Stretched Lobes: Best Jewelry for Winter

How to Keep Your Stretched Lobes Healthy and Safe in Cold Weather

As winter approaches in Minnesota, bringing with it cruelly-cold temperatures and desert-like dry air, it’s time to start thinking about what you will wear in your stretched lobes. Earlobes are the most common part of the ear that is stretched, but this information applies to all stretched ear piercings. 


If you live somewhere that doesn’t experience cold temperatures, you can probably wear the any type of jewelry in your stretched lobes all year-round. For those of us who deal with very cold temperature, it is usually wise to avoid wearing jewelry made of certain materials, at least for extended periods of time.


Why Are My Stretched Lobes So Cold?

The blood that flows through your earlobes is what keep them warm and keeps them from freezing when exposed to cold temperatures. The skin at the bottom of stretched lobes, where it is the thinnest, usually has less blood flow than the rest of your earlobes. When you reduce the amount of blood flowing through any type of tissue, you reduce your body’s ability to keep that tissue warm. Without enough blood flow, there is an increased chance of frostbite when your stretched lobes are exposed to extremely cold temperatures.

While short exposure to below-freezing temperatures is probably fine, longer exposure times run the risk of being uncomfortable (best-case scenario) as well as frostbite and tissue death (worst-case scenario). Even though the worst-case may be uncommon, it is a real risk if you spend a lot of time outside with stretched lobes.


Best to Avoid

Metal and glass are both excellent conductors of cold, which means they can be poor choices for wintertime wear. Jewelry made of metal and glass gets colder overall, gets colder faster and stays colder longer than jewelry made of other materials. In the wintertime, we suggest avoiding wearing plugs or other jewelry made of metal and glass outside for extended periods of time.

Better Than Metal, But Careful

Materials such as wood, horn and bone conduct cold much less than glass and metal and therefore are better options in the winter. A potential downside to these materials is that they often don’t react well to sudden, large-temperature changes. When you go from to 0 F outside, to 70 F inside, the sudden temperature change can cause wood, horn and bone jewelry to go through thermal shock. Thermal shock can cause jewelry made of natural materials to warp, crack or completely break…especially if there are any weak spots or irregularities in the materials. Damage from thermal shock is more likely to happen with bone and horn than wood, but it can still definitely happen with wood jewelry. Warping, cracking and breaking is also more likely to happen with hanging designs and eyelets than it is with solid plugs due to the thinner areas hanging designs and eyelets have. While less likely, solid plugs can still crack or break.

Stone Cold

For wintertime wear, we are big fans of stone plugs. Like wood, horn and bone, stone does not conduct cold as well as metal or glass. Stone plugs also tend to tolerate sudden temperature changes better than wood, bone and horn, although it can still crack or break. Like horn, bone and wood jewelry, solid plugs are a better choice than eyelets or hanging designs.

One of the best features about stone is that it can absorb and retain heat from your body and the surrounding air. This means your ears will usually stay a bit warmer for longer, even when you are outside.

Silicone

For those who can wear silicone jewelry in your ears, it can be a good alternative for wintertime. While it doesn’t retain body heat in the same way stone does, it also doesn’t conduct cold very well. This will help keep your lobes from getting cold as quickly.

Some people find that silicone can be drying to their stretched lobes. If that’s the case for you, you may find that the drier winter air only makes that situation worse. If you haven’t worn silicone jewelry before, winter may not be the best time to experiment with it.

Other Considerations for Stretched Lobes

As a general rule, the larger your lobes are stretched, the less blood flow they will have and the greater risk of damage from cold exposure. Everyone is different and it is certainly possible to have thicker, healthier lobes at 1” than someone whose lobes are at at 1/2”. The slower and more carefully you stretched your lobes, the healthier they will usually be and the better they will tolerate very cold weather. The picture below is a great example of heathy, stretched lobes at over 2 inches. Even as healthy as they are, the blood flow is still going to be reduced. 

healthy, stretched lobes

Even a healthy, stretched earlobe can have reduced blood flow.

Regardless of the material you wear in your stretched lobes, we suggest wearing solid plugs instead of eyelets or tunnels for a reaon other than durability. Jewelry that is open in the middle allows cold air to get to both sides of the jewelry and your lobes, causing them to get colder faster and to reach an overall colder temperature. In windy conditions, this issue is made even worse as more cold air is moved across your jewelry and lobes.

If you are going to be out in the cold for a long period of time, you may want to consider not wearing any jewelry at all in your stretched lobes. Going “naked” will allow your natural body heat to keep your lobes as warm as possible without having to work against a cold piece of jewelry.

It’s obviously a great idea to cover your ears with a hat, ear warmer band, ear muffs etc, if you can. There are even a few people/companies making “ear mittens” for the specific purpose of keeping stretched lobes warm in cold weather. We don’t have any experience with a specific version of these “mittens”, but it’s hard to imagine any of them not being at least marginally beneficial.

The warmer you keep your ears, the happier and healthier they will be!

You will spend plenty of time planning (and donning) your winter gear this year, so take a little time to plan (and don) something warm for your ears.
We always have a large selection of stone, silicone, horn, wood and bone jewelry in-stock. If we don’t have exactly what you are looking for, we are always happy to order it at no additional cost.

We would really appreciate it if you would share this blog so we can get the word out to as many people as possible. We want all the stretched lobes to be warm and safe this winter!

Have a great winter!

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!

Stack ‘Em If You Got ‘Em!

Maya Jewelry and Diablo Organic jewelry "stacked" to create a fun new combination

Maya Jewelry and Diablo Organic jewelry “stacked” to create a fun new combination

Combining great jewelry from both Diablo Organics and Maya Jewelry, our client a really wonderful new hybrid look. While both pieces definitely have similarities, they clearly come from two different origins, design-wise. Either piece is eye-catching on their own, but when you stack them together, something different and very fashion-forward is created.

Lovely!!

Maya Jewelry

earrings by Maya Jewelry

earrings by Maya Jewelry

Pretty safe to say that Jessi has no fear of patterns and textures. We really dig the way her stacked earrings from Maya Jewelry work together.

One of the wonderful things about piercings and jewelry is that there are so many options available these days that you can truly create your own look. Whether you like to keep it simple and subtle or let everyone know exactly what you are all about, you can make it happen.

Body piercing and tattooing has always been about self-expression and we love that it is easier these days to express yourself than it has ever been.

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Our General Manager got these amazing Kandi plugs from Body Vision Los Angeles as a Christmas gift for his special lady friend. They are rose gold and feature an ocean blue genuine diamond highlighted by four ice blue genuine diamond. … Continue reading

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So this sort of amazing stuff has been happening at the shop!