Welcome to our series, Piercing 101. Over the coming weeks, we're going to be bringing you the details of every type of piercing you could want. By the end, you'll know your tragus from your conch, and you may have even been persuaded into taking the plunge. Because look at those jewellery-adorned ears—it's tempting right?
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 they’ve become even more popular now, and piercers and clients are experimenting with multiple helix piercings on one ear. Tempted? We called on Kevin Lamb, head piercer at Maria Tash in Liberty London, to reveal everything you need to know about a helix piercing, from pain to aftercare.
Keep scrolling for his expert guide
BYRDIE UK: First off, is a helix piercing painful?
KEVIN LAMB: If you've ever had your eyebrows threaded or waxed, you've already put yourself through more discomfort than getting a fun little piercing! Of course, cartilage is going to pinch a wee bit more than a normal lobe, but if it's the location you want, don't let that side of things worry you too much—most procedures are over and done with very quickly.
BYRDIE UK: Who suits a helix piercing?
KL: The helix is a very vast area that covers most of the ear rim, so no matter what shape yours is, we can find a spot that would suit your style and anatomy.
BYRDIE UK: What type of jewellery do you pierce with—hoop or bar?
KL: I pierce with either—it's true that it can take slightly longer to heal a piercing with a ring than with a stud, but as long as the client is aware and is careful during the healing process, they should be fine.
BYRDIE UK: We've seen people with multiple helix piercings next to each other—can you get more than one helix piercing at the same time?
KL: It's become more socially accepted to have multiple piercings now, and they're being adorned with higher-end jewellery instead of bits of titanium! More people are starting to experiment with what they can do and being creative to come up with a unique look for themselves. Our studio will only do a maximum of three piercings in one procedure to allow for a better healing experience.
BYRDIE UK: How long does it typically take to heal? Is it painful to sleep on?
KL: Piercings can take anything from three months to a year to heal fully, and if you have multiple piercings, they can take longer, which is why we only allow three at once. That probably sounds a lot longer than what most people expect. After around six weeks, you won't really feel anything, but if you knock it or sleep on it for too long, you might cause yourself some discomfort, and it'll be angry at you because it is in fact still healing. I always suggest that clients get a travel pillow and just put their ear in the middle of the hole when sleeping; it stops you from putting a prolonged amount of pressure onto the area, and also your body will wake you up if you try roll onto it, so it really helps with the healing process.
BYRDIE UK: What does the aftercare involve?
KL: We suggest clients to spray some sterile saline (most pharmacies stock this) onto a piece of non-woven gauze (cotton buds and pads have microfibres that can get caught on the piercing) and compress it onto the front and back of the piercing for around five minutes. After this, I'd then ask the client to pop a blow-dryer on and gently blow-dry the skin for around 30 seconds. Make sure the skin is dry, as moisture can help bacteria grow. You'd do this twice a day for around two to three months without picking, playing or twisting your piercing (this so-called fact is, as Donald Trump would like to call it, "false news"—you're actually causing more damage than good by twisting the jewellery in the skin), and, of course, be careful with it!
At Maria Tash in Liberty, an outer-ear cartilage piercing costs £20, but it does include the jewellery.
Next up, everything you need to know about the daith piercing.