Earlobe piercings stand out as the #1 most popular type of piercing. In fact, 83% of the U.S. population has pierced ears. From standard lobe piercings to a wide variety of cartilage piercings, the ear offers boundless possibilities for self-expression.
Since ear piercings of all varieties are so popular, people have a lot of questions about them. Use our ear piercing FAQs for all the answers you need.
Ear Piercing FAQs:
What parts of the ear can be pierced?
What are the different ear piercings called?
Which ear piercings are cartilage piercings?
Should I get pierced with a piercing gun or a piercing needle?
Where can I go to get my ears pierced?
What starter jewelry should I wear in my new ear piercing?
What’s the best aftercare treatment for new ear piercing?
Where can I buy jewelry for my ear piercings?
Can I stretch my ear piercings and cartilage piercings?
Where else can I find information about ear piercings?
Nearly any part of the ear can be pierced. The index below identifies parts of the ear that are most commonly pierced:
- Earlobe: The soft tissue that dangles from the bottom of the ear, also known as the lobule.
- Helix: The curved upper rim of the ear cartilage. The helix spans from the outer-upper curve of the ear all the way to where it connects with the head.
- Auricle: The auricular tubercle is the rim of the ear in between the helix and the earlobe. This part of the ear accommodates ear cuffs.
- Antihelix: The curved ridge of cartilage that runs alongside the auricle.
- Antitragus: The small peak of cartilage directly above the earlobe.
- Tragus: A prominence of cartilage that grows in front of the concha and the entrance to the ear canal.
- Concha: The scooped area of central ear cartilage that is somewhat cup-shaped, more commonly known as the conch.
- Crus of Helix: The ridge of innermost cartilage directly above the tragus where a daith piercing is placed.
- Crura of Antihelix: The ridge of cartilage directly above the crus of helix where a rook piercing is placed.
The index below identifies all possible ear piercings:
- Antitragus Piercing: Goes through the antitragus, located above the earlobe and across from the tragus.
- Daith Piercing: Goes through the crus of helix.
- Earlobe Piercing: Any piercing of the lobule is considered an earlobe piercing.
- Forward Helix Piercing: Goes through the forward rim of the helix, where the helix connects to the head. This piercing is also located almost directly above the crus of helix, where a daith piercing would go.
- Helix Piercing: Any piercing through the outer top rim of the ear.
- Industrial Piercing: Two cartilage piercings connected by a barbell. This piercing is typically comprised of two helix piercings connected horizontally. However, piercings can be connected vertically as well. Multiple industrial piercings can form what is popularly known as an “ear cage.”
- Conch Piercing: A piercing through the inner scoop of the ear.
- Orbital Piercing: Two piercings side-by-side through part of the ear. A ring placed through the two holes appears to be orbiting through the ear. An orbital can be placed through the upper earlobe or even through the upper ear cartilage, directly below where an industrial piercing bar would run.
- Rook Piercing: A piercing through the upper-inner rim of ear cartilage that runs over top where a daith piercing would be placed.
- Snug Piercing: A piercing through the antihelix.
- Tragus Piercing: A piercing of the lower prominence of cartilage in front of the concha.
- Transverse Lobe Piercing: An earlobe piercing done at an angle.
- Upper Lobe Piercing: Any piercing of the upper earlobe, where the skin is still soft and fleshy (i.e. the soft tissue located immediately below the cartilage).
The following ear piercings are cartilage piercings:
- Antitragus Piercing
- Daith Piercing
- Forward Helix Piercing
- Helix Piercing
- Industrial Piercing / Scaffold Piercing
- Conch Piercing
- Orbital Piercing (can be either a soft tissue or cartilage piercing)
- Rook Piercing
- Snug Piercing
- Tragus Piercing
We always recommend getting pierced by a reputable artist with a sterilized piercing needle. Piercing guns are not safe for the following reasons:
- They cannot be put in an autoclave, so they cannot be sterilized as thoroughly as needles.
- They force a blunt-backed stud earring through the ear using a lot of pressure. In other words, they tear the skin, which can hinder the healing process and potentially lead to infection.
- Piercing guns should absolutely never be used for a cartilage piercing in particular. When a blunt stud gets shot through your ear cartilage, it can shatter the cartilage, leaving a jagged hole behind. The result is extreme discomfort and a disrupted recovery process.
Learn more here: Which Is Better: Piercing Ears With a Needle or a Piercing Gun?
We highly recommend finding a reputable tattoo and piercing shop in your area. If you go to a tattoo and piercing shop, you’ll be pierced with piercing needles and equipment that’s been properly sterilized in an autoclave.
To find a piercing artist to pierce your ears, talk to your friends and see where they went. You can also visit our forum and ask if any other members know of a reputable piercing artist in your area. Additionally, you can search for tattoo and piercing shops near you, and look at their piercing artists’ portfolio online or in their shop.
Your most ideal starter jewelry depends on the type of ear piercing you get. However, we always recommend starting out with jewelry that is made of reliable, high-quality material, such as implant grade stainless steel, titanium, or BioPlast.
