If you’ve met me in person, you may or may not have noticed that I have my ears gauged.
What’s that you ask?
Well basically, I have gigantic holes in my ears instead of little dainty ones. Not like the size of a quarter or an apple like some people…but more like the size of a number 2 pencil.
Before you start squirming, they’re not gross. I usually have cute, sparkly earrings in them so people often don’t even notice that they can see right through to the other side of my ear.
When talking about the size of jewelry that fits through gauged ears, it’s measured in gauges. The smaller the number, the thicker the hole. The standard jewelry that is used for most earrings is 18 Gauge. A belly button piercing is a bit thicker at 14 Gauge. If you want to fit jewelry you can “see through” into your ear (or tunnels as they are called), a size 2 Gauge or larger is required.
Why did you do this?
Interesting question. Why do people get tattoos or other body mods? I just really like the look and became more interested in the ways it can look great while watching Kat von D’s tattoo show. Hannah Aitchison was one of the original tattoo artists on the show and she has her ears gauged and wears hoops and other earrings through tunnels all the time. Actually, Hannah just has an awesome style, in general, that’s fairly similar to mine, and it inspired me.
How do you do it?
Gauging your ears from tiny ear studs to plugs or tunnels is not difficult, but it does take quite a long time.
All you need to get started is an ear gauge stretching kit (Amazon or ebay has them) with the different sizes of earring tubes or spirals. These are never really pretty but pick a color and style you can live with because you will need to wear them the entire time while stretching your ears. I rocked out the hot pink 80’s style hoops.
You will also need some antibacterial soap and some anti-bacterial ointment like Neosporin or Bacitracin to make sure your ears remain clean and healing without problems.
The general concept:
You start at the smallest size and gradually increase in size little by little. Apply ointment to the gauge and thread it through your ear until there’s a little pressure on the ear hole. Add the spacer to keep it in place. There should be pressure but never be any forcing or pain with the tubes. Once you can slide the tube all the way through your ear hole, stay at this side for about two weeks before going on to the next size. You want to make sure that your ear hole is healed before you go on…otherwise, you’ll blow out your ear holes and they’ll never be the same.
The Step-by-Step process
- Step 1: Clean the Jewelry
Before inserting the jewelry, make sure it’s clean by washing it with warm water and some antibacterial soap. You are not really “damaging” your body, like in actually piercing the body, but it’s still good practice to work as cleanly as possible when gauging your ears.
- Step 2: Insert the Gauge
After drying off the jewelry, apply a bit of antibacterial ointment to the gauge and slowly insert the taper into your ear hole. If you have never worn anything larger than a normal earring, start with the smallest size. The first time you may need to play around a bit to find the best taper for your ear.
You are looking for a size that will allow you to fit through your ear enough to comfortably secure with the little rubber bands. Now is not the time to be forceful. Too much pressure could tear the skin around your piercing and once you go big, you could actually “blow out” your ear, i.e. tear your earlobe. Easy does it, just insert the taper enough until you feel a slight stretching feeling in your earlobe but no pain.
- Step 3: Wait & Adjust
As I mentioned in the beginning, gauging your ears will take quite a bit of time. If you are lucky, you can move up one gauge per week. Every day, gently wash your earlobes with antibacterial soap and every few days ever so gently push the tapers further into your pierced earlobes. It should take about 2 weeks to move to the largest part of the taper. Once you reach that part, it’s time to wait a bit longer. Wait about 2 more weeks before moving to the next step.
- Step 4: Move up a Size
Once you’ve reached the thickest part of a taper, and have given it time to “heal” for another 2 weeks, it’s time to move up to the next size. You’ll know the time is right when the big part of the taper fits easily, without any stretching feeling. You’ve officially outgrown your first taper. Now it’s time to repeat the process from step 1 using the next size, and so on. If you are looking to go from a regular earring to a 0 Gauge the whole process should take between 8-12 months, depending on your body.
I’m at a 0 gauge now. 2 is also a nice size which is one step smaller. Many people don’t even notice they are gauged at these smaller sizes which can be nice if you have a professional job. I’m in a creative industry, so it’s no issue at all, but there are solid plugs that will make large holes in your ears less obvious if you need to.
Note: I am not a professional piercer but I was directed by my husband Stefan who worked at a piercing/tattoo studio during college. If you chose to gauge your ears, this can serve as your guide, but it’s up to you to be safe. In no way am I responsible for anything that might happen to your ears if you follow this advice.