Q:i have a friend who might stretch with plugs instead of tapers, is that a good idea? i tried searching google but nothing really came up. i want to tell her she shouldn't stretch with plugs because that just sounds like a bad idea, but i want to be sure that it's unsafe!
Stretching with just plugs, otherwise known as dead stretching, is perfectly safe. It’s how I’ve been stretching back up from my downsize in early November. Essentially it is waiting until your ears have self-stretched to the next size over time and can accept it easily, without the aid of stretching tools like tape or tapers. I wish I’d known about it before when I stretched the first time around.
Round-backed colorfront plugs are perfect for the job and also come in those awkward “in-between” sizes (like 1g, 11/16”, 13/16”, 15/16”, and such). Round-ended steel plugs are a pretty good alternative, but are more limited in sizes. Both are pretty cheap. (Note: Those particular metal plugs are low quality economy grade plugs and you should use caution if you buy them. If your ears don’t like economy steel because of a nickel allergy, you should definitely go with glass or higher grade steel or titanium. I provided them as an alternative to the glass plugs because they are an option and people like options. The polish on those plugs is also inferior and the glass will be a lot smoother.)
Metal (or even glass) eyelets/tunnels are okay to use, but can be sharp on the edges and often have o-ring grooves, which can both make stretching more difficult or uncomfortable or be the reason your ears react badly to a stretch. Use those at your own risk.
Dead stretching, like any other method, should be very very minimally uncomfortable at the most. Proper lubrication should be used - some sort of oil or lotion that you are not allergic to; this is not the time to try out something new. When I say “uncomfortable” I mean that the new plug (which should be 1mm larger than your current size at most, but glass plugs can vary slightly) might feel a bit tight in your ear or you might feel a very slight stinging sensation or your ear might turn a bit pink and warm-ish (simply just from being squished around like after a massage) for 5-10 minutes. Anything more than that most likely means you’re doing something wrong and should go back down a size and try again in a week or two (providing there was not any blood or ripping involved in which case more time should be given).
If you’re talking about using silicone eyelets to stretch with, then I highly recommend she try a different method. I suggest you have your friend read this from the Kaos website.
Also please note that some people’s ears just aren’t stretchy enough for this to work and she might have to try another method. :)
Answering this publicly so it can be referred to later because dead stretching does come up somewhat frequently and I don’t want to type all that out again.
P.S. If I missed anything or messed up some info, please correct it/add to this ask, other mods.
Why your average polymer clay design is bad for your lobes, and your health!
Here’s a good article that breaks down the ingredients of polymer clay:
Basic points of the article:The qualities of polymer clay are due to its primary ingredient, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—a type of plastic also known as vinyl. PVC is considered the most toxic plastic. During manufacture and when burned, PVC creates a highly toxic byproduct called dioxin, a potent carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.
In the case of soft PVC, such as that used in polymer clay, phthalates are added to make the PVC pliable. Phthalates are a group of chemicals that have been linked with birth defects, reproductive problems, liver and thyroid damage and other health problems. Some are believed to cause cancer.
Because of these qualities, those who work with polymer clay should protect themselves with gloves, a designated work area for clay only that is frequently cleaned, and a respirator when baking (curing) the clay. Fortunately manufacturers of the clays have begun reworking the ingredients and most now have less toxic plasticizers, as is required by CPSC CPSIA. Most people will probably think, “Kids put things in their mouths, I don’t. I’m not using the clay when it’s uncured, I’m wearing it after it’s cured.”
Well, if polymer clay isn’t properly cured, the clay will remain moist on the inside which gives these toxins a chance to leech outward to the wearable portions of jewelry. It can happen really easily because even cured polymer clay is porous. The good news is that the Art & Creative Materials Institute teamed with Duke University Medical Center wanted to address safety concerns [source: http://duketox.mc.duke.edu/recenttoxissues.htm ] and found that irritation is most likely to occur through ingestion and not skin contact.
To summarize, properly handled/cured polymer clay should not be of danger to those that use or wear it. But because these studies were conducted in scientific settings that do not involve body modification, it is important to consider that piercings involve sensitive or compromised tissue. The safest choice is to wear the (properly cured) clay through eyelets of another material. Properly cured clay will be firm with a bit of give, but not flexible enough to bend, and of course not burnt or browned. The precaution I believe to be most important is keeping raw clay in a separated area from finished jewelry and materials. Changing gloves during production can help prevent toxins from uncured clay to transfer onto the wearable area of finished jewelry.
As for “glazed” or “glossed” polymer clay, check out the ingredients. A popular Sculpey brand glaze has this on the label:WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. WARNING: May be harmful if swallowed. Contains: N-METHYL PYRROLIDONE
Many others choose to use an Acrylic Coating spray fixative. We wear acrylic, so that sounds friendly, right? Here is a popular Krylon brand’s warning label:CAUTIONS CONTAINS ACETONE, HYDROCARBON PROPELLANTS, TOLUENE, ETHYL 3-ETHOXYPROPIONATE, MEDIUM AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS … Causes eye, skin, nose and throat irritation. Avoid contact with eyes and skin.Wash hands after using.
It also lists the same California birth defect chemical warning. Moral of the story, skip the glazes, take caution with unglazed clay, never use this material in unhealed piercings, and choose a retailer that knows how to keep you safe.
Think twice before you buy polymer clay from Etsy, a friend, or someone else who doesn’t undertake the specified standards that have to be done in order for polymer clay to be safe.
Written by the amazing BabyPie of BabyPieTattoo
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- * me: why'd you take out your tunnels?
- * hot guy: why'd I take out my gauges?
- * me: ..... never mind.
Went from 14G to 8G within 6 hours.
5 days later, (now) I want to stretch to 6G. but i need tapers. fuck.
I feel very, very sorry for your ears right now. Very.
What’s awful: Jumping 3 sizes in one go, and planning on stretching to another. Ear damage, blowouts and scar tissue ahoy!
How to fix it: Take your plugs out and leave them out. In three months, go to 14g. A month after that, 12g, a month after that, 10g, a month after that, 8g, a month after that, 6g. And so on and so forth (however 0g+ should wait 2-3 months). Tapers are NOT jewellery. You don’t drill a hole for a screw, and leave the drill bit in because ‘it’ll do’. No, it won’t. The same goes for tapers. Save your ears, you’ve only got two of them!
My ears absolutely refuse to stretch up from a 2 to a 0.
I’m gonna murder someone.
It’s been 2 months now, and I’ve tried 3 times.
I’m so beyond tired of waiting.
You’re forgetting the almighty, magical and mystical 1g or 7mm. These can easily be bought from your local reputable piercing shop, or online at www.bodyartforms.com. A 2mm jump is too big for all ears, which is why your ears won’t stretch, despite waiting a good amount of time. Buy something single flared, in titanium, surgical steel or glass, and you should be good to go!