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9 Materials Ear Stretching: Stylishly Stretching Piercings

9 Materials Ear Stretching: Stylishly Stretching Piercings

Ear Stretching Materials refer to the various types of material used in jewelry. The type of material you choose in jewelry is one of the top considerations when choosing jewelry for stretching ears. Use of proper materials in jewelry, you can confidently stretch. While improper materials or wrong jewelry choices can lead to potential issues ranging from mild to serious.

Materials become a major factor to consider when ear stretching. Depending on the stage of stretching that you're at currently, your skin sensitivity, possible metal allergies and more personal aspects, the choice of materials matters even more.

For example, surgical stainless steel for body jewelry is less likely to cause skin reactions, according to researchers at The Academy of Pediatrics (2017). However, not all variants of surgical stainless steel are nickel-free, which can cause adverse effects for those with nickel allergies.

As a result, questions arise regarding how to choose the best materials for stretching. In this article, we evaluate the top 9 materials used in body jewelry, how to clean jewelry materials, the effect of the weight of materials on the lobes when stretching, and which materials should be avoided when stretching ears.


Table of Contents

  • What Is the Best Material for Ear Stretching and How Should You Choose the Right One?
  • Steel Jewelry Material
  • Glass Jewelry Material
  • Stone Jewelry Material
  • Acrylic Jewelry Material
  • Silicone Jewelry Material
  • Wood Jewelry Material
  • Brass Jewelry Material
  • Copper Jewelry Material
  • Gold Jewelry Material
  • What is the safest material for ear stretching?
  • What material is best for sensitive stretched ears?
  • How should you properly clean and maintain different stretching materials?
  • What are the recommended methods for sterilizing various stretching materials?
  • How does the weight of ear stretching materials affect the overall health and comfort of the wearer?
  • How to choose the right sizing for stretching materials for healthy earlobes?
  • Which ear stretching materials should be avoided?
  • Materials Takeaway

    Plug Your Holes chooses the best materials from around the world and has been manufacturing premium body jewelry since 2006, so now you can learn about the materials used for the stretching jewelry you can buy from us, with this guide.

    Explore various materials offering aesthetic variety, ideal choices for sensitive stretched ears, and customization possibilities.

    If you're stretching your ears, you'll need the right materials.


    What Is the Best Material for Ear Stretching and How Should You Choose the Right One?

    Your choice for material depends on your style, skin sensitivity, and stretching stage. Don't just pick any old material. Each of the 9 materials for stretching jewelry in the table below have their own perks.

    Material Details Jewelry Price Range
    Steel Durable, scratch-resistant, and hypoallergenic material is what steel jewelry is known for $9.99 to $71.99
    Glass Sleek finish provides frictionless plug insertion, hypoallergenic and non-porous material are characteristics of glass jewelry $9.50 to $26.99
    Stone Stone ear jewelry rarely irritates skin, making it a stylish and a somewhat heavier material for stretched ears $11.50 to $46.99

    Acrylic is one of the most common materials used in ear stretching, primarily because it's lightweight and inexpensive. Acrylic is also used for custom image plugs

    $8.99 to $13.99
    *Silicone Silicone ear skins come in a variety of colors spanning from bright neons to earskins that matches your skin tone $7 to $24.99

    Besides the unique look, the main benefit of wood ear jewelry is that its beautiful, natural and organic. Wooden plugs are a great choice. Engraved wood plugs come in many wood types and varieties

    $16.99 to $51.99

    Metaphysically, brass has supposed healing properties and courage boosting benefits. Stylishly, worn with ear skins or dangles, brass can be worn as a break from your everyday pieces

    $30 to $99
    Copper Durable, rustic yet doesn't rust easily, copper material can be found in earrings, dangles, plugs and more $17.32 to $59.99
    Gold Grand in all good ways, gold jewelry is great, and comes in many stylish jewelry options $10.99 to $102.69

    *Silicone shouldn't be used to stretch ears, but it can be used after stretching has healed.

    We'll cover the materials in-depth below.

    Steel Jewelry Material

    When it comes to steel stretching materials, stainless steel, specifically 316L Surgical Stainless Steel, is a popular and safe choice. This material is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and non-porous, reducing the risk of infection and allergic reactions. It's also smooth, which prevents damage to the delicate tissue of the earlobe during the stretching process.

