There is no such thing as too many earrings — but there is a practical problem of not having enough piercings to showcase your curation all at once. The solution? Get a curated and chic stack of holes to stick studs and hoops and all other jewels into. The issue? Expanding the landscape of your ear piercings is not foolproof or intuitive, especially if you don’t want it to look too cluttered or chaotic. So Bustle spoke to experts for the lowdown on different ear piercings to help you strategize before booking an appointment.
First things first: There are two basic categories of ear piercings — non-cartilage and cartilage. The former is on places like the lobe, aka areas with thin skin that are associated with a less painful piercing. Cartilage piercings, on the other hand, are where the skin is thicker and harder, which means these tend to be higher on the pain scale — think of tragus and helix piercings as prime examples.
Whether you sit down with a professional piercer and plot out the final vision of your ear or curate your lobes piecemeal, there are certain things experts say you need to know about rocking multiple piercings. Read on for guide along with some chic ear piercing ideas for inspo.
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What To Know Before Getting Multiple Piercings On One Ear
Although it can be tempting to deck your lobes with all of your dream piercings at once, your safest bet is to only get two done at a time, says Studs piercer Ash Abrego. “The more piercings you get at once, the more trauma you are putting your body through,” she explains. This means there will be a higher chance of irritation, she says, which can hinder the healing process.
It can be wise to work on one ear at a time, says Tim Bovasso, piercing experience manager at Banter By Piercing Pagoda. “Have [your piercings] performed on the same side so you can use the other ear to sleep on and talk on the phone,” he tells Bustle. Once the first ear is healed enough, you can move to the other side.
In your journey for an adorned ear, Abrego recommends starting simple with lobe piercings. “They have the shortest healing time and will give you a chance to test out ear piercings,” she says. This means the two “default” or traditional piercings on the lower part of the lobe.
Then you can go for the more complex ones, like the helix, flat, and tragus, says Bovasso. He suggests grouping your piercings by healing time and complexity. For example, two side-by-side lobe piercings will heal at a similar rate while cartilage piercings will be a longer process (more on that below).
Different Ear Piercings
Now for the fun part: what you can pick from. Below are some of the most popular ear piercings you can get for showing off all your jewelry.
The helix is a cartilage piercing (i.e. more painful) on the upper, curved part of the ear. “I recommend a helix because it’s a highly visible piercing that is very versatile and can support a plethora of styles,” Bovasso says. According to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), these take between two and four months to heal.
The flat piercing is another cartilage piercing and gets its name from being in the, well, flat part of the ear. These also take two to four months to heal, says Abrego.
The tragus is on the innermost part of the ear where the appendage connects to the face. The experts say this is another one of the most common non-lobe piercings — but it’s on the cartilage, so it’s higher on the pain scale and will take roughly two to four months to heal after piercing.
Yet another inner ear spot: “If you were asked to pinch the inside of your ear you would more than likely be grabbing the daith,” Jim Kelly, piercing program training manager at Banter, tells Bustle. The piercing sits deep in your ear a little bit above the ear canal and is typically done with a hoop or circular barbell. As with the other cartilage piercings, it takes two to four months to heal.
The conch is one of the less common ear piercings because its anatomy “varies vastly” from person to person, according to Kelly. The piercing sits on the innermost part of the ear toward the center and is done on a large cartilage surface area. Kelly advises that the initial piercing should always be a flat back stud although this can be changed to a hoop once it’s healed (which takes two to four months).
The rook is another tricky piercing. It is done on the cartilage below a flat piercing but above the daith. “This piercing should be started with a curved barbell,” Kelly says. “Once the piercing is healed [after two to four months or longer] it can be switched to a tight diameter hoop or a curved barbell with more adornments on it.”
Of course, there’s also the lobe, aka the lower part of your ear that’s non-cartilage and is a common spot for first piercings. You can opt for a standard (the first spot on the bottom) or try a high lobe (or both) to stack your earring collection. These have a relatively smaller healing period and take around six to eight weeks, after which you can start switching the jewels you're wearing.
The initial jewelry you’re pierced with will be taken care of by the professional at the studio. Still, there are things you should know to be sure you have a safe and sterile piercing experience. Note that all the aforementioned piercings are initially done with flat-backed studs, says Abrego. “We never pierce with hoops or butterfly-back earrings as these are not as safe for the piercing or healing process,” she explains.
The jewelry you’re pierced with should also be longer in length than typical jewelry. “This will accommodate swelling and allow ease of cleaning,” Bovasso says. When it comes to the actual hardware, you need to be picky and not skimp out on materials. “It is critical to use hypoallergenic, non-oxidative metals with your initial piercing jewelry,” Bovasso says. This means titanium or 14k through 18k gold.
Then, once your piercings are fully healed, there are no rules or limits to how you deck out your lobes. “It is all about balancing the placement of piercings on each ear to suit your personal style,” Abrego explains. Have fun with the curation process.