The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Ear Piercings

The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Ear Piercings featured image
Lara Callahan / Refinery29 for Getty Images / knape / Getty Images

Ear piercing is an art form, and curating the perfect stack is a mission we approach with serious dedication. But as playful and creative as ear piercings are, they require thoughtful consideration. After all, not all ear piercings are equal; some require an exponentially long healing time, while others demand more expensive jewelry or extra attentive care.

To help you decide what ear piercing to get next, we spoke with Johnny Pearce, a professional body piercer at Nine Moons Piercing, and Sarah Lacy, associate director of piercing research and innovation at Rowan for their expert insight. Keep scrolling to explore our comprehensive guide to the various types of ear piercings, including their location, healing time, approximate cost, and more.

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Standard Lobe

Sarah Lacy from Rowan explains that a standard lobe piercing is often “the first piercing for many people, especially for a child’s first piercing.” It targets “the fleshy part of the lower ear,” which is known for its relatively speedy healing compared to other areas.

With standard lobe piercings, you can get creative with the exact placement. According to Johnny Pearce, “there are many variations and combinations of earlobe piercings,” ranging from stacked lobes to single high lobes to piercing constellations.

Healing Time: ~2-3 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry, per piercing

standard ear piercing
Lara Callahan / Refinery29 for Getty Images
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Situated on the “upper ridge of the outer ear” and pronounced “hee-luhks,” Pearce explains that like all cartilage piercings, this one takes “longer to heal and requires extra care compared to lobe piercings due to the lack of blood flow in the area.”

For this type of piercing, your technician will likely require a flatback stud for the initial healing.

Healing Time: ~6-9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

helix ear piercing
Smile / Getty Images
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Unlike traditional helix piercings, which live on the upper ridge of the year, a mid-helix is true to its name because it’s located “between the upper helix and the lobe,” per Lacy. This type of piercing is also referred to as a mid-piercing or mid-cartilage piercing, as noted by Pearce.

Bubbers notes that a common trend among customers has been what the brand has dubbed a “Studs Snakebite,” or two mid-helix piercings placed close together. “It packs a punch and draws more attention to your Earscape,” she adds.

Healing Time: ~9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

studs earrings
Courtesy of Studs
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Forward Helix

Forward helix piercings target “the folded area of the outer cartilage closest to your face,” says Lacy. Pearce tells us that it’s also called a felix piercing, or, when three are pierced together: a triple forward helix.

Healing Time: ~6-9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

forward helix ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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When someone asks for a tragus piercing (pronounced “tray-guhs,”) they’re referring to “the small hump (sometimes double hump) of cartilage where your cheek meets your ear,” says Pearce. “It can be found protruding in front of the ear canal.” As a word of warning, Pearce warns that you won’t be able to wear inner earbud-style headphones or a stethoscope during the healing process.

Healing Time: ~6-9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

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The anti-tragus piercing lives across from a traditional tragus piercing. Pearce defines its location as “the small bump opposite the tragus, better identified as the dense ridge between your earlobe and the lowest point of the conch basin.” He adds that the healing process is longer and more challenging compared to the traditional version, and you’ll want to be cautious about using earbuds or stethoscopes to prevent irritation.

For this type of piercing, technicians typically use curved barbells and flat back labret studs, says Pearce, though those initial style preferences may vary.

Healing Time: ~9+months

Cost: $45 service fee + cost of jewelry

anti-tragus earring
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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Snug piercings are located on the “defined ridge alongside the mid-helix area separating the outer ear from the conch basin of the inner ear, located directly above the ridge of the anti-tragus,” says Pearce. “It’s one of the most difficult cartilage piercings to heal successfully due to tissue density and impact trauma from its exposed and accessible location.” Before committing to it, the pro warns that It will often undergo “dramatic swelling and discomfort during periods of irritation.”

Healing Time: ~9 months-1.5 years

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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Conch piercings are located on what both Lacy and Pearce describe as the “bowl” of the ear. “This piercing is often regarded as one of the easiest to heal of all the cartilage piercings,” says Pearce/ It can house larger pieces without looking overwhelming, you can switch to rings once it’s healed or even integrate charms and chain attachments to your stud to emulate a ring.