    Additionally, Plated 316L Surgical Stainless Steel, used for products such as tunnels, offer similar safety benefits with an added aesthetic appeal. The plating can come in different designs for body jewelry, allowing for personalization while maintaining the biocompatibility and safety of the underlying surgical stainless steel. When buying elsewhere, always ensure that any plated material is free from chips or scratches to avoid exposing your skin to potentially harmful base metals.

    Some examples of steel jewelry, include, tunnels, ear cuffs, hook and dangles, earrings, hanger, ear weights, hoops, gold plated steel and more.Metalsmithing masterpieces with steel is what you'll find in the stainless steel gauges (plugs) collection which features a variety of body jewelry made of this material.

    After the classic appeal of steel stretching materials, let's transition to the world of glass - a hypoallergenic and elegant alternative that brings a whole new level of sophistication to ear stretching.


    Glass Jewelry Material

    In the realm of glass stretching materials, Pyrex Glass and opalite are both excellent choices due to their non-porous nature. Pyrex Glass is a type of borosilicate glass that's known for its durability and resistance to temperature changes, making it a safe and reliable material for stretching. It's also smooth and gentle on the skin, reducing the risk of irritation or damage to the earlobe during the stretching process.

    On the other hand, opalite plugs offer a unique aesthetic appeal with their iridescent shimmer. Made from synthetic opalized glass, these plugs are equally safe and comfortable for stretching while providing a distinctive and eye-catching look. Both materials are easy to clean and maintain, further enhancing their suitability for this purpose.

    Glass jewelry is commonly found with plugs and tunnels. The glassmaking talents for glassblowing are on full effect in this glass plugs for ears collection, which features everything from plugs, tunnels and teardrops.

    Having explored the sleek world of glass stretching materials, let's now turn our attention to the organic charm and earthy appeal of stone materials.


    Stone Jewelry Material

    Stretching materials made of stone come in a wide variety, each with its unique properties and aesthetic appeal. These materials range from organic ones like tiger's eye, howlite, lapis lazuli, moondevite, geode stone, green monster agate, aurora stone, cat's eye stone, amazonite, amethyst, hematite, jade (also available in white jade), sodalite, obsidian (also available in Mahogany Obsidian), labradorite, aventurine (also available in Green Aventurine), sandstone (also available in Spiced Sandstone), quartz (available in Black Quartz, Earth Quartz, Clear Quartz, Grass Quartz, Moss Quartz, rose quartz, Snow Quartz and more), jasper (available in blood, red, and green jasper), and agate (available in Green Line Agate, Black Agate, Red Line Agate, Botswana Agate, Crazy Lace Agate, and more) to synthetic ones like opalite and synthetic malachite. The choice of material often depends on individual preferences for color, texture, weight, and hypoallergenic properties. However, irrespective of the choice, it's crucial to ensure that the material is non-toxic.

    Stone jewelry is commonly used for plugs and dangles such as the products from the collection below. The stonemasonry and attention to detail is incredible throughout the stone plugs collection, as there is a variety of stone material options available.

    From the natural allure and unique patterns of stone materials, let's transition to the world of acrylics - a modern, lightweight, and highly customizable option for stretching.


    Acrylic Jewelry Material

    Acrylic piercing stretching materials are a popular choice due to their versatility and range of aesthetic options. Acrylic plugs, including image plugs with a facade made of NSF grade Polymer, offer a lightweight and affordable alternative to other materials. They come in a myriad of colors such as clear, white, purple, red, pink, blue, black, green, and more, providing ample opportunity for personal expression. Additionally, acrylic hangers, such as steel-plated cicada acrylic hangers, add an extra dimension of style to the stretching process. However, it's important to note that while acrylic is generally safe for short-term use, it may not be suitable for fresh stretches or long-term wear due to its porous nature, which can harbor bacteria and lead to infections if not properly cleaned.

    You can see the masterful work of acrylics made for body jewelry throughout the entire acrylic gauges (plugs) collection.

    While acrylic offers a lightweight and affordable solution for stretching, let's shift gears and dive into the world of silicone, known for its unparalleled comfort and vibrant color options.


    Silicone Jewelry Material

    Silicone piercing stretching materials offer a unique combination of comfort, flexibility, and aesthetic appeal. These materials are available in a wide array of colors, including tie-dye swirl rainbow colors, mint green, neon yellow green, grey, purple, white, light blue, red, peach or blush pink, mustard yellow, snow pearl, black, and even skin tones like medium skin tone, fair skin tone, and light skin tone. This diversity allows for a high degree of personalization and style. Silicone can be used for plugs or o-rings due to its flexibility and softness, making it comfortable for long-term wear. However, it's crucial to note that silicone should NEVER be used for the actual process of stretching the ears due to its tendency to stick to and irritate fresh stretches. It's best suited for healed stretches only.

