Journey to 00 Gauge: Starting on a Good Foot…ear, whatever.

So. *Insert Awkward Hand Gestures Here*

This is a blog segment I have been meaning to start months ago but never got around to it. I suppose it was for the best considering I didn’t have the knowledge to really blog about it. To start, I adore body modification. I love both tattoos and piercings. I have 10 piercings so far: two in my lips, a hoop in my nostril (but I sorely miss my septum piercing), and the rest in my ears (one being an industrial). I also have 4 tattoos, and counting. So, body modification is nothing new to me. I can say it is something I really enjoy because I like to express myself in such a matter. Now, I know people have their opinions on this sort of thing. There are plenty of people who feel that your body is a ‘temple’ and that a person should not treat it in such a way. I have heard many reasons why it’s a bad idea, and I can say that they are legitimate reasons. However, if the body is MINE…I can do with it as I please. If it affects me in the future somehow, then let that fall on me.

I say THAT to say this. I will be posting blog posts as I go through this ear lobe stretching journey; which will take awhile because it’s a slow process if you want to do it right. Uh. And I know people have their strong opinions on ear stretching and I know many people think it’s stupid and yadda yadda. I have heard it already. Yes, I know it’s silly and Yes I know you wonder…Why would she do that to her ears? They are my ears and it’s something I want to do. I did not just wake up one day and think I’ll do it.

Regardless…the point I’m trying to make is: You are free to express your opinion on each segment that I post. However, that is not an excuse for you to be insulting or gang up on me because you think I shouldn’t do it. Just as you are entitled to your opinion on it, I am as well. To be frank, don’t be an asshole 😛 I don’t care if you want to tell me you think it’s a bad idea and the reasons why. You are certainly free to do so and I do mean that.  But if you come at me nasty (and some have), I will have little respect for you. So, to end. Don’t start. If you don’t have anything nice to say, I highly advise you keep it to yourself. There. There’s my disclaimer, and that’s the last I’ll speak on it.

But, I will be fair and say that it is not something you should just do. Unless you want to. Don’t do it cause everyone else is doing it, or someone is trying to convince you. I do it because I love body modification, not because all my friends are doing it. I also don’t do it to come off as “bad ass” or whatever. That’s lame. Don’t do that. Nobody will take you seriously if you come off as a wannabe. Just be yourself. lol Getting off my soap box now.

Now, on to the point of this whole thing. I want this blog segment to be both a slight experience and also informative to both those who may want to try and even for those who don’t. It can just be for the curious mind all the same. So don’t feel as if you can’t read this simply because you don’t want to make your earlobes the size of coins 😛 It is for all audiences. I decided, after a bit of researching and thinking, that I wanted to stretch my ear lobes back in November, give or take. It is something I had seen enough times to know the basics of what it was and it was something that I liked. I found it attractive, if you will. I also found it to be a new way to pursue my enjoyment of body modification, within what I’m willing to do to myself. But I didn’t want to just do it simply because it looked nice enough, without knowing anything about it or how it was done. I researched online and asked a friend of mine, who had 00 gauged lobes about it. After awhile of thinking, I figured I’d give it a shot. If i didn’t like it, then I’d just stop when the holes were still small enough and let the holes shrink back. So, i bought myself an inexpensive “kit”, and the journey began.

When I purchased my kit, I had already decided that 00 gauge was as large as i wanted to go. That still stands today. I think it’s large enough that I can see the results of my patience, but without being too large. It was the perfect size for me. I, at the time, didn’t know of the other forms of stretching. I only knew of what I think is the most common: the tapering method. So, I got a kit that consisted of both steel tapers and plugs in the sizes 14 g to 00 (however I won’t be using the tapering method past 2 gauge, but I’ll get into that later). So far, zero problems. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. You get the idea. I attribute it to my patience, and the information that I discovered both before I started…and the information I found during.

That is the other reason I am going to be making blog posts like these. I found out probably MORE helpful information after I started. I can say one thing. Everyone seems to have different and opposite opinions on various aspects of stretching, and it became a bit overwhelming to figure out what the right way is. I don’t think there is a definite RIGHT way to go about it. However, there are definite WRONG ways to go about it. It is my hope to inform you of the various opinions I have found about different portions of stretching (Dos and Donts), and then inform you of what has worked for me. Not to say that you have to do it the way I did, but perhaps it may enlighten you. I’m just some random Oreo from Chicago, and this is how I did it and I’ve had zero issues. Perhaps it may help you single out a way in which you want to proceed. I hope, at least.

