The Ultimate Guide to Body Piercings 

When body modification was first made popular in the 80s and 90s, people would find out about new piercings through magazines. It wasn’t until the last few decades where body piercing became a common (and accepted) form of self-expression and bodily decoration. Next, people getting pierced appeared in in music videos. In 2022, piercings made their way to high-end fashion when models with lip and septum piercings walked in a Balmain fashion show.

Unlike the 80s and 90s, there are now countless types of piercings, jewelry options, and materials. With all that’s out there, it can be hard to get all your information in a nice, easy-to-digest guide. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide that explains each of the different piercings currently available, types of body jewelry and which piercings they best suit, types of materials for body jewelry, and answers to commonly asked questions about body piercings.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Ear Piercings

Earlobe piercings are far and above the most well-known type of piercings. However, there are far more than just lobe piercings available for you to decorate your ears with, including cool options for alternative types of lobe piercings.

A Comprehensive List of Ear Piercings

Both lobe and cartilage piercings make up the different types of ear piercings available. Our comprehensive list of ear piercings includes:

  • Earlobe piercings, including stacked lobes (lobe piercings stacked one on top of the other; not to be confused with second and third lobe piercings as they are commonly referred to) and high lobe piercings (lobe piercings at the highest part of the lobe bordering where the ear cartilage begins).
  • Helix: This refers to a piercing along the curled rim of cartilage along the ear.
  • Forward helix: This is a helix piercing that’s located closer to where the ear connects to the head.
  • Scapha or flat: This piercing goes through the flat part of cartilage between the outer rim and the first cartilage fold of the ear. It is possible for your ear to not have the proper anatomy required to pull off this piercing.
  • Tragus: This piercing goes through the little triangle of cartilage above the opening to the ear canal.
  • Conch: This piercing goes through the deepest part of the ear cartilage, sitting nicely within the bowl-shaped area.
  • Rook: This piercing goes through the upper, thicker ridge of cartilage in your ear.

Various Ear Cartilage Piercings

  • Faux rook: Sometimes, anatomy is not possible for a full rook piercing to happen. In these instances, a piercing will go through where the top of a rook piercing would be situated. However, instead of going through the thick ridge of cartilage, it goes straight back.
  • Daith: This piercing goes through the innermost ridge of cartilage that dissects the ear at roughly the middle.
  • Antitragus piercing: Another piercing that isn’t suitable for everyone, this piercing goes through a small piece of cartilage directly opposite where a tragus piercing would be on the ear. Some people have a small lip of vertical cartilage that juts out from the lobe and above where a conch piercing would be; an antitragus piercing goes through this tiny piece of cartilage.
  • Snug: This piercing is closely located where a rook piercing would be. However, unlike a rook piercing, a snug piercing is pierced a bit farther from the place and goes through a part of cartilage known as the antihelix.
  • Faux snug: Because seldom do people have the proper anatomy to pull off snug piercings, the faux snug piercing was invented. The faux snug replicates the look of the traditional snug piercing, but instead, it is done with two separate piercings: one through the conch and another through a low spot on the helix.
  • Transverse lobe: This piercing is nearly the same as a traditional lobe piercing, except it is positioned horizontally across the earlobe, rather than straight through it.
  • Industrial: This piercing is essentially two piercings connected with a barbell. The most traditional form of an industrial includes two cartilage piercings: the helix and forward helix.
  • Orbital: Much like an industrial piercing, an orbital piercing is also essentially two piercings joined by jewelry. However, an orbital connects two piercings with a ring rather than a barbell. Common placements of orbitals include the lobe, upper cartilage, and connecting two piercings such as the forward helix and rook.

Nose & Face Piercings

These days the nostril piercing and septum piercing are quite popular, with fake septum rings being sold at some stores for those who want the aesthetic of it without the commitment of an actual piercing. But are there other types not as well known? Check out our list below.

Nose Piercings

The Complete List of Nose Piercings

The nostril piercing is perhaps the most well-known of all the nose piercings available, with the piercing going through the part of the nostril that flares outward. People can choose to get a nostril piercing on one or both sides of their nose. You can also get more than one nostril piercing on each side, depending on whether your anatomy is suitable for multiple nostril piercings.

