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Industrial Piercing FAQs

Traditional Industrial Piercing With Straight Industrial BarbellIndustrial piercings are one of the most popular types of ear piercings for guys and girls alike. If you’ve caught the industrial piercing bug and are thinking about getting one, you may have some questions. Our Industrial Piercing FAQs will answer those questions and more! We cover everything from industrial piercing cost to aftercare to industrial piercing jewelry and beyond.


Frequently Asked Industrial Piercing Questions

Q. What is an industrial piercing?
Q. Do I have to wear an industrial barbell or are there other jewelry options for my industrial piercing?

Q. What’s the benefit of having something other than an industrial barbell as my starter jewelry?
Q. Is an industrial bar piercing the same as or different from an industrial piercing?
Q. Is it more common to get an industrial piercing in the right ear, the left ear, or both ears?
Q. How much is an industrial piercing?
Q. Where can I get an industrial piercing done?
Q. What gauge is an industrial piercing typically?
Q. What’s the best industrial piercing aftercare regimen?
Q. Why does my industrial piercing hurt?
Q. What kind of industrial piercing jewelry can I buy?
Q. Is it possible and safe to stretch my industrial piercing holes?


Answers to Common Industrial Piercing Questions

Q. What is an industrial piercing?

A. An industrial piercing isn’t actually a single piercing. It’s two or more piercings of the ear cartilage that are connected by a single barbell. Most commonly, two holes are placed in the upper ear cartilage roughly 1.5” apart and connected by a long, straight barbell. Depending on the size of your ear and the location of the opposing piercings, your piercer may place the holes for your industrial piercing slightly closer together or further apart.

A traditional industrial piercing is comprised of a helix piercing and an anti-helix piercing. A helix piercing goes through the outer curve of the upper ear, whereas an anti-helix piercing goes through the ear cartilage closer to where the top of the ear connects to the head. Connecting the two piercings with a straight barbell makes them an industrial piercing.

There are other placements and configurations that are also considered industrial piercings. Some people opt for vertical industrial piercings that connect two conch piercings, a rook and a daith piercing, an anti-helix and a rook piercing, or a daith and a lower conch piercing, just to name a few options. Technically, if you had the right shape ear, you could run an industrial barbell through four piercings: an anti-helix, a daith, a rook, and a lower conch. As for configurations, you can run two vertical industrials side-by-side through the conch, or in a crisscross pattern through the upper ear, which is called a cage.


Q. Do I have to wear an industrial barbell or are there other jewelry options for my industrial piercing?

A. When you get an industrial piercing, you can either let your piercer put in a standard industrial barbell, or you can ask for separate pieces of jewelry to wear until your fistulas (i.e. holes where you were pierced) fully heal. Some people opt for labrets, short straight barbells, mini curved barbells (particularly when a rook or daith piercing is part of your industrial ear project), small seamless rings, or even captive bead rings.


Q. What’s the benefit of having something other than an industrial barbell as my starter jewelry?

A. Ear cartilage piercings like single, double or triple helix piercings, rook piercings, daith piercings, conch piercings, and industrial piercings that combine two or more other ear cartilage piercings can stay tender for many months after being pierced. Sometimes simple, separate pieces of jewelry work best for cartilage piercings during that extra-sensitive initial healing period. If you have longer hair, it’s more likely to get caught up in and pull on an industrial barbell than labrets, short barbells, or even small rings. Also, some people say an industrial barbell puts more pressure on their healing fistulas than individual rings or barbells do, particularly when sleeping. 

If you go the traditional route and opt for an industrial barbell initially, be sure to keep long hair tied back as often as possible during the healing process (especially at night!) and try to sleep either on your back or the opposite side of your head from your industrial barbell.


Q. Is an industrial bar piercing the same as or different from an industrial piercing?

Painful Industrial Barbell - Industrial Piercing JewelryA. An industrial piercing and an industrial bar piercing are one and the same. There are a few other names for this type of piercing, including industrial barbell piercing, scaffold piercing, and construction piercing. In England, Ireland and throughout the UK, you may hear this type of piercing referred to simply as the “bar”.


