Alongside ear piercings and tattoos, nose piercings are one of the most popular types of body modification in the world today. It’s no surprise why: nose piercings are beautiful, eye-catching, versatile, and even carry deep cultural connections for many people. If you’re interested in getting your nose pierced and want more information or are searching for your next nose ring, you’ll find everything you need below.
Types of Nose Piercings
There are many different types of nose piercings to choose from, but some are more complicated than others. Before you commit to one, make sure you understand its pros, cons, and aftercare needs.
- Nostril piercings: These are the most common type of nose piercings, placed in either the right or left nostril at or around the supra-alar crease (the small indent above where the nostrils first begin to flare). It’s also possible to get a high nostril piercing, which requires placing smaller jewelry (~20g) through the nostril closer to the nasal bridge. It can be tricky to change high nostril piercing jewelry yourself, so don’t hesitate to ask your piercer for help. For most people, the choice of which nostril to pierce is completely based on personal preference. However, in Indian culture, women often pierce their left nostrils in the belief that it will make childbirth easier. It’s also a symbol of social standing, a mark of beauty, and a way of honoring the Hindu goddess of marriage, Parvati.
- Septum piercings: Septum piercings are the second most popular type of nose piercing. It is inserted through the “sweet spot” of the nose, the soft tissue between the Columella (underside of your nose) and the bottom end of the septum that separates the nostrils. If you’re interested in a septum piercing, make sure you choose a piercer experienced in performing them since it’s fairly easy to get them wrong. If you experience excruciating pain during your septum piercing and significant discomfort afterward, it’s likely your piercer punctured your septum cartilage. In that case, remove your jewelry, allow your piercing to heal, and find someone who knows what they’re doing to re-pierce it later.
- Bridge (a.k.a. Earl) piercings: Bridge piercings are placed across the bridge of the nose, directly between the eyes. Due to its prominent location and high rate of rejection, this piercing is relatively uncommon. As with other surface piercings, the body will do its best to push the hardware out of the skin rather than heal around it. For surface piercings to be successful, piercers need to place them as deeply as possible and use heavy-gauge jewelry. Bridge piercings are especially complicated since there’s very little excess tissue between the skin surface and the bone below. If your body rejects a bridge piercing, you could be left with a scar right between your eyes.
- Nasallang piercings: This tricky 3-in-1 piercing is the nasal equivalent of an industrial ear piercing. Essentially, it is a double nostril piercing combined with a septum piercing, all connected by a long, straight barbell. For a nasallang piercing, a piercer will go through one nostril from the outside, through the “sweet spot,” and out through the opposite nostril. If you plan to get a nasallang piercing, you should take the same precautions as with a standard septum piercing because they also carry the same risk of incorrectly piercing the septum cartilage.
- Rhinoceros (a.k.a. vertical tip) piercings: The “rhino” piercing places the jewelry behind the tip of the nose (called the Tip Defining Point) so that one end of the jewelry perches on the center tip of the nose while the other protrudes from the front-underside of the nose. The procedure involves piercing the underside of the nose, just in front of the Infratip Break (i.e., the underside of your nose, close to the tip), and out between or slightly behind the domes that forms the Tip Defining Point.
The Nose Piercing Process
When you first meet with your piercer about getting your nose pierced, you’ll need to tell them whether you want a nostril piercing, a septum piercing, or another type of nose piercing. If you want a nostril piercing, your piercer will ask which side you want to be pierced. Once you decide, your piercer will mark the area where they plan to insert the needle. Once you’re happy with the placement, your piercer can begin!
It is normal to cry involuntarily while getting your nose pierced. It’s a common physiological response (particularly to nostril piercings) that has nothing to do with your ability to tolerate the momentary discomfort associated with nose piercings.
Nose Piercing Pain
All piercings can be painful when the skin is punctured, but most people report that nose piercings aren’t especially painful or difficult. There’s a sharp pinch during the actual piercing, usually followed by a dull ache or throbbing for a few hours or days after the procedure. If you’re worried about pain, ask your piercer to apply a topical anesthetic before the procedure. In most cases, a standard dose of Ibuprofen is sufficient to manage nose piercing pain during the healing process.
If you’re getting a septum or nasallang piercing, however, you should be especially careful. Immense pain during or after a septum piercing likely means your piercer pierced the septum cartilage by mistake. In that case, you’ll need to remove your jewelry, let your nose heal, and try again with a more experienced piercer.
Nose Piercing Cost
Nose piercing prices vary widely based on the complexity of the piercing, the type of jewelry you want, and where you live. Prices are often lower in rural areas than in cities, where shops tend to pay more to rent space. In general, a nostril piercing will be cheaper than a bridge or septum piercing, both of which should cost less than a nasallang piercing since it’s the trickiest one. You can also save money by sticking with the basic starter jewelry the shop includes in the cost of the piercing. Buying nicer jewelry before your piercing heals is pointless unless it fits you perfectly before and after, which is unlikely with anything but a nose hoop. Most of the time, you’ll need a shorter barbell later, so be patient and buy something stellar once you’re fully healed!