And because it’s visible when forward facing, it quickly becomes an integral part of your look.”

Healing Time: ~6-9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

conch ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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Outer Conch

An outer conch piercing refers to “various locations surrounding the outer rim of the conch,” explains Peace, “sometimes found above or entirely outside of the conch basin entirely or slightly to the outside of a traditional conch placement.” It’s also referred to as a “flat piercing, lower flat, or floating helix,” with these terms often used interchangeably with outer conch. Pearce notes that this piercing typically has a slightly increased difficulty in healing and consequently, a slightly longer healing time compared to a traditional conch piercing.

Healing Time: ~7-9 months

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

outer conch ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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Industrial piercings “connect the forward helix area of the ear with the location of traditional cartilage using a single, elongated barbell,” says Pearce. “The traditional industrial piercing requires a very specific anatomy to accommodate the placement and ensure the best possibility of healing successfully. These can be prone to tissue damage if not pierced correctly.”

Healing Time: ~9-12 months+

Cost: $80 service fee + cost of jewelry

industrial ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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Daith piercings reside on “the innermost ridge of the ear below the rook and above the tragus, positioned nearly inside the ear canal,” notes Pearce. “This piercing is one of the few that wears a ring during the initial healing stages.” And you’ll want to note that this type of jewelry costs more than a traditional stud. “Solid gold fixed bead rings start around $200 and vary depending upon size and gold weight,” says Pearce.

The expert says it has a longer healing time than other cartilage piercings and, like the aforementioned tragus piercing, make wearing headphones or a stethoscope uncomfortable.

Healing Time: ~9 months-1.5 years

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

daith ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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A rook piercing is located on “the dense fold of cartilage located on the upper-inner ear, extending from behind the forward helix, toward the where the flat of the ear meets the upper part of the conch basin,” says Pearce.

Healing Time: ~6 months-1 year

Cost: $40 service fee + cost of jewelry

rook ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing
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An orbital piercing is “two or more piercings connected by a single circular piece of jewelry, typically on the lobe or miscellaneous ear cartilage, but not limited to these positions,” says Pearce. This type of piercing “requires pre-planning, precise placement, coordinating angles and intentional spacing to ensure the jewelry fits in a way that is both aligning with the aesthetic vision and ensures successful healing.”

“Sometimes using two separate flat back studs for initial healing phases proves most successful and will later be transferred to a single ring to achieve the desired look of the piercing.”

Healing Time: ~3 months-1.5 years

Cost: $40 service fee (x2) + cost of jewelry

orbital ear piercing
Johnny Pearce & Nine Moons Piercing

How to take care of your piercing

To take care of your piercing, Rowan recommends spritzing it with an antibacterial spray (such as the brand’s Advanced Ear Cleansing Solution ($20). Avoid touching the piercing or sleeping on it. (FYI: The brand carries a brilliantly designed Piercing Pillow ($44) to make that rule less challenging to follow.)

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When can you change your piercing?

When you can change your piercing depends on several factors, so you should follow the instructions of your piercer. “Healing time frames vary based on an individual’s health and how carefully they follow their aftercare regimen; however, in general, you may be able to change your jewelry around the six-month mark,” says Lacy. This time frame will vary person-to-person and may change depending on what kind of jewelry is in your piercing (example: flatback vs. standard butterfly-back).” Lacy underscores that this is a very general guideline; some people may find that their piercings feel ready to change as soon as 12 weeks after a piercing, while others may not be ready until one year later.

What type of piercing jewelry should you consider?

“A stud is recommended for all piercings, regardless of ear location,” says Lacy. “There are many options available, including butterfly backs, bell backs, and flatbacks. Putting a hoop into a new piercing is not recommended, as this can create excess friction in the area, leading to adverse outcomes. Hoops are great to put in once the piercing has healed.”

What should you do if your piercing gets infected?

“If you suspect your piercing is infected, it’s important to avoid using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or over-the-counter ointments such as Neosporin on and around your piercing,” says Lacy. Often, these can worsen your symptoms and create more harm than good. The safest way to treat an infected piercing is to have your primary care provider evaluate and treat the infection.”

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