Ear lobe stretching has been going on for centuries. Now we know it as an art form but back then it was so much more than that. People would stretch their ears, lips, tongues, etc and this would represent who they were in terms of status or would be a tribute to their religion. Those pictures you see of older civilizations with plates in their lips or bone in their septum... those are real! Back then they didn't have what we do now to "properly" care for their bodies.
Now, thanks to technology and other advancements, we have jewelry that is made to fit into our ear lobes. They're made out of all kinds of materials and in all kinds of sizes and shapes.
I know your first question is how can you get started?! First you need to have your ears pierced. Most people have their ears pierced when they're little with a piercing gun or you can go to a piercing shop. You should always get any piercing AT YOUR LOCAL, PROFESSIONAL piercing shop. It is better to get your ear pierced with a needle at a 14 gauge if you plan on stretching, but if your ears are already pierced, you just need to make sure that your ear lobes are healed.
The term "gauge" refers to the size of the jewelry and the smaller the number, the bigger the piercing. For example, a 20 gauge is the smallest you can go, then it goes to 18 gauge, 16 gauge, 14 gauge, and so on until you get to 00 gauge, then you start going by inches (or millimeters). Once you get to millimeters, the bigger the millimeter, the bigger the jewelry. It is important to take note of the size you are now and the next size you are going because you never want to skip sizes. This is dangerous and can lead to tearing, blowouts, and infections.
Metal tapers are the most recommended to use as they are able to be completely sanitized and will not harbor germs. Plastic or acrylic is "pourous", which means that it has little areas within the material that bacteria can hide no matter how well you clean it. This can lead to an infection later on and this is what you want to avoid, especially during a fresh stretch.
Their are a few other methods that you can use which involve using a weights, scalpel, taper spike, dermal punch, a taper ring, teflon tape, or dead stretching.
Understanding The Different Methods
Weights: Using weights is basically wearing a heavier piece of jewelry (normally a captive ring or other object) through your tunnel and stretch the lobe.
Taper spike: This is essentially the same as a taper but it is worn in the ear until it is healed and then the next size is inserted. This isn't recommended for bigger sizes as it can cause uneven weight which isn't good for your ear lobes.
Taper Ring: This is basically the same as a taper, except for instead of being straight like a normal taper, it is in a ring shape and it pushed through. It does the same thing as a taper spike.
Scalpel: This is exactly as it sounds. You use a surgical scalpel to cut around the hole in your ear. This is ABSOLUTELY not recommend unless you are with a professional, in a clean, safe environment and even then it is dangerous. It is painful, will cause a lot of damage, and will involve lots of blood. This can very easily introduce infection into not only the piercing but the body. This can also be associated with a dermal punch.
Dermal punch: A Dermal Punch is, to be described easiest, a hole puncher for your skin. This is mainly used on cartilage due to the lack of blood flow in those areas. This should also only be done in a clean, professional environment.
Using Teflon tape (this is a specific medical-grade tape, do not use scotch tape, electric tape, or any other tape) is another home stretching method where tape is wrapped around current jewelry, a little at a time, until the desired size is reached.
Dead stretching is basically just shoving the new, bigger jewelry into the hole. This is absolutely NOT recommended as it can not only tear your ear lobe, cause it to bleed, cause an immense amount of pain, and create infection upon everything else, but it can completely damage your ear lobe.
Don't forget to check out all the gorgeous jewelry you can now wear in your ear lobes once they're healed!