15 Cool-Girl Ear Piercings You'll Want to Get Immediately

black girl with geometric earrings and head wrap stylish

Lukas Ottone / Stocksy

Ear piercings are so popular that department store Liberty London famously condensed all the It bags into another part of the shop floor to make way for the rather grand Maria Tash concession a few years back. The New York-based jeweler's designs famously temporarily popped up in Liberty during fashion week one season, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A carefully and beautifully curated ear is now the accessory du jour. And while the types and combinations of ear piercings you choose are up to you, we're here—with help from the experts—to help you make an informed decision.

Meet the Expert

  • Janeese Brooks is the Head of Piercing at Stone and Strand. She frequently runs the Piercings Y’all pop-up events and is based in New York City.
  • Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group is a board-certified dermatologist.

Keep scrolling to find out more of the hottest earring trends, from helix to tragus, and check out some of our favorite jewelry designers to inspire your next cool-girl piercing.


General Tips for Care

Before you book an appointment for a new ear accessory, be sure to research how your piercing needs to be properly cared for. Aftercare is what will keep your piercing looking #instagood rather than infected. According to Brooks, "Don’t twist, turn, rotate, or sleep on any of your piercings," as this can increase your risk of infection or irritation, and extend the healing process. She adds, "Try not to sleep on them and clean them with saline one to two times a day." Generally speaking, you'll want to steer clear of bodies of water (baths, pools, hot tubs, etc.) for six to eight weeks after getting pierced. Also avoid "soap, peroxide, Neosporin, Bactine, rubbing alcohol, and other harsh chemicals" from coming into contact with your new piercing.

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Example of an ear with a daith piercing

@maria_tash / Instagram 

Found in a slightly awkward position—the hoop that hugs the cartilage on the inside of your ear—the daith requires a skilled piercer.

"There are multiple reports of this type of piercing being useful and successful when other medical and non-medical modalities have failed," says Nazarian. "The only location that has shown potential real science for supporting a medical use is piercing of the daith. Some studies have shown that piercing the daith may modulate pain receptors that send signals to the brain and relieve migraines and chronic headaches."

As it's placed on cartilage, you'll feel a dull pressure when getting the daith pierced. As with any new piercing, it is not encouraged to sleep on it until it's fully healed; however, compared to some outer-ear piercings, sleeping on a daith piercing within a couple of months is pretty common.

Pain Level: 5/10

Healing time: six to nine months

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Example of an ear with a helix piercing

@kevinthepiercer / Instagram 

Helix piercings—piercings that are placed anywhere on the upper outer cartilage of the ear—are often the first choice when moving from the lobe. But as confirmed by Brooks, this "trending flat piercing" has become even more popular now, and piercers and clients are experimenting with multiple helix piercings on one ear.

"This is what we all want, basic or not, these cartilage piercings are super cute and typically land on the edge or middle of the ear for most. This area allows for personalized placements and unique styles. I try to encourage going beyond just the little hoop here," advises Brooks.

Pain Level: 4/10

Healing time: six to nine months, sometimes a year

Cartilage piercings will usually get a bubble on the front or back of the piercing, but this is not always a sign of infection. For the bubble, try a chamomile tea soak. Make the tea as if you were going to drink it, but instead, use the warm tea bag as a compress for your piercing.

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Example of an ear with a tragus piercing

@maria_tash / Instagram 

The tragus, that tiny flap partially covering the ear canal, can add detail to any curated ear, especially when it's adorned with a pretty stud or snug hoop.

According to Brooks, "These little guys are hard to heal as well mostly because no one wants to give up earbuds during their commute. Because the tragus is there to protect the outer part of your ear canal, piercing through it, your post is going to be blocking where your earbuds go. Each time you take them in and out, it’ll irritate this piercing. It’s not impossible to heal, but I do warn my clients that if you're a 'picker' or a 'fidgeter' like myself, it may not be for you."

Pain Level: 5/10

Healing time: six to nine months

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Example of an ear with a conch piercing

@maria_tash / Instagram

The conch, located in the middle portion of your ear cartilage, gets its moniker from its resemblance to the spiral shell of the same name. It's pretty versatile and can be pierced with a stud for a subtle effect, a double stud (if you're feeling brave), or even a cuff that can hug its way around the edge of your ear.

Pain Level: 4/10

Healing time: three to nine months

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Industrial piercing

@bodyelectrictattoo / Instagram


The industrial piercing is essentially, "a straight barbell connecting one cartilage piercing to another on the upper ear," describes Brooks.

"They are difficult to heal as a result of being two cartilage piercings instead of one. Since the two are also connected they have a tendency to get irritated quickly and often stay that way," says Brooks. You'll also need to be especially cognizant of aftercare: "Be so careful of your hair and glasses resting on this. Sleeping on it is always a big no-no," Brooks warns. 

Whether you should consider an industrial piercing, Brooks advises, "I typically will steer clients away from this piercing for no other reason than most people don’t keep them because of how long they take to heal."

