Ear Stretching Terminology 101

Written by: Stretch It Body Jewellery



Time to read 11 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.

"Ear weights are the showstoppers of the ear stretching portfolio. These statement pieces aren’t designed to be part of the stretching process but they can help move things along."

When you’re new to the ear stretching community, it can feel like everybody is talking a foreign language. But don’t let it put you off. With a little help in the right direction, you’ll soon settle in and find your vibe.

This guide is your backstage pass to understanding the essentials of ear stretching. So, what are you waiting for?


Stretching is about expanding the diameter of your ear piercings. The process is simple. With patience and the right tools, you gradually increase the size of your piercings, making room for some seriously cool jewellery.


Plugs - or flesh plugs, if you're into specifics - are central to ear stretching. In appearance, they’re solid, circular pieces of art sitting snugly in your lobes. Better still, they come in every colour, material, and design under the sun. In fact, plugs are like the vinyl of ear jewellery—classic, beloved, and highly collectable. There’s a plug out there that’s your perfect match, whether you're into subtlety or something that screams, "Look at me!".

Black Glass Single Flare Plugs


Tunnels - also known as flesh tunnels - are plugs’ cool sibling. They’re the same circular shape. But tunnels have a central void offering a glimpse right through the stretched lobe. Lightweight and available in various materials, tunnels give your lobes a fresh air feel while showcasing your stretch.

Gold PVD Double Flare Tunnels


The stretching sidekicks. Tapers are spike-shaped tools for gradually widening your stretch. Now, let’s get something crystal clear. Tapers are your tour guide in the stretching process. They lead the way. But they don’t stick around for the entire trip. Yes, they’re instrumental in aiding the stretch, but they’re not meant for long-term wear.

Ear Weights

Ear weights are the showstoppers of the ear stretching portfolio. These statement pieces aren’t designed to be part of the stretching process but they can help move things along. Instead, they adorn your lobes with gravity-defying art. Majestic, dramatic, elegant. These babies make your stretched ears the centre of attention. But a gentle word of warning. They’re best used sparingly to avoid uneven wear and thin spots on your lobes.

Purple Druzy Ear Weights


Fancy introducing a curve of cool into your stretching routine? Pinchers are versatile additions to your ear stretching toolkit. This is because these cool crescent or U-shaped pieces double as both stretching aids and jewellery, offering a stylish alternative to traditional methods. You can choose from vibrant acrylics or sleek polished metals. Whatever your personal preference, pinchers are always perfect for grabbing attention. Pinchers can also been worn in the septum!


Teardrop plugs bring unique flair when you like your jewellery to tell a story. They challenge the norm and demand attention with their eye-catching teardrop shape, rather than the standard circle. Truthfully, sizing might require a bit more attention. But your lobes become self-crafted masterpieces when you get it right.

Model Wearing Teardrop Gauges

Ear Gauges

Technically, the term "ear gauges" is a common misnomer. But the ear stretching community isn’t for getting too hung up on Ps and Qs (at least we’re not!). This laid-back approach might explain why "gauge" is used for both referencing the size of your jewellery (using the gauge system) and the actual act of stretching. For simplicity, when referring to the size of jewellery we prefer to stick to mm’s!


Flares on tunnels or plugs are like the chorus of your favourite song—essential and defining. They keep your jewellery in place and ultimately create the desired look and feel for your stretched ears. Nothing sexy. But flares keep your style secure and comfortable, whether you opt for single or double versions.

Single Flare

Single flare jewellery is straightforward and accessible for all levels of ear stretching, from day dot to years in the making. It features a flare on one end and typically an o-ring on the other to keep everything snug. Simple, effective, easy to insert, and gets the job done.

Double Flare

Double flare jewellery steps up the game with flares on both ends. This method offers a secure fit without the need for o-rings. We recommend this style when you have been at your gauge size for a few months as they can be difficult to insert.

Wearable Area

The wearable area is the part of your jewellery that sits within your piercing. You could say it’s the comfort zone between your flares or o-rings - the part that actually interacts with your skin. Like a groove in a record, it’s where the magic happens.