Other nose piercings include:

  • Septum: This piercing goes through the center of the nose. While it may seem as if this piercing goes through the tiny cartilage between the nostrils, it actually goes through what is known as the “sweet spot,” a part of soft, membranous tissue.
  • High nostrils: These are actually gaining more and more traction, especially as jewelry such as bridle bars and chains for nostril piercings are becoming more popular. These are similar to standard nostril piercings, except they are placed much higher on the nose at the thinnest part of the upper cartilage before your bridge. They are usually performed in matching pairs.
  • Mantis, or forward-facing nostril: Also known as the front-facing nostril piercing, mantis piercings are not seen as often as the previously mentioned piercings. Done as a pair, the piercings go through the tip of the nose and face forward, hence the name.
  • Septril: This piercing involves a single piece of jewelry located on the midline of the nose, and can be placed anywhere from the very tip of the nose to the underside. However, this position does require you to have a stretched septum because the backing of the jewelry needs space so it can comfortably rest inside it.
  • Austin bar: The Austin bar is a surface piercing that mimics the appearance of forward-facing nostril piercings, but it is actually a horizontal bar that goes through the tip of the nose.
  • Rhino: Named after a rhinoceros horn, this piercing is the vertical surface piercing version of the Austin bar.
  • Nasallang: This is a horizontal piercing that goes through both nostrils and the cartilage of the septum.

The Complete List of Facial Piercings

In addition to decorating your ears and nose, there is also a category of facial piercings that consists of mostly surface piercings. These include:

Face Piercings List

  • Eyebrow: Yes, an eyebrow piercing is essentially a surface piercing. However, eyebrow piercings have much less chance of rejection than some other surface piercings when done through pliable tissue. But did you know that there are multiple placement options to choose from for eyebrow piercings? While the most common placement is along the outer third or quarter of the eyebrow, you can also technically get pierced anywhere along the eyebrow if the tissue is pliable enough to support the piercing. Eyebrow piercings can be done vertically or horizontally along the eyebrow.
  • Teardrop, or anti-eyebrow: This piercing is much like a traditional eyebrow piercing except flipped upside down, so it is below the eye instead of above it. It goes through the tissue at the highest point of the cheekbone where it is the most pliable. Anti-eyebrow piercings can also be done at any orientation that your anatomy and the tissue will support.
  • Bridge: These piercings can be placed in one of two areas: through the naison, or tissue between the eyes, or through the glabella, which is the tissue between your eyebrows. Essentially, this piercing can go anywhere from the top of the eyebrows to the bridge of the nose. While it is possible for some people to have room for multiple bridge piercings, these are very rare. Bridge piercings are horizontal in orientation.
  • Vertical bridge, or third-eye: This piercing is the same as a bridge piercing, but it is done as a vertical bridge piercing. It is usually done right between the eyebrows. However, some people have enough tissue for it to be placed more towards the lower part of the forehead.
  • Sideburn: This piercing is located more along the side of the face by the ear. It goes through the pliable tissue right next to the cartilage of the tragus.

Oral Piercings

Any piercing that has to do with the mouth is considered an oral piercing. These include:

