Photo by aribarker licensed under CC BY 2.0
Are you looking for inspiration for your next ear piercing? Our definitive ear piercings guide will tell you everything you need to know about all the different names, placements, procedure, jewellery types, healing times, aftercare, which ones are the most painful, and much more. We’ve also included pictures too!
Ear piercings are extremely common on females – many girls get their earlobes pierced as small children, but over recent decades there has been a huge increase in male ear piercings too.
Continue reading to explore all the different kinds of ear adornment, and get inspired by the amazing photos and countless combinations below.
Different types of ear piercings
Your ears may be small, but there are more than a dozen different ear piercings placement types to choose from, many of which are cartilage piercings (the tough tissue that’s found in your ears, nose and bone joints). This helpful diagram below shows most of the popular ear piercings, and we’ve also included a brief description for each:
Ear piercing chart/diagram
- Anti Tragus piercing: A piercing that goes through the cartilage just above the ear lobe to the inner side of the “concha” (the bit near your ear canal where your headphones go).
- Cartilage piercing: Refers to any piercing that goes through the cartilage of the ear (the hard parts), which is almost everywhere except your ear lobe.
- Conch piercing: There are two types of conch piercings – inner conch piercings and outer conch piercings. These both go from front to back through the “concha” which is the deeper part of your ear cartilage.
- Daith piercing: A piercing that goes through the notch of cartilage half way up your ear where the ear joins to your head. There’s also a strong belief that daith piercings can heal migraines and anxiety.
- Earlobe piercing: The most common and least painful piercing there is. Earlobe piercings simply pass through the earlobe which is the soft flap of skin right at the bottom of your ear. It’s very common to see double or even triple earlobe piercings too, as well as horizontal transverse lobe piercings.
- Helix piercing: Another very common ear piercing that goes through the cartilage under the outer ridge towards the top of your ear.
- Forward helix piercing: A piercing that goes through the front-upper bit of cartilage right where the ear connects to your head.
- Industrial ear piercing: A long bar that goes through two or more piercings around the upper ridge of your ear cartilage, usually a forward helix and a regular helix on the opposite side.
- Orbital piercing: Usually a double cartilage piercing where a ring connects up via two piercing holes (e.g. connecting the two holes of a double helix piercing with one ring), or goes across several placements (e.g. a large ring through an outer conch around the outside of the ear cartilage).
- Rook piercing: A piercing that goes through the upper bit cartilage that connects the deeper section of your ear with the outer section at the top.
- Snug/anti-helix piercing: Located on the same inner ridge of cartilage as the rook, but about half way down your ear.
- Tragus piercing: A stud or ring located on the small notch of cartilage that pokes out right right above your ear canal connected to your head.
Ear piercing photos
Getting an ear piercing: The procedure
Getting your ear pierced is usually over before you know it! Most professional piercing parlours will have you in and out in about 10-15 minutes, depending on the type of piercing you get.
Here’s a video of some guys getting their ear lobes pierced ^
The ear procedure is pretty simple no matter which one you get, so here’s what you should expect:
- Firstly, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll usually have to read and sign a terms and conditions form about all the risks and procedure. Make sure you read it all carefully before you sign it.
- Once you’re ready, the piercer should make you feel comfortable and sit you down on a chair or side of a table. They will generally ask you a bunch of questions about what you want, and pick out any jewellery if the parlour offers options. They will usually recommend the best jewellery to aid healing. If you’re getting a cartilage piercing, it’s best to take their advice as sometimes rings move around too much and mess with the healing process, but if you want something different, simply ask and they will give you some recommendations.
- Once you’re all ready, your ear and surrounding areas will then be wiped down with an alcohol swab to kill any germs or bacteria. Your ear will feel a little wet which is fine.
- Next, the piercer (with gloves on) will use a special non-toxic skin marker pen to mark where the piercing needle will go then show you in a mirror. Make sure you’re totally happy with the placement and ask any questions or get them to move it and show you again. Remember, if you don’t speak now, you’ll be stuck with it.
- The piercer will get the steralised needle, jewellery, and any tools they need for the job ready. For some ear piercings like lobe or tragus piercings, forceps may also be used to help guide the needle. These look like scissors with a long, skinny stem and a loop at the end to pinch the ear.
- Your piercer should line everything up, get you to take a deep breath in, then during your big deep breath out they will pop the needle through. Depending on the type of piercing, you’ll usually experience about 10-20 seconds of pressure – this is normal.
- Your piercer will then get your jewellery ready, place it against the flat end of the needle and slide it through. This part may be a tad uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds.
- The piercer will clean everything up around your ears. Some ear piercings can bleed a little depending on the placement, if you’re more prone to bleeding/have thinner blood, or you’ve had alcohol or lots of caffeine in the past 24-48 hours. After all, you have just had a needle put through you. (Note: Getting a piercing after you’ve been out drinking is definitely not recommended as it thins your blood and slows down the healing process.)
