So… I’ve recently just got my 11th ear-piercing (sorry mom). Which means it’s the perfect time to talk about my experience in getting piercings. As well as offering some advice and tips in this Ear Piercing Guide. This might be useful if you are thinking about getting a piercing yourself. As these tips have really helped me in the aftercare.
The Ear Piercing Guide
I would say the first step to getting a piercing is, of course, finding out what piercings you like. There are so many to choose from, with each having their own unique names. I’ve included an illustration to help with the names of these piercings.
We all have different pain thresholds so what might be really painful for one person might not hurt you at all. There is always going to be a degree of discomfort on varying levels. I personally don’t take pain the very well. But here I am 11 piercings later and I’m still getting them done. So the pain really isn’t that bad, it’s short-lived and something you quickly forget about once you are left with a sparkly new diamond in your ear.
I’m not a piercer, I’m just sharing what I have learnt over the past few years and I’m passing on that knowledge to you. So if in doubt, always check with your piercer as they are qualified and know what they’re doing.
Finding A Piercer
Before getting a piercing it is so important to research the person who will be poking holes in your body. Take a look at their portfolio, where you can see their work. Reach out and ask a few questions if you want to know more about a certain type of piercing. It can help make you feel more at ease if you are particularly nervous about getting it done.
If you are based in the UK then there is something called the Association of Professional Piercers. There is also an APP for the US. They are a non-profit, voluntary organization that spreads the knowledge of safe piercing practices. They have the highest standards. So you know you are visiting a great piercer if they are part of the organisation.
The APP helps you find members who are nearby to you, then from there, you can read reviews of them online. As well as taking a look at their portfolio of work. I have gone to a few different piercers in the UK, which have all been wonderful. The three studios that I have visited and can personally recommend include the following…
Hannah has been helping me out with my piercing dilemmas for a few years now. She is honestly wonderful. I couldn’t have met anyone nicer, and I send all my friends there when they want a new piercing. She has recently opened up her own piercing studio (which is amazing), so if you are based in the Midlands then it is worth paying a visit to Hannah. You can see her work here.
Adorn is also an amazing studio, this one is based closer to Wales and is easy to get to by train or car. I got my Daith pierced at Adorn, I also upgraded some of my jewellery at this studio. They have an amazing collection of jewellery pieces, some slightly more high end but absolutely stunning! Their work can be found here.
I’ve only gone here once to treat myself to new jewellery for my Birthday. They have a great range of BVLA jewellery pieces which is slightly fancier, but totally worth it. It’s a quick ride away from the centre of London and takes you to Notting Hill. So if you are based further South then I can recommend this place. See their fabulous jewellery here.
If you are based somewhere else in the UK and need help finding a piercer closer to you, feel free to leave a comment and I will be more than happy to try and help you find somewhere.
Different Types Of Piercings
Now onto the good part, the piercing talk. I will only be covering what I have had done as I have gone through the experience of getting it as well as the aftercare. This means I have a better understanding and can talk more in detail about each one.
Ahh, the good old lobe piercing where most people start.
The problem with this piercing is the fact that they are usually done with a piercing gun. Heck, I was pierced with a gun when I was 3 and again at 16. I didn’t know any better and neither did my parents. The issue is awareness, and not knowing how bad piercings guns are. They shouldn’t be allowed for a whole host of reasons and they should be avoided at all times. Piercing guns cause so many issues and are not recommended by any piercer.
Places like Claires should not even be considered for any ear-piercing. Period. A reputable piercer will use a sterile needle and jewellery of great quality. Even if it seems more daunting at the beginning to visit a piercing studio, it is the best decision you could make.
These are one of the least painful piercings you can get. It’s a great place to start. With this piercing, it usually has a warm sensation as you are getting it done with slight tenderness after that. Then the healing process is one of the easiest out of all of them. If you knock this piercing in the first week or two it might be a little tender. But a bit of TLC will help that settle down.
These piercings also take the least amount of time to heal when compared with cartilage piercings. This piercing will take anywhere between 3 to 6 months to fully heal if it has been done correctly. But it could take longer depending on how the aftercare goes. It might be worth waiting a bit longer if you want to change the jewellery out to normal earrings just to make sure you’re fully healed.
My lobes had issues with healing as I changed them out way too soon for Sterling Steel. They did not react well to my healing lobes. After a few months, I came to realise this. I went to see Hannah who swapped them out for some affordable Implant Grade Titanium pieces that was made of much better quality. Once I did that I had no issues at all. So it’s worth taking your time with lobes so you don’t have to deal with any issues with healing.
