Get The Info On How Ear Gauge Sizes Work

Ear Gauge Sizes

Get The Info On How Ear Gauge Sizes Work

Standard ear piercings are a little boring and are no longer the only type of piercing you can have. That all is changes when you decide to step up to ear gauge sizes.

Some people prefer to do something a little different – ear gauging. To gauge your ear means to change the size of the hole in your ear, stretching it out to make it bigger and rounder. You can then use different types of earrings that will fill up the hole or open it up with a flesh tunnel.

Gauging has been around for centuries, but it is just coming into common acceptance into the United States now.

How Ear Gauge Sizes Work

When you first encounter it, sizing gauges can be a little difficult. However, there are two systems that, once you understand them, make it really easy.

There are two ways to measure gauges and other types of body jewelry: gauges (g) or millimeters (mm). If you are in the United States, you are more likely to see the millimeter measurements. Here’s a sizing table for your convenience:

Ear gauge sizes are a little difficult to understand, so let’s break that open first before we get too deep into what sizes work the best.

Simply put, the smaller the number, the larger the size of the gauge.

Most standard piercings are 20g or 18g, quite small. Ear gauge sizes get progressively larger, so you’d gauge to 16g then 14g and then down from there if you wish. As you get lower, you’ll eventually get to 00g, which is about 3/8 of an inch. After that, you measure in fractions of an inch.

Ear Gauge Sizes Chart

Why Does the Ear Gauge Size Go Backwards?

The gauge system actually measures thickness of wire, so it has been around a long time. In order to make wire thin, they had to pull it through holes. This meant that the more holes something was pulled through, the thinner it would be. We’ve kept this system the whole time.

For example, an extremely thin wire might be pulled through 20 holes while a thick wire pulled through 5.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an exacting science. The measurements can vary from company to company and even from piece of jewelry to piece of jewelry.

How to Gauge Your Ears

Gauging or stretching your ears can happen in one of two popular ways: tapers or the taping method. Tapers are the most common method, especially for people who haven’t stretched before. Once you get to around 0g, the taping method becomes more popular.

Steel Ear Gauge Sizes Taper


A taper is the safest way to start. This is the method:

1. Wash your hands and thoroughly clean anything that will go into your ear lobe.

2. Pick a lubricant – commonly used lubricants are Vitamin E oil or jojoba oil.

3. Put the lubricant on the taper and slowly feed it in. If you go slowly enough and use enough lubricant, it shouldn’t be very painful.

4. Once you have the taper through, you’ll have to put the plug in right away.

Tapers are typically made from stainless steel or acrylic. They are rounded at one end and then taper into a point for easy insertion. There are a few types of tapers:

Acrylic Tapers: These are the cheapest and most popular option. However, you have to be extremely careful because they can get infected much more easily. They are a fine choice for stretching, but wearing long term is a different story.

Steel Tapers: These are the premium option. They are easier to stretch with and far more comfortable. They are easier to clean as well, making it less likely that you will face an infection.

Concave Steel Tapers: These are the same as steel tapers basically. However, the concave part has a dip in the back where you can put your new ear gauges plugs. This will help you when you put the new plug in and hastens the process slightly. They do tend to be pricier, but they are worth it – especially for first time stretchers.

Ear Gauge Sizes Tape Method

The Tape Method

The tape wrapping method is used once you get to a 0 gauge. This method will stretch your ears slowly and extremely carefully. Here’s the method:

1. Take the tape and wrap it around your current plug or ear tunnels 2-3 times.

2. Lubricate the plugs and put them in. Allow 2-3 weeks to heel.

3. Repeat until you get to a bigger size.

Taping takes longer, but it will help keep your ear lobes thick and healthy.

When you gauge your ears, you can’t use just any kind of tape. Instead, there are two options: PTFE tape and Bondage tape:


PTFE tape is the primary choice that people will choose. It is inexpensive, non-adhesive, and super thin. It is also fairly safe for all people to use.

Bondage Tape

Another option is bondage tape. This works like PTFE tape, but tends to be a little more expensive.

Ear Gauges Plugs

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I start?

The first question people have about how to gauge their ears is what to use and how to start. When you get your ears pierced, you have to let them heal completely. Then, you can start with a size 16 gauge, which won’t actually be that large just yet.

Are gauge holes permanent?

Eventually your ears will shrink back. Everyone is different and there are a lot of questions about when or how your ears will shut again. Most people generally agree that you can’t go larger than a 0 gauge and expect your ears to close.

The closing process will be slow. If you have torn your earlobes or stretched too fast, you might have a harder time closing them again.

How Long Do I Wait Between Stretches?

You should wait at least 6 weeks between stretches. This will give the skin time to heal and become looser so you aren’t uncomfortable. Most people suggest you wait 2-6 months between each stress, especially if you know you will want your ears to shrink again.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to start stretching, you can get started by taking a look at our ear stretching kits and tapers! Be sure to consult with a piercing professional before starting your stretch to higher ear gauge sizes.

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Comments (2)

  • Jeffrey Castaneda

    hey man, so i stated stretching my lobes but where im at now, 19mm, isnt getting any wide. If i try for more it starts to hurt and i dont want to rip them. Could that be the max that my ears go??

    March 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm
    • Body Gauges Blog

      Depending on how much lobe you have there are limits to how big you can stretch. Listen to your body, if it is starting to hurt excessively ease up a bit. You can always visit your local piercing shop to get their professional opinion. Also we have many ear plugs & flesh tunnels in your current size if you decide to stay put.

      March 8, 2017 at 6:39 pm

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