Body jewelry comes in a wide range of sizes. How do you know what gauges are best for different piercings and which body jewelry sizes will work for your piercings? Don't worry, the answers to all of your body jewelry gauge and standard piercing size questions are here!
Note that jewelry length and diameter vary for every person and piercing, so while you can expect to be offered a typical gauge when being pierced, you won't often be offered jewelry in a standard length or diameter. For instance, maybe your friend had her lip pierced with a 10mm circular barbell, but because your lip's a bit thicker or you want your piercing placed a little lower beneath your bottom lip, you'll need a ring that's 12mm in diameter. Your professional piercer can tell you the best length or diameter starter jewelry for the piercing you're getting and your anatomy. If you'd like a different gauge than the standard piercing sizes listed below, talk to your piercer about it; s/he should be accommodating or be able to provide you with a good reason as to why a gauge different from what you want should be used.
Typical Starting Piercing Sizes
Belly Button Piercing Sizes - Normally belly piercings are done with either a 14 gauge or a 12 gauge needle, followed by jewelry in the same size. You can ask for a larger gauge, like 10 gauge, if you're really concerned about migration (a common problem with belly button piercings that can be minimized with heavier-gauge jewelry). The only downside to asking for a non-standard belly ring size is that most cute belly button rings come in 14 gauge or 12 gauge. That said, we can teach you how to change the barbell on any belly ring you like in our How to Modify Your Belly Ring article. Note: We do not recommend smaller gauges for belly piercings because of the high rejection rate with this type of piercing. A 12g belly piercing is really ideal for preventing migration.
Bridge Piercing Sizes - As with eyebrow piercings, bridge piercings are surface piercings in an area that isn't terribly fleshy. That means you have to balance the need for a heavy-enough gauge that will minimize migration with the need for a barbell that's small enough to fit in the limited space available to be pierced. 18 gauge tends to be the best bridge piercing size option, although you should go with 16 gauge if your piercer says there's enough skin to use that size jewelry without piercing too close to the surface of the skin.
Cartilage Piercing Sizes - Cartilage piercings are typically done around 18 gauge, but it isn't unheard of for a piercer to use a needle as small as 22 gauge or as large as 16 gauge. Of course, you can request that your piercer use a heavier-gauge needle, but it's best not to start out much larger than 12 gauge. Cartilage piercings tend to stay sensitive for many months (anywhere from 6-9, on average); adding heavy-gauge jewelry to the mix during the healing process is just asking for extra discomfort. If you really want to start at a larger size, then consider having a lightweight jewelry made of a material like BioPlast inserted as your starter jewelry.
Dermal Piercing Sizes - Dermal piercings are typically done in smaller sizes, like 18 gauge or 16 gauge. There are 12 gauge and 14 gauge dermal piercing jewelry options available, too, though. The size you choose really depends on where on your body you're being pierced. A facial dermal piercing will likely be small (18g), but a dermal piercing placed on your chest may be a little larger (14g-ish)
Earlobe Piercing Sizes - Most earlobe piercings start out around 20 gauge to 18 gauge. Occasionally a piercer will use a 22 gauge needle, but 20 gauge is more typical. Most French hook earrings and standard stud earrings are size 20 gauge.
If you want to start at a higher gauge, it's better to be pierced with a heavier-gauge needle rather than having your earlobe punched. When a dermal punch is used, the tissue is removed permanently. A needle simply parts the flesh, which means that it has a better potential for growing back together if you later decide you don't want your ear piercing holes to be so large after all.
Eyebrow Piercing Sizes - 16 gauge and 18 gauge are the most common starting eyebrow piercing sizes. As with belly button piercings, the heavier gauge you start out with, the better off you'll be. This is a surface piercing that's highly prone to migration, but the problem can be minimized with slightly heavier eyebrow rings. Avoid 20 gauge and anything smaller unless you have a small face/very fine features and your piercer feels it's the only option for you.