  • Tongue: Tongue piercings are extremely versatile for what they are. They can be enjoyed for the aesthetic or because they add sensual pleasure for partners. Regardless of the reason you’re getting one, there are actually multiple placement options available. Depending on anatomy, a tongue piercing can be placed either in its central location anywhere from the tip (more on that below) to the back of the tongue or off-center (also called non-midline piercings). That being said, piercing along the midline is safest because it minimizes the chances of contact with teeth and the lingual frenulum. That being said, it is possible, if your anatomy is suitable, to get multiple tongue piercings. Different pairings of tongue piercings have all different slang names, including snake bites, venoms, vipers, and viper bites.
  • Tongue tip: Piercing the tongue tip is an additional alternative placement to a centered tongue piercing. In order for it to be considered a tongue tip piercing, it must be placed within the first half-inch of the tongue. Take note that this area does have more concentrated nerve endings, so it will be more sensitive.
  • Labret: This piercing technically refers to any piercing around the lip. However, over time it has become more well-known to describe the specific placement along the center of the bottom lip (also known as midline placement). Lip piercings off to the side are simply known as non-midline labrets. With that being said, like with tongue rings, slang names have been made popular for different pairings, such as snake bites (one labret piercing on each side of the lower lip), spider bites (a pairing of labret piercings on the same side of the lower lip), shark bites (two pairings of labret piercings with one on each side of the lower lip), and dolphin bites (a pairing of labret piercings in the center of the lower lip).
  • Monroe: This piercing gets its name from the location of Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark on the left side of her lip, which is exactly where it’s located.
  • Madonna: Much like the Monroe piercing, this piercing gets its name and placement from the location of Madonna’s famed beauty mark.
  • Philtrum: Also known as a medusa, this piercing goes in the center of the upper lip. It is usually located between the natural divot just above the cupid’s bow of the top lip.
  • Dahlia: Also known as joker bites, this is a set of piercings on either side of the mouth. Their precise placement is near the spot where the upper and lower lips meet. Believe it or not, these are often the safer option over cheek piercings.
  • Cheek: Also known as dimple piercings, cheek piercings are often done in pairs where natural dimples occur or would occur.
  • Lowbret: As the name implies, this is an extremely lip piercing. It can either face forward or it can come out the bottom.
  • Ashley: This is a surface piercing that goes through the center of the lower lip.
  • Vertical philtrum: Also known as a jestrum piercing, this goes through both the pigmented portion of the lip as well as the skin above it.
  • Transverse lip piercing: This is a horizontally oriented piercing that goes through only the pigmented part of the lip. 
  • Lingual frenulum: This piercing goes through the web under the tongue.
  • Smiley: This piercing goes through the web connecting the top lip to the top of the mouth.
  • Frowney: This piercing goes through the web connecting the bottom lip to the bottom of the mouth.

Torso & Genital Piercings

Isn’t it interesting that for such a wide area of the body there are so few piercings around the torso? Well, for how few piercings the torso has, the plenty available for genitals sure make up for it.

There are really only two piercings for the torso, but we’re sticking the nape here because it’s closest to the torso than anything else.

Navel: Navel is just another name for belly button. These piercings are meant to adorn and frame the tissue surrounding your navel. The traditional vertical navel piercing goes through the tissue at the top of your belly button. If your anatomy doesn’t suit this placement, a floating navel might work for you. Essentially, a floating navel is placed deeper on the underside with smaller jewelry to accommodate less room for something more ornamental.

Nipple: Popular for some time now, nipple piercings are for any gender. You can opt to have just one or the pair done. Nipple piercings can be done horizontally, vertically, or at an angle. While it is possible to have multiple nipple piercings in one nipple should there be enough room, each piercing must be done one at a time and fully healed individually. 

Nape: This is a surface piercing done on the back, or nape, of the neck.

For Vulvas

Because more genders than women can possess vulvas, it’s important to distinguish the piercings based purely on anatomy and not gender. The genital piercing options for people with vulvas include:

Vertical clitoral hood (VCH): This piercing adds function and adornment, so it is no wonder why it is the most popular vulva piercing. This piercing goes through the thin skin that hoods or surrounds the clitoris. The majority of the jewelry rests under the hood so the clitoris receives direct contact with it during sexual activities. Traditional placement is along the deepest part of the hood.

Princess Dianna/Duke: This piercing is identical to the VCH with one exception—it is off to the side of the clitoral hood instead of the center of it. Duke piercing is the alternative term both trans and nonbinary individuals have given the piercing. This piercing is often done and worn in pairs with one on each side of the clitoris.

Horizontal clitoral hood (HCH): Unlike the VCH, the horizontal clitoral hood piercing goes through a piece of hood tissue above the clitoris. Its primary function is aesthetic appeal rather than enhanced pleasure. For those with long clitoral hoods, multiple piercings are possible.

Triangle: This piercing was invented in the 1990s by Lou Duff. This piercing is a horizontal piercing of the hood tissue, but it goes beneath the clitoral shaft.

