Category Archives: Body Piercing Education

Salt-Soaks-For-Ear-Stretching

Salt soaks are an easy and effective way to treat a sore or irritated ear stretching. A salt soak essentially consists of submerging your ear stretching in a warm salt solution. This cleanses the piercing and draws out any infection or pus, giving it the best possible chance of healing. Ear stretchings are easily irritated e.g. by stretching too quickly, by cheap jewellery or a grain of dirt getting between your skin and the jewellery. In most cases, a few salt soaks will calm the irritation and leave your ear feeling much better. If the irritation is serious I recommend downsizing temporarily, continuing salt soaks and consulting a professional piercer if it does not improve.

How To Do A Salt Soak

Performing a salt soak on your ear stretching is both quick and easy. Ideally, try to use non-iodised sea salt and distilled water, as they have fewer impurities. You buy both from health food shops, but regular table salt and (ideally filtered) tap water will do. To perform your salt soak:

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 250ml boiling water in a clean heat-resistant container such as a ceramic mug.
  2. Stir with a clean metal spoon until all the salt has dissolved.
  3. Allow to cool to a bearable temperature i.e. similar to a drinkable cup of tea.
  4. Fill a clean shot glass (or similar container) to the brim with the salt solution.
  5. Submerge your ear stretching in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it cools.
  6. Rinse with cold water to remove any residue. If there is a lot of lymph etc. use a clean cotton bud, taking care not to leave any fibres behind.

Step four is optional, but personally I find it easier to submerge my whole stretching in a small, full container like a shot glass as opposed to a mug. Salt soaks are great for any sore piercing, but you may have to get creative in order to submerge your piercing in the salt solution!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


When you stretch your ears, the most important things that you can do are a) stretch slowly and b) use high quality ear stretching kit. High quality stretching tools give you the best chance of a healthy stretching process and a good end result. This is because good quality tools will be made of biocompatible, lightweight materials that do not cause irritation or put undue pressure on the piercing. In this post I will outline the ear stretching kit that is not only my personal favourite, but is recommend by the majority of piercers and experienced stretchers.

For Stretching Your Ears

For actually stretching your ears, I highly recommend surgical steel stretching tapers. Here at Body Jewellery Shop you can buy these tapers individually or as a kit, as you can see below. High quality steel stretching tapers such as ours are finely machined with a perfectly smooth surface and will not irritate your ears. If you choose cheaper acrylic tapers, you may find that they irritate your ears and drag on the skin. Lubricant is also essential – either jojoba, Vitamin E, olive, hemp or almond oil. These natural oils reduce drag and pain during stretching. They also condition the skin and should be used to massage the earlobe both before stretching and during the healing process.

For After You Have Stretched Your Ears

After you have stretched your ear, remove the taper and insert an unflared flesh tunnel. My favourites are the steel flesh tunnels below. You should never leave the taper in, as this leads to uneven stretching and puts pressure on the new stretching. You should always use non-porous materials for your first post-stretching jewellery to encourage clean healing: either surgical steel or titanium.

For Healed Ear Stretchings

Once your ear stretching has healed completely and you have reached your desired gauge, I recommend wearing wooden flesh tunnels or plugs. Wooden jewellery is completely non-irritating, lightweight and very comfortable to wear. It reduces odour and stays the same temperature as your body. My own wooden tunnels have kept my ears happy for years and I find that they require less cleaning compared to metal jewellery. So there you have it, my favourite ear stretching kit!

Steel Stretching Taper

Steel Stretching Taper

Steel Stretching Taper Kit

Steel Stretching Taper Kit

Unflared Steel Flesh Tunnel

Unflared Steel Flesh Tunnel

Wooden Plugs and Tunnels

Wooden Plugs and Tunnels



This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Stretching your ears can be done safely if you know how, but as with any body modification, there are risks involved. Some ear stretching risks are reversible but they can lead to scarring and permanent damage to your earlobes. Thankfully, most of these risks can be avoided through careful stretching and doing you research before you start stretching your ears. In this post I will explain three of the most common ear stretching risks, how to avoid them and what to do if they happen to you. As with any piercing problem, consult a professional piercer if you are at all unsure or experience other problems while stretching your ears.

