Tapers for Stretching: Why We Don’t Sell Them.

Using tapers for stretching should only be done by an experienced professional.

At Saint Sabrina’s, we get quite a few phone calls asking if we sell tapers for stretching, so we wanted to take a few minutes to give you a more thorough answer to this common question.

A “Taper” is a tool that helps insert body jewelry.  Some piercers also use them to help “stretch” a piercing from one gauge-size to the next.  Tapers are shaped like a pin, but with a smooth rounded tip. The smaller end will be the thickness of one gauge size, and the other end will be the next size up.

High-quality, implant-grade titanium insertion/stretching tapers from ANATOMETAL, Inc.

High-quality, implant-grade titanium insertion/stretching tapers from ANATOMETAL, Inc.

“Fashion Tapers”, which can be found online, or at retail/novelty stores, are not safe for stretching under any circumstances- they are basically low quality costume jewelry.   The extreme jump from a thin point on one end to a much larger size on the other end defeats the purpose of a gradual “tapered” stretch. This extreme jump makes it very easy to tear your skin when using that type of taper for stretching.

A long, smooth, and very gradual taper is necessary for this tool to be used safely

No one should ever use these types of tapers for stretching a piercing

This style of taper is never appropriate for stretching a piercing, The “taper” is much too severe and will cause damage to the piercing.

Fashion Tapers are often made from acrylic, which is a material that can’t be sterilized. Sterilizing a taper is the only way to ensure it is free of bacteria and other harmful organisms. Acrylic also breaks down over time in the body, and has the potential to be toxic. It simply isn’t safe to put in the body.


A quality taper made from the proper material(s) and with the proper shape isn’t cheap. One of the big reasons we don’t sell tapers for stretching is because it’s less expensive for our clients to have us help them accomplish the stretch than it is for them to buy the right kind of taper.

Aside from the cost, a simple tool like a taper can be devastating in the wrong hands.  An apprentice (in-training) piercer would spend an extensive amount of time learning how to use a taper properly and safely; observing their mentor over and over before finally practicing on people. Even then, the apprentice would be under the direct supervision of their mentor until they can be sure the apprentice is prepared to use tapers properly.

We have seen endless numbers of clients attempt to user tapers to stretch their piercings on their own – including clients who do a lot of research and try to stretch appropriate (i.e., not too much at once and not too quickly). Even then, we have seen severe mistakes made simply because the client didn’t have the experience to know something was wrong.  Simply fumbling a bit when you are putting the jewelry in can cause a scratch in your skin that can lead to infections, scaring, or even thin spots where your lobe could eventually “break”.

For all these reasons, we choose not to sell tapers for stretching to our clients. We love using our years of experience to help people achieve beautiful healthy piercings.  We encourage you to take advantage of that experience and expertise. We are always happy to discuss safe and successful options for stretching with you.

Thanks to Brett Perkins from Anomaly Piercing, Ken Seyler from Matrix Tattooing and Piercing and the whole crew at Anatometal, Inc for the pictures!

Cartilage Piercing Healing Problems

How to Make Healing a Cartilage Piercing Easier

“Is there anything I can do to stop irritating my helix cartilage piercing? I have many other piercings (lip, monroe, nipples, navel) and none of them have been as much of a pain in the arse as this helix. I sleep on it by accident, or I accidentally snag it on a towel or while getting a haircut and it gets irritated. It’s winter here and it’s such a pain I’m considering removing it because I’ve had it for over a year yet it’s still so fuzzy.”

Cartilage piercings can definitely be challenging to heal. They tend to get bumped, caught, snagged and slept on a lot. Some people are able to incorporate helix piercings into their life pretty easily, but it can be a real challenge for other.

cartilage piercing healing

Helix cartilage piercings

There are a couple of things you can try to make the healing easier:

1) Try rolling up a towel and form it into a circle. Use it as a headrest when you are sleeping. It will give your head some support while leaving an open space for your ear. This should reduce the irritation from sleeping on it.

2) Slow down. It can be hard to make adjustments to our daily routines like drying off after a shower, how we put our shirts on etc. However, making those adjustments is something that is necessary when healing a cartilage piercing. Your piercing is a wound that is trying to heal. That means it is a bit fragile. If you don’t take the time to be careful with it, it’s going to get beaten-up and it will be hard to heal.

3) Let your hair stylist know that you have a piercing that is healing and ask them to be cautious around it. Most stylists are happy to take extra care with healing ear piercings.