Frenum Piercing Sizes - Frenum piercings are surface piercings, so it's best to use a somewhat heavier-gauge needle and straight barbell for them. 12 gauge is a good starting size, although you can request anywhere from 14 gauge to 8 gauge or even larger, if desired. It will take a little time for your partner to get used to your new male genital piercing, so starting with a more moderate size, like 12 gauge, is highly recommended. You can easily stretch to a larger size later, once you know your partner is comfortable with the feel of your jewelry during intercourse.
Industrial Piercing Sizes - The most common starting industrial piercing size is 14 gauge. However, some people choose to have a smaller barbell, such as a 16 gauge barbell, inserted, while others prefer to start with a larger size like 12 gauge. You'll find that more of our industrial piercing barbells are available in 14g, but we do have options in other sizes. You can use any of our straight barbells in an industrial piercing, too, which gives you tons more options in sizes other than the standard 14 gauge.
Lip Piercing Sizes - The gauge used for a lip piercing depends in part on the type of lip piercing you're getting. A labret, Monroe or Medusa piercing will typically be done with either a 16 gauge or 18 gauge labret stud. If you want something more delicate for your Monroe piercing, then you could request a 20 gauge stud. If you're getting a horizontal lip piercing or a variation like snake bites, then you could go with a 14 gauge or even 12 gauge captive bead ring or circular barbell. As with any piercing, you can request a larger or smaller size; those are just the most typical starting sizes for the various types of horizontal lip piercings.
Nipple Piercing Sizes - The most common starting sizes for nipple piercings are 14 gauge and 12 gauge. The higher the gauge, the less likely you'll have an issue with migration. That said, most cute nipple rings are available in either 14 gauge or 12 gauge--which shouldn't hinder you from starting at a larger size if you want to; it's just a consideration. As long as your barbells have the same thread pattern as jewelry in a different size that has decorative ends you like, you can mix and match those decorative ends with your larger barbells. (Note: Thread size information can be found in the blue "Details" box on the left side of every jewelry product detail page on our site.)
Nostril Piercing Sizes - 20 gauge and 18 gauge are the most common starting sizes for nostril rings, although 16 gauge follows close behind as a popular starting nose piercing size.
Other Genital Piercing Sizes - The size jewelry used for any of the many male and female genital piercings depends in large part on the type of piercing and your anatomy. You'll find that most piercers will recommend jewelry in the 16 gauge to 12 gauge range for other female genital piercings, like labia piercings, and anywhere from 14 gauge to 10 gauge for various male genital piercings, like apadravya and ampallang piercings. (Note: Some women stretch their labia piercings until they can wear 8 gauge or larger tunnels in them, like the ones shown to the right. Tunnels can be worn alone or with captive bead rings through them.)
Prince Albert Piercing Sizes - Prince Albert, or PA piercings are done in a wide range of sizes, most typically between 10 gauge and 6 gauge. You'll find that many PA wands are available in larger sizes like 6 gauge, but if you want to wear a captive bead ring (highly recommended as your starter jewelry), then you may want to start with a 10 gauge or 8 gauge ring. Give your partner time to get used to your new addition, and then stretch your PA piercing to a larger size later, if you and your partner are comfortable with the change.
Septum Piercing Sizes - 18 gauge and 16 gauge are the two most common starting septum ring sizes, although 14 gauge isn't uncommon. Many people stretch septum piercings to much larger sizes after they're healed, but it's less common for people to start with a heavier gauge.
Surface Piercing Sizes - Depending on the location where you're having a surface piercing placed on your body, the best starting size will vary. Most surface piercing barbells are available in 12 gauge, 14 gauge or 16 gauge, although 10 gauge and some other larger sizes are also available. On average, 14 gauge tends to be the most common starting surface piercing size.
Tongue Piercing Sizes - 14 gauge tends to be the most common starting size for tongue piercings, but 12 gauge is also a popular starting tongue ring size. You aren't limited to these sizes, but we only recommend asking for a larger gauge, not one smaller than 14 gauge.