So. To start, I started my first stretch using a size 14 gauge taper.

Oh, that reminds me. Some people may not care, but I care a tiny bit. People say they have “gauges”. No. They don’t. Gauge is a unit of measurement. It is the SIZE. Your ears aren’t gauged, they’re stretched. The jewelry you have in the ear, if you have stretched lobes, is not a gauge. It is a plug. Or a spiral, etc. So. If you asked me about where I’m at right now, I would say: I have size 4g plugs in my stretched ears. Or something like that. I hope that clears that up. Back to what I was saying before…

I was pierced MAAAAANY years ago at 16 g. I started this whole stretching thing back in November, when I was 23. I got my ears pierced for the first time when I was in 6th grade. So, they’ve been healed for forever. 😛 I say that because if you are going to go stretch your ears, PLEASE make sure that your ears have healed fully before you start. This is for those who don’t have their ears pierced and go out to GET them pierced in the idea that they will stretch them at some point. If they are healed,or you got those holes pierced long enough ago that you know they’re fully healed (like my case), then disregard. Otherwise, let them heal.

Anyway. Since my ears were pierced at 16 g, I began my first stretch with a 14 g taper and plug. For those who don’t have an idea about sizes, here is something so you’ll get the idea. The sizes are given a number, but is measured in millimeters as you can see.

Ear-Gauge-Sizes2

Real Steel Tapers and Plugs. From Left to Right: size 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2. Not shown: Size 2 Plugs

Real Steel Tapers and Plugs. From Left to Right: size 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2. Not shown: Size 2 Plugs

I put one single taper of each size next to each other so you can see the progression. Again left to right: 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2. I am at size 4 g and my aim in May is to go up to size 2.

I put one single taper of each size next to each other so you can see the progression. Again left to right: 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2. I am at size 4 g and my aim in May is to go up to size 2.

To Compare: The Left is a size 4 g Taper. The Right is a Size 2. That should show the difference between where I'm at, and where I will be next time...Yeah, I know.

To Compare: The Left is a size 4 g Taper. The Right is a Size 2. That should show the difference between where I’m at, and where I will be next time…Yeah, I know.

Plugs side by side for Comparison. From Left to Right: Size 4, 2, 0 and 00. 00 g is my goal.

Plugs side by side for Comparison. From Left to Right: Size 4, 2, 0 and 00. 00 g is my goal.

This is what a 00 g plug looks like in an ear. That's not my ear, clearly :P

This is what a 00 g plug looks like in an ear. That’s not my ear, clearly 😛

I started off at 14 g (1.63 mm) and I am currently at 4 g (5.19 mm). This took time, patience, and a bit of research on my part. You can’t just shove tapers into your ear and hope for the best. No, you’ll fuck up your ears something awful. So, perhaps this is a good time to go into the slight tedious stuff: the basics. I will be speaking about tapering for the time being since that is what I have used thus far.

How to begin! First, you will need a taper of the appropriate size. In my case, it was a size 14 g. Do NOT skip sizes. Please. It won’t end well. You’ll get a blow out, it’ll suck and you’ll have to backtrack. It’s ugly business. So just don’t do it. Enough of that. Once you have the taper (and plug too, I guess) of the next size up from where you are, you are basically read to go. This is what a typical stretch for me is like:

1. I generally wait until I’m in the shower because it helps loosen up your lobes.

2. I wet the taper (or I use my stretching balm I got free with the kit) and slide it into the hole. Sometimes it goes in right away, sometimes it doesn’t. It is normal to feel tightness, and maybe a slight prick at the ear. It will certainly feel warm, but it should not bleed and it should not really hurt. If it does, you’re not ready to stretch. Take it out, and leave it be until it is. So, when it goes through, I generally leave it in for a few more minutes.

3. I take the single or no flare steel plug on the end of the taper that’s sticking out, and push it until it pushes the taper out and the plug (should) follow through and sit in the hole, in it’s place. Sometimes the back of my ear doesn’t always open up immediately, so I may have to do it twice to get the back of the plug to go through the back of my lobe lol

4. Walla! You have successfully stretched to the 14 g! (Or whatever gauge up to 2)

I don’t like myself on film, or pictures of myself at all really. So I have not made a video showcasing myself doing this (yet…maybe in the future). So for now, here’s a good video of someone doing what I just described. Note that she did say it hurt, but it will sting going to a 2 g because it is a larger size. But it shouldn’t be that painful and it shouldn’t bleed. Keep that in mind.

