If you've been having trouble deciding which body piercing to get next, the question to ask yourself is why? Have you just not found a piercing you're really passionate about yet, or do you have concerns about getting the piercing you really want? If you're in the first group, it might help to learn what types of body piercings are most popular right now. If you're in the second group, you'll benefit from learning the pros and cons of getting the piercing you want so you're confident about your decision. Either way, if you're on the fence about your next piercing but know you definitely want a new one soon, we can help you narrow down your options and choose the best new piercing to add to your collection.
You can use this guide in one of two ways: Either read through it in its entirety to learn more about each type of piercing, or use the hyperlinks below to jump to specific sections and just learn about the piercing(s) you're most interested in getting.
- Most Popular Piercings
- Earlobe Piercing Pros & Cons
- Cartilage Piercing Pros & Cons
- Facial Piercing Pros & Cons
- Oral Piercing Pros & Cons
- Dermal Piercing Pros & Cons
- Surface Piercing Pros & Cons
- Nipple Piercing Pros & Cons
- Belly Button Piercing Pros & Cons
- Genital Piercing Pros & Cons
We've listed the most popular types of piercings below for those who know they really want a new piercing, but need ideas to help them narrow down their choices:
- Earlobe & Cartilage Ear Piercings - Over 83% of men and women in the US have had one or both earlobes pierced at least once, and 30% of people have one or more other types of ear piercings besides standard earlobe piercings. The popularity of ear piercings makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that each ear can accommodate more than 13 different types of ear piercings, and sometimes multiples of each type. Plus, there are tons of cool earrings and different types of cartilage jewelry available for ear piercings. There are unique captive rings for daith and rook piercings, as well as stud earrings, dangle earrings, hoops and other captive rings, labret studs, circular barbells, plugs, tunnels, and other styles of ear piercing jewelry from which to choose.
- Nose Piercings - 15% of men and 19% of women in the U.S. have their noses pierced. Men tend to favor septum piercings more than women, and women are more likely to opt for nostril piercings, but either gender can get either or both types or choose from other nose piercing options, like nasallang piercings, rhino piercings, bridge piercings, and high nostril piercings. Depending on the type of nose piercing you get, you can wear nostril rings like nose bones, nostril screws, fishtail jewelry, or hoops, septum jewelry like tusks, rings or retainers, straight barbells, circular barbells, bent barbells, and more. With the exception of nasallang piercings, which strictly accommodate straight barbells, each type of nose piercing allows you to alternate between a minimum of 2-3 styles of jewelry.
- Belly Button Piercings - Belly button piercings are the second most popular type of piercing for women after ear piercings, with 33% of women in the US having pierced belly buttons. There aren't any statistics about the percentage of men who have belly button piercings, but this is a perfectly respectable option for men, too. Guys are just likely to opt for more masculine styles of body jewelry, like circular barbells, captive rings or even surface barbells with masculine tops, rather than options like jeweled or dangle belly button rings.
- Nipple Piercings - Nipple piercings are growing in popularity among men and women alike, but more men in the US have them than women currently. 18% of men surveyed reported having pierced nipples compared to 9% of women, according to the latest data. Straight barbells tend to make the best type of starter jewelry for nipple piercings, but once yours are healed (after 9-12+ months), you can also choose from dangle nipple rings, hoops, bent barbells, nipple shields, circular barbells, and other styles of nipple piercing jewelry.
- Eyebrow Piercings - 17.5% of men and 8% of women in the US have eyebrow piercings, but this is a great piercing option for either sex unless you work in a professional field where facial piercings are discouraged. The most popular styles of eyebrow rings are bent barbells, captive rings and circular barbells. There are also eyebrow piercing retainers available.
- Tongue Piercings - 16% of men in the US and 9.5% of women have tongue piercings, making tongue piercings tie with eyebrow piercings for the spot of fifth most popular type of piercing overall among men and women combined. Tongue piercings can be loads of fun for either sex to have, as well as for their sexual partners. Tongue rings come in many different styles, and there are cool tongue ring accessories available to enhance the experience even more, like ticklers and tongue vines.
