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The Ultimate Guide to Ear Piercings: All of the Piercings, Explained

Looking to get another piercing but don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered and cuffed. Here’s your ultimate guide to ear piercings—everything you need to know to get your ear party started:

Maison Miru Ear Party

Tragus Piercing

Sorry, what’s a tragus?

Tragus sounds more like an obscure dish on a menu, rather than a part of the ear. The tragus is the little flap of cartilage on the side of your face that covers your ear canal. Fun fact? Your tragus cartilage helps you hear rear facing sounds, and it also protects your external ear and concha. And it’s one of the most common parts of your ear cartilage to pierce – we just love the look.

Does a tragus piercing hurt?

Not going to lie – tragus piercings do hurt, as the tragus is a cartilage piercing and is going to be harder to pierce than an earlobe. Thankfully the pain is sharp and short - according to professionals, what’s actually uncomfortable is more the pressure on your ear canal rather than the pain of the piercing itself. If you feel nervous about the pain, a tragus piercing might something to build up to—it’s not wrong to start with a lobe piercing or two instead. It’s like building up to super healthy green juice-- you want to start with a more friendly one, like one that has apple for sweetness.

What are the best earrings for my new tragus piercing?

Tragus piercings really help you get your ear party started. Hoops, flatback earrings, and horseshoe styles all look fantastic on your tragus. As for sizing, a 6mm or 8mm hoop or flatback earring are standard for your tragus piercing.

What else should I know about sizing?

You should also know what thickness of post you’ll want for your tragus piercing.  Tragus piercings, like all ear cartilage piercings, are typically pierced with a 16 gauge needle, which is 1.2mm thick.  (By comparison, your standard lobe piercing uses a 20 gauge needle, which is 0.81mm thick.) Ideally, you should wear 16 gauge jewelry in your tragus to prevent your your piercing from shrinking. 

We hear from lots of people who wear standard 20 gauge jewelry in their tragus (not recommended!), and sometimes when you do this, your piercing will close up a bit. If your piercing has shrunk over time, you may want to try earrings that are 18 gauge in size, or 1.0mm thick.

How long does it take for a tragus piercing to heal?

A tragus piercing takes about three to six months to heal. Other things you should know?  It’s a bummer, but you’re not advised to wear headphones to avoid irritation. This might be tough for us music addicted airpod lovers. Your tragus piercing will heal within six months, but it’s recommended to wear the jewelry you were pierced with for a full year.  You should also clean the stud regularly as specified by your technician.  

Anti-Tragus Piercing

What’s an Anti-Tragus piercing?  Is this the opposite of the tragus?

Nope, the anti-tragus isn’t opposite the tragus -  it’s the relatively small vertical lip of cartilage above the earlobe and across from the tragus.  

Does an anti-tragus piercing hurt?

The anti-tragus is a part of your ear cartilage, so yes, piercing your anti-tragus can be painful.  Think of it as a 5 or 6 out of 10 on the pain scale – and no more painful than any other cartilage piercing. If you’ve had another cartilage piercing, this will feel similar.

What are the best earrings for my new anti-tragus piercing?

Your new anti-tragus piercing is the perfect way to show off more unique jewelry styles. You can wear hoops, flatback earrings, circular barbells, ball closure rings, and curved barbells to your ear party. You’ll just want to make sure your anti-tragus is large enough to support some of the thicker, larger pieces of jewelry – or if your anti-tragus is small, choose more delicate, dainty styles.

What should I know about jewelry sizing for an anti-tragus piercing?

Your anti-tragus will generally be pierced with a 16 gauge needle, so you’re going to want 16 gauge jewelry, which has a post that’s 1.2mm thick. The thicker post width prevents the hole from closing in the sturdier cartilage. However, sometimes your piercing will start to close up over time – in that case, you can wear 18 gauge jewels (1.0mm thick).  Unless you want your piercing to close up though, you should avoid the standard 20 gauge (0.81mm thick) earrings that you typically wear in your earlobes.  

How long does it take for an anti-tragus piercing to heal?

Your anti-tragus piercing will take between two months and four months to minimally heal with proper aftercare.  And similar to a tragus piercing, an anti-tragus cartilage piercing can take up a year to heal fully.  It all depends on the size and thickness of your anti-tragus, so listen to your piercer’s aftercare instructions.  

Daith Piercing

First up, what’s a daith piercing?  And how do you pronounce daith?

A daith piercing, pronounce “doth,” is on the smallest fold of cartilage in your ear right where the outer ridge of your ear meets your inner ear above the ear canal. This small area of cartilage can sometimes be challenging to pierce given the awkward location. But this piercing remains popular because of its unique silhouette – a hoop in a daith piercing is just so beautiful.

Does the awkward position of a daith piercing mean it hurts more?