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

Ear Stretching Blow-Out

A blow-out occurs when you stretch a piercing too quickly. This puts too much pressure on the fistula (the hole formed by the piercing) and force part of the fistula out the back of the piercing. This creates a lip or flap of skin at the back of the piercing. The image on the right shows a mild blow-out, but they can be much larger. Ear stretching blow-outs look terrible and larger ones can be uncomfortable or even painful. The best way to avoid a blow-out is to listen to your body, massage with jojoba oil before stretching and allow at least two weeks healing time in between stretching. If you get a blow-out, downsize your jewellery immediately – this can prevent the ear healing in its blown-out shape. I also recommend massaging the earlobe with jojoba oil daily to soften the tissue. Do not stretch further until it is completely healed. Some people find that their blow-outs reabsorb, but in some cases they will never fully disappear.


Uneven Stretching & Thinning

Uneven Stretching

Uneven Stretching

Uneven stretching means that the outside of your stretching becomes thinner in one area. It is caused by stretching too quickly or by stretching with weights. As well as looking odd, extreme thinning can lead to a split earlobe. A split earlobe can only be repaired through surgery, but if you catch the thinning early enough it is reversible.

If you notice any unevenness or thinning, downsize by at least 2mm and massage daily with jojoba or Vitamin E oil. It is important to use lightweight jewellery, so that no weight is put on the thin areas. Allow the stretching to shrink and heal for at least 2 weeks before restretching gradually with lightweight jewellery. This process should thicken the tissue and help to even it out.


Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Earlobe Tearing

Stretching too quickly or without lubrication can lead to tears around the circumference of the piercing, as shown here. Tears are painful and can lead to thick scar tissue that makes it harder to stretch further. They can be avoided by stretching slowly with a lubricant such as jojoba oil. It is also important to use high quality steel tapers and stop stretching if you feel a sharp pain.

If your earlobe tears while stretching, immediately downsize to significantly smaller, lightweight jewellery. This removes pressure on the wound and prevents a subsequent blow-out. Allow it to heal completely before stretching again.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


What-To-Stretch-Your-Ears-With

When it comes to stretching your ears, the tools that you choose can be just as important as the method that you use to stretch your ears. In this post I will outline the different types of ear stretchers available and their pros and cons. As with anything relating to ear stretching, everyone is different. These are simply my recommendations, based on my own experience and that of others. Whatever you decide to stretch your ears with, be sure to do your research and choose the stretching tools that you feel will work best for your ears and your needs.

What Taper Shape To Stretch Your Ears With

There are many different types of jewellery that you can stretch your ears with, but most people use either straight tapers or crescent-shaped tapers. A taper is idea for ear stretching because it increases in size gradually, allowing you to slide it through the piercing at a pace that suits you. I recommend using a straight stretching taper, as they tend to be less bulky than crescents and can be easier to handle. I do not recommend simply pushing a plug through your ear, as this is very forceful and likely to result in a tear or blow out. Once you have reached your desired gauge, remove the taper and insert an unflared flesh plug. You should not wear a taper as jewellery, as it can encourage one side of the stretching to become larger than the other. It can also catch on clothing and is not usually comfortable for sleeping.

What Material To Stretch Your Ears With

Stretching tapers are available in a huge range of materials, the most common being surgical steel, acrylic and plastic. I recommend using surgical steel, as it is the most biocompatible and least irritating of these materials. Steel tapers should have a very smooth surface. This means that they will slide smoothly through the ear without dragging on the skin or harbouring germs. This kind of smoothness is not possible with an acrylic taper and as a result many people find that acrylic tapers irritate their ears. Steel tapers are sometimes referred to as “stretching pins” or “stretching nails” – as long as they are straight and taper towards your desired gauge, they are the same as “stretching tapers”.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


As with any body modification, it is important to know how permanent the changes you are making to your body will be. Many people wonder is their stretched ears will go back to normal, and it is an important question to answer before you begin ear stretching. Unfortunately the most honest answer is not particularly helpful: it varies from person to person and there is no guarantee that your stretched ears will go back to normal.