- Once that’s all done, you can check your new piercing out in the mirror then go show it off to your friends!
If for some reason your piercer doesn’t do any of these, make sure you stop and ask. A good piercer will usually tell you what they’re doing, but if in doubt, always ask!
Pro tip: Always ask for a needle piercing, not from a gun!! Single-use piercing needles are known to be much more sterile than piercing guns. Most pro’s will use needles for everything, but there are still some cheaper piercers or well-known chains (you know who I’m talking about) that still use guns.
Do ear piercings hurt?
Because there are not as many nerves that pass through your ear, most ear piercings don’t hurt all that much during the procedure itself. Depending on your pain tolerance, standard earlobe piercings will be nearly painless and most people only feel a touch of pressure for a few seconds. More difficult ear piercings like industrial or conch piercings hurt much more as they have to pass through much thicker cartilage. Many people describe their ear cartilage piercing experience as “I felt a lot of pressure.”
Least painful ear piercings:
- Earlobe (by far)
Most painful ear piercings:
- Industrial piercing
How much do ear piercings cost?
The cost of ear piercings can differ significantly depending on a number of factors:
- Type of piercing – Some areas on the ear are more difficult to pierce than others.
- Jewellery – Gold and titanium usually costs more than standard jewellery (the most common is surgical steel).
- The location of the store – Inner-city parlours pay way more rent than suburban studios.
- Piercer experience and reputation – Expect to pay more for quality! Actually, we recommend it.. Always do your research and make sure your piercer has lots of experience, especially with the more difficult piercing types.
Hot tip: Always check your piercer’s website for prices or give them a call and ask when you book your appointment. Also make sure you confirm that the costs include jewellery, as there are still a lot of piercing parlours that charge an additional fee for jewellery. If you turn up without a booking, always ask before you even enter the room to get it done – we don’t want you to get stung with crazy fees.
Ear piercing jewellery
Depending on your piercing placement and the style you’re going for, these are the most popular types of ear piercing jewellery:
Ear piercing healing times
|Ear piercing type||Healing time|
|Earlobe piercing||4-6 weeks|
|Transverse lobe piercing||6-8 weeks|
|Anti tragus piercing||3-6 months|
|Conch piercing||6-12 months|
|Daith piercing||3-6 months|
|Helix piercing||3-6 months|
|Industrial piercing||3-6 months|
|Orbital piercing||4-8 months|
|Rook piercing||3-6 months|
|Snug/anti-helix piercing||3-12 months|
|Tragus piercing||3-6 months|
Any cartilage piercing takes a significant amount of time to heal properly as cartilage doesn’t regenerate as fast as skin tissue. This is why it takes a much shorter amount of time on average for earlobe piercings to heal.
Whilst it may seem healed and no longer be painful to touch, it takes much longer than you might realise to fully heal a wound from the inside.
Pro tip: As exciting as it is to start switching your rings out for some different bling, always keep the same jewellery in for as long as you can to let the piercing hole fully heal.
Ear piercing aftercare
Whilst the experience of getting your ears pierced is over pretty quick, the way you look after them for the next few months is crucial to the health and longevity of your piercing. After all, you want to keep it for a long time, right!?
Pro tip: Your new ear piercing is likely to be painful for the first 3-5 days after getting it.
How to clean ear piercings
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
- Use a salt and water mixture or a store-bought salt wash/spray solution to soak the piercing and area around it if you can.
- Dip a swab or cotton-bud (Q-Tip) in the salt water mixture and gently clean the piercing hole and jewellery and wipe away any “crusties” (hardened loose skin), but be careful not to irritate it.
- Very gently slide or move the jewellery back and forth once or twice so the salt water mixture can enter the piercing hole.
- Dab area dry with a clean towel if the area is wet.
Ear piercing infections
Your ear piercings are always out in the open so infections are relatively common during healing, especially on cartilage piercings. Some symptoms of ear piercing infections include:
- Yellow, pus-like discharge
- Red skin
- Throbbing around the area
- A burning or hot sensation
Whilst some infections may clear up on their own, never leave it to chance. Earlobe piercings can usually be treated at home – see this guide from Healthline – however if you suspect your cartilage piercing is infected, contact your piercer and seek medical treatment immediately as infected cartilage is much more serious and may need antibiotics to treat. If in doubt, always seek medical advice.
Stretching your ear piercings
Earlobe piercings are the most popular piercing that people choose to “stretch” to a larger ring thickness using a stretching taper. This is because your earlobes are generally very soft and the skin stretches easily.
Ready to get your ear(s) pierced?
If you’re inspired and ready to get your ear pierced, simply click the button below to find a professional piercer near you.
We hope you’ve learnt a thing or 2 about ear piercings after reading this guide. If you liked it, make sure you share it with your friends…It’d mean that world to us ? If you think something’s missing or you were looking for more information, please let us know on our feedback page.