Would I Recommend? –
Totally! These piercings are a classic and one of the best areas to start with. You can play this classic look up with a few different variations or jewellery pieces. This can include a high lobe or a double lobe. Maybe even a transverse lobe or an orbital if you’re feeling super daring. There are so many options available, if you’re after something unique then it’s worth checking out these different versions.
Cartilage piercings take a lot longer to heal than lobe piercing do. So expect to be in for the long haul with this one. This is because there is less blood flow to the area. Which is why it takes so long to heal when compared to lobe piercings. With cartilage piercings, you always want to make sure you get pierced with a needle as a gun can shatter the cartilage and lead to a whole host of issues, including permanent damage in some cases.
Having a double helix was painful, they were my first cartilage piercing. With a double helix, you want to make sure you get pierced with a straight labret. As cute as ring are, they can move around and cause irritation, leading to a delayed healing process. Which isn’t good. This was a mistake that I made, as I swapped out my jewellery way too soon to a ring. As a result, this caused me to knock my ears a lot, leading to a lot of crying. It also meant my jewellery was moving around way too much.
Ooo… This one is up there in being my most painful piercing I have received. I didn’t get pierced with the correct jewellery and I was told the incorrect aftercare. Simple things such as brushing my hair, having a shower and getting dressed were things I had to pay more attention too. I had to take more time to ensure I didn’t catch my ears, but if I did catch them… oh boy I knew. Even hugging people proved to be an issue due to all of the accidental knocks.
My double helix has finally settled down, but it has taken me just over three years to get to this point. Going to a reputable piercer and visiting them for a downsize after a few months is so important. Don’t change the jewellery for yourself for at least 1 to 2 years. Even then I would say to get it changed professionally.
This piercing took me the longest to heal. I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way, but each cartilage piercing after this has gone a whole lot smoother. When getting a helix piercing I would say maybe get one at a time to help during the healing. If you do decide to get a double helix then make sure you visit someone who really knows what they are doing. The correct jewellery, placement and piercer make a huge difference!
Would I Recommend? –
A cartilage piercing is always going to take longer to heal than a lobe. Getting a helix is definitely a commitment to look after. Because of where it is, this piercing is a lot more exposed to knocks and bumps. Visiting a hairdresser became an unpleasant experience, as they always found a way to knock it. Just be sure to warn them in advance.
If you love this piercing then go for it. But just be aware that the healing will take some time and you really have to look after it. I love my helix piercings now, but there were times when I thought they would never settle down. It hasn’t put me off getting more so it really couldn’t have been that bad.
This one was such a breeze. But the aftercare proved to be quite a challenge. I had the dreaded bumps which were just a result of irritation. I initially got pierced with a hoop but that was moving around a lot and was causing some pain, so I swapped to a curved bar. This helped to settle it down a bit but I saw the biggest change when I swapped it out to the 14k Rose Gold ring that I have in now. The change of metal to something higher quality did the world of good and those bumps were gone in days.
When this was done, the process was so smooth it has to be my least painful piercing out of them all. The most discomfort came from swapping out the jewellery a few months later to help reduce the irritation.
The healing for this took just over a year and a half. The gold ring helped everything to finally settled down. Because this was such a sheltered area of the ear it was hardly knocked and sleeping wasn’t an issue after a few months. There are some really nice jewellery options for this. I’ve seen quite a few have a heart in the Daith and it looks adorable.
Would I Recommend? –
This one is a really great piercing to get, some have claimed it has helped with migraines but there’s no science behind it. But one thing to keep in mind is saying goodbye to ear buds for a while. I have small ears which means the space available is quite restricted. I can no longer listen to music in that ear through ear buds. As the ring just pushes it straight out. So if you listen to music a lot then this is something to consider when getting this done. Over the ear headphones and listening to music in the other ear are the alternatives you have to this issue.
I have one fake conch and one real conch. The ear with the ring in is actually fake! Having a Conch piercing with a ring can be quite tricky to heal. Most piercers will pierce you with a straight bar whilst it heals in the first year. Then after that, you could potentially swap it out.
If you want to get a conch piercing but you’re nervous about the pain or how it might look on you, then a fake hoop is the perfect alternative. It doesn’t hurt at all, but your ear will look fabulous. The ring in my conch was from Astrid and Miyu which offers some really gorgeous jewellery options. I’ve been eyeing up a few of their other pieces as their designs are amazing. I’ve reviewed their jewellery on my blog, that I uploaded a few months back. If you want to learn more about it then you can read that blog post here.