O-rings are the unsung heroes of ear stretching. They’re nothing fancy. But they’re essential accessories for securing single flare and no flare jewellery in place. Like the capo on a guitar’s fretboard, o-rings are small but vital for keeping everything tuned perfectly. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend avoiding black Nitrile o-rings and sticking with clear silicone ones. For this reason some people can mistake a nitrile allergy for a metal allergy and opt for more expensive materials such as titanium when there is really no need!


Millimetres (mm) are the metric scale used to measure the ear stretching journey. They’re like the BPM of your stretch and fundamental to understanding the scale of it.


Meet gauges (g) the other half of the measurement duo alongside millimetres. Gauges are used for the same purpose. The only difference is gauges are imperial to millimetres’ metric, and for us Brits, way more confusing! 

Model With Stretched Ears


Increments refer to the size jumps between stretches. Knowing your increments is your not-so-secret weapon for pacing. Think of increments as the KPI of your performance review, informing when to push forward and when to hold back. But seriously, getting to grips with increments is important to ensure each stretch is both safe and satisfying.


Blowouts are what happens when enthusiasm outpaces caution. They’re the feedback screech in an otherwise flawless set—jarring and avoidable! So, what should you be aware of before you get going? And what should you look out for once you have?

“The development of a blowout causes a ring of skin to form behind the piercing”, explained Daniel Yetman in his  Stretching Your Ears? Read This to Prevent Blowouts  article for Healthline.   “This ring is usually red, irritated, and painful. A blowout may give the piercing the appearance of turning inside out.”

And the moral of this cautionary tale? Too much too soon! This is why we keep banging on and on about a slow and gradual process.

Interestingly, the Healthline article suggests “going up one gauge at a time when moving to a larger piece of jewellery to avoid developing a blowout”. While this is sound advice to never skip sizes, we advocate half measures for an even safer stretch, plus waiting on average six to eight weeks before going up again. That said, the wait time in between stretches might get longer as your jewellery gets bigger - every stretch is different!

Ear Stretching Kit

Ear stretching kits are complete packages tailored to make your stretching journey smooth and stress-free. These box sets contain everything you need, all in one place, and come in surgical steel, titanium and other biocompatible options.

Check out SIBJ’s most wildly popular ear stretching kits:

Surgical Steel Dead Stretching Kit  - This isn't just any kit. It's your one-way ticket to stretch town, featuring sizes from dainty 1mm all the way to bold 10mm, (that's 18g to 00g for the initiated). Whether you're starting small or going bigger, this kit’s got you covered in three epic sizes:

· 1mm - 5mm (18g - 4g)

· 5.5mm - 10mm (3g - 00g)

· The whole shebang from 1mm to 10mm (18g - 00g)

The stars of the show are 316L surgical steel single flare plugs, known for their sleek, shiny finish and comfortable fit. Each plug is polished to perfection and comes with a hypoallergenic o-ring to keep things snug and secure.

And let's talk about precision – with increments as tiny as 0.5mm, you're in complete control, making each stretch easy like a Sunday morning.

Worried about taking the leap? Don't be. This foolproof kit ensures a pain-free experience from start to finish. And with full labelling and a handy measuring card, there’s no excuse for getting your sizes mixed up.

Titanium Dead Stretching Kit   - Step up your stretching game with elite titanium, your NBF for sensitive skin. This deluxe package is available in sizes from a sleek 1mm, to slaying it at 10mm, (covering all bases from 18g to 00g). Whether you're just starting or you're looking to achieve greatness, there’s a kit size to match your ear stretching ambitions.

Crafted from ASTM F-136 titanium, the crème de la crème of body jewellery materials, this kit is your knight in shining armour for a tender touch or sensitive skin. How come? Well, titanium is three times mightier than steel. But it's also as light as a feather, and completely harmonious with your body.

The titanium single flare plugs in this kit are polished to a dazzling mirror shine for a stretch as smooth as butter. And with precision-crafted 0.5mm increments, the path to larger gauges is a breeze.

Worried about overstepping? Fear not! Each kit comes with a hypoallergenic o-ring for the snuggest hold, full kit labelling and a handy-dandy measuring card to keep you on track. No more mix-ups or mishaps, just the sheer joy of stretching at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home.

