How many piercings is too many? ...Asking for a friend.
I’m vowing that 2023 is the year I finally embrace the beauty and fashion trends I’ve been afraid to try. Exs: I ordered a pair of flared leggings (which real ones call yoga pants), I cut myself some baby bangs, and I made an appointment to finally bring all my piercing ideas to life. My IG folder is filled with curated-ear inspo (we’re talking lobes, helix, industrial, daith, tragus, and more), and I’m finally open to making it happen—and also helping you achieve your ear-piercing goals, too.
So if you’re on my same level of hype rn, good news: I compiled my favorite piercing ideas below, then asked expert piercer Matt Mayfield for all the details on what piercings are the most popular, and chatted with registered nurse (and professional piercer!) Samantha Alvarado about how to take care of ‘em after the fact. Keep scrolling for the full list:
✔️ P.S., This is new, up-to-date info, bb. We updated this article in January 2023 to add trendy piercing ideas, delete outdated oldies, and check in with new experts for the latest in piercings, just for you.
“Constellation piercings are becoming increasingly popular,” says Alvarado, partly because you can easily customize the look with a blend of hoops and studs to create your own stack. Alvarado also recommends playing around with placement, whether you stick with a lobe set (as seen here) or try it in the flat of your ear.
If you were brought up in the early ‘00s, you’ll probably remember the helix as a “cartilage piercing.” It’s usually people’s first piercing after their lobes, Alvarado notes, because it’s a way to “test the waters prior to branching out into other more ‘exotic’ piercings.” Helix piercings are also super versatile, whether you slide in a hoop (as shown above) or a stud, or you ask your piercer to place the hole higher or lower, depending on your ~vibes~ or the rest of your ear stack.
IMO, an industrial piercing (i.e, two holes connected with a single piece of jewelry, usually a barbel) automatically looks cool and edgy. And when you pair it with a few dainty piercings, like teeny-tiny diamond studs, you’ve got a super-intricate, curated-ear look.
Can’t decide which side is your ~good side~? Pierce both nostrils, which Mayfield says have been one of the most popular piercings he’s done recently and will continue to trend in 2023. Just note that you’ll need to make two appointments spaced four to six weeks apart to give your body some time to heal first.
Consider this your sign to finally get that second, third, or fourth lobe piercing you’ve been wanting, especially since they’re usually the least painful. “Lobe piercings are in the soft tissue of the ear,” Alvarado explains. “There is minimal-to-no-discomfort for lobe piercings.” Plus, the piercings don’t really go out of style and swapping out jewelry is a breeze (like these pearly studs I’ve been eyeing).
Forward helix piercings just look cooler when there’s two of ‘em, I don’t make the rules. “A forward helix is a perfect little pop on the front of your ear, whether you have 2 or 20 piercings,” says Mayfield. “It’s like the pair of shoes you know you’ll pull out of your closet seven days a week and still looks good with everything and anything you wear.” If you wanna switch up the look, try a mix of contrasting gold and gemstone studs, rather than sticking with matching ones.
“A conch piercing is set in the middle of your ear, and you can’t go wrong with any jewelry you choose,” says Mayfield. You could go for two bb studs as shown above for a simplistic look, or switch to a classic hoop once the piercing heals if you want a more attention-grabbing piece.
A simple septum piercing is already a bold look on its own, as evidenced by one of my fave trendsetters, FKA Twigs. If you’re intrigued to try this piercing but don’t want to commit just yet, grab a faux septum ring set that you can easily clamp between your nostrils and adjust based on your vibes.
If you do have strong feelings about what your “good side” is (ily, left side of my face) or already have a nostril piercing you love, try this stacked-nostril piercing idea. It’s a fun way to switch up your classic single hoop by adding a cute stud just above it, or doubling up the bling with two studs.
If you’ve already got your lobes done but want more stackage, try a triple flat piercing, which involves three holes stacked in the flat part of your cartilage. It can be a cool way to incorporate some additional studs, whether they’re the exact same or a mix of sizes and metals.