Aftercare: Which is incredibly important.

I generally leave the damn lobes alone after a fresh stretch. I don’t pick with them, or turn the plugs or anything like that. I leave them be in that aspect. I generally give my ears 2 weeks to heal. In those two weeks, I will run some soapy water over the lobes (don’t take the plugs out). By soapy, I mean water with some anti-bacterial soap like Dial. Nothing scented, it could irritate the ear. That’s about all I do, once or twice a day for two weeks. I can usually tell that it’s healed when I can tug, gently, on the ear and feel nothing. Sometimes I can even see that there is a bit of space between my ear and the plug. So it’s loose. I know then that it’s healed. At that point, I can take the plugs out and start being a bit more thorough in my care. At this point, once my ears have healed I do the following daily:

1. Take my plugs out once a day (with CLEAN hands. Never handle your ears with dirty hands. Bacteria. That’s all I should have to say. It’s as if you just got them pierced…you don’t want to get an infection, do you?)

2. Wash the plugs and my lobes with anti-bacterial soap or do a sea salt soak on the lobe.

3. Massage the lobes with Jojoba Oil-Which I will get into later when I talk about the different oils and balms/butters you can use to stretch or use for massaging/after care. Everyone has an opinion on which works best. In reality you can’t go wrong really with the options, they just all seem to do slightly different things. However, I wouldn’t recommend using Vaseline…it can trap bacteria. Some people do it with no problems. I’m a Biology Major, so as much as I LOVE Microbes…I do not want them trapped in my ear. So call me paranoid, and I probably am. But that’s just my opinion. 😛

4. Leave the plugs out for awhile, so that they can breathe. Right now, I’m at a 4g and I am able to leave the plugs out overnight with no problem. I worked up to this point by leaving the plugs out a little bit longer every other day or so. It’s good to let the holes breathe as much as you can. The combination of the massaging and letting them breathes promotes circulation and promotes new growth of tissue. So you’ll get thick and healthy lobes which is good for future stretching. Especially if you want to do larger sizes. Either way, you don’t want your lobes to thin out.

5. I do this on repeat until I am ready to go up to the next size. The time can vary. At first, for the smaller sizes, I waited about a month in between. But once I hit size 8, i waited 2 months in between each stretch. Some may find this tedious and time consuming, but it helped. I waited the extra time and every time I put the taper in, I could pop the plug in no problem because it was very much ready. It pays to wait it out. I am in the waiting process for the net size up, which is size 2. I am waiting 3 months for this one because it is definitely a bigger size compared to 4 and I want to be extra sure my lobes will be ready for it. Everyone’s body is different, but this is a general consensus it seems. Either way, listen to your body. If it’s been two months and you can’t seem so stretch up a size…stop, put the smaller jewelry back in and wait. You don’t want to rush it, get a blow out and then have to downsize because you messed up. It’s not a race. Don’t compete with your friends because they may be able to heal faster than you. Just….yeah. Sorry for all the Don’ts…I just want your ears to NOT be infected and blown to hell. And I’m sure you don’t either.

So, to recap:

Use Taper, follow through with Plug, leave alone for a few weeks (but rinse ear daily), once healed you can take them out daily to : clean, massage and let breathe. Easy Stuff huh? If you do it right, it really isn’t that complicated. The people who say it’s complicated, well, they make it that way.

That brings me to a few points:

Some people swear against tapering and I get why. Compared to the other methods that i’ll mention at a later date, it runs the greater risk of blow outs because it’s more of an “all or nothing” type of stretch. However, I believe that if you take it very slowly and don’t stretch until your ear IS ready, that tapering is a successful method. That being said, for the bigger sizes…well any size past 2 g, I would not (and will not) be use the tapering method. I will be switching to the taping method instead.

Another point I’d like to make is, don’t stretch with any flare other single or no flare. Do not use double flare eyelet because that will essentially stretch you two sizes at once and you’ll probably get a blow out. Not good. You wait until after your ears are healed to use double flare.