While the daith is in a tricky position, a daith piercing shouldn’t hurt any more than any other cartilage piercings. However, you should know that this piercing can take up to 10 seconds to complete because it needs to be in such a precise position. Cartilage piercings are still relatively low pain compared to other body parts-- thankfully.

What are the best earrings for a daith piercing?

Generally, you’ll want to wear small hoops in your new daith piercing. It’s one of the few piercings where the default recommendation is a hoop,  given the super narrow position of this piercing. While hoops add sparkle and structure to your ear party, you can also try a barbell style piece for a more simple, classic look.

What should I know about jewelry sizing for my new daith piercing?

Like other cartilage piercings, the daith is pierced with a 16 gauge needle, which is 1.2mm thick.  You’ll want 16 gauge earrings to fit your daith.  If, however, you’ve been wearing earrings with thinner posts in your daith, you may want to try earrings with slightly thinner 18 gauge posts (1.0mm thick). 

How long will it take for my daith piercing to heal?

Similar to most cartilage piercings, daith piercings can take a long time to heal--especially since the awkward positioning can prolong the healing process. But with careful aftercare, a daith piercing can take anywhere between 4 and 12 months to heal completely.

Rook Piercing

What’s a rook piercing?  Is this like the chess piece?

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your skill level), the rook piercing has nothing to do with the chess piece. The rook is the “perforation of the anti-helix” aka the cartilage ridge between your outer and inner ear above your tragus. This small ridge of cartilage isn’t normally very noticeable, but with the right jewels , it can become the star of your ear party.

How much does a rook piercing hurt?  

A rook piercing is a cartilage piercing, so it isn’t as easy as a standard lobe piercing. But, the short, sharp pain should only ache for about 30 minutes. However, if your pain tolerance is low, you can ask your piercer for numbing options or take a non-prescription strength pain killer beforehand.

What are the best jewels to highlight my rook piercing?

Most piercing artists will insert a curved barbell into a new rook piercing, but after the healing period, you can get creative. Given how narrow the rook is, you’re best off with delicate, dainty jewelry – but IMHO, the best things come in small packages! Given that you probably won’t change out the jewelry in your rook very often, make sure you love the jewelry you choose. You have a ton of jewelry options including (but not limited to) curved barbells, hoops, and flatback studs.

What should I know about jewelry sizing for a rook piercing?

Your piercer will probably be using a 16 gauge needle that’s 1.2mm thick – which is thicker than your standard lobe piercing, which uses a 20 gauge needle that’s 0.81mm thick.  You’ll want jewelry with posts that are as thick as the needle you’re pierced with, so your piercer will typically use a curved barbell with 16 gauge thickness. Because the rook is so thin, you may want to wear a daintier earring with a slimmer post over time – you may also want to try 18 gauge earrings that are 1.0mm thick.

How long does it take for a rook piercing to heal?

The rook piercing requires some commitment as it can take anywhere from 6 months to up to 18 months to heal. It really depends on your personal anatomy.  For the quickest healing time, carefully follow the aftercare instructions your piercer gave you. 

Helix Piercing 

What’s a helix piercing?  This isn’t DNA, right?

The word helix refers to the structure of DNA - and also the upper cartilage of the ear. Fun fact? You can get up to three successive piercings called double and triple helix piercings.

How much does a helix piercing hurt?

Good news - helix piercings aren’t pain free, but they hurt less than other cartilage piercings because of the lack of nerve endings in the upper ear,. While the perforation itself doesn’t cause much pain, your helix piercing can become red and itchy after a few days .

What jewelry should I wear in my helix piercing?

While traditionally helix piercings (or a series of them – so beautiful!) are decorated with small hoops, you can also try flatback studs and small bars. We love the look of multiple small hoops (of decreasing size) on an ear with a series of helix piercings – classic but anything but basic.

What size should your helix jewels be?

Like most cartilage piercings, helix piercings are typically pierced with 16 gauge needles that are 1.2mm thick. The helix is still cartilage, which is why you’ll have a larger needle and the associated thicker post size. If your helix piercing starts to close up, you can also try wearing earrings with 18 gauge posts that are 1.0mm thick.  If you can, avoid the standard 20 gauge earrings that you’d typically wear in your lobes, as as these thin earrings can cause your helix piercings to close up.  

How long does it take for a helix piercing to heal?

A helix piercing can be fully healed within 6 months – faster than many other cartilage piercings. Between the lower pain threshold and the faster healing time for helix piercings, it’s a great next piercing to get when you’re ready to move beyond standard lobe piercings.

Forward Helix Piercing

What’s a forward helix piercing? Is there also a backwards helix piercing?