Tongue Web Piercing Sizes - Your tongue frenulum and the webs between your lips and gums are very delicate, so fine rings are typically placed in these areas. 20 gauge is often the ideal starting size for oral web piercings.
VCH & HCH Piercing Sizes - Since every woman's anatomy is different from the next, VCH and HCH piercing sizes vary. Usually finer-gauge needles are used for these delicate female genital piercings, though--e.g. 20 gauge or 18 gauge captive rings for horizontal clitoral hood piercings or 18 gauge curved barbells for vertical clitoral hood piercings. Always go with your piercer's recommendation with these types of female genital piercings, since s/he will be able to carefully measure you and know definitively what size jewelry your clitoral hood can comfortably accommodate.
Piercing Sizes Chart
Here's a quick view of the most common starting sizes for each type of piercing:
|Piercing||Typical Starting Piercing Size|
|Belly Button Piercings||14 Gauge or 12 Gauge|
|Bridge Piercings||18 Gauge or 16 Gauge|
|Cartilage Piercings||18 Gauge or 16 Gauge|
|Cheek Piercings||16 Gauge to 12 Gauge (14 Gauge on Average)|
|Dermal Piercings||18 Gauge or 16 Gauge|
|Earlobe Piercings||20 Gauge or 18 Gauge (20 Gauge Is the Most Common)|
|Eyebrow Piercings||18 Gauge or 16 Gauge|
|Frenum Piercings||14 Gauge or 12 Gauge|
|Industrial Piercings||14 Gauge|
|Lip Piercings||14 Gauge or 12 Gauge for Horizontal Lip Piercings, 18 Gauge or 16 Gauge for Stud Piercings Like Monroe Piercings|
|Nipple Piercings||14 Gauge or 12 Gauge|
|Nostril Piercings||20 Gauge or 18 Gauge|
|PA Piercings||10 Gauge to 6 Gauge|
|Septum Piercings||18 Gauge or 16 Gauge|
|Surface Piercings||16 Gauge, 14 Gauge or 12 Gauge, Depending on Location|
|Tongue Piercings||14 Gauge or 12 Gauge|
|Oral Web Piercings||20 Gauge|
|VCH & HCH Piercings||20 Gauge or 18 Gauge (The ideal size can vary dramatically based on one's anatomy.)|
Other Helpful Body Jewelry Information
Body Jewelry Measurement & Size Conversions
To learn about how body jewelry is measured, visit our Measuring Body Jewelry section. For information on which millimeter measurements correspond with which body jewelry gauges and how inches translate to millimeters, check out our helpful body jewelry size conversion resource. You'll also find ball size conversions there, which will help you convert millimeters to inches and vice versa.
Mixing & Matching Body Jewelry Parts
One of the really cool things about purchasing body jewelry from Painful Pleasures is how we use the same threading size and pattern for groups of gauges (ex. 14g and 12g internally-threaded jewelry or 10g and 8g internally-threaded jewelry). That allows you to mix and match the decorative ends you like with the size shafts they need for your piercings. For instance, much of our 14 gauge and 12 gauge internally-threaded body jewelry has the same 1.2mm thread pattern. That means you can easily unscrew the ends from a 14g piece of jewelry and place them onto a 12g barbell. If you want to move the ends from a 10g straight barbell with 1.6mm threading onto an 8g circular barbell with the same threading, you can do that, too. (Pay attention, because some 10g jewelry has 2mm threading.)
If you're interested in learning more about how you can modify your body jewelry, visit our How to Modify Your Belly Ring article with instructional videos. The information you'll find there can be applied to any type of threaded jewelry we offer. As long as the barbell you want to use has the same threading pattern and size as the decorative ends you love, there's no reason you can't mix and match to make your perfect body jewelry! Look in our Body Jewelry Parts section to pick up different sized barbells and decorative ends, or mix pieces from the Parts section with decorative ends from any coordinating piece of jewelry in our Body Jewelry section.
Tip: The threading type and size information for every piece of jewelry we sell can be found in the blue "Details" box on the left side of the page for each product.