I would say getting my actual conch piercing was fairly painful. That area is quite a thick piece of cartilage for the needle to go through. There was a lot of pressure when I was getting it done but after that, it was just a bit tender. Some pain relief tablets for the first 1 to 2 days helped a lot with swelling and the pain.
Since the conch is protected by the outer ear, I found I wasn’t catching this piercing that much. The back of my ear did get a bit tender if my hair was resting against it for the first few months. But, for the majority of the time, I barely knew it was there. I’ve only just started sleeping on that side, but I do try to avoid as much as I can as it can be a bit tender otherwise.
The jewellery for this would be with a straight labret to help during the healing process. After a few months, it will need a downsize to a shorter bar. This is to ensure it heals straight and not at different angles.
Would I Recommend? –
Totally! This is such a nice piercing if you team it up with dainty pieces of jewellery. This was one of the easiest piercings for me to heal, there was minimal pain as I barely knocked it since it is so protected.
If you have your heart set on a ring, then you will need to wait at least a year before you swap out your jewellery to one. A fake cuff would be best as you won’t have to deal with the pain or healing process. Not to mention you can swap and change the design of the rings as many times as you would like.
My most recent addition to my collection. This was a piercing that I got to support Hannah, who recently opened up her own studio. I felt there was no better way to support her than getting a piercing! I’ve had this piercing for about three weeks now and I barely notice it’s there. At this point in my healing process, this has to be the easiest and most pain-free piercings I have ever gotten. These can migrate out if they are pierced too close to the edge, so visiting a reputable piercing and going back for checkups can prevent this from happening.
The worst part was obviously getting it done since I don’t tolerate pain very well. Then in the first week, it was quite itchy. Which has thankfully passed now but the worst part was not being able to scratch the area. Other than that I have lightly knocked it a few times mostly from resting my hand on my face or just casually brushing it with my fingers because I’ve forgotten it’s there. But overall, this is the most smooth sailing piercing I have EVER had and I love it.
Since this is so fresh I can’t comment on the full healing process just yet. I’ve already gone for a checkup to make sure things are going well and I will go again around the six-month mark. This is to see if I need a downsize. But this time next year it should be on its way to being fully healed. Hopefully, the journey continues to be this smooth and easy-going.
Would I Recommend? –
I would fully recommend this piercing. I’m not worried about my hair getting caught on it like a helix, or knocking it when I get changed. So for me, this one is easy peasy. The only time you need to be cautious of the piercing is when you apply makeup as you don’t want the germs from your makeup brushes or sponge getting caught up on an open wound. Out of all the ones I have had I would say this is a good place to start.
Jewellery plays a huge role in the healing process, I would say this is just as important as finding a professional piercer. The correct material, size and type affect the healing of the piercing. Sterling silver and surgical steel should be avoided. They have mystery metals within them that your body might not agree with.
I don’t react well to silver, due to the nickel content within them. When I wore silver in my lobes in their first year they flared up and I had a really rough time in trying to get them to settle down. They were then changed to 14k Rose Gold and Implant Grade Titanium and I’ve had no issues since.
When you are looking to get pierced Titanium or Gold are going to be your best options. Titanium is the most affordable option and is available across many reputable piercing studios. I used to get my labrets for my lobes for £10 and they were Anodised by Hannah to a rose gold colour. They worked perfectly whilst I was saving up for some gold pieces.
Other materials include Niobium and Glass these are some great high quality materials. You want to avoid plastic jewellery as the surface is not smooth on a microscopic and can harbour bacteria. It also depends on the plastic as some can react with your skin and bond to the surface. This is because the plastic has a lower melting point than the body temperature.
Externally threaded labrets need to be avoided as these create tiny tears in the ear as they get pushed through. They also trap bacteria in the threads. Internally threaded or push fit labrets are the best options for a whole host of reasons. Anatometal and Neometal offer high-quality jewellery pieces that are affordable and can be found across many reputable studios. These are names you can trust and I believe they come with a lifetime guarantee. Other companies offering high-quality pieces include LeRoi, BVLA, Industrial Strength, Gorilla Glass as well as many others.
Feel free to ask your piercer what the jewellery is before getting your ears pierced. If they are using high-quality pieces then they should be more than happy to show you. Also, they should autoclave and sterilise everything to ensure it is sanitary, the last thing you want is an infection.