The truth is that most stretched ears will shrink at least a little if you remove your jewellery, but most will not go back to their unstretched gauge. 10mm is often cited as the point of no return, but the fact is that everyone is different. Some people stretch to 6mm and find that their ears will not go back to normal, while others go far beyond that and their ears still close back up. My advice is to think of stretching as a semi-permanent procedure and only stretch to a size that you would be willing to live with permanently.

How To Close Stretched Ears

If you want to close your stretched ears, there are a few things that you can do to encourage the shrinking process. Firstly, remove your jewellery and clean the ear thoroughly. Then massage daily with a natural oil such as jojoba oil, extra virgin olive oil or almond oil. This will soften the skin, increase blood flow to the area and encourage healing. Then it is just a case of waiting to see how much your stretched ears will close up on their own. While your ears will not close up completely, they may reach a smaller gauge that you are happier with. For example if your ears shrink to under 6mm and you wear solid plugs in them, they will be much less noticeable than your previous gauge.

If your ears do not close up on their own, surgery is the only guaranteed way to get them back to their former size and shape. Ear lobe reconstruction surgery can give good results but is usually expensive. I would always recommend giving your ears the chance to close naturally before going down that road.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Bear Belmares Bear Big Ears

When you start stretching your ears, one of the first things people want to know is “how big??” Some people start out with an idea of how big they want to go, while other just want to go as big as they can. The truth is that if you really want to, you can stretch your ears pretty damn big! The gentleman on the right is Bear Belmares, who is believed to hold the world record for the biggest stretched ears. As you can see, his lobes are massive! Obviously that’s extreme, but it goes to show that anything is possible.

How big you can stretch your ears depends on what your body is capable of. Some people are able to stretch to very large sizes, while others simply cannot. It is important to watch how your ears react to the stretching process: is it easy or is every millimetre a struggle? Rather than striving to get to a certain size, I suggest relaxing and focusing on a healthy stretching process. You will soon find out what gauge your ears are capable of stretching to. Everyone is different, but here are a few factors that will influence how big you can stretch your ears:


1. The Size and Shape of Your Lobes

Attached-Unattached-Ear-Lobes

Some people’s ears are bigger than others, but with ear stretching the important factor is your ear lobes, not the rest of the ear. There is a huge variation in the size and shape of people’s ear lobes, which can really affect the stretching process. Bigger ear lobes usually mean a potentially larger stretching capability. Also important is whether your ear lobes are attached or unattached. As the image shows, unattached – or “free” – lobes have a more pendulous shape. They make it easier to stretch as there is more flesh in the actual ear lobe itself. Attached ear lobes are still capable of stretching to large gauges, but it may take more time and effort.


2. The Elasticity of Your Skin

Our skin is naturally elastic and can stretch a great deal, but skin elasticity can vary and is largely down to genetics. If your skin is more elastic, you will find ear stretching easier and be able to stretch your ears to a larger gauge. This is the main reason why some people find ear stretching very easy, while others struggle. You won’t know how elastic your skin is until you begin to stretch your ears, so all you can do is stretch gradually and listen to your body.


3. Placement of Your Ear Piercing

Stretched-Second-Ear-Piercing

If you are planning to stretch your ears, the ideal piercing placement is in the absolute centre of your ear lobe. This is because it means that you have an equal amount of flesh on all sides of the piercing. Most people had their ears pierced before they knew they wanted to stretch, but if you did not I suggest telling your piercer so that they can give you the best placement for ear stretching. They may also suggest getting pierced at a slightly larger gauge than normal.

