe Not Sorry

Model With Stretched Ears Wearing Natural Horn Plugs

Nerves getting the better of you? Stop! You’re in safe hands with market leading ear stretching experts like Stretch It.

How are we so sure of ourselves? Easy:

  • Best and safest dead stretching kits – Our kits go from 1mm up to 25mm in 0.5mm increments. To our best knowledge, nobody else offers such a broad range of options with such small gradual increases. And you know what they say – slow and steady wins the race.
  • Assurance for sensitive skin - We also offer ASTM F-136 Titanium (implant grade) kits if you’ve got sensitive skin. So it doesn’t mean you can’t stretch or that stretching will hurt if you’re prone to irritating skin conditions.

Final Word

Ear stretching is painless and rewarding when approached with patience and care. Now you too can experience this ancient art without any discomfort. But we’d strongly advise getting to know the ropes before taking the plunge, such as:

  • Understanding the various stretching techniques
  • Using appropriate tools and accessories
  • Prioritising proper care

The possibilities for creativity and self-expression are infinite. But above all, a commitment to the health and wellbeing of your lobes is the best place to start.

Ready to get going with pain-free ear stretching or enlarging your existing stretches? At Stretch It Body Jewellery, we advocate for healthy stretched lobes. Explore our diverse range of kits here. And while you’re at it, have a closer look at our highly recommended Dead Stretching Kit. Now buckle up to reinforce your personal style with confidence and care. 

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