Different piercings do require slightly different jewellery pieces. Your piercer will know which type is best. You could get pierced with a ring but there are issues with healing using this type. The ring moves around a lot and can drag dirt and bacteria inside the piercing. So talk to your piercer and discuss your options, also let them know if you plan to wear a ring later on as this might affect the way you get pierced.
After Care And Cleaning
This is the final step in getting a piercing. This part is important in ensuring the piercing heals well. There are a few different methods that are recommended by piercers.
The first method, and the one I love and use is something called LITHA. This means ‘Leave It The Hell Alone’. For this method all you need to do is soak your ears in the shower, spray the piercing with some sterile saline spray twice a day and that’s pretty much it. You should let your body do its thing. It minimises any disturbance to the natural healing processes which ensures the area is kept clean and it reduces the chance of irritation or infection.
This is one of the easiest methods to do but it is important to avoid touching your ears as much as possible because of the bacteria on your hands. Be sure to get a saline spray with 0.9% sodium chloride in it, as well as a spray with no additives. Here are a few saline sprays which you can use –
– Stericlens : This is one that I use, I brought it when I first got my Daith and it has been my go-to spray ever since. It has quite a strong spray so you do have to apply light pressure to control the flow a bit better.
– Easy Piercing Saline Solution : This one has quite a fine mist, it comes in a small can so you can pop it in your bag if you need a top up throughout the day. I prefer the stronger spray from the Stericlens but both do the same thing and it is down to your personal preference. I would say this spray is more gentle so you could start off with this one.
– H2Ocean : This one comes heavily recommended by so many people. I am yet to try it but I have heard nothing but good reviews about this spray.
The next method is to make your own saline solution. For this, you need a 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodised sea salt into 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Let the water cool down first before you put your ear in to soak as you don’t want to burn yourself. Let your ear soak in the water for 5 to 10 minutes and then you can carefully dry off the area with some gauze or kitchen towel. You want to avoid cotton buds at all times as the fibres from the cotton buds get dragged into the piercing and this can cause irritation. Using table salt isn’t recommended because of the preservatives that are added to it.
With your own saline solution, you want to make sure you get the amounts correct as a solution containing a lot of salt can dry out the piercing. You could gently wrap the ear with the kitchen towel or gauze soaked in saline instead of dipping your ear into the water. You want to make sure you are doing the saline soaks or sprays twice a day for the first few months. But remember to avoid touching your ears with your bare hands at all times.
Either method is good, but your piercer will give you an aftercare guide. I personally use LITHA for the majority of the time. This works the best for me as it causes no unnecessary pain as I’m not knocking it about or moving it. Instead, it can just settle down peacefully. If my ear is a bit sore or a bit tender then I will do a saline solution to help calm it down. But I avoid the use of cotton buds and I just use a kitchen towel to gently dry it off afterwards.
Things To Keep In Mind
Just remember piercing do hurt, a needle is going through your flesh. But the pain will vary on the type of piercing you get as well as the type of person you are. I have a low pain threshold so I find piercings do hurt me a fair amount, but never enough to not make me want one again. The initial pain doesn’t last long but a skilled piercer will always make the process as smooth as possible.
Sleeping for the first few months can be a challenge. You want to avoid sleeping on that side for as long as possible. It can cause the piercing to heal at the wrong angle as well as increasing the healing period. The best solution for this is a travel pillow. A good memory foam pillow will mean you can have a great night sleep without worrying about painful ears in the morning. Your ear will fit perfectly in the gap so you won’t have to worry about sleeping on it.
If you end up with a bump on your piercing it might just be from irritation. A lot of people mention keloids when they see bumps on their ear. But unless you’ve been previously diagnosed with them, it probably isn’t a keloid. Be sure to visit a piercer who will be able to assist your further. But the best way to fix the bump is to continue with salt soaks, avoid touching it and sleeping on that side.
As well as ensuring you have the correct jewellery in. You want something in which is made from either Implant Grade Titanium or 14k gold and higher. A ring can also cause a lot of movement and irritation leading to bumps. A piercer will also be able to tell you if the jewellery is causing the problem.
One final thing is if you have long hair to make sure it is tied up or in a braid overnight as it can get caught on the piercing which can be quite painful… If you decide to put it in a braid then you will be left with nice curls in the morning which is an added bonus.
But that’s it! I hope this very lengthy guide will help you on your piercing journey.
Have you got any piercings, if so how was your experience? I’d love to know!