    Sourcing the best silicone rubber from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia, you can tell the difference of the silicone molding manufacturing and the QA process used is top-notch throughout the body jewelry products in the silicone plugs collection.

    Typically hermetically sealed apart in the natural world, silicone and natural material, like, wood can mix, adding a unique contrast in your jewelry collection. Let's knock on wood for this one.


    Wood Jewelry Material

    Wood is a natural and aesthetically pleasing material often used in ear piercing stretches. Various types of wood, including teak, sono, sawo, cherry, crocodile, coconut, tamarin, areng, saba, and palm wood, are utilized due to their unique textures, colors, and grain patterns. These types of wood can be crafted into regular wood plugs or engraved plugs, offering a rustic and organic appeal that sets them apart from other materials. Wood plugs are lightweight, breathable, and warm to the touch, making them comfortable for long-term wear. However, it's important to note that wood is porous and requires regular maintenance with natural oils to prevent drying out and cracking. Additionally, wood should not be used in fresh stretches or wet environments to avoid irritation or bacterial growth.

    The entire collection showcases the skilled carpentry and woodworking abilities of the team's engraved carvings and standard lines in the wood ear plugs collection of wooden body jewelry.

    A wooden plug collection wouldn't be complete, though, without complimenting it with a bit of brass.


    Brass Jewelry Material

    Brass, including white brass, is a versatile and attractive material often used in piercing stretching. Its golden hue lends a vintage charm to various types of ear jewelry such as hoop earrings, ear weights, and the intricate Demetria Filigree Brass Earrings. Brass can also be used as accents on stone plugs, adding a touch of elegance and contrast to the organic texture of the stone. Despite its beauty, it's important to note that brass is not hypoallergenic and may cause reactions in individuals with sensitive skin or metal allergies. Therefore, it's typically recommended for short-term wear and for fully healed stretches. As with all stretching materials, proper care and hygiene are essential to prevent irritation or infection.

    As we move away from the vintage charm and rich tones of brass materials, let's venture into the warm and earthy realm of copper - a material that brings a unique rustic appeal to your stretching journey.


    Copper Jewelry Material

    Copper is a unique and striking material often used in stretching jewelry. It's distinctive warm, reddish-brown hue makes it an attractive choice for various types of ear jewelry such as ear weights, earrings, hoops, dangles, and more ear weights. The malleability of copper allows for intricate designs and styles, adding a touch of elegance to any look. Despite its beauty, it's important to remember that copper, like other metals, is not hypoallergenic and may cause reactions in individuals with sensitive skin or metal allergies. Therefore, it's typically recommended for short-term wear, and fully healed stretches. As with all piercing stretching materials, maintaining proper hygiene and care is crucial to prevent irritation or infection.

    Having explored the warm, rustic appeal of copper, let's now transition into the world of gold - a timeless and luxurious choice that adds a touch of elegance to any body jewelry collection.


    Gold Jewelry Material

    Gold piercing stretching materials offer a luxurious and timeless appeal. One popular method of achieving this look is through the use of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating. This process involves coating a base material, often surgical steel, with a thin layer of gold, resulting in a piece that combines the durability of steel with the aesthetic allure of gold. PVD-coated gold materials are used in a variety of stretching jewelry, such as plugs, tunnels, and ear weights. They provide the wearer with the opulence of gold without the high cost, while also ensuring a more hypoallergenic and long-lasting finish. It's crucial, however, to ensure the quality of PVD coating to avoid potential skin irritation or fading over time.

    14k Gold Skeleton Hand Earrings, saddles, hangers, ear weights, gold plated steel and also referred to sometimes by the color-- not the material-- "gold", this has been a popular material -- the Gold Standard -- with ear piercing stretching, for centuries. Some of the notable gold material stretching jewelry can be found in the gold gauges (plugs) collection.

    No single material is ideal for everyone; take into account your preferences, lifestyle and convenience when making a decision. Your comfort, lifestyle, and taste all play a role in choosing the right material for you.

    If you've completely healed from stretching, try wood for a natural look.

    For initial stretches, go for non-porous materials like stainless steel or glass. Biocompatible polymers, such as those that are hypoallergenic, can be a great option for initial stretching. Ultimately, the material you choose should reflect your personal style and be safe for your lobes.


    What is the safest material for ear stretching?

