How Do I Choose The Correct Gauge?
There are standard gauges associated with the most common types of piercing. For example, navel piercings are created using a 1.6mm gauge needle (this means that the needle is 1.6mm thick). So, all the belly bars that you see for sale (whether on the internet or on the high street) have a gauge of 1.6mm - that’s the thickness of the curved section which sits inside your piercing. Likewise for tongue bars, nipple bars, nipple rings and nipple shields - they are all 1.6mm gauge (regardless of the shape). Cartilage (ear) piercings are commonly created with a gauge of 1.2mm gauge, although some are created with a gauge of 1mm. It depends on your piercer, the location of your piercing and often your own personal preference. Lip piercings can be either 1.2mm or 1.6mm gauge, the same with eyebrow piercings. Nose piercings are commonly created with a 1mm needle, although again this can vary (0.8mm and 1.2mm can also be used for nose piercings).
Ear lobe tunnels and plugs are also measured by the gauge. A 10mm plug will fit into an ear lobe piercing which has been stretched to a diameter of 10mm. The same 10mm plug will fall out of a 16mm ear lobe piercing, and you won’t be able to insert it into an 8mm ear lobe piercing because the plug will be too large.
Ear stretchers (tapers, expanders) also use the word ‘gauge’ to refer the thickness of the jewellery - specifically at the widest end of the stretcher. When you see a 6mm stretcher for sale, the thickest end will measure 6mm in diameter (the thinnest end, in comparison, might have a diameter of 1mm or 2mm). If your ear lobe piercing is currently 5mm and you want to stretch it to 6mm, you would need to buy a 6mm stretcher. You would begin by inserting the thinnest end into your piercing and then pushing it through slowly. When the 6mm end is sitting comfortably in your piercing, you will have successfully achieved a 6mm piercing - the diameter of your piercing hole will be 6mm. Don’t go pushing the stretcher through quickly though - very important! We have a ton of advice and tips in our Ear Stretching Guide - it’s an absolute must-read for every new stretching enthusiast.