Q. Is it more common to get an industrial piercing in your right ear, left ear, or both ears?

A. There’s no “right” side for industrial barbells. You can have your right ear, left ear or both ears pierced. It just depends on your preference and one important factor: If you’re a side sleeper, you may want to get the ear opposite the side you sleep on pierced. Otherwise you’re almost guaranteed to wake up with a throbbing, red, super-irritated ear every morning. Think about that long and hard before you get both ears done simultaneously. If you really want a matching pair of industrials, you might want to start with one, wait a few months, and then have the other ear pierced once the first one calms down.


Industrial Piercing Cage

Q. How much is an industrial piercing?

A. Industrial ear piercing prices vary from place to place. Generally speaking, though, the cost for an industrial piercing is likely to be lower in a more rural area than it would be in a bustling city. The reason is that property tends to cost more to rent or own in bigger cities, since shop space is in high demand, but available property is limited. The high property costs in turn drives up the prices a shop has to charge for the services it provides.

At our shops, Body Mod Ink in Annapolis, MD, and The Studio at Painful Pleasures in Hanover, MD, we charge $50 for an industrial piercing. Both of our shops are in the Washington Metropolitan area, so our prices may be somewhat higher than what you’d find in, say, rural Montana, but they’re likely lower than what you’d pay to get a piercing in New York City.

To see how prices compare in your area, call a couple of the shops closest to you. Don’t decide where to get an industrial piercing based on price alone though. A bargain-basement deal on an industrial piercing done in someone’s home may get you a bonus infection, so evaluate deals carefully. The best thing you can do is to find a piercer who comes highly recommended, who is (preferably) certified by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), and who works in a sanitary, licensed shop.


Industrial Barbells for Industrial Ear PiercingsQ. Where can I get an industrial piercing done?

A. Contrary to the popular misconception, there’s no part of the ear called an “industrial”, so the appropriate response to someone who asks “Where can I get my industrial pierced” would be “nowhere!”

Jokes aside, the best place to get an industrial piercing is at a licensed tattoo and piercing shop. First, though, you should ask your pierced friends for recommendations. Once you have the names of a couple piercers who come highly recommended, look them up online to see if you can find any pictures of their work or reviews clients have written about them. Narrow your choices down to one or two top picks, and then visit their establishments to check out their portfolios and make sure their facilities are sanitary. You can ask to see their business licenses, their APP certifications, and even their autoclaves. Ask to see before and after pictures of their work—i.e. pictures of healed piercings in addition to freshly-done ones. If your preferred piercer isn’t APP certified, don’t worry; that isn’t a deal-breaker as long as they meet the rest of your criteria and you’ve gotten genuinely positive reviews about them.

For additional tips on selecting a piercer to do your industrial piercing, check out our APP Tips for Choosing a Piercer and Choosing a Piercer articles.


Q. What gauge is an industrial piercing typically?Candy Stripe Zigzag Industrial Piercing Bar

A. The starting gauge for industrial barbell piercings is typically 14g. If your piercer uses a 16g needle to make the holes for your industrial piercing, you can swap your starter jewelry out for a 14g barbell relatively easily once your piercings are healed. If you need to use a little lubrication to get the slightly larger barbell in, use a water-based lubricant like Astroglide. Better yet, ask your piercer to help you change your jewelry for the first time.

Stretching cartilage takes a lot of time and patience. If at some point you really want to stretch your industrial piercing holes much beyond 14 gauge, read through our article, The Ins and Outs of Stretching Cartilage, first.


Q. What’s the best industrial piercing aftercare regimen?

Recovery Piercing Aftercare SprayA. The best industrial piercing aftercare regime is basically the same as it is for every other external piercing. Keep it clean, take care of yourself in general—eat well, get good rest, be hygienic, etc.—and do your best to avoid bacteria. More specifically…

~ Avoid hot tubs, saunas, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water (salt water and fresh water alike) to minimize exposure to bacteria.

~ Reduce or eliminate your intake of alcohol, nicotine and aspirin.

~ Use a good-quality sea salt solution to cleanse your industrial piercing 3-6 times per day, or as instructed by your piercer. We recommend Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray.