Pain Level: 6/10

Healing time: nine months to a year

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Example of an ear with a high-lobe piercing

Maria Tash

The high-lobe piercing is a fun way to spice up the lobe. They're especially good for making a feature out of a poorly-placed piercing you may have done earlier. Thanks to the lobe being so fleshy, the level of piercing pain is considerably low. While healing time is relatively quick that doesn't mean you should be lackadaisical when it comes to aftercare. You should always be following your piercer's instructions for post-care and maintenance.

Pain Level: 2/10

Healing time: six to eight weeks

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Rook piercing with a hoop

@maria_tash / Instagram

One of the more unusual inner-ear piercings, a rook piercing inserts in the inner cartilage, above the daith and between the inner conch and the forward helix.

As a cartilage piercing, the rook doesn’t pierce as easily as say, the lobe. Because of that, you may feel a sharp pain and pressure at first, to be followed by a more general throbbing. And because of how thick the rook cartilage is—it is a fold of cartilage, after all,—it may hurt more than a helix or tragus piercing.

Pain Level: 6/10

Healing time: three to ten months

A rook piercing is best suited for a hoop, although a bar is recommended for the initial healing period.

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Standard Lobe

Lobe piercings

@mariatash / Instagram 

Ah, the classic, standard lobe piercing. Brooks says, "We all know and love a good lobe piercing. I encourage these constantly. The easiest part of the ear to heal is the lobe. The least painful is the lobe, too—just a one or two out of 10." 

"You can change the jewelry after three months of heal time," says Brooks. She continues, "Generally, people have enough space to do something unique with their piercing placements, too. Design and aesthetics are a huge part of my heart so I’ve been having a good time helping clients get a creative look that suits them and their lifestyle." 

Pain Level: 1/10

Healing time: six to eight weeks

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Forward Helix

Another cartilage piercing, a forward helix is also placed on the upper ear above the tragus. These piercings are a bit more tricky than your typical helix piercing as the piercing must be lined up perfectly with your ear and will likely hurt more than a standard lobe piercing. Depending on the experience of your piercer, a needle or machine may be used.

Pain Level: 5/10

Healing time: three to nine months

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Another piercing specific to your anatomy, an anti-tragus piercing sits on the outer edge of the tragus, above the earlobe. If your tragus is not prominent enough to be pierced, some piercers may decline to perform the task rather than work against the shape of your ear. In terms of jewelry, a curved barbell or ball closure ring are the best options for this piercing.

Pain Level: 6/10

Healing time: nine months to a year

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Inner Conch

The inner conch is pierced through the middle shell of the ear, which is the thickest piece of cartilage on the ear. This piercing is closest to the ear canal, so during the healing process, you'll want to avoid wearing earbuds for quite some time, as they may irritate your new piercing.

Pain Level: 6/10

Healing time: three to nine months

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Outer Conch

Similar to the inner conch, the outer conch is also pierced through the same area of cartilage of the ear, but the lower part. If you're a side sleeper, sleep on the opposite side of your new piercing until fully healed.

Pain Level: 6/10

Healing time: three to nine months

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Located on the outer portion of the ear between the lobe and the helix, an auricle piercing is worn about halfway up the ear across from the tragus. Hoops and studs work well for this type of piercing and since the cartilage is relatively thin for the area, the pain is on the lower end of the scale.

Pain Level: 3/10

Healing time: three to nine months

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Pierced horizontally through the inner rim of cartilage above the anti-tragus, the snug piercing gets its name from the "hug" in the folds of your ears. A snug piercing is also referred to as an anti-helix piercing and is considered the most painful of cartilage piercings. Only small jewelry like a small hoop or curved barbells will work here because of the tight placement.

Pain Level: 9/10

Healing time: four to six months, sometimes longer

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One of the lesser common cartilage piercings, an orbital piercing is unique for those looking for something different. Popular placement is in the lobe or helix. This type of piercing is similar to an industrial piercing, as it connects two different piercings. However, an orbital is pierced with a ring rather than a barbell, which gives the illusion that the piercing is, well, orbiting the ear.

Pain Level: 4/10

Healing time: eight to ten weeks

The Earring Shopping List

Maria Tash has the original cool-girl earrings; just check out these diamond paisley studs.

This classic pair of 14k yellow gold hoops by Stone and Strand can work to complement any look—day or night.

This sterling silver stud looks great on its own but also pairs well with other ear adornments.

Catbird is perfect if you love seriously dainty jewelry. Iridescent opal takes these studs to the next level.

If case you can't decide between a bar or a stud, then why not have both? These hybrid dimple bar earrings are subtle, yet stunning.

  • How should I clean an ear piercing?

    According to the American Academy of Dermatologists Association, you should regularly clean your ear piercing with soap and water to avoid infection.

  • When can I change my ear piercing?

    In general, you should wait about six to eight weeks to change out your new piercing. Before this time, your piercing may not have healed completely and you have a risk of infection.

  • How do I treat an infected ear piercing?

    If you suspect your piercing is infected, you should clean your ears with sterile saline or gentle soap and water twice a day. Then, you can apply an antibiotic ointment or rubbing alcohol to the piercing.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. "Caring for Pierced Ears.” https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/tattoos/caring-for-pierced-ears

  2. Infected ear piercings: causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention. Cleveland Clinic.

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