Stretching with tapers is a very common method for stretching your piercing. In fact, it is the most common method you can apply. Tapers are affordable and easy to use, so it’s not surprising many people decide to give it a go and use tapers to stretch their piercings.
Unfortunately, not everybody knows how to use tapers properly. It’s important to note that while tapers are very common and relatively easy to use, they are not always used in the optimal way. They may seem intuitive but there are also many mistakes you can make while trying to stretch your piercings using tapers.
In order to avoid all of these mistakes, here are some things to keep in mind:
- To use this method properly, make sure to always insert the narrower end of the taper into the piercing first. This is your current gauge and the taper will gradually widen to the new, larger gauge. Never use a wide end of a taper first!
- You need to go slowly and gently. Push the taper in until you reach the wider end. This should not be painful even though you may feel a bit of discomfort. When you reach the wider end, stop. Take your new jewelry and line it up with the wide end of the taper. Only then you should push the rest of the taper through your piercing. Make sure to keep the jewelry aligned with the wider end of the taper so you can push the new jewelry in, too.
- Once you’re done you have stretched your piercing to a larger gauge. Make sure there’s no blood and no cuts or tears. If everything is fine, it means you’re done.
- Tapers are specially designed for stretching and should not be worn as body jewelry. While they may look stylish and unique, keep in mind that they are not made to be worn as jewelry, especially not for a prolonged period of time. This is particularly true for acrylic tapers.
- In order for this process to work, make sure to never skip gauges (sizes). It’s vital to go gauge by gauge. This is why it’s so important to use all of the tapers in a kit or to order individual tapers of all sizes, one by one.
- When stretching, it’s important to be patient. Never stretch your piercing before you give it a time to heal after the previous stretching. You should never “jump” to stretch to yet a bigger size quickly.
- Generally speaking, you should wait at least a few weeks before two sizes (gauges). It means that you need to use a new taper every several weeks or so (or once per month only, depending on your piercing and the way it heals).
- In order to make the whole process smoother and easier, use a drop of lubricant. Apply lubricant to both your ear (or the body part where piercing is located) and the taper. In some cases you might even want to lubricate the jewelry.
- Keep in mind that tapers are ideal for smaller gauges and this is where they work the best. “Smaller” here means anything under 00, which is still large enough for many people. However, if this is not what you want and if you wish to stretch to at even larger gauges it’s better to use a different method for more gradual and problem-free stretching.
Choosing a Taper
When choosing a taper, pay attention to:
- Size to use. The size of the taper to use will directly depend on the gauge you have and the gauge you wish to achieve. Most piercings start at very small gauges (think 18 gauge or 16 gauge), so even stretching to 14 gauge requires a taper to be used. (Or another method, of course, but tapers seem to work the best). In order to use tapers properly, you need to know your current gauge at all times.
- Material. Tapers come in many different materials. Acrylic tapers are flexible and comfortable, so they provide a better stretching experience. On the other hand, Surgical Steel tapers are more secure. They can be autoclaved, which makes them more body-friendly.
- Shape. While tapers have a general shape there are certain variations between different designs. Some tapers have a special smooth finish to make stretching process more comfortable. Others offer a special way to connect jewelry to the taper securely and thus make the whole process easier. Other tapers are specially designed to slide in and out with least force. You need to know of different shapes and designs in order to be able to choose the best taper for yourself.
- Always treat any stretched piercing as a new, fresh piercing. Guess what? This is exactly what a stretched piercing is. Luckily, the healing time for this sort of piercing is shorter than for the original piercing, but you should still treat it as a new piercing.
- As a new piercings, newly stretched piercings require aftercare, at least in the first couple of days. Clean them twice per day with a saline solution or another appropriate product. Do not use harsh chemicals on your newly stretched piercings!
- You may also try sea salt soaks to treat your newly stretched piercing.
- If you notice any pain or discomfort after stretching, make sure to pay attention. In case of an infection or another problem, seek medical help. Stretched piercings typically do not cause so much trouble, but you need to be aware of the risks.