Dermal piercings and surface piercings are rising stars among popular types of piercings, although there really isn't any data yet on the actual percentage of men and women who have these piercings. Unless you opt for a dermal piercing with an all-in-one skin anchor, you'll be able to interchange decorative dermal tops as often as you like after your dermal piercing or surface piercing heals.
Male and female genital piercings are also growing in popularity, which is no surprise since there are so many options available that offer mental and physical sexual stimulation for the wearer and/or their sexual partner. You can also choose from a variety of different types of lip piercings, cheek piercings and web piercings. For more piercing ideas, visit our Piercing Information section, or check out our gallery of piercing photos to see what types of body piercings appeal to you most. The more you explore your options, the easier it will be to choose your next body piercing.
Pros & Cons of Each Type of Piercing
Every piercing comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. For instance, cheek piercings can enhance or give you dimples, but they may leave you with scars if you retire them later. Fortunately, there are effective ways to deal with piercing scars, like massaging a small amount of jojoba oil or silicone scar therapy gel into your scar tissue twice a day until your scars are sufficiently diminished. Engaging in thorough and regular piercing aftercare in the weeks or months that it takes for a new piercing to heal will also minimize the chances of developing piercing scars.
You can learn about the key benefits and drawbacks of different types of piercings below. If you really want a certain type of piercing but have reservations, understanding the pros and cons will help you make an educated decision about getting that type of piercing. To learn more about specific piercings, visit our Piercing Information section.
For most people, there are very few disadvantages to earlobe piercings, if any. They tend to heal quickly, usually within 4-6 weeks, and once healed, you can wear a wide range of different styles of earrings in your pierced lobes or stretch your ears to larger gauges so you can wear plugs and tunnels. The exception is for those few who are prone to keloid scarring. If you know you develop these out-of-control, bulbous, reddish-purple scars around other wounds, then you shouldn't get any type of body piercing, including earlobe piercings.
A Word of Caution: Don't get your earlobes pierced at a piercing kiosk where they use piercing guns. Go to a professional piercer who uses piercing needles. Piercing guns shoot relatively blunt studs through your earlobes with great force, tearing the tissue raggedly on the way through. Additionally, piercing guns aren't nearly as sanitary as sterile piercing needles. If you had your earlobes pierced with a gun, you'd be at a higher risk for developing a piercing infection even if you practiced good aftercare.
There are many different types of cartilage piercings from which to choose, including daith piercings, rook piercings, industrial piercings, conch piercings, and tragus piercings, just to name a few. Additionally, there are oodles of cartilage earrings and industrial barbells available for cartilage piercings, so you'll always be spoiled for choice.
In the con column, most cartilage piercings take months to heal, and they tend to stay incredibly tender during the first 2-3 months. If you have long hair, you'll want to keep it pinned up as much as possible so that it isn't getting tangled around your jewelry and causing you extra discomfort constantly, particularly if you get an industrial piercing. You'll also need to be careful to avoid your ear when brushing your hair or spraying on hairspray, since you could easily bang or snag your piercing and hurt yourself, or clog the fistula (piercing hole), trapping in bacteria and triggering an infection to develop. If you practice religious ear piercing aftercare and generally protect your piercing, though, you should do just fine.
Eyebrow piercings, cheek piercings, nose piercings, and lip piercings all have their own unique healing times, but many heal within 2-3 months or less. Facial piercings that are tastefully placed and balanced with appropriately-sized jewelry can be very attractive on both men and women. The biggest downside to facial piercings is the potential of ending up with piercing scars, either around your piercings or over top of retired fistulas. As mentioned earlier, you can combat this problem with good piercing aftercare and scar therapy treatments like jojoba oil, as needed.
Facial piercings with an oral side, like cheek piercings and most lip piercings, pose another disadvantage besides scarring: potential damage to your oral health. When the inner side of jewelry is constantly rubbing against your gums, it can cause your gums to recede over time, which can eventually compromise the security of your teeth, too. You also have to be extra careful not to chomp down on metal jewelry and crack a tooth. Fortunately, you can avoid both issues wearing soft, flexible PTFE labret studs in an appropriate length for your piercing, or by choosing jewelry with dental-grade acrylic balls. These materials are much gentler on the teeth and gums than metal jewelry.
