12 Types of Ear Piercings That Go Beyond Your Imagination

Right about now you might be thinking: There are 12 types of ear piercings? And here we thought our cartilage piercing from college was cutting edge. From tragus to daith and the ominous sounding “snakebite,” we’ll take you through the options, so you’ll know what to expect (and what to ask for) when you make your appointment.

What is the most painful ear piercing?

Keep in mind that pain is subjective, so what your best friend might describe as a 10, might be more like a five to you—or vice versa. That said, the piercing that came up most when ranking pain was the snug. Though it has an unassuming name, the snug has an average healing time of up to a year and is prone to swelling and irritation. (If you still want to proceed with a snug piercing, scroll ahead for more info.)

What is the prettiest ear piercing?

Again, “pretty” is subjective, so take this with a grain of salt, but one of the most requested piercings is the conch. The conch sits in the middle of your lobe and is easily customizable for any ear because of its prime position. You can adorn it with a simple stud or go for a statement hoop or cuff, which is a common choice for the conch.

H2: What is the most uncommon ear piercing?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a lesser-known or uncommon choice is a rook piercing, which sits along the inner ear, usually in the uppermost ridge. The rook is often held by a curved bar or a simple ring and is favored for the way it adds an unexpected, yet understated effect to an ear.

Is there a piercing that helps with anxiety?

In the past several years, there has been an uptick in interest around piercings for helping with anxiety. The one that comes up most often is the daith piercing, which passes through the ear’s inner cartilage fold (and is where one of the main pressure points in your ear is located). The ear has a few key pressure points that are often targeted by acupuncturists to alleviate everything from stress to migraines and, yes, anxiety.

Anecdotally speaking, daith piercings have helped some migraine and anxiety sufferers (though there aren’t scientific studies confirming that as of writing). That said, let’s not discount the powers of placebo effect either.

Types of ear piercings:

1. Lobe

Let’s start with the familiar first. A lobe piercing is likely the first piercing you ever got (likely at a Claire’s or a jewelry stand in a mall). Because it goes through the soft, fleshy part of your lower earlobe, it’s less painful than other piercings and has a shorter healing time of about 6 to 9 weeks.

You can have more than one lobe piercing, and in fact, a stacked lobe is another popular choice for people who want to dress their ears up without venturing into the cartilage territory (which can be more tender and take longer to heal).

2. Stacked Lobe

Speaking of a stacked lobe, this is a beginner-friendly option that can be customized to your liking. Experiment with the number and placement of your lobe piercings to fit your ear just so (while enjoying the relatively painless and shorter healing time).

3. Snakebite

Popularized by models like Kaia Gerber, the snakebite is a style where two piercings are stacked closely together. They can be placed anywhere on your earlobe as well, so depending on how high or low you go, your healing time will differ. On that note, because you’re doubling the piercings and they’re in close proximity to each other, more swelling can be expected.

4. Conch

Remember our friend, the conch? Located in the middle of your cartilage, it’s a versatile piercing that can be worn with a simple stud or a cool cuff. Because of where it sits, the pain level is described as minimal to moderate (think: a 3 or 4 out of 10) and the average healing time is between three and six months. In short, it’s a solid intermediate piercing if you’re still a bit nervous about moving further up your ear.

5. Helix (aka Cartilage)

Helix piercings, more commonly known as cartilage piercings, go through the outer upper rim of your earlobe. Healing time can vary a lot depending on various factors (most notably, your sleeping position) but on average, it should be good to go by the six-to-eight-month mark. It is recommended that you start with a stud and let it heal before swapping in a ring or other style.

6. Forward Helix

See the single stud that’s facing forward along the inner part of the cartilage here? That’s a forward helix, and it’s a fun placement to consider with a similar healing time (6 to 8 months) as a traditional cartilage piercing.

7. Tragus

Pronounced “tray-gus,” this piercing may not hurt much to get (it’s described as a pinch or a feeling of pressure on the area), but it can be a bit more finicky to heal. A tragus piercing goes through the dense part of cartilage that sits in front of your ear canal, so the part that butts up against the side of your face, which is a tricky placement for an earring. Mainly, the way the post sits inside your ear makes it impossible not to knock when you’re putting in earbuds or even holding your phone up to that ear. That said, there’s no denying that they look pretty darn cool.

8. Anti-tragus

A variation of the tragus is the anti-tragus, which is named for the way it sits opposite the tragus (through the curved fold of your inner cartilage). Given its location, it has a similar pain level (moderate) and healing time to a forward helix (6 to 8 months).

9. Rook

Located just above the tragus, along the inner fold of your ear is the rook piercing. (It’s the small gold ring you see here.) The pain level is described as moderate to intense given its location and the average healing time is a year. One thing to note with a rook piercing is that not everyone has the real estate (or anatomy) for one, so go into your piercing studio with an open mind. Good thing you have lots of other options...

10. Snug

It’s such a cute name for a piercing that’s considered to be one of the most (if not the most) painful ear piercings you can get. Sitting right above the anti-tragus or the inner ridge of cartilage, it’s unique in that you can visibly see where the piercing enters and exits your ear. The snug, like the rook, is another look you’ll have to consult your piercer about first, as not everyone’s ear is able to safely accommodate it.

11. Daith

Aka the one that (may) help with anxiety. This inner ear piercing passes through the cartilage, and is a popular choice. It’s one of the only piercings that is recommend to start with a hoop, rather than a stud, for easier cleaning as it heals. Dressed up or down (we love the subtlety of the way it’s styled here), the daith adds a nice balance to any ear.

12. Industrial

Described as “moderately painful,” the industrial piercing is marked by two distinct punctures, connected by one piece of jewelry (usually a bar). The placement of this piercing (or perhaps more accurately, piercings) is very important to get right, as you want the bar to lie at the right angle to optimize healing.

P.S. We’ve also seen a faux-industrial piercing, that uses a single puncture in the helix or conch to simulate a similar effect for an easier healing.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...