If you have two piercings in one lobe, you can also choose to stretch the second piercing. In this picture, both piercings have been stretched and the second is smaller. This is the most common arrangement. It is important to know that second piercings will not stretch as much, even if you do not stretch the first piercing.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Ear-Stretching-Guide-101

Welcome to the Body Jewellery Shop Ear Stretching Guide 101! This series of posts will discuss the different methods, jewellery, styles and risks of ear stretching, as well as showing you how to stretch your ears in a safe and healthy way.
Ear stretching is an ancient art practiced by many different cultures with a long history. It is a fascinating area of body modification and one that actually changes the shape of your body – it’s easy to see why it was and is so popular. It is relatively easy to do and can have a big impact on the way you look, but conversely there are plenty of ways to stretch your ears incorrectly, leading to some of the common risks of ear stretching. Fortunately most of the pitfalls can be remedied with a little information and simply taking care to work with your body.

Ear stretching is a huge subject and everyone has their own opinions about how it should be done, but I hope to give you all the information to make your own decisions about how to stretch your ears. We’ll be talking about some of the common questions and misconceptions that people have about ear stretching, how to deal with ear stretching risks and even how to hide your stretchings at work. I would love to hear your thoughts on ear stretching, so if you have a question about ear stretching or there is something that you want to know more about, let us know!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


How-To-Care-For-Industrial-Piercings

Industrial piercings make a big statement and they look great, so it’s easy to see why they are so popular. Thankfully, industrial piercings are relatively easy to heal and care for – you just need to know how! An industrial piercing consists of two separate piercings joined by wearing one long barbell through both piercings. It can be placed at almost any angle across the top of your ear, but the most common placement is with a diagonal bar – as shown here.

You can have your industrial pierced on both sides at once, or have the piercings done one at a time. I recommend having both piercings done at once and wearing the correct jewellery from the start. If the piercings are done separately or you wear BCRs while healing, the angle of the piercing can change slightly during healing. When you finally insert a long barbell into the piercings it will put a lot of stress on the piercings. This can cause to discomfort, migration and possible rejection of your industrial piercing.

It is also important to remember that placement is extremely important with this piercing. Every ear is different and a good piercer will be able to choose a placement that offers you the best chance of a successful piercing. If the placement is too shallow or the jewellery too short, the piercing will reject in the long term and can lead to the ear becoming misshapen. A small percentage of people may be unable to get an industrial piercing at all. As always, the key is to visit an experienced professional piercer who is able to answer all your questions and is willing to spend time finding the best placement for your piercing.

How To Care For New Industrial Piercings

In principal, industrial piercing aftercare is the same as for any ear cartilage piercing. However they can be trickier to clean and usually take longer to heal: often up to 24 weeks for complete healing. You should clean your industrial piercing twice daily with saline solution, using cotton buds – cotton wool balls get tangled in the piercing and leave fibres behind. Avoid swimming or submerging the piercing in water as this will all introduce bacteria. Tie or clip long hair away from the piercing and avoid contact with soap, shampoo or hair products. If you get any of these on the piercing, rinse with clean water and clean with saline.

Your industrial piercing should feel progressively better as it heals. If you experience persistent pain or swelling, consult your piercer – these can be signs of an infected piercing. Other symptoms include sharp pain, constant sensitivity, pus, redness and the skin feeling very hot. Infections in ear cartilage piercings can be more serious than in other piercings, so it is vital to seek help immediately. Do not assume it will just get better! Most piercing infections can be dealt with but in some cases infection can spread in between the layers of cartilage and even destroy the cartilage, leading to cartilage collapse. Good piercing aftercare can prevent infections, so it is very important to take good care of your industrial piercing!

Once healed, your industrial piercing requires very little care. Keep it clean and consult your piercer if you notice any changes to the piercing or immediate area.


How-To-Care-For-Cheek-Piercings

Cheek piercings, also known as dimple piercings, are gorgeous looking piercings that really make an impact. These piercings look cute but I recommend thinking hard and doing your research before getting a set of cheek piercings. Unlike many piercings, cheek piercings have a lasting effect on your face and require more aftercare than most facial piercings. They usually heal well and last for a long time, but it is important to be well informed before you take the plunge and get your cheeks pierced.

