Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Size Matters! At least, when it comes to piercings it does. Now, in piercing size could refer to a number of different things: The thickness of a piece of jewelry, aka the gauge, the length of straight or curved jewelry, or the diameter of round jewelry. For this article, we are focusing on Healed Piercings! Once you’ve gotten through the work of healing, and all the swelling is gone, you can get your ideal, perfect fit. That being said, getting the perfect fit is easier said than done for sure.
Lots of clients will say “I just need the normal size for X piercing.” But that’s the same as saying “I need the normal shoe size” or “The normal bra size”. There is no normal! It’s about the right size for you and your body, and that might differ from person to person and piercing to piercing.
What does an Ideal healed fit look like?
You’ve heard me say it before- we don’t have one size fits all bodies. I’m staying it again. There is no single ideal fit! It looks a little different person to person, and piercing to piercing! Let’s however review some generalizations, although these in no way cover every way an ideal fit could go for someone.
Lobe- A fully healed earlobe can often most comfortably wear a perfect fit. This often means a short post where both the backing, and the front, rest against the lobe. Now, this doesn’t mean that either side should be indenting into the ear- a common issue with butterfly backs is people press the backing too tightly against the ear, causing irritation and issues. If you are wearing butterfly backs please be sure you aren’t pressing them too tightly. For hoops, they can snugly wrap around the lobe, but shouldn’t press up into the ear or indent the skin. Some clients prefer a post with some extra room for ease of cleaning and and swapping jewelry. A little extra room is great, but you don’t want it to be so long the jewelry is hanging forward, or getting caught or snagged constantly.
Helix- Fully healed helix piercings often wear a fairly snug fit. This means a short post where the backing and front touch the ear, or for a hoop, one with a snug diameter that has a little bit of hang. With hoops, they often won’t stick straight out unless they are too tight. A hoop should still have enough room to move back and forth comfortably and for the ear to bend and move comfortably. Depending on the location of the piercing and the angle, a stud may need some extra length to fit and sit correctly. The size and design on the front can effect this. What you don’t want is a bar that’s too long and gets caught often, as a bad snag even on a healed helix can cause irritation.
Flat- Flat piercings follow the same healed fit rules as helixes. Some people have very thin flats and may need to custom order barbells for an ideal fit. Flat piercings don’t often wear hoops, even healed, as they have to be very large to wrap around the ear, and can be a bit cumbersome. While I know some folks like a bit of extra length for cleaning and changing, be mindful as flats can migrate easily when slept on while healing or wearing jewelry with too much extra room once healed.
Conch- these follow the same healed fit as helixes, with an exception for hoops. Some clients are able to wear very snug, very tight fitting hoops here. You still need to be cautious a fit is not so tight as to cause migration or issues, bit some clients are willing to forgo sleeping on this side indefinitely for an ideal hoop or cuff. These pieces should absolutely be sized and installed by a piercer.
Tragus- A tragus you definitely want a great fit on. Any extra length can make wearing earbuds impossible. That said no extra room plus the placement makes these tricky to change at home. I strongly advice clients to have a piercer assist them with swaps on this placement, unless they are very very comfortable working with their jewelry. Hoops in this placement always have a little extra room, and generally some hang as they tuck into the little valley under the tragus, since the tragus is tall but very thin.
Forward Helix- Much like flats, a perfect fit is essential here. Forward Helixes can be fragile piercings, and any extra room just loves to get caught and tangled in your hair. For hoops, they should fit with a bit of hang, and be comfortable when you sleep or lay on them. Some clients struggle finding a hoop they feel is comfortable in this placement, and it can be some trial and error.
Rook- A healed rook can comfortably wear a perfectly fit curved barbell, or one with some extra room. Some folks prefer the aesthetic of seeing more barbell, and since the rook is fairly protected by the shape of the ear snagging is low risk. The benefits of longer jewlery are typically aesthetic, enjoying the look of more visible barbell, or in the case of a J curve allowing for larger and more decorative pieces on the bottom. With hoops, much like a tragus the hoop won’t be perfectly snug and touching all the way around. Then rook has a shelf shape, and the ring needs extra space to wrap around that. That said, hoops here are still super adorable, and this is a great placement for some fun decorative rings. Note that some clients struggle to adjust to a hoop comfortably, as rooks have a reputation for being somewhat bratty piercings, even well healed! This piercing can be tricky to change on your own, and given how fragile it can be, is a good one to have a piercer assist you with changing.
