A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Body Piercings

Leigha is a writer and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. She loves to mix and match…

There’s something about body piercings that make you feel cool and stylish. Whether it’s a small stud or a dramatic hoop, piercings (and the associated jewelry) can add some personality to your style. 

Body piercings can be a great way to express yourself, and the options are endless. But with all the possibilities, it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. 

In this post, we’ll look at some of the most popular body piercings and what makes them unique. So whether you’re thinking about getting your first piercing or just curious about what’s out there, we’re sure you’ll find some inspiration!


What types of body piercings are possible?

There are tons of body piercing options. So, to help you narrow it down a little, we’ve outlined some of the most popular types of piercings and what makes each of them unique!

Ear Piercings

woman with a pierced ear

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These are the most prevalent and well-known type of body piercing.

Ear piercings are relatively quick and straightforward, and there are so many different types and styles of ear piercings to choose from, from the lobe to the cartilage. 

Because they’re such a standard and frequent piercing (even for babies), ear piercings are also one of the safest piercings.

💡 Keep in Mind: While ear piercings heal relatively quickly and are easy to care for, cartilage piercings may take longer to heal and are more prone to infection than the soft lobe tissue. 

If you’re considering getting your ears pierced, here are some common types to try:

different types of ear piercings
Types of ear piercing chart

Standard Lobe

The type most think of when they think of ear piercings is the standard lobe piercing. This piercing is located in the center of the earlobe and is the least painful of any ear piercing.

Upper Lobe

Also known as the ‘high lobe piercing,’ this is placed just above the standard lobe and can be paired nicely with twin studs.

Tragus

The tragus is the tiny, pointed bit of cartilage located above the earlobe. This piercing is generally more painful than others because of the surrounding cartilage.

Helix

Helix piercings are located around the cartilage edges on the upper ear. These piercings are still painful, but less so than the tragus piercing, and fit perfectly with a ring or hoop.

Inner Conch

These piercings are done in the cup-like area of cartilage opposite the opening of the ear canal.

Daith

Daith piercings are located at the crus helix, which is the fold of cartilage just above the tragus, and are best managed when styled using clicker rings.

Industrial

This is definitely a unique and trendy piercing. Industrial piercings are accomplished by puncturing two holes across the helix and fitting it with a single piece of jewelry – usually a straight barbell.

Nose Piercings

septum nose piercing

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Nose piercings are particularly popular, with a wide variety of jewelry available to suit any taste. Nose piercings can be done in various places, including the nostril, septum, and bridge. 

There are also different techniques that can be used, such as clamps, receiver tubes, and freehand. 

If you’re considering getting a nose piercing, it’s important to research and choose a reputable piercer. 

💡 Take Note: Since almost all nose piercings go through the cartilage, pain levels tend to be higher and usually take a bit more time to heal.

Some popular types of nose piercing are:

Nostril

Nostril piercings are the most common type of nose piercing and can be done on both sides or in any part of the nostrils. They can be worn with hoops, rings, studs – whatever you want!

Nasallang

Also known as the “tri-nasal” piercing, is not for the faint of heart. It goes through three parts of your nose: right nostril, septum, and left nostril.

Septum

The septum piercing, also known as a “bullnose piercing,” is performed at the lower part of your nose, which separates the nostrils. Hoops are the usual jewelry of choice.

Bridge (Erl)

The bridge piercing is a popular trend in body jewelry, sitting right between the eyes and giving most people a fun, edgy look!

Rhino

Rhino piercings are inserted into the nose vertically, which can be more painful than many other nose piercings.

Austin Bar

While similar in appearance to a nasallang piercing, Austin bar piercings move through the tip of the nose, like a rhino piercing, and extend horizontally.

Septril 

Septril piercings can only be done after getting a septum piercing and stretching it. This piercing goes through the middle of the septum to the tip of the nose.

