Cold weather can be a big problem for stretched piercings, especially for those at a large gauge or with particularly thin lobes, so I thought I might share some of my experience and suggest some ways to keep your lovely modifications at their best.
Caution: long post ahead :)
1. Firstly, put a little thought in to your jewellery materials:
♥ Wood is a great material because it doesn't tend to get too cold.
However, wood can get really dry so keeping them well oiled is important. Also, avoid wood if the weather is damp; moisture will be absorbed by the wood and your jewellery will expand, which could potentially cause your skin to split or even a blowout.
Remember, wood jewellery is porous and can hold germs and infections, so it shouldn't be worn in freshly stretched piercings. Keep it for well healed ones.
♥ Acrylic and I have a love/hate relationship.
I know, of course, that acrylic is not for long term use. Acrylic can react with your skin and begin to break down. Toxic chemicals are released during this process and can be absorbed by your skin.
However, some of my favourite plugs (those from BMA Modified and UK Custom Plugs) are made from acrylic and I've always made a point of wearing them for short amounts of time, so thus far I've had no problems with acrylic jewellery (touch wood).
Like wood, acrylic is porous, so it's not a good idea to wear in fresh stretches or new piercings, and I wouldn't leave it in even well healed piercings for long periods of time.
♥ Silicone and I have an entirely hate relationship.
Around a year ago I tried some silicone tunnels in my very well healed 12mm (1/2") lobes. Shortly after popping them in my ears started to get this tight, tingly/itchy feeling in them. I took them out to find teeny tiny red splits in both my lovely lobes! I'd bought the right size, my stretches were well healed and I don't think I was allergic to the material, so I don't understand what went wrong.
My lobes are now 18mm and I haven't touched silicone since, the health of my lobes is just too important to me.
Even though I had a bad experience I know so many people that absolutely swear by silicone in Winter, especially the solid plugs. They don't really get cold and they're really comfy (or so I'm told).
I unfortunately haven't yet experienced either glass or stone plugs, so any advice I could give would be entirely second-hand.
2. Second, use products that will help keep your lobes in great shape:
Ear Butter: Sam & Pat's, $6.99. Jojoba Oil: Body Art Forms, $4.52-$27.20
♥ Ear butters are one of my favourite products for my lobes. They're not as messy as oils, and usually have this nice earthy kind of smell.
Holey Butt'r is probably the one you've heard of. It's the first one I used because so many people absolutely raved about it, but I found the little pot to be really small and that I used it up really quickly.
Sam & Pat's is the second ear butter I've used, and I prefer it by far. The tub is a little bigger, even though it's cheaper than Holey Butt'r, and after a year I'm only around two thirds of the way down my little pot. The butter also feels a little waxier than the soft, melty Holey Butt'r, so I find it easier to control how much of it I use.
♥ Oils are definitely the most often recommended product when it comes to stretching your ears. Not only do they keep your ears moisturized and yummy, but they also keep your organic jewellery (eg. Wood) from drying out. Oils and ear butters are great in Winter because if you give your lobes a really good massage as you're applying them, it will encourage good circulation and help prevent things like frostbite.
Vitamin E oil, Jojoba oil, Emu Oil are all great and, as well as the circulation benefits, help break down any scar tissue that's formed in your stretched lobes and so make it easier for you to stretch up in the future. They help keep your lobes soft and supple.
You can buy oils from body jewellery and body modification stores and websites (eg. Body Art Forms), but they're exactly the same as the ones you can get from health shops, just usually more expensive.
3. Thirdly, get some really awesome accessories to help keep you toasty:
♥ Ear muffs would probably be the first thing you'd think of, but you can also get ear muff headphones! I discovered these accidentally and think they're a really cool idea. You can keep your ears warm while listening to your favourite music. Win-win scenario if you ask me.
♥ Next, of course, is the flappy ear hat, or the trapper hat. I unfortunately can't pull off hats, but I really like (faux) fur trapper hats. The flaps will keep your ears lovely and warm and your jewellery choices are probably less of an issue.
♥ Another awesome discovery is plug mittens! I can't remember how I stumbled across these, but I think they're the coolest idea ever. As you can see from the photo above they're little knitted warmers for your ear lobes and you pop them on over your plugs and they keep your lobes nice and warm. I think they're a pretty new thing, but you can find them on Etsy by Plug Mittens Official and Knifty Creations.
I apologise that this post ended up way longer than I intended!
If there's anything that you think I've forgotten or anything that you'd like to recommend then just leave me a comment and I'll add it to the list. I hope it's been helpful and will maybe help your lobes looking and feeling lovely. ♥