Earscaping—carefully curating your earrings into a cohesive look—is a true art. The types of jewelry and combinations of piercings are totally up to you, making each hardware cluster an opportunity for self-expression and style. Not to mention, piercings are also pretty fun.
Regarding piercing placement, the earlobe is generally considered the standard spot. But placement options on the ear are ample, and two of our favorite options for creating the dream earscape are the rook and faux rook piercing, both of which offer unique advantages. The rook piercing allows for the opportunity to show off the entirety of an earring, not just the part in the front. Meanwhile, a faux rook piercing gives the illusion of a gem floating in the ear. Considering one of the two? Or both? There are a few things to consider, and we break them down ahead.
Read on for everything you should know about the rook piercing and the faux rook piercing, according to experts.
Meet the Expert
- Brian Keith Thompson is the founder and chief piercing officer of The Body Electric Tattoo in Los Angeles.
- Cozmo Faris is a professional piercer with more than 12 years of experience and a member of Byrdie's Beauty & Wellness Board.
- Jim Kelly is the manager of piercing training at Banter by Piercing Pagoda.
What Is a Rook Piercing?
A rook piercing is an inner ear piercing located on the ridge just below the top of the ear, above the ear canal, Faris explains. The rook lives between the outer and inner cartilage above the tragus for those familiar with ear anatomy. According to Kelly, the rook is the extrusion of cartilage above a standard inner-conch piercing but below the flat piercing location. While you certainly have some say in placement, Thompson says a rook piercing largely depends upon your ear's anatomy.
The piercing goes through the cartilage flap and is parallel to the ear, so both the exit and entry holes appear at the front of the ear. For this reason, most piercing artists will use a curved barbell (with the bead ends sticking out above and below the cartilage fold) in a new rook piercing, Thompson says.
What Is a Faux Rook Piercing?
Faris says a faux rook piercing is placed in the same general area as a standard rook piercing, but rather than traveling through the ear vertically, it enters in the front of the ear and exits on the backside (like other traditional piercings). Despite its title, a faux rook piercing isn't meant to mimic a rook piercing.
Instead, the faux rook piercing gives the illusion of a gem floating in the ear. Faris explains that the standard rook piercing allows you to see the entirety of the jewelry since both the entrance and exit holes are front-facing. Thompson adds while the shape of your rook ridge largely determines the placement of the actual rook piercing, a faux rook piercing allows for more personal preference.
Famous piercing studio, Maria Tash, calls it a Tash Rook piercing, as seen below.
How Do They Compare?
Though their names imply a connection between the two piercings, the only real connection is the area where they occur. That means the healing processes, side effects, and aftercare are identical. But when it comes to appearance and jewelry options, they're different.
"They are entirely different piercings—just similar entry points to the top of a standard rook piercing," Kelly shares. "Someone may get a faux rook instead of a standard rook for something more unique. There are occasions where the ear anatomy isn't fit for a standard rook, and this one may also be possible."
Pain and Healing Time
All of our experts were hesitant to comment on pain levels. "Everyone experiences pain differently," Faris explains. "They're both generally fairly quick procedures, though." While cartilage piercings tend to hurt more than traditional ear piercings, general pain level comparisons end there.
As for a rough estimate, Kelly says both the rook and faux rook piercings would land between four and five on a pain scale of one to 10. Try not to harp on the pain too much, and don't let it stop you from a piercing altogether: After all, as Thompson says, "Pain is temporary."
The healing time for rook and faux piercings averages six months to a year. Interestingly, healthier people tend to heal faster—as Thompson explains, someone who's regularly hydrated and consistently taking care of their body will likely heal faster than someone who's drinking and staying out late five nights a week. Long story short: The better you care for yourself, the smoother your healing experience will be.
Much like pain, the cost of piercings varies.
"Our studio charges a $35 piercing fee for the service itself, plus the cost of the jewelry you select to put in it," Faris says. "Jewelry can range anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars. Prices will vary drastically depending on your area and piercer's experience level, so the prices I give are only applicable if you visit a studio of our caliber and in our region."
That said, a rook and faux rook piercing will generally cost the same, or at least have the same piercing fee, whatever that price may be.
According to Faris, rook piercings tend to do best with curved barbells (banana-shaped earrings with studs on one end and a ball on the other). You can also opt for a circular barbell, best described as horseshoe-shaped earrings with balls (or little arrows) on each end—they're fairly popular for septum piercings.
Similar to shoe size, the jewelry selection for rook piercings depends entirely on your anatomy and varies by case. You can also use a hoop earring in a rook piercing, though Thompson suggests waiting until the piercing is fully healed to try. As far as material goes, Faris suggests sticking to solid yellow, white, or rose gold and implant-grade titanium.
While faux rook piercings should use the same material when it comes to jewelry, the similarities end there. The faux rook piercing placement does best with straight jewelry, generally with a decorative piece on the front and a flat disc on the back.
Kelly shares that there may be more jewelry options for a faux rook than a standard rook. "Since these piercings start with a flat back labret stud, this leaves an abundance of options for top bead replacements," he shares. "All sizes and shapes from dainty and inconspicuous to huge and over the top (if your anatomy can fit it) can work."
Side Effects and Aftercare
The two main risks are the same as any piercing: rejection and infection. Sometimes our bodies don't respond well to piercings, though Thompson says this is rare. Infection, while possible, is also pretty rare. Still, Faris suggests getting pierced at a quality studio and following their after-care instructions. In the case of an infection, Thompson mentions that it's sometimes easier to admit defeat, take out the piercing, and try again once healed. That said, he highly suggests visiting a doctor for any signs of infection.
In terms of aftercare, Thompson suggests following two steps for the first two to four months: gently washing the area once a day in the shower using a gentle soap, like Cerave's Foaming Facial Cleanser, and a once-daily saline flush.
Faris' aftercare instructions are relatively similar. He suggests using a twice-daily saline flush to help irrigate the area and rinse away any debris that may develop. Kelly says swelling and agitation are possible for the first month or so while healing, so he suggests avoiding sleeping on the piercing and any abrupt disruptions to the area.