Tongue Piercings

piercings-tongue

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Piercings have been around for centuries, with many different cultures practicing various forms of body piercings. But one of the most consistent has been the tongue piercing

While some people choose to get a tongue piercing for aesthetic reasons, others choose to get one for religious or spiritual reasons or as a form of self-expression.

However, there are some risks to keep in mind with a tongue piercing.

💡 Caution: Tongue piercings can erode the gum line or cause teeth to chip. Your eating habits may also need to change in the first couple of weeks of healing.

If you’re interested in this type of piercing, ask your piercer what steps you can take to reduce any possible health risks. 

The most common types of tongue piercing are:

tongue piercing - a comprehensive guide to getting body piercings
Types of tongue piercing chart

Midline

This type of tongue piercing is the safest and most frequently done. It is positioned right through the middle of the tongue and is usually styled with a straight barbell.

Side Tongue

Side tongue piercings are located on the edges or sides of the tongue and are typically fitted with a straight barbell or ring.

Venom

This is also known as the “frog eyes,”  piercing. It’s done by making two separate insertions through the tongue muscle and is fashioned with twin straight barbells.

Scoop

Instead of two piercings, a scoop is done using one curved barbell going through the tongue and out the other end, similar in look to a venom piercing.

Snake Eyes

This type, like scoop piercings, uses one piece of jewelry going through the tip of the tongue, the name stemming from its impression of a pair of eyes.

Frenulum (Web)

Frenulum, otherwise known as “web” piercings, are different from other tongue piercings in that they don’t pierce through the tongue itself, but the connective tissue underneath.

Multiple 

Multiple tongue piercings are exactly what they sound like – there are all different types. People who choose this type aren’t afraid to mix and match their styles.

Lip Piercings

piercings-lip

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When it comes to expressing yourself and adding to your style, there are plenty of lip piercings to choose from. 

Whether you choose a simple stud or a decorative hoop, lip piercings can add a bit of flair to your look. 

But, lip piercings aren’t without risk, and their placement can affect how they should be cleaned and cared for during the healing process.

Like tongue piercings, lip piercings can chip teeth or contribute to other dental issues, such as gum disease. Healing can also be more difficult in the first few weeks because your piercing may cause pain and swelling, making it hard to eat or speak.

That said, lip piercings can be a fun and stylish way to express yourself, so if you’re willing to take risks, go for it!

These are some of the most stylish types of lip piercings:

lip piercing illustration
Types of lip piercing chart

Monroe

Taking its name from the famous American actress, Marilyn Monroe, this piercing is reminiscent of her beauty mark, positioned just left of the middle-upper lip.

Labret

Piercings of this type are placed just below the mouth and beautifully accentuate the lower lip. This piercing is commonly styled with a labret stud, where the name originates.

Medusa

One of the more popular choices, medusa piercings are located in the center groove between the nose and upper lip, making for a stunning addition to any look.

Jestrum

Rather than a single insertion, these piercings used a curved barbell to enter from the center groove below the nose, like the medusa piercing, and exit at the bottom of the upper lip.

Dahlia

Also known as the “joker” piercing, this type is very uncommon. Dahlia piercings are another double puncture that uses two pieces of jewelry, situating one in each corner of the mouth.

Cyber Bites

This type of piercing can be seen as perpendicular to the Dahlia piercings. Double punctures are made in the groove above the upper lip and centered just below the lower lip.

Dolphin Bites

These piercings are simple yet unique! Two puncture sites are made just below the lower lip, positioned horizontally, and are often accessorized with studs or hoops.

Spider Bites 

The spider bite is a notable and stylish double piercing. The piercing sites are closely set and positioned horizontally, located below the lower lip on either the left or right side.

Face Piercings

eyebrow piercing - a comprehensive guide to getting body piercings

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Anyone who’s ever gotten a facial piercing knows that they can be quite painful. Whether it’s a simple stud on your cheek or a ring through your eyelid, facial piercings are definitely a commitment. 

Keep in mind that some facial piercings are more delicate than others and that they pose a risk of rejection in areas such as around the eyes. 