    The safest material for stretching is steel and then glass. Using the right materials can reduce the risks stretching your earlobes, as the practice of stretching can be risky if not performed properly. Take a look at the table for safest materials for stretching, which is useful depending on your stage of stretching.

    Material Initial Stretches Healing Stretches Completely Healed Stretches

    NOTE: Remember, monitor your body's response closely after using new plugs or tunnels. For those worried about the appropriateness of certain materials for their stretched piercings, it is recommended to seek advice from a trained piercing expert.

    Depending on your stage of stretching, fresh ear stretches may require different jewelry to be worn than those seeking to wear alternative material options having completely healed ears for extended periods of time.

    If you fall into this category, reference the timelines for ear stretching so that you can make an educated choice of material. It's important to take the necessary precautions at all times when selecting jewelry, especially if you have allergies to certain materials or have extra sensitive skin.


    What material is best for sensitive stretched ears?

    Glass is the best material for sensitive stretched ears due to it being the least reactive. The second best options are gold and surgical steel. Most people are fine with either but sometimes people experience allergic reactions with gold, mostly due to potential nickel contents found in cheap jewelry purchased elsewhere online or in-store.

    Everyone's body reacts differently to different materials so what works well for one person might not work as well for another. Always listen to your body when trying out new stretching materials, and remember to properly clean the jewelry material regularly.


    How should you properly clean and maintain different stretching materials?

    Keeping your stretched ears healthy requires proper maintenance of your stretching materials. Different materials require unique cleaning methods, ranging from mild soap to rubbing alcohol for safe stretching.

    The table below helps to understand the ways to properly clean certain jewelry materials.

    Material Cleaning Instructions
    Stainless Steel
    • Rinse with warm water.

    • Gently scrub with antibacterial soap and a soft toothbrush.

    • Rinse again and pat dry with a clean towel.

    • Wash in warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and air dry completely before reinserting into your piercing.

    • Use a dry cloth to remove dust, damp cloth and mild soap though dry out the wood immediately afterwards, massage a bit of jojoba oil into wood, add olive oil to shine the wood, oil often and keep away from water (when not cleaning and drying immediately after)
    • Avoid soaking to prevent warping or cracking.

    • Wipe down with jojoba oil or beeswax to keep moisturized and prevent drying out.

    You want to be aware of what your jewelry materials contain (such as purity hallmarks with metal jewelry) so that you can prevent being exposed to inferior jewelry which could cause potential allergies. To avoid an allergic reaction and reduce the chance for infection, go with a safer option such as using hypoallergenic jewelry materials. If you're unsure of current allergies, a safe option would be to choose steel over "gold".

    Those people who are sensitive to nickel should stay away from materials where nickel is combined with gold (or other metals) such as some gold-plated jewelry as those people that are sensitive to nickel could see adverse reactions. These issues along with dealing with an irritated piercing or the ear cheese smell of dead skin cells are some of the complications with ear stretching that people may face when attempting to use tools or jewelry with stretched ears. Regularly cleaning your jewelry helps avoid bacteria buildup that could lead to infections or irritation when not sterilized properly.


    What are the recommended methods for sterilizing various stretching materials?

    Keep your stretching materials clean and safe with proper sterilization methods. Different materials require specific techniques to ensure they remain free from bacteria and contaminants, reducing the risk of infection.

    Material Sterilization Method
    Steel Autoclave your stainless steel jewelry to kill microorganisms, as an option. The Centers for Disease Control provides comprehensive guidelines on autoclaving procedures.
    Glass Sterilize your glass plugs or tunnels in under warm water to sanitize them. Allow them to cool down naturally after boiling to avoid cracking.
    Silicone & Acrylics Use antibacterial soap followed by rubbing alcohol to clean and disinfect synthetic materials. Avoid exposing them to high temperatures as they could warp or melt.

    Use a damp cloth and mild soap though dry out the wood immediately afterwards.Use jojoba oil and olive oil to add shine to wood; avoid water (when not cleaning and drying immediately after) or exposing wood jewelry to extreme heat.

    Remember to always follow the manufacturer's instructions when caring for your body jewelry. Also paying careful attention to the lobes are important during the healing process from stretches. Cleaning your stretched ears regularly with a gentle, fragrance-free antibacterial soap can help to keep them healthy.

    Taking proper care of your stretched ears during the stretching process is crucial to maintain skin elasticity and ensure a healthy healing process. A warm or hot shower can aid in increasing blood flow to the area, which helps in healing and maintaining the health of your blood vessels. After a shower, it's beneficial to soak your stretched ears in salt water, as this can help clean the area and promote faster healing.