I love how customizable this set of nose piercings is. Want hella hoops? Try a ring in your septum and your nostril. Looking for more ~demure~ vibes? Choose a small stud for your nostril and a simple gold or silver hoop for your septum (or just take out the septum piercing). Trying to make a big statement? Mix metals with a gold hoop in your nostril and a silver septum barbell. Truly endless options, here.
I’m very into the placement of these piercings by celebrity piercer Brian Keith Thompson on Anine Bing (ya know, the fashion designer who basically made graphic tees cool again). Pairing this horizontal lobe piercing with two hoop earrings on either side gives this curated ear a little edge. But it still feels minimal, thanks to a mix of thin, gold earrings.
I’ve been seeing gold ear stacks all over my Instagram feed, and it’s ultimately what inspired me to finally build my own. Chat with your piercer to come up with your own unique set based on your ear anatomy and preferences (for example, I don’t have a ton of lobe space, so I’m planning a super-cool helix stack). Once your piercings heal, grab a few simple gold huggies you can keep in all the time.
If you don’t really have space for a traditional second, third, and fourth lobe piercing, stack your piercings on top of each other for a cool, layered effect. Try it with some round studs, or make it a bit constellation-y with tiny stars.
Try focusing your layered stack at the top of your ear and on the inside, like these tragus (the cartilage at the center of your ear, closest to your head) and rook (the inner fold at the top of your ear) piercings. Then, stack your helix piercings. But if you’re constantly wearing cloth or surgical masks that earrings can get caught in, stick with inner-ear piercings and ear cuffs on your outer ear.
Daith piercings can definitely be on the painful side (the cartilage on that part of your ear is v thick), but when they look this good, it’s hard not to just say f*ck it and try it out. They’re a bit more rare than, say, a tragus or conch piercing, which makes them a strong compliment-getter too. So if you wanna keep it simple, stick with a singular gold hoop.
You don't need to have a fully stacked ear to make a statement—go for a simple row of three lobe piercings and incorporate a chain in your first and third holes. Any style chain will work to make your lobe piercing look a bit more striking, but chains covered in diamonds are definitely my vibe.
The best way to make your ear piercings look curated (even if you got them all done like seven years ago without thinking about it) is through matching jewelry. Whether you try one color palette like above or a monochrome metal look, it’ll seem as if your piercings were all done together, regardless of which ones you have.
Even Kaia Gerber has gotten in on the stacked ear piercing trend, as evidenced by her cute lineup of lower and upper lobe hoops and snakebite piercings (which, FYI, is a signature at piercing studio Studs, consisting of two super-close together helix piercings). Copy her stacked look by grabbing two sets of gold hoops—one slightly larger than the other—and wearing them together.
Hey, a double lobe piercing is simple but can take on so many different ~personalities~. Go for lots of shine with some rhinestone earrings (like in the pic above), or a minimalist vibe with two simple studs.
There's nothing prettier than a stack of hoop earrings, so why not go all the way and layer five or six on one ear? I love the idea of adding a chain earring to connect two helix piercings for even more dimension.
A cool way to pull together an elaborate earring stack (like, hello, I’m obsessed with this forward helix, stacked lobe, and flat piercing moment) is adding an ear cuff in the same color palette. Like, literally, it pulls your ear together and makes a mish-mosh of piercings look intentional.
My definition of an ear party? This stacked piercing idea. Have your piercer finish off a row of three to four (depending on your ears) lobe piercings with two gemstone stud earrings on your helix.
Not sure you want to go full-throttle with your ear piercings? Opt for a classic—but equally as inspo-worthy—style with two hoop piercings on your lobe. Just keep your jewelry the same for a curated look.
If you have enough space on your lobes, don’t be afraid to ask your piercer to get creative with placement, like this horizontal double-piercing. Ultra-thin, gold jewelry gives these piercings a dainty look, even though it’s a full curated ear.
This combo is ridiculously inspo-worthy if you’re looking for a handful of ear piercing ideas all in one ear. I’m especially obsessed with the bold orbital piercing (i.e., the hoop earring that wraps around your ear like a cuff). It looks so cool, especially with this silver star jewelry.