If you're considering getting dimple piercings, you should choose a piercer carefully. Cheek piercings are typically placed very closely to the parotid ducts in your cheeks that are responsible for saliva flow. Damaged parotid ducts can't be repaired, so it's incredibly important to carefully choose an experienced piercer to perform this type of piercing for you. Otherwise, you could end up with saliva constantly running down the outside of your face or worse, like too little saliva reaching your mouth where it's needed to break down food particles, combat dry mouth that can hurt your teeth and gums, and more. If one or both parotid ducts was damaged during the cheek piercing process, the outer tissue could be cauterized to stop saliva from escaping your mouth. However, the duct could never be fully repaired, and you'd end up with ugly scars from the cauterization process. It's best to do your homework, interview multiple piercers, and choose one who can talk about the cheek piercing process in an educated way and show you pictures of healed cheek piercings they've performed in the past.
When it comes to oral piercings, you can choose between tongue piercings and three different types of oral web piercings: tongue web piercings that go through the connective tissue under the tongue, smiley piercings placed through the tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums, or frowney piercings that pierce the tissue that connects your lower lip to your gums. When performed by an experienced professional piercer, all four types of oral piercings have great success rates. However, an oral piercing performed by an inexperienced piercer could damage nerves in your tongue, cause excess bleeding, or trigger other issues. That's why it's important to find a trained piercing artist to give you an oral piercing.
Oral web piercings can be sexy and fun to have, and tongue piercings have the added benefit of being sexually enjoyable for partners, particularly during kissing and oral sex--if your partner is on board with the idea to begin with, at least. If you're in a committed relationship, it's always a good idea to talk to your partner before getting any type of body piercing that could impact them, too.
As with facial piercings with an oral side, it's best to wear either soft, flexible BioPlast jewelry or barbells and rings with acrylic beads in oral piercings. Doing so will minimize the chances of your oral piercing damaging your teeth or gums. Micro straight barbells and micro bent barbells tend to make the best starter jewelry for oral web piercings, since frenulum tissue is delicate. These styles of jewelry put the least amount of downward pressure on healing oral web piercings while the piercing holes strengthen and reinforce enough to support other styles of jewelry more securely.
When you first get an oral piercing, it's important to watch what you eat. Stick to soft foods that won't scrape your mouth or pull at your jewelry, like soup, yogurt, popsicles (which are also good for keeping swelling down), macaroni and cheese, etc. You should avoid smoking, too, since smoke can dry out oral piercings. Also, nicotine slows down the immune system, making new piercings take longer to heal. If you can't quit entirely, consider trying an e-cigarette filled with low nicotine e-juice or other low-dose nicotine substitutes, like nicotine patches or lozenges.
Dermal piercings are all the rage lately, because they're such dynamic body piercings. You can get dermals practically anywhere on your body! Add a couple jeweled dermals to a tattoo design to make it really pop, get facial dermals, create a necklace effect with a ring of jeweled dermals at your neckline, add dermals to your breasts, hips or lower back to accentuate the curves of your body, have a jeweled dermal placed in lieu of a ring on a finger or toe, or get a dermal piercing anywhere else your heart desires. The possibilities are endless!
Dermal piercings are great for both men and women, because there are practically infinite placement options and so many different types of dermal tops available. Get a devilish look by attaching spiked dermal tops to anchors in your head, wear dermals with jeweled or simple metal tops, add a bumble bee or dragonfly dermal top as a fun accent to a floral tattoo, and more.