~ Avoid harsh soaps, creams, oils, ointments, and balms. Soap can dry the skin out around your piercing, and cracked skin is more susceptible to infection. Thick substances like creams and oils can clog your healing fistulas, trapping in bacteria and potentially leading to infection.

~ If you want to add a natural antiseptic and moisturizer to your routine, add 1-3 drops of tea tree oil to a homemade sea salt solution (SSS). You’ll find our recommended SSS recipe and more helpful aftercare tips in our Body Piercing Aftercare article, including determining whether or not you’re allergic to the type of metal in the jewelry you’re wearing, what to do if you suspect you’ve developed an infection, and much more.


Q. Why does my industrial piercing hurt?

A. It’s normal for an industrial piercing to hurt for quite awhile after getting pierced. Some ear cartilage piercings stay sore for 6-8 months or more. How long you experience soreness/tenderness around your industrial piercing directly correlates to where you are in the healing process. For example, when your piercing is fresh, your ear may throb constantly, but after a couple months, it may only be sore if you accidentally sleep on that side.

There isn’t a specific industrial piercing healing time, because there are so many different industrial configurations and because people heal at different rates. Someone who performs religious industrial piercing aftercare and is generally healthy will heal faster than someone who neglects their piercing or themselves in general. The average industrial piercing healing time is 6 months, but yours could heal within 3 months or it could take up to a year, depending on how well you care for your piercings and yourself in general.   Butterfly Industrial Barbell

There are a couple things you can do to minimize your discomfort during the industrial piercing healing process. When your ear starts to feel hot and throb, spritz on some Recovery Aftercare Spray or another high-quality sea salt-based solution to cool and soothe the irritated skin. You can also take some Ibuprofen for the swelling and discomfort, if you can tolerate it. Icing your ear isn’t recommended, but you can apply a cold water compress as long as you only use the washcloth for a single application and then wash it immediately afterwards. Do NOT ring out the washcloth, re-wet it and re-apply it; you don’t want to risk introducing bacteria


Arrow Through Heart Industrial Piercing JewelryQ. What kind of industrial piercing jewelry can I buy?

A. We have tons of awesome industrial piercing jewelry for you to choose from once your industrial is fully healed. Shop for barbells with words on them, like “Angel” and “Sexy”, industrial jewelry with pretty charms, zigzag industrial bars, simple straight industrial bars made of titanium or surgical steel, and much more! You can also create your own custom industrial piercing jewelry by purchasing a straight barbell in just the right length for your unique industrial piercing and getting your choice of 12g or 14g (1.2mm) internally-threaded ends to pair with it. We offer everything from white gold balls inset with diamonds to surgical steel cones to Swarovski crystal ends and beyond! Gem Balls for Industrial Barbells

If you prefer to wear separate pieces of jewelry in each of your ear cartilage piercings until they’re well healed and you’re comfortable connecting them with an industrial bar, we have plenty of other options for you, too. Remember, you can wear captive bead rings, labret studs, short straight barbells, or even short curved barbells in your ear cartilage piercings while waiting for them to heal enough for you to comfortably wear industrial bars. Shop for body jewelry now!


Q. Is it possible and safe to stretch my industrial piercing holes?Spiral Jewelry for Industrial Ear Piercing

A. If you look back at our Q&A “What gauge is an industrial piercing typically”, you’ll see that we don’t recommend stretching ear cartilage. It’s not impossible, but it does take a lot of time and patience—much more than stretching soft tissue like your earlobes does. The least traumatic way to do it would be to wrap your barbell with stretching tape. That allows you to go up a fraction of a size at once without as much trauma to your cartilage. Put plenty of time in between stretches—at least twice as long as it took your cartilage piercings to heal initially, if not longer. For more information and tips, check out our The Ins and Outs of Stretching Cartilage first.


Happy piercing!

If you have industrial piercing questions not covered here, please check out the Ear Piercings section of our Forum to read about other people’s experiences, post questions, and get answers from our knowledgeable forum moderators and community members. You’re also welcome to share pictures of your piercings and/or tattoos in our Body Mod Photo Gallery, or just peruse the photos other community members have shared to get ideas for your next mod. You can also go straight to our Industrial Piercing Pictures section, if desired.