Daith- A healed daith has a sea of jewelry choices. Hoops of all styles, from big bold and beautiful to dainty and small all fit. For a small or snug hoop, be mindful that its not putting too much pressure on the entrance and exit of the piercing. Hoops that are too small, even in a healed daith, can cause irritation. Once healed, you can wear curved barbells in this placement, however be aware of their tendency to flip inwards, which can cause irritation even in a healed daith. Daiths also get super fun shapes, like hearts and moons, which are impractical in other locations. These unique shapes should absolutely be installed by a piercer to ensure they are put in properly, and in general this is a good piercing to have a piercer help change because of its awkward location.
Industrial- An industrial, once healed, typically wears a straight barbell, but in recent years their have ben many fun takes on this. Decorative barbells, chain pieces, etc are all possible! You can wear an industrial as two separate piercings as well, but we aware if anything happens to cause one or both to migrate (including bumps, snags, wearing low quality) you may not be able to safely wear the full barbell again. A good fit has the tiniest bit of space on the bar for the ear to flex and bend and for sleeping, but only the smallest bit. For some clients that fit is flush, with the ends touching the ear on both sides. For others, its 1-2mm extra barbell overall. Industrials don’t need any extra length, even you are changing them on your own, and extra room just makes them get caught or snagged more often.
Anti-Tragus- If f you’ve healed an anti tragus, or a Snug, congrats, these piercings are tricky! Ideal healed fit is a perfect fit, either curved or straight barbell depending on your anatomy (and please wear the shape correct for your unique ear) with the ends just touching the skin but not indenting. Hoops can also be worn in these piercings once healed, although they will have some extra room on certain anatomy. Anti tragus piercings are very organic shapes on the ear, and as such fit differs widely ear to ear.
Other ear piercings are more individualized. For orbitals, the ideal fit for a depends entirely on the placement, and piercing method of your piercing. Please see your piercer to be fitted for this piercing, and to ensure pieces are sized and installed correctly. Transverse lobes fall in the same category, as do multi point industrials, custom industrials, and any other very unique or special ear piercings. If you plan on getting work like this, be ready to become good friends with your piercer and see them often for checkups, most jewelry changes, and other needs!
Nostril- An ideal fit for a nostril piercing is honestly pretty varied. Some folks will enjoy a perfect fit, where a backing of a labret and the top sit flush to the skin. Others prefer a looser fit that allows them room for changing the jewelry, but also for cleaning. If you wear a lot of makeup, that extra room makes keeping your piercing and skin clean much easier. If you wear nostril screws, having one fitted for you with the type of curve you prefer, and for either the left or right side of your nose is crucial. Nostril Screws should always be fitted in person. For a hoop, it should be snug enough to wrap around, but not digging in. A hoop that is too tight will cause migration and issues, so you want snug but not tight.
Septum- Septum piercings are about whatever you like the look of. Rings shouldn’t be tight enough to pinch, but beyond that fits from super snug barely able to see the beads, all the way to huge, oversized hoops. It’s all about your fashion with the septum, and that’s part of what makes this piercing so cool.
Eyebrow- Eyebrow piercings should be a fairly perfect fit, with both beads resting close to or against the skin. Eyebrow piercings are surface piercings, so leaving them long can cause more snagging or catching, which can lead to migration. Hoops will never fit perfectly snug, and will always have some space and usually hang. This is perfectly normal, and they shouldn’t be so tight they bunch the skin of the piercing up.
Bridge- Bridge piercings, like eyebrows, need to be a good fit because they are essentially surface piercings. The ends should rest right against the skin, sometimes with the tiniest bit of bar. Excessive length in a bridge, even just a few MM to much can lead to snagging and migration. These piercings can be fragile, so being fitted by a piercer for a perfect fit is essential.
A General word of advice- Oral piercings can cause serious tooth and gum damage if not correctly fitted. ALL oral piercings should be fitted by a piercer, and should be a close fit to prevent damaging your teeth and gums. Downsizing is essential for oral piercings. Please do not over look these crucial things the it comes to fit!
