Nose Cuffs Are More Than a Moment—They’re a Cultural *and* Practical Accessory for Melanated Skin

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Design Art By Dasha Burobina

A quick scroll through social media and you’re graced with faux piercings everywhere, specifically nose cuffs. This popular jewelry piece has become a great alternative to rocking a nose ring without actually getting a piercing (especially if you’re not fond of needles, pain or scars). They’re chic, comfortable and customizable. But nose cuffs are more than just a fashion trend—they’re also a cultural and practical staple for Black and Brown people.

For context, nose piercings (faux or not) have been around for centuries, dating back to the Middle East before making its way to India in 1500 BCE. Since then, the accessory continues to hold cultural ties around the world. From Africa to South America, many BIPOC communities have connected the accessory to fashion, marriage, wealth and more.

But there’s also another more pragmatic reason to love nose cuffs: They offer a gentler option compared to piercings, which can lead to keloids. “When the skin is injured or inflamed, certain cells in the skin and immune system work together to heal the wound and create scar tissue to seal it, and after the wound is healed the scarring process turns off,” says Dr. Arianne Shadi Kourosh, director of Community Health and Pigmentary Disorder and Multiethnic Skin Clinic. “But for people with keloids, the normal wound healing process of the skin mistakenly goes into overdrive and won’t shut off long after it was supposed to stop. So the scar tissue keeps growing, like a tumor, outside of the boundaries of the original scar.”

While keloids can happen to anyone, the condition is shown to be more prevalent in Black, Asian and Latinx communities, especially people with darker skin (or high percentage of melanin). “One reason for this could be that melanocytes (the cells in our skin that produce our melanin pigment) play a role in promoting keloid development,” says Dr. Kourosh. There’s no one-and-done cure for keloids, which is why Dr. Kourosh stresses avoiding them in the first place is key. “One of the most important ways to prevent keloids is minimizing any possible trauma to skin—piercings and tattoos traumatize the skin,” explains Dr. Kourosh.

Whether you rock a delicate one to channel your inner Zoe Kravitz or go for the statement-making avant-garde piece, nose cuffs are, simply put, cool. They’re reflective of rich histories and cultures. And, most importantly, they’re pretty damn practical.

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...