    No matter what material you choose, proper care is essential to keep your stretched piercings healthy and looking great. Caring for specific material types to ensure longevity and maintain their aesthetic appeal also requires using appropriate types of jewelry designed to be used at your current size. If you're just stretching, save the weights for later (to avoid uneven stretching).


    How does the weight of ear stretching materials affect the overall health and comfort of the wearer?

    The use of ear weights for stretching can significantly affect the health and comfort of the wearer.

    Especially for sensitive skin, heavier materials may cause discomfort or skin irritation, for some people. That's why you want to opt for using stretch friendly materials as they exert less downward pressure on the lobes, reducing the risk of tears or blowouts.

    In order to comfortably wear jewelry of any weight, you first need to get the lobe ready using a stretching lubricant and there are 2 main approaches to find the best type for your ears:

    1. Consider Commercial-Grade Lubricants: Some people prefer to use commercial-grade lubricants designed specifically for ear stretching such as Ear Butter. These products are usually safe for sensitive skin and can make the process more comfortable, regardless of the weight of the stretching material.
    2. Use Natural Lubricants, such as Oils: Popular alternative stretching oils, include, jojoba, coconut, vitamin E, and olive oils. Jojoba oil can be used to moisturize the lobes and ease the insertion of ear stretching materials. It's also known for its healing properties, which can be beneficial if the lobes have been irritated by heavy jewelry. Similar to jojoba, coconut oil is often used as a lubricant during the ear stretching process. It helps to reduce friction, making the insertion of heavier materials more comfortable. Vitamin E oil is another option for moisturizing the lobes and promoting skin health. It helps to repair damaged skin, making it a good choice if heavy ear stretching materials have caused any tearing or discomfort. Olive oil, while not as commonly used as some other oils, can also serve as a lubricant and moisturizer when stretching the ears.

    No matter the jewelry weight, it's important to use safe lubricants for stretching when stretching your ears, especially if you're using heavier materials. Avoid any products that contain harmful chemicals, as these can irritate the skin and potentially lead to infection.

    Remember, everyone's body is different, so what works well for one person may not work as well for another. Your stretching regimen should include proper lubricant applied to the appropriate type of jewelry for a safe stretching practice. Keeping lobes healthy all the way ensures you're ready to graduate to larger sizes when your lobes have adjusted to the new sizes stretching.

    How to choose the right sizing for stretching materials for healthy earlobes?

    Ensuring the thickness and size compatibility of stretching materials is essential to achieve optimal results and maintain healthy earlobes.

    1. Initially, identify your baseline for any changes. You do this by defining the current gauge size of your lobes, and then decide on your goal size, which is the maximum diameter you wish to reach with your earlobes.
    2. When selecting new stretching materials, they jewelry should perfectly match your current size. Wearing plugs or tunnels that are too big or too small can cause discomfort and damage. As you progress, you may start to transition into larger gauge sizes.
    3. Always measure the new stretching materials before insertion to ensure they are the perfect size.

    Avoid large jumps between sizes as this can lead to tears in your lobes, potentially causing discomfort or infection. Instead, gradually increase your gauge size, allowing sufficient healing time between each increment.

    To help in this process, you can view the sizes for ear stretching which can help you stretch all the way from microscopic holes of initial piercings to 2" (51 mm), if desired.


    Which ear stretching materials should be avoided?

    When it comes to stretching ears, it's crucial to avoid certain materials that can potentially harm your earlobes.

    • Avoid any materials you may have an allergy to, such as certain metals, if you have sensitive skin or allergies.
    • Silicone should be avoided when stretching ears until the lobes are completely healed.
    • Cheap plastic should also be avoided when starting to stretch as they can release harmful chemicals when warmed by body heat.
    • Materials that are porous, such as wood, can harbor bacteria and cause infection. Especially in freshly stretched ears, choose to wear certain materials responsibly, no matter your stage of stretching.

    Remember, maintaining the health of your earlobes should always be the priority over aesthetics or cost.


    Materials Takeaway

    Selecting the right material for your ear stretching jewelry is crucial to ensure a successful stretching experience and maintain healthy stretched lobes. Avoid materials that may irritate or cause infection in the pierced hole, such as certain plastics or metals.

    Remember, the health of your earlobe hole should always be prioritized over aesthetics. With the top choices for materials available for your piercing stretches, you can now go confidently rock you stretched piercings with the right material for your unique needs.