However, facial piercings of any kind will definitely give the wearer an edgy and fashionable look, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, a facial piercing can be a great way to express yourself.

Here are some common types of face piercings:

types of face piercings
Face piercings chart

Eyebrow

Piercings for this type are positioned vertically through the bottom of the eyebrow and exit above the top.

Horizontal Eyebrow

These piercings also go through the skin around the eyebrow. But instead of going through the bottom to the top, they are placed horizontally, either above or below the eyebrow.

Anti-Eyebrow

These are also known as the “cheekbone” or “teardrop” piercing. Anti-eyebrow piercings are inserted just above the cheekbone, either vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference.

Dimple

These piercings are inserted right through the fleshy area in the center of the cheek. Many people get twin piercings on either side to give the impression of dimples.

Nick Piercing

The Nick piercing was named after Seattle piercer Nick Anzalone. It uses an “L” shaped barbell to enter from the uppermost part inside the mouth and exit under the orbit of the eye.

Eyelid

These are one of the riskiest types of piercings to get, going directly under and through the eyelid – but if you’re up for it, they can be a beautiful and certainly unique piece!

Third Eye

This type of piercing is located around the fleshier part of the forehead just above the eyebrows and is generally positioned vertically using a surface bar or curved barbell.

Nipple Piercings

male nipple piercing

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For those who are looking for a little extra pizzazz in the nipple department, piercings are a popular option. They can also be a great conversation starter (especially if you choose to wear jewelry that is a little more flashy). 

Nipple piercings have been around for centuries – both men and women once wore them as a sign of status and power, and even today, they are still seen as a symbol of strength and confidence.

No matter the reason, adding some jewelry to your nipples is sure to turn heads. Just be prepared for some pain during the initial piercing. And don’t forget, aftercare is key to avoiding infection!

Common nipple piercing types include:

Straight Barbell

Indicative of the jewelry it uses, straight barbells pierce through the nipple horizontally and can be decorated with plain beads or your choice of gemstones.

CBR (Captive Bead Ring)

Captive bead rings, or “captives,” are similar in appearance to many ring piercings. However, they use a small ball or bead between the ring that can be removed for ease and comfort.

Seamless 

These nipple piercings are just as the name describes – they appear infinite and seamless. This type uses jewelry without a ball or end and can be positioned either vertically or horizontally.

Nipple Clickers

The mechanism used in jewelry of this type allows it to be inserted and removed easily and can be decorated with many stones or jewels.

Twister Spiral

Twister spiral piercings use a spring-like barbell weaved into the nipple. While they may look intense, they are just as comfortable as any other barbell.

Dangle

The dangle type is unlike other nipple piercings in that the jewelry can dangle like those used in many earlobe piercings.

Nipple Shield 

Nipple shields are inserted similarly to a straight barbell; however, they are accentuated with a larger detailed piece surrounding the areola.

Belly Button Piercings

piercings-belly button

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There’s something about a belly button piercing that just screams summertime. Whether you’re rocking a bikini or a crop top, a navel piercing is a perfect way to show off a little skin.

💡 Caution: Piercings in the navel area are more prone to tearing and swelling because they can often catch on clothing that may irritate the piercing site.

Pain levels also vary on the type of navel piercing you’re getting, so it’s best to know which types are more common for your belly button shape and whether you can deal with any discomfort.

Belly button piercings are relatively safe if you take proper precautions, but it’s useful to be aware of the risks before getting one.

The most popular belly button piercing styles are:

Upper Rim

The upper rim of the belly button is the bit of skin, or “hood,” that covers the top of the navel and is often styled using a curved barbell or ring.

Lower Rim

Opposite the upper rim, the lower rim covers the bottom section of skin surrounding the navel and is commonly adorned with a curved barbell or ring.

True Navel

A true navel piercing is the perfect choice for an outie belly button. Instead of piercing through the belly button’s surrounding skin, this type goes through the navel itself.

