A surprisingly common allergy in people who have piercings and are stretching their lobes is nickel. So while you are healing, if possible, source nickel-free earrings and metal to help the healing process. Metal tapers and tunnels are ideal as they don’t absorb any fluid and are easy to keep very clean. However, after your piercing has healed, you might want to have a lighter and more colorful alternative. Acrylic plugs and tunnels come in two kinds, hard acrylic and soft silicone.

Soft Plugs

Silicone is a soft and flexible material that is non-reactive and easy to put in. Silicone, the same stuff they make muffin trays out of, remains soft at any temperature too. Due to how soft they are, they make the ideal choice for sleeping in, and if you remove your plugs overnight, then they are quick and easy to put back in, in the morning. Silicone plugs and tunnels are the ideal material for you if you have reached your perfect stretch size, and don’t need firm support for expanding the stretch further. They are so lightweight and soft; you probably won’t even notice you are wearing anything.

Most soft silicone plugs have a jelly-like feel and a soft touch finish – almost matte. However, they feel silky to the touch.

Soft silicone plugs and tunnels are an excellent choice for style and comfort as they come in many different colors and designs. Not only that, but they are very cost-effective.

Hard Acrylic Plugs

Smooth, shiny, non-porous, and hard. Acrylic tunnels and plugs are the perfect choices for piercings that are healed and mature. Due to the hard material, they keep your stretched lobe exactly and the stretch you want. Unlike glass or metal, they won’t apply any pressure to the ear or feel heavy.

If you are used to wearing metal plugs on a cold day, you might notice how cold they feel on your lobes. Acrylic, however, doesn’t do that, and you are likely not to notice any temperature changes at all.

Hard acrylic is a very low maintenance material option for plugs and tunnels. You will need to wash them regularly, just like any other jewelry, but they are sturdy, and you aren’t at risk of removing any top layer colors or coatings – because the pattern and color are part of the plug. They’re relatively sturdy and difficult to snap, crack or shatter.

Hard acrylic is excellent because the material is ideal for creating a range of shapes and finished. You will notice that some acrylic plugs have beautiful and intricate roses, others have a tie-dye almost sweetie-style effect, making it a diverse material option. Acrylic plugs can even look like glass, or be filled with glitter and still maintain it’s smooth and sturdy properties. You will also find a range of shapes, tapers, plugs, tunnels, and hard swirls that mimic the shapes of horns and tribal designs.

Acrylic is budget-friendly, easy to clean, comes in a range of styles and finishes, which makes it an excellent option for your next tunnel or plug.

Cons of Acrylics

While there are many pros to wearing acrylic plugs and tunnels, there are a number of things that many people would rather avoid. Acrylic is an excellent material, cheap and easy to wear for short periods – it isn’t breathable.

Many piercing places will recommend that you don’t use acrylic plugs for extended periods, or in fact, every day.

Unlike steel and glass, you can’t thoroughly sterilize an acrylic plug. And although acrylic is very durable, it breaks down and degrades over time too, if not changed, cleaned and checked you are likely not to notice this until it is too late.

Some people notice that over time they develop a sensitivity to the acrylic, and will need to swap to a more biocompatible material like steel or glass.

Cleaning Your Acrylic Jewelry

The first step when cleaning your plugs and tunnels is to clean your own lobes. When you are wearing a plug or a tunnel inside the stretched lobe, it traps dead skin cells, and over time will let off a very particular smell. The ear funk should be cleaned away regularly.

Wash your hands first, with soap and water. Gently remove your plugs and place them to the side.

To clean your lobe, lather your hands with some mild soap and water, and gently massage around the lobe and the hole. Make sure that you cover the front and the back well. Once you have finished ensuring that you dry the lobe well.

After that, you can give yourself a lobe massage. It is a good idea to massage your ears at least once a week. You can use emu oil, vitamin E oil, or Jojoba oil.

Massaging the lobes of your ears will help to break down scar tissue and make sure there is plenty of circulation to lobes. Remove the excess oil from your hands and lobe.

Use a small amount of liquid soap to clean your acrylic plug. You can use your hand or a cloth to lather the plugin water with some mild soap. Make sure that you remove any of the dead skin cells and dirt. Run the acrylic plug under the tap until there are no more suds. After you have cleaned your acrylic plug, you can dry it on a paper towel or a microfiber cloth.

If this was an organic plug, you would now add oil to the plug. However, you can skip this step with steel, glass, and acrylic plugs.

You should immediately insert the plug back into your ear so that you avoid contaminating your ear or your plug with dirt and bacteria in the area.

Acrylic plugs are relatively easy to take care of, so long as you remember that they don’t need to be oiled. They should regularly be cleaned and not worn for excessive periods of time. Acrylic plugs come in a wide range of designs, from tapers and tunnels to angel wings and ones that look like glass.