Your forward helix is actually the small outer rim of cartilage at the top front of your ear. The forward helix is directly across the ear from the normal helix. Forward helix piercings have been increasing in popularity – it’s a youthful, edgy look and works for multiple piercings.

Does the forward helix piercing hurt more than the standard helix?

Not really – the difference in pain between piercing the normal and forward helix is very low. However, you should know that the forward helix cartilage has more nerve endings than the normal helix, so it could be slightly more sensitive. Most people would rate the forward helix piercing as a five out of ten on the pain scale (standard for a cartilage piercing) but this number really depends on your pain tolerance.

What jewels will up my forward helix game?

Generally flatback studs are the jewelry of choice for the forward helix piercing. It’s possible to wear small hoops in your forward helix piercing, but they can cause irritation and inflammation around the area. Fun fact? You can have up to three consecutive forward helix piercings, which allows for fun trios of studs.

What size is normal for flatback studs for my forward helix?

It depends what size needle your piercer used for your forward helix piercing.  If you had a 16 gauge needle (1.2mm thick), go for 16 gauge earrings so your piercing won’t start to close up.  If you used a 18 gauge needle (1.0mm thick), go for the slightly thinner 18g studs. Both sizes are standard for a forward helix piercing.  As for post length, both ¼” and 5/16” are pretty standard sizes.

How long will it take for my forward helix piercing to heal?

Your forward helix piercing will take a minimum of 3 months to heal, but it can take up to 6 months.

Snug Piercing

What is a snug piercing?

The snug piercing is a horizontal piercing through the inner ridge of the ear cartilage. While this piercing is mostly located above the anti-tragus, the position of this piercing can also be extended into anywhere in the upper inner ear.  

Given the variety of locations, how much does a snug piercing hurt?

As the inner ear cartilage is very thick, snug piercings are often considered one of the most painful ear piercings. The pain depends on the location and thickness of the cartilage, so before getting a snug piercing, ask your piercer about expected pain for the specific location you would like.

What kind of jewelry should I wear in a snug piercing?

Given that the snug piercing is a horizontal piercing, normally straight bars, banana barbells, curved rings, or horseshoes look best on this flat or ridged part of cartilage. But the jewelry you choose should really depend on the natural curvature of your ear - so be sure to investigate all options.

What size should my snug jewels be?

Like most cartilage piercings, a standard 16 gauge needle (1.2mm thick) is usually used to pierce your inner ear. So that your snug piercing doesn’t close up, wear 16 gauge jewelry to keep your piercing open – this will allow you to change up your look once your piercing heals.

How long does it take for a snug piercing to heal?

The snug piercing can take up to 9 months to heal. You should also know that the snug piercing inner ear location is not a friend to your smartphone, or pillow for that matter, as the snug piercing can be particularly infection prone. So be sure to sleep on your opposite side and opt for headphones when you have to take a call.

Inner/Outer Conch Piercing

What’s a conch piercing? Isn’t that a shell?

You’re totally right - the part of the ear called the conch looks quite similar to the shell found in tropical regions. The conch is the inner part of your ear, and there are two main regions of this middle cartilage: the inner and outer conch. The lower half is generally known as the inner conch whereas the upper half is generally known as the outer conch.

How much does an inner or outer conch piercing hurt?

How much a conch piercing hurts depends on whether you’re using a needle or a dermal punch. A needle piercing would be about the same level of pain as most cartilage piercings – about a 5 out of 10 on the pain scale. However, a dermal punch, which allows you to wear larger gauge earrings, can be very painful as the piercing is actually removing the tissue to create a larger hole. Before committing to a dermal punch, you’ll want to know that the hole is permanent and visible when your not wearing jewelry.

What kind of jewelry should I wear in my conch piercing?

You have a lot of freedom when choosing jewelry for your new conch piercing! Frankly, the sky's the limit, as bars, studs, and hoops all look amazing on your conch. However, when you first get your piercing, hold off on heavy jewelry, as the weight will slow down the healing process.

What should I know about sizing for my conch jewelry?

As with most cartilage piercings, your piercer will probably use a standard16 gauge needle that’s 1.2mm thick. So when you change out your jewelry,  be sure to stick with 16 gauge earrings to keep your piercing fully open. However, if you decide to go for a dermal punch, be sure to consult with your piercer about gauge sizes as you’ll have the option to wear chunkier, heavier jewels.

How long does a conch piercing take to heal?

Depending on the location of the piercing and weight of the jewels, a needle conch piercing can take anywhere from 6 months to 12 months to heal fully. Be careful to avoid touching the area and changing the earrings before it’s completely healed as conch piercings can get infections. Dermal punch piercings take longer to heal; you’ll want to consult with your piercer about appropriate aftercare and expected healing time.

Orbital Piercing

What’s an orbital piercing? How does a piercing orbit?

