We have tons of articles focusing on tattoos, but they aren’t the only type of body art in the world. Piercings are a unique way of wearing jewelry that can be swapped out with other designs on a daily basis. On top of that, most piercings will heal over time, so they are not a permanent form of body modification. This makes them appealing to a wider audience and, consequently, more and more people are getting piercings every day. In today’s article, we’ll be talking about all the different types of piercings you can get. For all kinds of general body art resources, check this page.
If you are browsing different types of piercings for yourself, keep in mind that some piercings will heal and display better on certain body types. In example, someone with very little skin around their belly button would have trouble getting a piercing, while someone with attached earlobes may not want to wear hanging jewelry as often. No matter your body type, there is definitely a piercing location…or two, or three…that suits you perfectly! If you want more information on a particular piercing, follow the link to the dedicated article!
Types of Ear Piercings
Ear piercings are the most popular type of piercing. It’s so popular that some parents even choose to get piercings for their babies! I would not recommend doing that, since babies and young children will find a way to get themselves covered in germs, and infections at an early age can be disastrous.
When picking the type of ear piercing you want, it’s best to go by what kind of jewelry you want to wear. If you only want to wear studs, then that rules out conch, auricle, rook, and snug piercings. If you want to wear industrial jewelry, you will want to get piercings in multiple locations. With that in mind, let’s look at the different types of ear piercings!
This is the most basic of the basics in the world of piercings. With little maintenance needed and few complications, this is a good starter piercing. Ear piercing has a history that goes back to the ages before writing. In ancient Egypt, children of high status wore earrings and took them off once they reached adulthood. Similarly, most girls and a few boys in India get their ears pierced for a religious ceremony called Kharnavedha.
This ritual is supposed to open up their inner ears and allow them to hear sacred sounds. Since it is the most popular type of piercing, a huge variety of jewelry is available for it, and many stores will offer it for ‘free’ with the purchase of starter jewelry. Jewelry ranges in shape from dangles to hoops, studs to spikes, and even barbells to chains. Since this is a cartilage piercing, there is minimal to no pain associated with it.
Related Article: Staggering Top Ear Piercings
The auricle is where the helix flattens out and transitions to the lobe. This little nook is ideal for rings and hooks, since jewelry can easily wrap around the lower part of the helix. The best auricle earrings are large hoops that are as close to a loop as possible. These earrings look excellent from all angles and give the illusion that the piercing is bigger than it actually is. If your auricle is particularly flat, you can also wear studs in the area. Studs can be worn by everyone, but individuals with a particularly long or pronounced lower helix will have the appearance of the stud obscured by their natural anatomy.
Conch piercings are located in the second deepest part of your ear—with the first being your ear canal! With conch piercings, subtlety is key—wearing large jewelry is difficult in the area, while even flashy jewelry might go unnoticed because of the location. Small, quaint piercings are a delightful surprise to the person that notices your piercing! There are two different types of piercings—inner and outer. An outer conch piercing is situated in the flat area below your anti-tragus, while an inner conch piercing is closer to the center of your ear.
Top ear piercing is interesting because so many piercings can fit in the same place, allowing you to mix and match your earrings. Helix means spiral in Latin and refers to how the region spirals around your ear. Because the helix also folds over, it is ideal for many different types of piercings. Piercings can go through the helix itself or wraps around the helix. Helix piercings are well suited to any kind of jewelry that doesn’t dangle. Rings and loops are fine, and studs look spectacular.
Related Article: Do Helix Piercing Fit Your Type?
Continuing on with our ear piercing tour, the tragus is the part of your ear that covers the ear canal. The anti-tragus is the other part of your ear that holds inner ear headphones in. Both locations are well suited to rings and studs. Due to their weird location, industrial piercings and dangling jewelry are difficult to pull off stylishly—the ear lobe gets in the way. Despite this, the area is very noticeable and an excellent area to display jewelry. Historically speaking, tragus piercings have not been wildly popular or religiously significant, but they still look awesome.
Related Article: All You Need to Know Before You’re Getting a Tragus Piercing
Also called scaffold piercings, industrial piercings are a little different than the rest of the piercings here. Instead of being attached to a specific part of the body, it simply describes two or more matching piercings that can hold a barbell between them. In other words, it is a group of matching piercings. Because all of the holes have to be made at the same time, along with the fact that large jewelry is easier to jostle, industrial piercings are notoriously painful among cartilage piercings. While the piercings can use small rings to speed up the healing process, there is a high chance that the rings will be misaligned.