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Triple helix for Claire today! 😍 Using 3 mini titanium balls anodized yellow gold, these will be switched to three gold hoops when they're ready! ❤️ Remember I can custom order anodized titanium pieces at no extra cost! So many colours to choose from, I'll be ordering the piece of equipment soon so I can do it here at the studio, exciting times!✨ #piercingsbyrosie #chichester #theelectriclady #qualitibodyjewellery #chichesterpiercing #piercing #helixpiercing #triplehelixpiercing #earpiercing #ukbodypiercers #safepiercing #safepiercinguk
Layering three piercings along your cartilage is a quick way to take your ear game to the next level. Rather than hoops, opt for mini stud earrings to make the look feel sophisticated (instead of your early ‘00s dangly cherries, which I still love, btw).
If a thick orbital piercing seems a liiittle out of your pain threshold, consider trying out the look with a cute ear cuff before you commit. It’ll tie any curated ear together, especially if you have a mix of lobe and helix piercings.
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Gentle & Soft, Smooth & Easy. Alexis brings us cool ideas for her piercings and ALWAYS has great taste in jewelry. @apblock added this Middle Lobe Piercing to her collection. Thank so much, Alexis! Seam Rings, Disc & Quad Bead Cluster @bvla Other Piercings & Jewelry not by Ahimsa. #ahimsapiercingstudio #finejewelry #bvla @bvlalove #curatedear #earpiercings
This subdued ear-piercing idea is perfect for anyone who stays away from statement jewelry, since it looks best with subtle studs and tiny hoops.
Want a curated ear that flies under the radar? Look to this subtle, modern ear-piercing idea as the ultimate inspiration. Itty-bitty gold hoops and an even smaller earring are the way to go.
Can you get multiple piercings in one day?
Yes, you could get multiple piercings in one day, depending on your pain tolerance. But for safety, most piercers won’t do more than three in one day, and instead recommend waiting four to six weeks between piercings to give your body time to heal and not over-traumatize your skin. Talk through what you’re looking for with your piercer when you make your appointment to gauge if you can do multiple in one day or if you need to space out your appointments.
What piercings heal the fastest?
Lobe piercings generally heal the fastest, says piercer Samantha Alvarado. Meanwhile, “Any piercing in the cartilage will take more time and commitment in terms of the healing process,” she says, which brings us to…
What is the best aftercare for piercings?
After you get a piercing, you should spritz the area with a saline solution twice a day for two weeks, then once a day for another two weeks while it’s healing. Refrain from touching your piercing as much as possible and “disinfect anything—like headphones or other earrings—that goes in, on, or around your ears at least once a day to prevent introducing bacteria to the site of your healing piercings,” says Alvarado.
FYI, though: If your piercing gets inflamed, swells, or has a pus-like discharge, call your doctor asap, because you could be experiencing an infection or allergic reaction. But as long as you’re following the protocol above, you should heal like a champ in four to six weeks.
Meet the experts:
- Samantha Alvarado is a piercer, registered nurse, and the director of nursing and education at Rowan studio, which has piercing studios all across the U.S. Her main focus is curated ear piercings.
- Matt Mayfield is a piercer at New York Adorned. He has experience in all types of piercings, including ears, nose, belly button, and microdermal implants.
Why trust ‘Cosmopolitan’?
Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan with four years of experience researching, writing, and editing beauty stories that range from tattoo-removal cream to getting a tattoo while pregnant. She’s an authority in all skincare categories, but is an expert when it comes to piercing ideas after researching legit every single piercing out there before curating her own ear stack.
Ruby Buddemeyer was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan for nearly three years, and has five years of experience writing about beauty, fashion, and celebrity news across print and digital, including tattoo lotions and couples tattoos. Her piercing ideas were selected based on upcoming trends and info from experts.
Beth Gillette Beth Gillette is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers skincare, makeup, hair, nails, and more across digital and print.