Labret- Labret piercings should be fitted by a piercer, and should be a fairly snug fit. With studs, they back disc may sink slightly into the lip tissue, commonly called nesting. This is normal, and as long as its easy and comfortable to pop the disc out, totally safe. Hoops should be snug enough to wrap the lip, but will have some gap to allow for movement while eating and talking. Hoops that are too tight can cause migration, so they do need some room. Hoop or stud, an ideal fit for a labret is when the lips are at rest. When you smile, the lip does thin out, and you will see some extra room on the bar or ring. This is normal, and while we know some folks are bummed about that extra when they smile and speak, you need jewelry that fits at rest, not when smiling.
Philtrum- Philtrums follow the same considerations as labrets, including nesting, and some extra length seen when smiling. We know how annoying that room can be when you smile, but we promise its a necessary evil! While hoops can be worn in philtrums, extra care must be taken for irritation on teeth and gums, and the fit must be exact. These should be installed by a piercer.
Vertical Labret/Vertical Philtrum- Verticals don’t enter the oral cavity, so these are a lit easier on your teeth and gums. That said, a close fit is still very important so you don’t accidentally bite the jewelry while eating or get it caught! Top and bottom sitting flush is common, and some clients experience slight dimpling. As long as there’s no pain or discomfort, the jewelry dimpling in only slightly on the lipline is fairly normal.
Cheeks- Cheeks should always be fitted by a piercer. 100% of the time. These are essential to fit correctly, and that fit can change with swelling, allergies, medication, weight loss, weight gain, irritations, and a myriad of other factors. There is no set ideal fit, but once healed jewelry should not rub your teeth and gums. Your ideal fit will be determined between you and your piercer.
Navel Piercings- A well healed navel can wear a perfect fit with the gems touching the skin on either side, but it can also have a little extra bar, for those who like the look! It shouldn’t be too long, because you don’t want to risk catching or snagging. Hops are also adorable in a navel, and should fit comfortably without bunching or pinching the skin.
Nipple Piercings- Once healed nipple piercings can fit perfectly, bead, nipple, bead. A tiny amount of extra room can be left to accommodate for cleaning, and if you know your nipples become irritated or swell with your cycle, extra room can be left to accommodate that as well. Hoops need to be a large enough diameter to pass through the piercing without causing pressure, which is usually much larger than you might imagine.
These should be fitted in person with a piercer. Ideal fit is variable, depending on anatomy, function of the piercing, fashion, etc. A general rule of thumb is jewelry should have enough room for the tissue in all states, and be thick enough to be stable. Beyond that, it’s very individual. Seek out an experienced piercer to help with sizing and fit!
How do I find my correct fit at home?
Well, for some piercings, this really isn’t possible. I’ve listed some above I strongly suggest being fitted in person with a piercer for. For others, contact your local piercer and using photos, and sometimes printable measurement guides, they can help you get an accurate size! Purchasing a pair of calipers is a great idea, so you can measure existing jewelry in MM and a piercer can help you figure out how much longer/shorter you may need. I always suggest at least checking with a piercer when you need help sizing jewelry. Body jewelry can’t be returned or exchanged as a public health concern, so taking the extra 3 seconds to chat with your piercer can make the difference with wasting money. And it’s part of our job! We aren’t just here to pierce you, we are also here to help with everything concerning your piercings, including sizing. Make sure you save the information once you get it so you don’t forget the sizing! Taking photos of the sizing info when you get pierced or downsized is a great way to make sure you remember your measurements for different piercings!
What if I’m not sure a piece fits correctly?
Snap some photos and send them to a reputable piercer! We can take a peek, and see if everything is fitting well or if something looks off. We me might need to see a few angles, but helping you with the size and fit of your piercings is a much a part of our job as actually piercing you!
Correct fit is a big deal for piercings. Not just about fashion and style, a proper fit can directly effect the health and longevity of your body piercing, and the wrong sizes can cause damage. Sizing is just as important a consideration as the metal you are pierced with, or the piercer you see! Make sure you see a piercer you trust to work with you to find your perfect size, and don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have!