4) You should ensure that your aftercare/cleaning routine isn’t contributing to the irritation. We suggest using a sterile saline wound wash solution for cleaning your piercing. if your piercing studio doesn’t carry it you can find it at most pharmacies. You should avoid soaps, alcohol, peroxide, pierced-ear solutions and other harsh chemicals, as well as antibiotic ointments and creams. These chemicals are not designed to be inside your body and they will damage the delicate tissue your body is trying to form to heal your piercing.

It’s also VERY important that you touch your piercing as little as possible while it is healing. Touching the piercing and moving the jewelry are two of the most-common reasons people have problems with their piercings.

Having said all of that, not every piercing is going to work for every person (or their lifestyle). If you feel that you are simply tired of dealing with it, or you don’t want to/can’t make the adjustments needed to accommodate the piercing, there is nothing wrong with deciding to remove it.

Hopefully this helps. Good luck!


Clavicle Surface Piercings with a Surface Bar

Surface bar vs. Surface anchor for Clavicle Surface Piercings

clavicle surface piercings with titanium surface bar from Anatometal

clavicle surface piercing with titanium surface bar from Anatometal

This clavicle surface piercing was done on our client, Erin using an implant-grade, titanium surface bar and gems from ANATOMETAL.

Thanks for coming in and for the photo, Erin!

While we’re on the topic of surface piercings, we wanted to share a couple of thoughts:

When it comes to surface piercings, the are two basic options for jewelry: a surface bar or a microdermal/surface-anchor. An experienced, well-trained piercer can discuss the pros and cons of each type of jewelry with you. Sometiems, either style of jewelry will be a good option and the choice might simply come down to aesthetics. However, most of the time, one style of jewelry will be better than the other, for the chosen placement.

Many newer piercers aren’t as experienced (or don’t have any experience) with traditional surface piercings, so they tend to put surface anchors in all surface piercings It takes more technical knowledge, understanding and experience to execute a proper surface piecing with a surface bar. Surface anchors have their uses, but we see a lot of piercings done with surface anchors that would have had a much better chance of long-term success if were done with a surface bar.

All piercings, and especially surface piercings, need to be evaluated for anatomy, movement, lifestyle and a variety of other factors. Once that is done, a skilled, experienced  piercer will be able to determine what style of jewelry will work best. In many applications, a surface bar is the best choice for a surface piercing.

If you’re thinking about getting a surface piercing, be sure to discuss the pros and cons of both surface bars and surface anchors with your piercing. While a surface anchor may be the best choice for you, we suggest being wary of any piercer that rejects surface bars outright.

Triple Forward Helix and Tragus Piercings

triple forward helix and tragus piercings by Nate

triple forward helix and tragus piercings by Nate

Nate and his client whipped up this little DreamTeam of jewelry for her tragus piercing and triple forward helix piercings.

We really can’t get enough of multiple ear piercings with interesting and complimentary jewelry combinations.

Question: Will My Industrial Piercing Hurt?

“I am fifteen and I am going to get my industrial piercing.. im a bit nervous. Does it really hurt as much as most people say?”

Hi there…

Pain from any piercing is going to be different for each person, so there is no way to predict what the pain will be like for you.

What we can tell you is this;

When piercings are done be experienced, competent piercers, the piercing itself should only take a second or two, oftentimes even less. So, any amount of pain you have should be very short-lived and very easy to tolerate.

The biggest mistake we see people make is trying to “fight” the pain or figure out a way to “power through” it. These approaches don’t tend to work very well. We have found that if you can simply accept that the fact that it is going to hurt a little bit, and do your best to stay relaxed and to remember to breathe, it will be over before you know it. 

The idea of the pain is almost always worse than the actual pain when it comes to a piercing.

In our culture we spend so much time going out of our way to avoid even the smallest amounts of pain, that we often forget just how good we, as humans, can be at tolerating pain and discomfort. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and seek pain, but once you make the decision that a bit of pain isn’t something awful to be feared and avoided, we think you will find that coping with even quite a bit of pain becomes must easier.

So remember…relax, breathe and take in the experience for what it is.

Chrysoprase and Amethyst Flower

chrysoprase and amethyst cherry blossom from BVLA

chrysoprase and amethyst cherry blossom from BVLA

It’s almost as if Chrysoprase and Amethyst were meant for each other. Here they are, showing off how well they go together, in a cherry blossom flower from body vision los angeles.

The helix/flat piercing was done by Courtney.

Black and White. Dark and Light.

Faraway ring and Altura from Body Vision Los Angeles

Faraway ring and Altura from Body Vision Los Angeles

The stark contrast of black and white is a classic combination in all areas of fashion and design.Here we’ve paired black diamonds and pearls to achieve that same stunning contrast.

The Faraway ring features black cz’s while The Altura uses black diamond accents with a genuine white pearl in the center.

Both pieces are made by Body Vision Los Angeles.