Outer labia (labia majora): These types of piercings are worn on the sides of the vulva, along the two outer labia. Many get them done as a pair, with one on each side, and others go so far as to get multiple so it forms a ladder of outer labia piercings. These are meant more for the visual look and less for pleasure enhancement.

Inner labia (labia minora): This is a very similar piercing to the outer labia piercing, except it goes through the inner labia. Piercees can opt for a single ring on either side, pairs, or multiples as their anatomy sees fit.

Fourchette: This piercing gets its name from the French word for little fork. It’s located in the perineum, but it’s much more comfortable because it is positioned vertically to match the vulva.

Christina: This is a vertical surface piercing that is placed at the top of the vulva and extends up the pubic mound. Because it does not come into contact with the clitoris, this piercing is just for ornamentation purposes.

Clitoris (clitoral glans): This is a rather rare piercing that goes through the clitoral glans, a collection of roughly 8,000 nerve endings. Getting pierced in this area definitely enhances pleasure once the piercing heals. However, only about 5% of the population has a clitoral glans big enough to be pierced through and a hood that is short or loose enough for the clitoris to be easily exposed.

Princess Albertina: This piercing goes through the urethral opening and exits at the bottom with a ring that rests in or at the opening of the vagina. Different anatomies cause the piercing to be placed slightly differently, with some needing to be placed higher and some a bit lower based on the location of the urethra. This piercing is intended to enhance penetration.

For the Penis Region

While vulva piercings are for any person that possesses a vulva, penis region pieces are for any gender so long as a person possesses a penis. These types of piercings include:

  • Prince Albert (PA): Like the Princess Albertina for vulvas, this is the version for penises. While it may look severe, looks can be deceiving. This piercing actually goes through less tissue than a standard earlobe piercing. This piercing is located on the underside of the penis where the head meets the shaft. The jewelry is made to rest within the urethra and it is worn so it sticks out of the urethral opening. This piercing does give those who have it some additional pleasure. If the piercing is done a bit further down the shaft, this is known as a deep Prince Albert.
  • Frenum: This piercing goes through the frenulum or fraenum on the underside of the penis shaft. It should be noted that the piercing doesn’t pierce through the shaft, but rather the fibrous tissue on the shaft. Frenums can be done as single, pairs, or multiples that create a frenum ladder. While the piercing initially meant the traditional spot on the underside, it has now transformed to refer to any piercing along the surface of the penis shaft.
  • Lorum: This piercing goes through the natural fold that separates the penis shaft from the scrotum. Elayne Angel is noted for coining the name because it’s like a frenum, but lower.
  • Scrotum (Hafada): This is a piercing that is purely visual and doesn’t aid in pleasure. It can be placed anywhere the skin of the scrotum can be pinched. However, a specific type of scrotal piercing, the hafada, refers to when the piercing is placed on the side or sides of the upper portion of the scrotum within its natural folds. People can get multiples of the piercing so it looks like chain mail protecting the scrotum.
  • Guiche: This piercing is a horizontal one located in the perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus. It straddles the vertical ridge of tissue that divides the region. This is a piercing that is pleasurable for the wearer.
  • Pubic Piercing: If you want a genital piercing that isn’t on the penis but is visible when you undress, this is the perfect option. The piercing is located in the natural fold where the top of the penile shaft meets the stomach.
  • Ampallang: This piercing goes horizontally through the head of the penis. The American placement is above the urethra near the ridge of the penis head while the European placement is lower and passes through the urethra.
  • Apadravya: This piercing goes vertically through the head of the penis. Traditional placement is along the rim of the penis head where it meets the shaft. This piercing does pass through the urethra.
  • Reverse Prince Albert: This piercing goes through the urethra to the top of the head of the penis. It is, essentially, the upper half of an apadravya.
  • Dydoe: This piercing goes through the rim of tissue where the shaft and the head of the penis meet. There needs to be ample tissue in order for the piercing to be successful.

The Main Point

There are plenty of body piercing options available to you. However, some depend on whether you have suitable anatomy for them. If you’re ever curious, don’t be afraid to book a consultation with your local piercer.