Ear tapers are a common tool for stretching ear piercings. Tapers are generally recommended for stretching small sizes, up to 0 or 00 gauge. At these sizes, using other methods like taping can be problematic and unnecessary. Beyond 00g, other methods such as taping work better for a more gradual stretch.
Tapers should only be used for stretching and immediately replaced with the proper size jewelry. Piercing professionals don’t recommend wearing stretching tapers long-term as regular jewelry, for a few reasons:
- The material may not be suitable for long-term wear. See Are acrylic tapers safe for stretching?
- The o-rings needed to keep tapers in place may irritate the piercing.
- The weight and shape of the tapers may put pressure on and irritate a freshly-stretched piercing.
Types of Tapers
Usually, tapers made for stretching piercings are a long cylindrical shape with one end wider than the other. The wider end is the goal size you want to stretch to.
The long cylindrical type of taper is the most commonly used for stretching. These tapers can come with different features, such as concave backs that transition more easily to your new jewelry, or threaded tapers that can screw into internally threaded barbells.
There are other types of tapers available to wear as normal jewelry in stretched piercings, like circular tapers (often called pinchers or crescents) or spiral tapers (sometimes just called twists or spirals). These are great to wear as normal jewelry in healed piercings, but aren’t recommended for stretching with for some of the reasons listed above. It can also be easy to stretch too quickly with this type of jewelry.
Like any type of body jewelry, tapers are available in lots of different materials from steel and titanium to acrylic or even glass. Acrylic and steel tapers are the most common.
If you’re using a taper for stretching, the safest material to use is a metal such as surgical-grade stainless steel or titanium, since they can be completely sterilized by autoclaving. However, as long as you’re not wearing them long-term, acrylic tapers should be safe as well.
- Angel, E. Problems With Stretching Earlobe Piercings (“Gauging”). (2013). The Piercing Bible. Retrieved on February 11, 2014, from http://www.piercingbible.com/blog/2013/04/problems-stretching-earlobe-piercings-gauging
- Taper. (n.d.). BMEZine.com Encyclopedia. Retrieved on February 11, 2014, from http://wiki.bme.com/index.php?title=Taper