Floating Navel

Floating navel piercings are done specially for belly buttons that lack a hood, using a flat disk or smaller bead on the jewelry’s bottom to prevent strain or stretching around the piercing site.

Horizontal

Horizontal piercings are inserted through the skin on either side of the navel and are usually done with a straight barbell. Some people may choose to use two separate pieces.

Multi-Navel

Multi-navel piercings combine various types into one. You might choose to get an upper rim alongside a horizontal, or maybe a floating navel above a lower rim – be creative with it!

Stretched 

Stretched piercings are achieved by increasing the width of jewelry over time to enlarge the surrounding skin.

Other Body Piercings 

piercings-neck piercing

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Piercings around the face are not the only types out there, and while maybe not as common, these body piercings are sure to turn heads!

Some other body piercings that people may decide to take on include:

  • Back Piercings
  • Neck/Nape Piercings
  • Sternum Piercings
  • Genital Piercings
  • Hip Piercings

Each of these types comes with its benefits and risks, and bear in mind that piercings on the body will generally take longer to heal than those on and around the face.

Piercings in some areas around the body, such as genital and sternum piercings, may also contain more nerve endings, which means that these types will typically be more painful and can cause discomfort.

Body piercings are not for everyone, but no matter what piercing you choose, as long as you know what’s involved and how to care for your piece, you are sure to be rewarded with a stunning addition to your style!


What to Know Before Getting a Body Piercing 

You might have some questions and concerns before getting a piercing – I know I did – but that’s completely normal! The process can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time.

To help you feel a little better about the experience, we’ve attempted to explain why people get piercings and what things you should consider beforehand.

How old do you have to be to get piercings?

While the required age to get a piercing in the U.S. is 18, many states will allow minors to be pierced with parental consent. I got my ears pierced when I was just six years old!

It is common for parents to bring their children in to get their ears pierced. As long as it is legal in the state and there is permission from a minor’s parent, piercing can be done at any age.

Where should you get your body piercing done?

When it comes to piercings, there are a lot of factors to consider. Will it hurt? How long will it take to heal? What kind of jewelry should I use? 

But one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the placement of your piercing. 

The location of a piercing can affect everything from the healing process to how your piercing looks, so you’ll want to choose a spot you’re comfortable with for the long term. If you’re looking for something subtle, some places may conceal more than others. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the placement of your piercing. 

Your Budget 

The location of your piercing factors heavily into the price. If you’re looking for something less costly, it might be best to look at which areas are more affordable to get pierced, such as the ear lobe, lower lip, or tongue midline.

Pain Tolerance 

Some body parts are more sensitive than others, so if you’re worried about pain, you may want to avoid areas that experience a lot of friction, like underneath your clothes, or that pierce through cartilage and/or nerve endings. 

Piercings through parts of loose skin, such as eyebrow, nostril, and ear lobe piercings are likely to hurt the least. In contrast, nasal and ear cartilage, tongue, and nipple piercings will hurt more because they go through more sensitive areas.

Healing Process 

Are you willing to deal with potential complications that come with specific types of piercings? 

💡 Know the Risks: Navel or nipple piercings are more susceptible to infection than other types. Tongue and lip piercings, as well, could cause long-term dental issues. 

If you’re looking for a piercing that is easier to manage, we recommend getting an ear or eyebrow piercing. These heal relatively quickly and are less likely to be impacted by friction or harmful bacteria.

When it comes down to it, choosing the right placement for your piercing is a personal decision. 

There’s no right or wrong answer, but keeping these factors in mind can ensure you choose a suitable piercing.

How many body piercings can I get at once?

There isn’t a set rule for how many piercings you can get in one session, so it mainly depends on how many you can handle at a time.

However, many people find that a maximum of four piercings per session is best for healing, especially if they are being done around the same area.

How much do body piercings cost?

The cost of a piercing largely depends on the location and placement of a piercing, as well as the individual piercer’s price range. 

In general, you can expect to pay around $20-60 for an ear piercing, $35-65 for nose and facial piercings, and $40-85 for lip, tongue, or other body piercings.