The main disadvantages to dermal piercings are migration/rejection and scarring. If a dermal is placed deeply and you perform religious dermal piercing aftercare, you'll have less to worry about in terms of migration or complete rejection of your dermal anchor. Some people reject dermals despite their best efforts, but most people see good results from proper placement and aftercare. The exception is when you get a dermal piercing somewhere on your body where you experience a lot of friction, either from skin rubbing against skin or clothing rubbing against your jewelry. You can combat friction by carefully choosing where you have your dermal piercing(s) placed and by wearing loosely-fitting clothes that breathe well during the healing process. Once a dermal piercing is fully established, tissue will have grown up, around and possibly through holes in the dermal anchor, securing it in place and minimizing the potential of future problems.
As for preventing scarring, the best thing you can do is to practice religious aftercare both after getting a dermal piercing and after having one removed. Never try to remove a dermal anchor yourself; it's always best to have a professional piercer do it for you to minimize scarring. If you snag a dermal and the anchor becomes partially dislodged, ask your piercer to adjust it for you, too. To address dermal piercing scars, just apply a scar therapy treatment like jojoba oil until the scarring is sufficiently diminished, or see a dermatologist to discuss other treatment options.
Like dermal piercings, surface piercings are very dynamic body piercings that can be placed nearly anywhere on the body. Nape piercings, hip piercings, Christina piercings (a.k.a. Venus piercings), and frenum piercings are all examples of surface piercings, which typically involve having a special surface bar inserted beneath your skin. Surface barbells come in a variety of different lengths with two opposing angled ends (usually bent up 80-90⁰ from the connecting bar) that hold decorative tops. After a surface bar is inserted, only the tops should show above the surface of the skin. Swelling can be combated by wearing healing posts instead of decorative tops to reduce pressure on the fistulas, increase air flow to the healing tissue and generally aid in the healing process. Once a surface piercing has fully healed, you can interchange decorative tops the same way you can with dermal piercings.
Surface piercings are one of the more invasive types of body piercings, due to the processes used to insert surface bars. If you choose to get a surface piercing, your piercer will either pinch the skin to be pierced, thread a large, hollow needle through, follow it with a surface bar, and then attach decorative tops once the barbell is in place, or s/he will cut a line in your skin with a scalpel to insert the surface barbell. The latter method in particular isn't ideal for those who are squeamish or have lower pain thresholds, but it's sometimes the best option for ensuring that a surface piercing heals well and lasts as long as you want to keep it. If you're concerned about the pain of getting a surface piercing, you can ask your piercer to apply a topical anesthetic 15-30 minutes before piercing you to minimize your discomfort.
On top of being a more invasive piercing option, surface piercings tend to take months to heal, and they're highly prone to migration and rejection. Surface piercings are more likely to heal in place properly when heavier gauge surface barbells are used and when they're placed deeply beneath the surface of the skin. Where you have a surface piercing placed on your body will also impact its success rate. For instance, a nape piercing is more likely to heal without issue than a hip surface piercing, because the waistbands of underwear and clothes will put constant pressure on a hip piercing and cause friction that could trigger your body to reject the jewelry. You can combat this issue by wearing breathable, loosely-fitting clothing during the surface piercing healing process.
Finally, as with dermal piercings, surface piercings are more likely to leave you with scars than other piercings when you retire them. If you decide to have a surface piercing removed eventually, have a professional piercer do it for you. Follow rigorous surface piercing aftercare both immediately after getting pierced and after retiring a surface piercing to encourage your body to generate healthy new cells rather than scar tissue. If you do end up with surface piercing scars, you can apply jojoba oil or silicone scar therapy gel to them twice a day for as many weeks or months as it takes to sufficiently diminish the scars.
Nipple piercings are undeniably sexy on men and women alike, and they can add a fun new element to your sexual adventures. Plus, there are tons of cool nipple rings available to give your nipples a unique look, including dangle nipple rings, captive rings, straight barbells, bent barbells, nipple shields for both pierced and unpierced nipples, and more.
The most common question people ask about nipple piercings is, "Do nipple piercings hurt?" The answer isn't a simple yes or no. You'll definitely feel a pinch, but if you ride the wave of adrenaline that comes with getting a piercing and have both nipples pierced in close succession, it may not hurt a fraction as much as you anticipate. If you're really worried about the pain factor, though, have your piercer apply a piercing anesthetic to your nipples 15-30 minutes before piercing you to minimize your discomfort.
