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Ear piercings

Cartilage
piercings

The ultimate guide to ear cartilage piercings.

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Written by mikey, professional body piercer

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Is a professionally-trained body piercer
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Cartilage piercings are a group of piercings that go through the harder cartilage, and they’re almost always in your ears. Despite being such a small area, the intricate folds of your ear’s cartilage topography lay endless possibilities for creativity when it comes to piercings. This guide will show you the most popular types of cartilage piercings, their names, pros and cons, how long they take to heal and more.

Cartilage piercings benefits, pros and cons

Each piercing can have slightly different benefits, pros and cons, but here are some of the facts that apply to all of them:

  • Pro: They look AWESOME!
  • Pro: You can be as creative as you want and group lots together to create awesome combos in a small space.
  • Pro: The piercing itself rarely hurts as much as you think it will.
  • Pro: They suit all genders.
  • Pro: There are loads of different jewelry types that suit most placements.
  • Con: Cartilage always takes longer to fully heal than a surface or regular skin piercing like your ear lobe (the soft flappy part at the bottom of your ear). Expect a minimum 3-6 months to fully heal for any cartilage piercing.
  • Con: Especially during the healing phase, they can be annoying when you wear headphones. There are ways around this but always bare this in mind.
  • Pro + Con: Once you get one, you’ll get addicted and want more!

Types of cartilage piercings

Here’s a list of the most common cartilage ear piercings, starting from most popular to the less-popular ones.

Tragus piercing with labret (flat-backed) stud

Tragus Piercing

A tragus piercing is undoubtedly the most popular cartilage piercing which is located on the small piece of cartilage that protrudes just in front of the ear canal. It is typically adorned with a small captive bead ring or a labret stud, although barbells and curved barbells are also used. This type of piercing is known for its versatility, allowing individuals to experiment with various jewelry options such as delicate studs, hoops, or even dainty chains connecting multiple piercings. It is important to note that tragus piercings may require longer healing times and careful aftercare due to the location, and it can sometimes get in the way if you wear earbuds.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Learn more about tragus piercings

Daith piercing with ring

Daith Piercing

The daith piercing is placed through the innermost fold of cartilage of the ear, just above the ear canal opening. This particular piercing has gained attention for its alleged ability to alleviate migraine symptoms, although scientific evidence is limited. Daith piercings are commonly adorned with curved barbells, captive bead rings, or circular barbells. The jewelry options for daith piercings are diverse, ranging from decorative studs to intricate rings with ornate designs, allowing individuals to personalize their style while enjoying the piercing’s unique placement.

They can, however, be a bit in the way if you wear earbud-style headphones.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Learn more about daith piercings

A double flat piercing (very similar to a helix piercing in this area)

Helix/Flat Piercing

Helix and flat piercings refer to the piercing of the upper ear cartilage. The helix piercing is situated on the outer edge of the cartilage, while the flat piercing is done on the flat portion closer to the head on the “flat spot” in the upper part of the ear. These piercings are typically adorned with studs, captive bead rings, or hoop earrings. For helix piercings, individuals often opt for delicate studs or hoops, while flat piercings offer more surface area for larger and more ornate jewelry, including ear cuffs and cascading chains.

Helix and flat piercings are technically two different piercings, but you can get flat piercings in the helix area close to the rim of your ear. The main difference is where the jewelry comes out on the back side of your ear – flats will point straight on towards the back of your head, whilst a helix is more in the back of the rim so it better suits ring-type jewelry once it’s fully healed.

A flat piercing can be anywhere in the top-third portion of your ear, as long as it goes straight through and out the back. These are one of my personal underrated favorites, especially when it’s a double flat!

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Rook Piercing

The rook piercing is located on the inner ridge of the upper ear cartilage, just above the tragus. It is known for its unique placement, making it an eye-catching addition to one’s ear jewelry collection. Rook piercings are often pierced with curved barbells or captive bead rings. Many people choose to embellish their rook piercing with dainty hoops or intricate studs to highlight its distinct position and add a touch of individuality to their overall ear piercing arrangement.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Conch piercing with gemstone stud

Conch Piercing

A conch piercing can be found on the large, flat portion of the ear cartilage, either in the inner or outer conch area. There are two primary types: inner conch and outer conch piercings. Inner conch piercings are typically adorned with captive bead rings, curved barbells, or studs. On the other hand, outer conch piercings offer a larger surface area, allowing for more prominent jewelry options such as large hoops, ear cuffs, and decorative studs. The conch piercing provides ample opportunities for creativity and customization, enabling individuals to showcase their personal style.

Like daith piercings, the placement can mean it might get bumped a lot if you wear AirPods or other earbud headphones. It’s not normally a big issue, but a lot of people often say it’s a bit uncomfortable when it’s still healing.

Usually fully heals within: 3-12 months

Industrial/Scaffold Piercing

The industrial or scaffold piercing involves connecting two separate holes in the upper ear cartilage with a single piece of jewelry, creating a bold and striking look. The jewelry used for this piercing is usually a long straight barbell, passing through both holes. Industrial piercings offer a wide range of jewelry options, including barbells with decorative ends, chains connecting the two holes, or even multiple piercings along the length of the barbell. The industrial piercing demands careful consideration of placement and proper aftercare due to its unique nature.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Anti-Tragus Piercing

The anti-tragus piercing is situated opposite the tragus, on the raised area of cartilage above the lobe. It is typically adorned with captive bead rings, curved barbells, or labret studs. This piercing presents an opportunity for elegant and delicate jewelry, including small studs, gemstone-encrusted rings, and intricate hoop earrings. Anti tragus piercings are often chosen to add a subtle yet stylish accent to the ear, allowing individuals to express their individuality in a more understated manner.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Forward Helix Piercing

The forward helix piercing involves piercing the front portion of the upper ear cartilage, closer to the face. It is typically adorned with small studs, labret studs, or curved barbells. Due to its position, forward helix piercings offer a unique opportunity for creative arrangements, such as pairing multiple piercings along the curve or incorporating decorative chains. Individuals often choose dainty studs with colorful gemstones or minimalist designs to highlight the delicacy and elegance of this piercing.

Usually fully heals within: 3-6 months

Snug Piercing

The snug piercing, also known as the anti-helix, is located on the inner cartilage ridge that runs parallel to the outer edge of the ear. It is often adorned with captive bead rings or curved barbells. Snug piercings offer an edgy and unconventional look, and individuals often experiment with various jewelry styles to complement its distinctive placement. Hoops with decorative charms, twisted designs, or customized barbells are popular choices, allowing individuals to create a unique and eye-catching aesthetic.

Usually fully heals within: 3-12 months

Orbital cartilage piercing

Orbital Piercing

The orbital piercing involves two separate holes that are connected by a single piece of jewelry, forming a circular pattern around the upper ear. This piercing can be placed in different areas, such as the helix or the lobe, allowing for various creative possibilities. Circular barbells, captive bead rings, or even curved barbells are commonly used for orbital piercings. Individuals can showcase their personal style by selecting jewelry with unique shapes, intricate patterns, or by combining different materials and gemstones to create a captivating orbital arrangement.

Usually fully heals within: 4-8 months

Ready to get a cartilage piercing?

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