I won’t go into a long explanation or introduction on the various materials you can encounter when it comes to both stretching materials or plugs. I am going to save that for a separate blog post because there’s a lot to say on that. However, so that I get it out there…I will say this now. Do NOT go to Hot Topic, Spencers, or any such place and buy Silicon or Acrylic materials. Don’t do it. Don’t use organic materials like Wood for stretching either. Silicon and Acrylic will trap bacteria like a mofo. And Wood is very porous, and some have said that their ear HEALED onto the wood plug. I don’t want to think of how that felt trying to get the little bastard out of your ear. You should really only use materials like steel. I’ve heard glass is fine, but steel is cheaper and I’d rather deal with that. You use those other materials once your ear is already healed, but not for stretching. The same goes for those really pretty custom spirals made of clay. Those are AWESOME……to wear after your ears have healed.

That also reminds me. If you are using the tapering method. The taper is not meant to wear as jewelry. It is simple the tool to stretch with, and the plug is what you wear. Don’t wear the taper as jewelry. It is heavy and will weigh your ear down and will probably thin your ear out. Which you don’t want. Which makes me wonder why places even bother making attractive tapers. It’s misleading. Either way, don’t do that shit.

So. I think this is a good place to start, and stop…somewhat. I did not want to go through EVERYTHING in one post because that’s a bit much (and nobody would want to read all that). I think it’s far more helpful to break down the whole thing into segments. If you are curious, here are the segments I will be posting over the next few months or so:

1. Dos and Donts of Stretching (as far as I can tell)

2. Stretching and Jewelry Materials (the many you’ll find, when and where to use them) and some Aftercare stuff you may want to use. (oils, etc)

3. Trouble Shooting aka Shit, I think I got a blow out. Or. Fuck, I think I got the dreaded catbutt. What to do, and how to even avoid these in the first place….

4. The Many Methods of Stretching.

5. And of course I will be posting a blog post when I am ready to stretch to 2 g and beyond (next size being 0, and then ending with 00). I am going to try to stretch to 2 g in the first bit of May, it will have been 3 months by then (my ear was healed early February). There will be photos and an explanation of the process, etc. I will of course do this for every size I end up stretching to.

And at the end of each, I will just showcase some cool jewelry I really want lol Like…right now! Oh, I’ll note that I am at the point where I don’t mind buying a few pieces of jewelry once I’m at 2 g. That is because once I am at 2 g, it’s a good 5 month wait to 0 and possibly a bit longer to 00…and I want something a bit more alluring than normal steel plugs to wear. So, once I’m at 2 (and onward) and my ear has healed, I will probably buy a few plugs or spirals to wear during the wait.

Just a few to start with. I have found a crap ton of spirals and plugs I want to get. I have a problem 😛 Oh, and I do apologize for all the “Dont do that” and “None of that shit”s you have been forced to put up with this entire post. I get it out of the way because it’s important. I assume that if you want to do this, or at least know about it, you need to know the good AND the bad. Mostly the bad because that’s how you prevent problems. Unless you think having a blown out and infected ear lobe is fun. In which case, I can’t help you.

Otherwise, I find it’s important to stress how to avoid these hassles so that your stretching journey can be as painless and easy as possible. But the rest of the posts will be more positive ;). The next post in the segment should come later this week and it will address the many methods of stretching. I did mention that I am using the tapering method and will be switching. It would only be fair to go into more detail. So that’s for next time, my lovelies. Until next time, happy stretching.

~Pierce all the things~ ❤

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About therocknwriter

Yours truly. A somewhat cranky, highly sarcastic, but usually mild mannered poet with a love for Coheed and Cambria, body modification, smoothies, video games, a good book, and vegetarian delights. I love being an Oreo, and I hope you'll love me for it too

Posted on March 4, 2013, in Journey to the 00 Gauge: An Epic Tale (or not) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Overall a pretty good article as you talk about your personal experience on the subject and give advice as well directions on what to do and not to do. Using the the various images helps get your message across and is a effective way to make the article entertaining. My only critique would be that it is a bit long and it could be a bit shorter. Other than that keep it up. :3

    • Well of course it’s long. It’s the first one. I needed to give a disclaimer, and touch on the various aspects. The remainder of them will be shorter cause they’ll each be on a specific topic. I had to make this one long to get everything out their broadly. Trust me, this is one of the SHORT ones. lol But otherwise, if that’s you only critique, then I’m good to go lol Thanks~

  2. Very enlightening. Though I think we both agree – I’d look like shit with any piercings. But I learned a good deal, thank you. 🙂

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