The index below provides recommended starter jewelry by ear piercing:
- Antitragus Piercing: A labret stud is typically the best type of starter jewelry for an antitragus piercing. We recommend using one that’s either pop-fit style or that’s internally threaded. Titanium jewelry is the best starter jewelry for this and all the other piercings listed below, although surgical steel and BioPlast are also good options.
- Daith Piercing: Typically you see captive bead rings as daith piercing starter jewelry, but our Unbreakable Orbs also make hot daith piercing starter jewelry. They're made from flexible niobium, so they're easy to take out and put in.
- Earlobe Piercing: Captive bead rings and segment rings are the ideal type of starter jewelry for a lobe piercing of any kind, since some swelling may occur, and a ring won’t put pressure on your healing piercing even when your ear swells slightly. Labret studs may also be used in new earlobe piercings.
- Forward Helix Piercing: A labret stud is the ideal starter jewelry for a forward helix piercing.
- Helix Piercing: Most often, captive rings are used as starter jewelry for single helix piercings, and sometimes spiral rings are used as the starter jewelry for double and triple helix piercings. (Note that it may be more comfortable for you to wear individual captive rings in multiple helix piercings while they're healing, then switch to a spiral in 6-9 months once they're fully healed.)
- Industrial Piercing: Usually piercers will place an industrial barbell in each new industrial piercing they do, but it may be more comfortable to wear separate captive bead rings in your industrial piercing holes until they’re fully healed.
- Conch Piercing:Usually a labret stud is the ideal starter jewelry for a conch piercing.
- Orbital Piercing: More often than not, you’ll see a segment ring or a captive ring placed through an orbital piercing.
- Rook Piercing: You’ll often see small captive rings as rook piercing starter jewelry, but a few of our Unbreakable body jewelry pieces are ideal for these piercings. You could try one of the little hearts, an orb, or even a seamless niobium ring.
- Snug Piercing: A small captive bead ring is the ideal starter jewelry for a snug piercing.
- Tragus Piercing: Labret studs make the best tragus piercing starter jewelry.
- Transverse Lobe Piercing: If you get a transverse lobe piercing, your piercer will use a straight barbell of an appropriate length to span the width of your earlobe at an angle.
Ear piercing aftercare is the same no matter what type of ear piercing you have. There are some basic dos and don’ts to follow as part of lobe piercing aftercare and cartilage piercing aftercare alike:
- Clean your ear 3 to 6 times per day with a sea salt solution cleanser like Recovery Saline Solution or H2Ocean.
- Avoid getting hairspray and other hair products on your ear.
- Eat well, hydrate, and generally take care of yourself so your body heals faster.
- Use sea salt solution-soaked cotton balls to soften and loosen "crusties" (i.e. dried lymph the body naturally excretes during the healing process).
- DO NOT touch your jewelry unless your hands are freshly washed or you’re wearing gloves.
- DO NOT twist, tug, or unnecessarily handle your body jewelry.
- DO NOT change your jewelry prematurely.
- DO NOT drink alcohol or use tobacco products.
- DO NOT use aspirin initially, since it can thin your blood and make you bleed more.
Learn more here: Earlobe Piercings & Cartilage Piercings
We offer thousands of body jewelry variations, including French hook earrings, labret studs, circular barbells, captive bead rings, bent barbells, plugs, tunnels, and beyond. Use the chart below for easy access to our various store categories.
Earlobe piercings are much easier to stretch than cartilage piercings. It isn’t impossible to stretch your cartilage, but it can be uncomfortable and takes a lot of time to do it safely. For this reason, many people prefer to be pierced with a large-gauge needle or have their cartilage punched. For more on cartilage stretching, check out The Ins & Outs of Stretching Cartilage.
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to stretching your earlobes. You should wait at least 1.5 times as long as it initially took your earlobes to heal in between stretches, unless you’re using the stretching tape method.
Learn more here: Earlobe Piercings & Cartilage Piercings.
Check out any of our articles and blog posts as additional resources:
- Earlobe Piercings & Cartilage Piercings
- Industrial Piercing FAQs
- Types of Body Piercings
- The Ins & Outs of Stretching Cartilage
- Stretching the Size of Your Ears
- Painful Pleasures Forum
- Body Mod Photo Gallery
If you're interested in shopping for earrings, visit our Body Jewelry section or go directly to one of the pages listed below:
- Earrings: Shop for French hook, stud, dangle, large-gauge, and traditional earrings.
- Captive Bead Rings: Shop for standard captive bead rings, segment rings, and seamless rings.
- Circular Barbells: Shop for horseshoe barbells in implant grade steel or high-quality titanium.
- Unbreakable Body Jewelry: Shop for hand-made jewelry manufactured in-house, including various unique rings for cartilage piercings.
- Septum Rings & Hoops: Septum rings can often make excellent earrings. Shop for septum and earrings in a variety of styles.
- Organic Body Jewelry: Shop for plugs, tunnels, ear weights, and earrings made of mother of pearl, abalone, bone, horn, and other organic materials.
- Plugs & Tunnels: Shop for earlets, plugs, and tunnels, from Kaos softwear to organic pieces.
- Limitless Custom Jewelry: Shop for custom-designed plugs made in-house.
- Glass Jewelry: Shop for remarkably smooth, comfortable glass ear jewelry.