This beautiful piercing consists of two holes connected with one single ring - hence the clever “orbital” name. You’ll most commonly see this piercing on the central helix, but an orbital piercing can be done anywhere on your ear. An orbital piercing is a really beautiful, unique look that’s gaining in popularity – but it requires some thoughtful consideration first.

How much does an orbital piercing hurt?

While this piercing doesn’t hurt any more than any other cartilage piercing, it’s worth noting two holes are being pierced not just one. This will make the piercing process longer, and it’s slightly harder to put on and take off jewelry since the hoop needs to be carefully inserted through both piercings.

What jewels should I wear in my orbital piercing?

It’s an orbital piercing, so circular jewels FTW. While a hoop is the most classic, common choice, you could also try horseshoe rings or curved barbells to add to your ear party. It’s super important to get the diameter of your preferred jewelry correct, as the jewelry needs to thread through both piercings.

What should I know about sizing for an orbital piercing?

Generally, your piercer will use a 16 or 14 gauge hoop since the orbital piercing includes two separate cartilage piercings. It’s also worth noting the diameter of said hoop is highly individual – your piercer will figure out the best places to pierce given the anatomy of your ears. Make sure you ask your piercer what diameter hoop you’ll want to wear, as you have to get the sizing exactly right.

How long does it take for an orbital piercing to heal?

How long it takes for an orbital piercing to heal depends on the exact location of your orbital piercing. A lobe orbital piercing can heal in as little as 6 weeks - but an orbital cartilage piercing can take up to a year to heal properly. IMHO, a lobe orbital piercing (so beautiful!) might be a good place to start - especially if you’re not ready to commit to the lengthy healing time that’s required for cartilage piercings.

Industrial Piercing

What’s an industrial piercing? How can a piercing be industrial?

The name of this piercing comes from the traditional jewelry used in this piercing – an industrial looking barbell. This piercing requires two cartilage piercings on opposite sides of the top of your ear, which you connect with the barbell. While it’s traditionally located at the top of the ear, an industrial piercing can be placed across any part of the ear.

How much does an industrial piercing hurt?

Since an industrial piercing goes through the rim cartilage of the ear, the pain is actually relatively low for a cartilage piercing. However, since you are getting two separate piercings, remember that you have to go through the process twice.

What jewels, or bars in this case, would look best on my industrial piercing?

While your industrial piercing is healing, you have two main options: you can go straight to a barbell, or you can wear two different studs. While the name and appeal of this piercing comes from the barbell, it’s not the only type of jewelry to wear in your industrial piercing.  Once your piercing has healed, you can feel free to change it up with hoops, flatback studs, horseshoes or really, whatever sparks your imagination.

What should I know about sizing for my barbell?

The barbell going across your ear needs to be thick and sturdy. Your piercer will probably use a super thick 14 gauge needle for the piercing. To keep your piercing from closing up over time, it’s key to always wear 14 gauge jewelry, whether it’s a barbell, studs, or hoops.  It’s certainly not piercing that you’re going to want to redo!  

How long will it take for my industrial piercing to heal?

It really varies.  Industrial piercings can take up to 6 months to heal  - but they also can heal within a month if you don’t have any complications. A common strategy for a quick, easy healing process is wearing studs for the first month then switching to a barbell. Other things you should know: getting industrial piercings on both ears on the same day doesn’t bode well for sleeping comfortably. If you want industrial piercings on both ears, it's best to wait for one ear to completely heal before getting the other piercing.

Auricle Piercing

What’s an auricle piercing?  This sounds like a term from Harry Potter.

The auricle isn’t a mythical object or person – rather, it’s the small space on your ear between your helix (outer fold) and earlobe. The auricle has gained popularity because it’s a great location to wear classic chic hoops.

How much does an auricle piercing hurt?

Thankfully, the auricle piercing is one of the least painful ear piercings. The auricle cartilage is relatively thin, so this piercing will hurt less than most other cartilage piercings (but still a little more than a basic lobe piercing). A cartilage piercing with minimal pain? Score!  

What jewelry should I wear in my auricle piercing?

The auricle piercing allows for a lot of creativity when choosing jewelry. While small hoops are popular, they’re by no means your only option. You can try flatback studs, conch pins, and barbells to liven up your ear party.

What size jewelry is right for my auricle piercing?

Your piercer will probably use a standard 16 gauge needle (1.2mm thick) for your auricle piercing.  To keep your auricle piercing open, you’ll want to only wear jewelry with 16 gauge posts.  However, if you’ve worn normal earrings in your auricle piercing, it may close up a bit – and an 18 gauge (1.0mm thick) post might fit you better.

How long does it take for an auricle piercing to heal?

Like other cartilage piercings, your auricle piercing can take anywhere between 3 and 9 months to fully heal.

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