Which piercings are the safest?

The safest types of piercings are also the most common – these include earlobe piercings, nostril piercings, and belly button piercings. 

The lobe and belly button are comprised of loose skin that is relatively thin, meaning there is less risk involved.

The nostril also tends to heal quickly, and there is less bleeding compared to other types of piercings.

Why do people do extreme body mods?

Body modification has been around for thousands of years in thousands of cultures. 

In the past, body modification was commonly done for religious/spiritual reasons or to represent social status and hierarchy. 

Nowadays, people do extreme body modifications for several reasons. 

While it continues to be for religious practice or social class in some cultures, it can also be a form of self-expression and a need for uniqueness.


Caring for Piercings

New piercings are exciting, so congratulations if it’s your first time getting one! 

💡 Quick Tip: Remember that new piercings are also open wounds and need to be cared for properly to heal quickly without infection. 

How to Care for New Body Piercings

The first few days after getting a piercing are critical, so follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions to the letter. 

Along with any specific instructions provided, here are some general tips to follow during this time:

  • Clean your piercing several times daily using a saline solution or mild soap and warm water. For piercings on the lip or tongue, use an alcohol-free mouthwash. 
  • Be sure to pat dry the area after cleaning – do not scrub! Scrubbing brings unnecessary friction to the site and can delay the healing or cause more damage.
  • Avoid touching your piercing or placing any foreign objects in or around it, as this can introduce bacteria and prolong the healing process. 
  • Do not pick at scabs or loosen crusty buildup around the piercing. We know it’s itchy! But picking at scabs that are not ready to come off can lead to more bleeding and interrupt recovery.
  • Wear loose-fitted clothing or accessories when possible to prevent materials from pulling or snagging on your piercing and causing damage to the site.
  • Clean any materials that come into contact with the piercing, including things like bedding, clothing, and towels, which can carry bacteria and risk infection.
  • Avoid using makeup, lotions, or perfumes near the piercing, as the chemicals in these products can irritate the skin and lead to more inflammation. Some people try to hide piercings by covering them with makeup — don’t do this with fresh piercings.

Be sure to follow these aftercare tips to ensure proper healing. If you’re patient and attentive, you’ll be able to enjoy your new piercing for years to come!

How long does it take a piercing to heal?

In the first few weeks, it is normal for piercings to be sore, red, and swollen. 

After the initial healing period, the time it takes for a piercing to heal completely depends on the type of piercing and how well it’s being cared for.

If you’re taking proper care and following your piercer’s aftercare instructions, most piercings will heal within 6-8 weeks.

Some piercings, such as those done in areas with a lot of tissue or cartilage – like tongue, nose, and ear piercings – may take longer to heal than others. 

How to Get Rid of Keloids from Piercings

Piercings are a beautiful kind of body modification. But like any other type, they can come with risks – and one of these risks is the development of keloids. 

Keloids are different from a piercing bump. They are large, raised, thickened scars that can occur at the site of piercings or other injuries. They can be very unsightly and may sometimes cause pain or itchiness.

💡 Family Ties: Genetics may also contribute to the development of keloids. Keloids occur more often in people of African or Asian descent, and those with a family history of keloids are usually more susceptible. 

While keloids are not life-threatening, they can be challenging to treat, so it’s essential to be aware of the risks involved.

If you do develop a keloid, there are several options for treatment, including:

  • Surgery
  • Steroid injections 
  • Pressure treatment
  • Cryotherapy

Some people may also require treatment with steroids or other medications after surgery to prevent a keloid from returning.

If you are considering piercings, we recommend talking to your piercer or doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk.


Show Off Your Pierce-onality

Whether you’re looking to get your first piercing or add to your collection, we hope this guide has helped narrow down your choices. 

With all the different piercings out there, it can be tough to decide on just one (or two, or three). But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. 

There’s a piercing type for everyone, so find what speaks to you and go for it! We can’t wait to see what kind of piercings you choose.

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