Plug Styles Decoded and A Bit About Stretching

Stretched piercings are some of the hottest looks around. Stretching your piercings isn’t even confined to just your earlobes, either! People are rocking stretched conchs, stretched lip piercings, and even stretched nostrils. But if you’re going to stretch your piercings, you’ll need plugs to put in them….and that’s where things can seem slightly confusing. That’s why we’re going to take a moment to discuss plug styles and some of the pros and cons of each.

First of all, let’s talk terms. Many plugs feature a charm end, with at least one larger lip to it that is too big to easily pass through the piercing and helps hold the jewelry in place. This is what’s referred to as a “flare”. Some plugs don’t have flares but have an hourglass-style shape to them. This helps keep them in while making insertion more comfortable. These are what’s known as saddle plugs. Plugs come in double flare and single flare styles. The single flare plugs have the flare in the front but have straight backs. They use O-rings to hold them in place. Plugs that have no flaring and use O-rings on both the back and front are called “straight plugs”. There are even plugs that have a flare on the front and a back portion that screws onto the jewelry to hold it in place. These are screw-fit plugs. Nearly all of these are great options for healed stretches. Double flare plugs are recommended for well-healed stretches only as it can take time for the tissue to relax enough to allow the flare to fit through the piercing.

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There are a few other styles of plug, although they will largely be one of the shapes described above. First there’s tunnel plugs. These are any style of plug with a large opening that allows you to see through the piercing – exactly like the name says! There are also tunnel plug earrings. These aren’t actual plugs but hanging earrings that you would wear with a pair of tunnel plugs. There are ear weights, which are heavy charms that dangle from a plug or taper-shaped jewelry. These are designed to help continue stretching your lobes by allowing their weight to help stretch the skin. And then there are shaped plugs such as coffins, teardrops, and U-shaped jewelry called a “spreader”. These can all range from extremely simple designs to upscale and ornate.

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Now that we understand style basics, let’s talk a bit about materials. Plugs come in a vast array of materials. The most commonly found would be metals like stainless steel, titanium, or gold. Stone, wood, and other organic materials are also widely used and offer a unique, and often one-of-a-kind, appearance. Glass is fantastic for stretching with, especially when using single flare plugs. It’s easily cleaned, allows for a smooth insertion, and removes any possibility of metal allergies. Silicone plugs are comfortable and lightweight but aren’t recommended for healing stretches. The lack of airflow to the skin can lead to issues with moisture and healing skin tissue. Finally, there are acrylic plugs. These are also lightweight and come in a wide range of styles but should also never be used for healing stretches.

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If you’re going to be stretching your piercings at home, remember a few tips. Slow and steady is the way to go! Rushing the process can lead to tearing or even something called a blowout. A blowout is when the skin inside the fistula (piercing hole) turns itself inside out. You don’t want this. Keep your piercing well lubricated with a skin-friendly oil and massage the area regularly to aid with healing. Make sure you are well healed before attempting to size up and if you see bleeding or feel tearing, stop immediately.

Now you should have all the basic info you need to get started on your stretching adventure! Happy piercing!