The most common type of industrial piercing has both holes going through the helix of the ear. There are some adventurers who opt for more than two piercings for their industrial style and have the barbell split into multiple directions. If you are getting an industrial piercing, take extreme caution while the piercing is healing—it’s very easy to get the bar caught on something, and it could migrate or misalign if it moves too much.
Orbital Industrial Piercings
Orbital Piercings are small-scale industrial piercings. Instead of containing a bar, they contain a loop. They can be placed anywhere with a pinch—that can mean the side of the helix, the rook, the conch, the tragus, you name it! Even the eyelid is possible. Transverse lobe piercings are interior industrial piercings. They go through one part of the ear lobe and out the other, perpendicular to the typical earlobe piercing. Most of the bar is hidden inside of the cartilage.
Ear weaving is the most difficult type of industrial piercing to get, although it heals quickly compared to the others. As with the other piercings, it can be located anywhere on the ear, but the jewelry must spiral through at least one location. The end result is suited for spring-like or screw-like jewelry. It’s difficult to shop for jewelry for this type of piercing, since the space between coils varies drastically from person to person and is determined by whatever base jewelry the piercer has in stock. If you want to wear particular jewelry, purchase it ahead of time and compare it with your starter jewelry to see if the sizes match.
Other Ear Piercings
There are dozens of types of ear piercings, so if you haven’t found a location that matches what you want, go ahead and ask a piercer about it. I guarantee that someone has had a piercing in whatever location you can point at. There are some areas that are pierced often enough that people have given them names, and I’ll go over a few of them before we move on to face piercings. All of these piercings are well suited to rings, and most of them look good with studs.
First, the rook is the first fold on the inside of your ear, going from the top. The upper lobe is, well, right above the typical ear lobe piercing. The daith is the bar of skin that attaches to both your helix and your tragus and flattens out in the inner ear. A snug piercing is on the same fold of skin as the rook, but it’s closer to the area where your helix tapers out. With that, let’s move on!
Types of Face Piercings
If you want a more noticeable piercing, the face is the best place to get one for you! No matter where on the face it is located, people will be able to instantly see it. This can be a double-edged sword, if you end up wearing jewelry you don’t like or picking a location you don’t want. If you intend to get a face piercing, make sure you sit on the idea for a few weeks to ensure you aren’t getting it on impulse. If you still like the idea at the end of the wait period, you’re set!
Eyebrow piercings are an excellent way to accent your natural features. There are three different types of eyebrow piercings—vertical, horizontal, and anti-eyebrow. Vertical piercings go over and under the eyebrow, while the insertion points of horizontal piercings are both above the eyebrow and aligned with it. Anti-eyebrow piercings are located beneath the eye, normally above the cheekbone.
After the ear, the nose is the most popular piercing site. The default nose piercing is situated above the nostril on either side of the nose, and can be low or high. Septum piercings hook into the fold of skin that separates your nostrils. Nasallang piercings go through one side of the nose, then through the septum, and finally out the other side. Bridge piercings go through your nasal bridge, which is the same place that sunglasses rest on. It is possible to get a vertical piercing on the interior of the septum as well as the lower sides of each nostril.
Related Article: Nose Ring Piercings
Lip Piercings and Labret Piercings
If you walk into a piercing shop and point anywhere around your mouth, chances are that they can put a stud there. The most popular lip piercings are labret piercings, and these are done just below the lip. A vertical labret piercing goes through the lower lip and hooks out where a normal labret piercing would be. Jestrum piercings are the same thing, but on the upper lip. Horizontal piercings through either lip are also possible. Since the area moves around a lot, be careful while your wound is still healing. If it catches on food, the pain will be difficult to stomach. That was a pun, I promise. Your jewelry probably won’t get loose and fall into your stomach. Probably. Symmetrical lip piercings are called bites.
Related Article: Unique Labret Piercings for You
Speaking of things that are hard to stomach, tongue piercings are one of the most difficult types of piercings to get. On top of the extended pain, long healing process, and huge infection potential, some people find it difficult to speak after getting a piercing. Of course, this difficulty will go away after a few months as you adjust to your new piercing. If you get a tongue piercing, avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, eating spicy food, and eating acidic foods like citrus fruits while the site heals up. Two horizontal piercings are called venom piercings.
Types of Body Piercings
Body piercings are intimate and are rarely noticed by strangers. They are there for your personal pleasure, and only those close to you get to know about them. Unlike nose and ear piercings, many of these piercing sites have long healing times and a higher chance of complications. This is because it is easier to reject non-cartilage piercings.
Belly Button Piercing
Also called navel piercing, belly button piercing is well suited to most innies out there. While I did say that body piercings are mostly intimate, there’s no reason for belly button piercings to stay hidden all the time. It’s fun to show them off at pool parties or at the beach, and Summer is the perfect season to wear short tanks that accent the area. There is a wide variety of belly button rings to choose from, since this piercing is so popular.
