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A guide to ear piercings – including the looks we love

best piercings guide

Ear piercings hold the potential to change the way we see things, much like tattoos (only more painful, if you're asking me), but choosing the right spot for yours can be challenging in more ways than one. It could be down to your ear shape or the side that you sleep on. Thankfully, stylist and creative director Tamila Purvis has recently added professional piercing to her resume, and she's talking us through her favourite piercings alongside her tips to promote healing and avoid disasters.


On successfully getting and healing a new piercing...

There are a few myths carried over from our experimental youth. Firstly, never get a piercing performed by a gun. They can traumatise the skin from the harsh impact and can be very inaccurate for the piercing placement. Most cartilage piercings can't be accessed by a gun anyway.

Don’t twist your newly pierced earring. The skin is super delicate when healing, and twisting it will rip and aggravate any new skin that has formed. Also, your hands are covered in bacteria, so you want to avoid touching the area.

Never take out the earring used for the initial piercing until it is fully healed. It can be tempting to want to change it up especially if you’ve got months ahead, but it will most likely cause infection and delay the healing process.


On what to look for in a piercing studio...

It’s good to have a piercer that you trust stylistically, so take a look at their portfolio or Instagram account to see if you like what they do. I like to spend a little time with my clients working out the placement and jewellery, their lifestyles and potential healing times of each placement.

You want clear communication and an understanding of not only the style and design of the ear but also how that will work with the client's capacity to heal their piercing, especially if they’re wanting multiple. The jewellery will not be changed for some time, so find a studio that supplies jewellery you want to wear. The jewellery should be solid 18k gold or titanium as these are the least irritating metals for the skin.

All reputable piercers use a surgical marker, which has purple ink, to mark your placement. Seems crazy but I’ve seen piercings that have been tattooed black from a piercer using a regular pen.

Other very essential points to note are: professional piercers use sterilised needles made especially for piercing, never piercing guns. The studio should look and obviously be very clean, and use an autoclave for sterilisation. They should have a license to operate and have certification by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) or the AUPP in Australia. Your piercer should also have Bloodborne Pathogen and First Aid/CPR Certification.


On how to heal your piercing smoothly...

The number one trick for healing is cleaning. Wash and clean your new piercing twice a day, gentle pressure in the shower with liquid castile soap is the best to soften any crusty matter. Then you need to spray with saline solution, gently removing crusties and drying with a cotton tip or flat cotton pad. This routine is often overlooked but it's essential for the piercing to heal smoothly.

It’s normal for a piercing to seem healed one day and be tender with a little fluid the next. This is part of the healing process. As long as it’s not swollen, red and sore with actual pus, then just keep cleaning and spraying it twice a day until it settles down again. And no touching with bare hands! A salt soak, which is a cotton ball compress soaked in a cup of warm water with a pinch of sea salt, twice a week, can also really help. If it gets worse or you’re not sure, go and see your piercer to check it out.

Maintain good bed hygiene, change your pillowcases often, and try not to sleep on the side that’s healing too much, or at all. For this reason, I advise clients to get piercings on one side at a time.

Good health is also imperative, if you’re stressed and run down, your piercings will take longer to heal.


What are the different types of ear piercings? Here are 14 we like


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1. Rook


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This is a cool little piercing, jewellery can be a bit limited for this guy but if you love a double barbell (which I do!) then it’s a classic look.


2. Tragus


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This is a great placement if you wear your hair down because it's closest to your face. You’ll just have to be mindful during your skincare routine not get serums and lotions on it and like all cartilage piercings, it will take around 3-6 months to heal.


3. Forward helix


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Also a great placement if you wear your hair down a lot, and the healing time may be a little less than the tragus. When you’re deciding on the exact placement, just check your sunglasses don’t touch it.


4. Anti-tragus


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This is a thicker area of the ear so the healing time could be longer, but it's a cool placement especially for a fifth or sixth piercing (who's counting?).


5. Orbital


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This is one of my favourites. An orbital piercing is any piercing is a combination of two piercing connected by one hoop – although it's most popular on the lobe and auricle area. This guy takes three months minimum to heal, depending on where you get it pierced.

6. Inner conch


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This is a nice little protected spot for a piercing to heal. I love the look of a larger gemstone stud nestled into the ear here but you’ll have to use your headphones, not your AirPods.


7. Lobe

The most common ear piercing, which is placed on the pillowy part of the ear called the Lobule. You can get multiple piercings in this area depending on the size and shape of your ear.


8. Daith


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Placed on the ridge below the rook, the Daith piercing hugs the cartilage on the inside of your ear and is situated slightly lower than the forward Helix, meaning a similar healing time and process.


9. High Lobe


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As you might expect, the high lobe piercing is situated slightly higher than a standard lobe piercing and is colloquially known as a "second" piercing. This one still has a similar healing time to a standard lobe piercing of 6-8 weeks.


10. Snug

This one is located in the inner ridge of cartilage between the helix and the conch piercing. They generally take 4-6 months to heal, and once they do they look incredible.


11. Flat piercing


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As the name implies, this piercing lands on the flattest part of the upper ear between the rook and the helix and can take 6-12 months to heal.


12. Auricle piercing


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The auricle is situated between the helix and the conch, but unlike the snug, is pierced through the ear (from front to back) instead of through the ridge. The healing time is anywhere between 3-8 months.


13. Industrial


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Industrial piercings mean business. They're basically a barbell that connects a helix and forward helix piercing. Given they're more involved, expect a longer healing time frame. It's not uncommon for an industrial piercing to take a year to heal.


14. Helix


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These are vaguely referred to as cartilage piercings, a carry-all term for those around the outer edges of the ear. You'll know them when you see it.

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Images: @mariatash @pamelalove @pamelalove @tamilapurvis