The biggest drawback to nipple piercings is their prolonged healing time. Nipple piercings can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months or more to fully heal, and you have to abide by a hands- and mouth-off policy the whole time. Playing with new nipple piercings before they're fully healed can set back the healing process and make them take even longer to heal, so be prepared for your nipples to be off-limits for up to a year. It's a commitment, but one that can be very rewarding in the long run if you're patient and let your nipple piercings heal well before taking them for a test drive in the bedroom.
Most people would agree that there's nothing sexier than a woman with her midriff bared and a belly button piercing accentuating her curves, but belly piercings aren't just for the ladies. Men can pull off belly piercings, too, although they tend to be more flattering when guys choose masculine styles of jewelry like captive rings or circular barbells as opposed to traditional bent barbell-style belly button rings.
Although belly piercings can seem to be healed after just 4-6 weeks, they typically take 3-6 months to fully heal. Belly button piercings are technically surface piercings, so they're more prone to migration and rejection than other double-sided piercings like earlobe piercings. The high migration/rejection rate is largely due to the part of the body being pierced. Your belly button is located right where your body bends in half, which means you'll be constantly combating the friction of skin-on-skin as well as clothing against your skin. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your belly button piercing and ensure that it heals fully and well. First, ask your piercer to have the piercing exit over top of your belly button rather than placing it higher above or lower below it, if at all possible. If you have an "outie", your placement options may be more limited, but it can't hurt to ask for this type of placement. Also, the more deeply you're pierced and the heavier the gauge of your belly ring, the better off you'll be.
After getting pierced, you'll need to perform belly button piercing aftercare religiously for the first few months to give your piercing the best chance of success. You should also wear loosely-fitting, breathable clothing that doesn't press against your piercing or cause unwanted friction. That means no super-tight skinny jeans or other constrictive clothing until your belly button piercing has fully healed!
If your belly piercing does begin to migrate out towards the surface of your skin, see your piercer before it rejects entirely. S/he will be able to tell you if a jewelry change might help or if it would be better to remove your jewelry altogether, let the fistula close, and get re-pierced later. For more tips, check out our Belly Button Piercing Healing Process article.
The sight of genital piercings can be arousing in and of itself, but many male and female genital piercings can also be physically sexually stimulating for you and/or your partner. VCH piercings (vertical clitoral hood piercings) tend to be the most sexually stimulating types of female genital piercings, but not every woman has the right anatomy to get one. If you have a piercer do a Q-tip test and find that your clitoral hood isn't deep enough to accommodate a VCH piercing, consider an HCH piercing (horizontal clitoral hood piercing) or other types of female genital piercings instead.
For men, genital piercings tend to be more mentally arousing than physically stimulating, but certain types of male genital piercings can be loads of fun for sexual partners. Apadravya piercings and dydoe piercings tend to be the most physically stimulating for female partners in sexual positions where the jewelry comes in contact with the G-spot, and frenum piercings can enhance the sexual experience for both male and female partners during intercourse regardless of sexual position. Ampallang piercings and PA piercings can sometimes be uncomfortable for female partners, although some women love them, as do many male sexual partners.
Before you get any type of genital piercing, it's a good idea to talk to your partner about it before taking the plunge and getting pierced. You may find that one type of genital piercing intimidates your partner, but the idea of another type excites them. Once you agree on a piercing you think you'll both enjoy and get pierced, it's important to wait until your piercing is fully healed before resuming sexual activities. Many genital piercings heal quickly--often in just 4-8 weeks--so you shouldn't have to wait too long to try out your new piercing. When the time comes to have sex again, take things slowly. Even if you're in a monogamous relationship, you may want to wear a condom initially to both protect your piercings and ease your partner into having intercourse with them in the mix. If your partner complains about the jewelry being uncomfortable during intercourse, you can try different styles of jewelry, different ball sizes, etc., until you find the right combination that adds to your and your partner's sexual enjoyment.