Surgical Steel Pro Gauge Dead Stretching Kit  - Looking to up your ear game with sizes that push the envelope at 10.5mm and beyond? Your mission just became a walk in the park.

Now, you can channel your inner pro stretcher, with premium 316L surgical steel single flare dead stretching tunnels, designed with precision for precision. Their ultra-fine 0.5mm increments ensure your ascension through the gauges is turbulence-free.

Every single mirror-finished flare tunnel looks amazing and is also kind to fresh stretches, with a hypoallergenic o-ring to stretch in style and comfort.

And that's not all, our unique design ensures a perfectly smooth insertion even in the flesh tunnel style.

Dead Stretching

Dead stretching is a pure approach to ear stretching. It relies on the natural weight of your jewellery to gradually increase your size. Here’s how:

· Warm up in a shower to loosen your lobes by increasing blood flow

· Use the measuring card in one of our recommended kits, or digital calipers, to pick the correct single flare plug size

· Clean your hands and jewellery with antibacterial soap

· Cool boiled jewellery if you’re sterilising it before use

· Massage and lube your lobes with jojoba oil

· Smoothly insert the plug

Congratulations, you've sized up! Secure that o-ring and bask in your stretching glory.


Taping is a good choice if you enjoy the journey as much as the destination. It’s a customisable, DIY approach to precisely controlling your stretch by wrapping tape around your jewellery to gradually increase its size, we only recommend this technique when stretching above 10mm. In a nutshell, this is how it’s done:

· Warm up with a shower to prep your lobes

· Clean your hands, lobes, and a single flare tunnel or plug with soap

· Boil your jewellery for sterilisation, then cool

· Wrap tape around your jewellery, increasing the diameter by 0.2mm per layer, ensuring no creases and slight overlap. Trim any excess tape

· Lubricate your lobes with jojoba oil

· Insert your taped jewellery with ease

· Re-oil the tape twice daily and replace your wraps at each cleaning

· Add a new layer every 7-21 days, on the basis that five wraps = a 1mm increase to ease you into the next size


Tapering uses tapers as guides (no surprises there!), helping you gently introduce larger jewellery to your lobes. It’s a safe and effective method when done with care, proving that sometimes, a little help from your tools makes all the difference in achieving that wow worthy stretch. Here’s the lowdown:

· Kick off with a warm shower to prep and boost circulation in your lobes

· Choose your taper and matching single flare tunnel or plug, ensuring they're the same gauge

· Clean your hands, remove o-rings, and wash your lobes, taper and jewellery with antibacterial soap

· Let your jewellery cool before use after boiling it for sterilisation

· Massage your lobes with jojoba oil to lubricate and improve blood flow

· Apply oil to the taper and your jewellery

· Gently insert the taper into your lobe, stopping at the thickest part

· Align your jewellery with the taper, then replace the taper with the jewellery in one smooth swoop

· Secure the o-ring after wiping away any excess oil


Materials matter when it comes to jewellery. 316L Surgical Steel ticks most of the boxes, with an appealing smooth and shiny finish that’s also comfortable on the skin. A small minority of people with nickel allergies may have issues with 316L, for which we recommend our titanium jewellery.

ASTM F-136

ASTM F-136 titanium is your go-to if you suffer with sensitive skin. It’s the perfect harmony of strength, lightness and biocompatibility. The downside? It’s more expensive than 316L Surgical Steel, especially when the jewellery contains a lot of it (big gauge pieces).


Biocompatibility refers to the way certain materials, known as biomaterials, safely interact with living tissues. These materials are specifically chosen because they don't trigger harmful reactions like toxicity or immune responses. For ear stretching, this means jewellery that won't irritate or harm your skin.

Fresh Stretch Friendly

Fresh stretch-friendly refers to jewellery suitable for the initial phase after a stretch. It helps even the tiniest microtears heal properly, keeping your ears healthy and ready to advance. Examples are 316L Surgical Steel, Titanium and glass. Non-fresh stretch-friendly materials include porous materials such as wood and stone.


If ear stretching lingo is holding you back, visit Stretch It Body Jewellery to quickly cut through the jargon, so you can start stretching with confidence today. And remember, your ears, your rules, but always stretch responsibly!

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Model With Stretched Ears