Related Article: All you Need to Know about Belly Button Rings
Both men and women can get nipple piercings at most piercing shops. The normal nipple piercing goes through the nipple horizontally. Nipple piercings make the area more sensitive, since there is technically more surface area to interact with…even if that surface area is interior. Nipple piercings do not prevent women from producing milk or breastfeeding, but any jewelry should be removed while feeding a child. Not only is jewelry a choking hazard, but the jewelry can make it more difficult for the infant to suckle enough milk. Hoops, barbells, and captive bead rings are perfect for this area.
Genital piercings are incredibly expensive. They aren’t particularly hard to do, but piercers are reluctant to do them because the areas have a higher probability of being unwashed than the rest of the body. Plus, some people are pervs. If you’re up to date on your hygiene and comfortable with having anyone pierce you, there are a few different areas to pierce down there. If you are female, the clitoris hood and the clitoris itself can be pierced. A vertical clitoris piercing is called an Isabella piercing. Genital piercings for ladies are painful at first, but ultimately provide another way to stimulate the area and provide greater pleasure.
The labia is also well suited to rings and hoops. For men, an Ampallang or Apadravya piercing passes through the glans of the penis, the Dydoe piercing passes through the ridge of the glans, and the Prince Albert piercing goes from the urethral opening through the glans. The Prince Albert piercing is, understandably, the least painful type of genital piercing a man can get. Both genders can get anus piercings.
For photo material, please refer to the Wikipedia Entry.
For everything else, there’s surface piercing. Surface piercing encompasses any type of piercing on a flat surface and piercings that go underneath the skin rather than through muscle. Finding a piercer that will do custom surface piercings is a task in and of itself, and finding custom jewelry is even more difficult. However, knowing you are the only one in the world to have a piercing is incredibly satisfying. I would advise you to get an industrial piercing elsewhere to prepare yourself for the maintenance that a surface piercing requires. Surface piercings are easily pushed out and rejected by the body. The whole process of rejection was selected for to prevent foreign objects from resting underneath the skin, so you will be fighting against a couple million years of evolution when you get a surface piercing. Still, it’s quite possible with an experienced piercer and perfect upkeep.
Gauges and Stretching
All jewelry is measured in terms of gauge. Because of this, gauge has become slang for body stretching at piercing sites. The idea is that you start with a small piercing and then increment the gauge of your jewelry until the area starts to stretch. Gauges smaller than 10mm should close to the size of normal piercings if the jewelry is removed for a while, while jewelry larger than 10mm will not close up to the size of a typical piercing again. This means that large gauges are as permanent as tattoos! They’re also a little trickier to remove.
Despite that downside, gauges and body stretching have an extensive history around the world. Jewelry made from stone, bone, and wood could be used for stretching before the Bronze Age rolled around. The most common gauge areas are the ear lobes and the septum of the nose. Famous figures such as King Tutankhamen and the Buddha himself are known for their stretched ear lobes. The practice of ear stretching can indicate what tribe someone is from, their social status, how strong they are, or their simple cosmetic preference. From African tribes to American teens, ear gauges remain one of the most popular forms of body modification.
Dermal punches are the very same thing as gauges, but they are created using a surgical method instead of a gradual stretching. A surgeon or piercer basically picks a blade with the diameter you want, places it into your cartilage as if they were using a cookie cutter on dough, and removes the living flesh that way. As one might expect, this opens up the body to infection on a greater scale than normal piercings. With many viruses and bacteria becoming antibiotic-resistant, I would suggest you save yourself the risk and do things the old fashioned way.
Many tattoo parlors will offer piercing services alongside their tattoo work. You can call ahead to ask what kind of services they provide, along with what prices they have. Prices vary depending on location and complexity of the piercing. If you intend to get a simple ear lobe tattoo, there are many large retailers that offer the service. The most famous one is Claire’s, and you can find one in most cities. Jewelry stores can also offer the service, and if they don’t, they can point you in the right direction. For purchasing jewelry, piercing and tattoo shops might have a selection for you to browse through. Jewelry stores will have a wide variety to pick from. Online retailers will have everything you could dream of, at the cost of shipping and a wait time.
Phew! That’s a huge amount of different types of piercings! Combine one or two of these, and you’ll have a combo that sets you apart from the billions of people living in the world. Piercings are seen as a mark of beauty and status in all ancient cultures and a form of expression in the modern day world. No matter where you get your piercing or why you are getting it, body piercings are loaded with personal significance. They are a customizable way of expressing yourself and, with time, they become part of who you are.
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