Different Ear Piercings: A Chart Of All Names & Types

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 15, 2018
    Last Updated: March 21, 2022

There are so many types of ear piercing setups that it can be extremely difficult to choose the one you want the most! Different ear piercings come with varying pain levels, aftercare procedures, and healing times. It’s important to research each one before deciding exactly what you want to go for.

Here, we’ll take you through some of the most popular ear piercing types and what they entail. We’ll talk about what you should expect before getting an ear piercing, as well as average healing times and other helpful tips.

Different Types Of Ear Piercings

Here is a brief overview of the many different ear piercing types that you can choose to really customize your look. Keep in mind that recovery periods, prices, and even pain levels can depend upon the area that you choose.

Of course, most people who want to get their ears pierced are primarily interested in how they’ll look. This section can help you to envision your options.

Helix Piercing

A Helix piercing is a piercing located on the band of cartilage along the upper ear. This type of piercing is performed using a small gauge piercing needle. It often isn’t painful because there aren’t nerve endings in this area.

Although studs can be used in a helix piercing, you’re most likely to see a captive bead ring or barbell. We’ve placed the helix piercing at the top of our ear piercing chart due to its huge rise in popularity over the last few years.


Forward Helix

While there are many different forms of helix piercings, the forward helix piercing is probably the most popular. The location for a forward helix piercing is similar to that of a regular helix piercing, but lower, near to what is called the root of the helix.

Although a forward helix piercing can be used with a variety of jewelry or even incorporated into an industrial piercing, common forward helix piercing jewelry tends to include studs, for the most part.

Forward Helix


Industrial piercings are actually a pair of piercings that are connected with a single piece of jewelry. With an industrial piercing, one piercing is in the forward-helix area and the other is on the opposite side of the ear.

Generally, a single barbell is used to connect them, although a lot of various styles are used.

Industrial Piercing

The Snug Piercing

A Snug piercing is one of the most distinctive types of piercing. It’s located in the inner cartilage area part-way down the ear’s outer rim, just above the anti-tragus. It’s a very shallow location, which is why you’re likely to use micro jewelry with this piercing type.

Snug piercing

Rook Piercing

The rook piercing can be considered as sort of a cousin of the snug piercing. However, it’s vertically oriented and found above the tragus on the ridge separating the inner and outer conch. This piercing looks really cool with either curved barbells or captive bead rings.


Conch Piercing

Conch piercings can either be of the inner or outer variety. Many conch piercings cover both areas and use a captive bead ring for an eye-catching look. The name of this piercing comes from this part of the ear’s resemblance to conch shells. The conch piercing can take a while to perform as it’s easy to get the needle angle wrong during the procedure.

Inner conch


An orbital piercing isn’t exclusive to the ear, as it’s technically any two piercings that are linked together with one piece of jewelry. The orbital piercing is particularly popular in the helix and anti-helix areas. The needle must pass a thick section of cartilage, meaning it’s sometimes more painful than other types of piercing.



The tragus is the part of your ear right in front of your ear canal. This cartilage piercing can be more or less difficult depending on the thickness and size of your tragus cartilage. However, it’s also versatile and looks good with a number of jewelry styles.



An anti-tragus piercing is a cartilage piercing located just over a traditional ear lobe piercing. Despite it’s name, the anti-tragus is actually very similar to a tragus piercing in terms of characteristics and healing times.

Anti tragus

Lobe Piercing

The lobe piercing is still the most common piercing throughout the world. It may have been the first piercing you ever had done and is one of the quickest to clean and heal.

Many who love body modifications and piercings start with this one. Some even will continue to stretch their ear lobe piercings for a more striking and unique look.

During the procedure, the needle will only be passing through the skin and fatty tissue. The tougher and usually more painful areas of cartilage aren’t touched. This is why ear lobe piercings are normally a good first piercing to get.

Transverse Lobe

The transverse lobe piercing is a new twist on an old classic. A barbell goes horizontally through the earlobe instead of from the outside to the inside. Missing the cartilage above it means this one isn’t too painful to get. It’s also easy to clean and quick to heal.

This one is highly subject to the shape and size of your earlobe, of course.

Transverse lobe

Upper Lobe

While very similar to a standard lobe piercing, this variation is a result of the upper portion of the lobe being pierced. Like other areas of the ear lobe, the upper segment is also quite a pain-free area to get pierced.

Graduate Lobe Piercing

While less of a variation and more of an addition, a graduate lobe piercing incorporates the lower lobe, middle-lobe and upper lobe. This creates a beautiful and eye-catching triple combination.


Daith Piercing

Daith piercings are performed through the innermost cartilage fold of the ear and can be difficult to access. For this reason, they should be done by a professional that you trust, and the pain can sometimes be quite sharp.

After the piercing is done, most opt for a captive bead ring or curved barbell jewelry. One cool thing about this piercing is that it’s often credited as a potential remedy for migraines.