Cheek piercings pass through the centre of the cheek, in the spot where a dimple usually forms. They are usually done as a set and pierced with either long labret studs or barbells. This is a difficult piercing to perform and good placement is key, so take the time to find a good professional piercer that has experience with cheek piercings. Cheek piercings create dimples in your cheeks, because they pass through the many muscle layers inside the cheek. These dimples are usually permanent and the piercing also leaves a small scar. All piercings scar, but it is important to realize that cheek piercings will permanently alter your cheeks in this way. Make sure that you are comfortable with this fact before getting pierced!

How To Care For New Cheek Piercings

Cheek piercings usually heal well, but they can take between 4 and 10 months to heal fully. The cheek is a relatively complex area and will take a while to settle after healing. As with all oral piercings, it is important to care for both the inside and outside of your cheek piercings. Clean the outsides twice daily with saline solution for the first 2 to 3 week – after this just clean as needed. To clean the inside of your piercings, rinse twice daily with suitable mouthwash, as well as after eating and drinking anything other than water. Avoid smoking and alcohol during the healing period, as they inhibit healing. You should also avoid kissing, swimming and submerging the piercings in water, as these introduce bacteria to the piercing site. You may find it uncomfortable to eat spicy food at first.

As with all piercings, it is important to monitor the piercing site and consult your piercer if you notice anything unusual. The following can be signs of an infection and you should seek help if you experience any of them: persistent swelling, sharp pain, persistent redness, skin that is hot to touch, pus, unpleasant odour.

A common problem associated with cheek piercing is the formation of lymphatic lumps around the piercing site. These are small lumps caused when lymphatic fluid becomes trapped under the skin. They can vary in size and appear at any time, even after the piercing has healed. Lymphatic lumps need to be drained by an experienced piercer, after which they usually heal and disappear. It is important to seek help as soon as you notice a lump, so that it does not become infected. You can reduce your chance of getting lumps by touching the piercing as little as possible, and always with clean hands. There is also an element of luck – some people never get lymphatic lumps at all.


How-To-Care-For-Lip-Piercings

Lip piercings look great and suit everyone, making them a popular choice no matter who you are. Fortunately they also heal well and are easy to care for. There are many different lip piercing placements and combinations, but they all require the same basic aftercare. Lip piercings can be placed almost anywhere around the mouth but the most popular is still the traditional lip piercing, placed in the centre of the bottom lip. Other popular lip piercings are side lip piercings on the bottom lip; monroe piercings on the side of the top lip and medusa piercings in centre of the top lip. You can wear labret studs, BCRs or circular barbells in your lip piercing, depending on the piercing placement.


How To Care For New Lip Piercings

Like all new piercings, new lip piercings need to be kept clean and dry. You should clean the outside of the piercing twice daily with saline solution and rinse twice daily with suitable mouthwash. You should also rinse after eating and drinking anything other than water. Avoid submerging the piercing in water and kissing, as these introduce bacteria. You should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, as they both impede healing. If you cannot avoid these activities, rinse with mouthwash afterwards.

Your piercing should soon start to feel more comfortable and the swelling should go down. Go back to your piercer if you experience any persistent swelling, pain or redness – these can be signs of an infected piercing. You should also consult a piercer if your jewellery feels tight or sinks into the skin – your jewellery might be too short and will need to be changed.

How To Reduce Lip Piercing Risks

All lip piercings carry a risk of oral damage. Wearing correct jewellery can prevent oral damage, but it is important to be aware of the risks and symptoms. Metal lip jewellery can rub on your teeth and gums, leading to potential gum erosion, tooth abrasion and even tooth loss. Most of this damage is permanent. If you notice any change in around the piercing – especially changes to the shape of your teeth and gums, consult a professional piercer immediately. They will be able to advise you on whether you need to change your jewellery or perhaps even retire the piercing.

The best way to avoid oral damage is to wear soft jewellery, such as a BioFlex labret stud. BioFlex is softer and gentler on your gums, lessening the impact of tooth damage. You can also choose placements that put less pressure on the gum line – ask your piercer for the best placement. There is also an element of luck – some people notice damage even with BioFlex jewellery; others wear metal for years with no damage. The most important thing is to check your mouth regularly and seek help immediately if you notice any changes to your mouth.