Also known as a rim piercing, auricle piercings are found on the rim of the cartilage near the outside of the ear. They are usually done in conjunction with one or more lobe piercings.

Auricle piercings can complement whatever piercings you already have with ease.



This piercing style is created when two piercings are closely stacked together. This is commonly done with pieces of jewelry that are similar in appearance. Mixed jewelry can also look great.

Stacked Lobe

If you’re a little worried about getting a cartilage piercing because of the pain, don’t worry! You can just keep on stacking jewelry right up your lobes and it will still look amazing. While some people prefer to have the jewelry nice and evenly spaced out over the area, others prefer a more cluttered, irregular look.


A dermal piercing is a catch-all term for piercings that have just one visible point on the surface of the skin. On the ear, they can be located just inward from the tragus, or behind the ear itself.

What To Do Before Getting A Piercing

Most of the responsibility will lie with your body piercer when you get a new piercing. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you’ll have to do leading up to the big day.


First and foremost, make sure you’ve done your research. This doesn’t just mean looking at the various types of piercings and figuring out which one is best for you. You must also make sure that you’ve considered each individual factor before moving on.

Make Sure You’re Okay With Pain / Sharp Objects

You need to be aware that a piercing will hurt, even if it’s only for a second. If you’re anxious or worried about what the pain is going to be like, it may be worth going for a lobe piercing, where tough cartilage doesn’t need to be pierced.

You also need to ensure you’re okay with needles. There have been many stories of clients going to a piercing shop, only to pass out at the site of the needle or needle gun when it comes into view.

Double-Check Prices

You’ll definitely want to look into the typical cost of the piercing you’ve chosen, including average jewelry costs for when it’s time to switch things up.

Find An Experienced Professional

It’s always a good idea to go with an experienced and knowledgeable piercer. It’s even more important to do so with a technically difficult piercing, such as the daith piercing.

It may be tempting to go with whoever has the cheapest price for a simpler piercing, such as a typical lobe. However, even these piercings can be botched, and the results can range from mildly annoying to quite serious.

Think About Jewelry

Do you have any known metal allergies? If so, make sure you know which type of jewelry you should be choosing from. If you’re not sure what to go for, it’s always best to speak to your piercing professional. They will be happy to give suggestions with regard to jewelry type, material, size and style.


Caring for ear and cartilage piercings is pretty simple, but also extremely important. Your first objective will be simply to keep your piercing clean. This can be a little difficult with ear piercings since it’s easy for shampoo and other stuff to get lodged within the wound. A cartilage piercing can be particularly tricky as it can sometimes be in an awkward location.

To deal with this, use a set routine that involves the use of a cleaning solution (which is generally obtained at the shop where you get your piercing done). Avoid the use of harsh soaps and again, don’t let soap or shampoo get in or collect in or around your piercing.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

A twice-daily cleaning routine is often advised. It’s helpful to do this when you’re already doing other things, such as brushing your teeth. This is so you don’t forget and end up subjecting yourself to setbacks or painful infections.

How Long An Ear Piercing Takes To Heal On Average?

If you’ve had your ear lobes pierced before, you may have the idea that most ear piercings take just six to eight weeks to heal. Well, this is true for a lobe piercing, but it’s not the standard for every type of piercing, even when it comes to ears.

Upper cartilage & inner cartilage piercings take longer to heal than a lobe piercing, generally speaking. How long should you expect? Anywhere from three to six months in the case of many cartilage piercings.

However, you can expect healing to take about six to 12 months for anti-helix piercings, such as a snug piercing. On the other hand, a dermal piercing will vary, since it can be done in so many different locations.

What Jewelry Should I Get For My Ears?

The process of choosing the right jewelry for your piercing is where the fun really begins. This is when most people get excited as they get to select from almost limitless options that can vary from sexy or elegant to playful or fun.

Of course, you’ll have to keep in mind that your starter jewelry may be somewhat limited not only when it comes to style, but also in materials used.

For instance, many people opt for stainless or surgical steel piercings to begin with. These materials are very durable and have much less chance of causing irritation.

As we discussed earlier, your piercing expert will let you know when it’s safe to switch out your starter jewelry for something new. That’s when you’ll get to have more fun with your piercing and change styles for different occasions or just to suit your mood.

Rings, barbells and studs can be made with a number of materials. Again, there’s stainless steel, but also sterling silver, gold, mixed metals, platinum, and more. Unless you have concerns such as allergic reactions, you’ll have a lot of choices between materials even if you’re locked into a specific style.


With so many types of ear piercings to choose from, it can be an extremely hard decision to make. It’s a decision you should spend a good amount of time thinking about.

A classic ear lobe piercing is a timeless choice. Other piercings such as the conch and daith definitely have flair and individuality.

If you still don’t know what ear piercing you would like to get, maybe take a trip to a local experienced piercer. You can then see if they can give you their professional opinion on which ear piercings may suit you the most.

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