Nose Piercing Healing Time
Each type of nose piercing takes a different amount of time to heal, and healing times vary from person to person. Below are the average healing times for each type of nose piercing:
- Nostril/high nostril piercing: 4-6 months
- Septum piercing: 6-8 weeks (as long as it is performed correctly)
- Bridge piercing: 8-12 weeks
- Nasallang piercing: 4-6 months (as long as it is performed correctly)
- Rhinoceros piercing: 6-9 months
These healing times are also dependent on how well you follow your nose piercing aftercare regimen. Diligent aftercare will help ensure that your nose piercing heals completely.
Nose Piercing Aftercare
During the initial healing process, it’s important to keep up with your nose piercing aftercare routine. Your routine should include maintaining good hygiene, sleep, and eating habits while minimizing tobacco and alcohol use. Together, these measures help ensure that your piercing heals as well and as quickly as possible.
Your piercer should provide you with complete aftercare instructions and supplies before leaving their shop. This basic aftercare routine should consist of 2-3 sea salt solution (SSS) soaks per day. You can either soak cotton balls in SSS and apply them to your piercing for 5 minutes at a time, or you can submerge your piercing in SSS for the same amount of time. It is important to soak both the outside and the inside of the piercing the best you can.
You can find various SSS options in the piercing aftercare section of our online store, or you can make SSS at home. To make your own SSS:
- Boil 1 cup of water for 5 minutes to sterilize it.
- Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (not table salt, which contains iodine). If desired, you can also stir in 2-3 drops of tea tree oil for its moisturizing and antiseptic qualities.
- Let the mixture cool a bit, and then proceed with your SSS soak.
Between SSS soaks, you can also cleanse your piercing with an aftercare spray. It will not only help keep the area clean between soaks, but it can also help reduce dryness and discomfort.
In addition to the aftercare steps outlined above, you should also avoid the following during the healing process:
- Applying oils, balms, or creams directly to your piercing. These can clog the fistula, trap bacteria, increase the risk of infection, and delay the healing process.
- Turning, twisting, or sliding your jewelry, even to loosen up “crusties.” Crusties are dried lymph, a clear fluid that the body naturally excretes during the piercing healing process. Instead, soften crusties with warm water or sea salt solution and gently wipe them away with a wet cotton ball or swab. If you turn your jewelry to loosen the crusties, you could push bacteria into the delicate fistula and delay healing.
- Changing your jewelry during the first 3-4 months.
You should only change your starter jewelry early if you’re having an allergic reaction or experiencing significant swelling, causing the jewelry to press into your skin. If you do have excessive swelling, itching, or a rash, swap out your jewelry for either a stainless steel or solid (not coated) titanium nose ring or stud. These metals are the most inert and the least likely to cause an allergic reaction. If your jewelry isn’t long enough to comfortably accommodate the typical amount of swelling, you’ll need to have larger jewelry inserted to prevent necrosis (tissue death), which can lead to infection. It’s best to get your piercer to help, even if it means paying a small fee. If you try to change your jewelry yourself, you might damage the delicate, healing fistula (i.e. the hole where you were pierced) or risk having the fistula close up while trying to get the jewelry back into it. If you have no choice but to change your nose piercing jewelry yourself, make sure your new nose ring is the same gauge as your starter, so you will have less trouble inserting it.
Stretching a Nose Piercing
If you want to stretch your nose piercing, you’ll need to wait 2-3 times longer than the average healing time listed above before each stretch. For example, a septum piercing takes 6-8 weeks to heal, so you should wait 12-24 weeks before initially stretching your septum, and between each additional size increase.
If you want to stretch more gradually, you can wrap a nose ring with incremental layers of stretching tape. To do this, remove your jewelry, wrap it with a layer of stretching tape, and re-insert it. Make sure to give your piercing plenty of time to adjust to the new size, reinforce itself, and then repeat the process. With the tape method, you can slowly work toward the next size rather than jumping an entire size at once. Either way, you should always take a break if stretching becomes uncomfortable.
Nose Ring Jewelry: Nose Studs & Nose Hoops
When it comes to nose rings, there are many options available. For nostril piercings, the most common types are nose “studs,” which come in three primary shapes: nose screws, nose bones, and fishtails.
- Nose screws: This type of jewelry consists of a short pin with a decorative top on one end. The other end is curled into a semi-circle, perpendicular to the pin. Depending on which nostril it’s going in, the semi-circle bend is either to the left or the right. Nose screws are easy for people to change on their own, but they can twist during the day, causing the portion inside the nose to poke out of the nostril.
- Nose bones: A nose bone is comprised of a decorative top connected to a short, straight post with a ball at the end. Typically, the bottom ball is slightly wider than the post and doesn’t unscrew from the post. Nose bones are even easier than nose screws to put in and take out by yourself.
- Fishtails: A fishtail nose ring has a long, straight shaft with a decorative top attached. Their variable-length makes them easily customizable, and piercers often use them to create custom nose screws.
In addition to these common nostril ring styles, PainfulPleasures carries one of the world’s largest assortments of nose rings, with so many lengths, gauges, and style options available that you’re sure to find the perfect nose ring for you!
- Nose hoops: If you prefer the look of a nose hoop, you can choose from seamless rings, segment rings, and captive bead rings. In addition to being highly customizable, these styles have the advantage of being able to meet the exact gauge and diameter requirements for your specific anatomy.
- Labret studs: Labret jewelry is an excellent alternative to the three nose “stud” styles described above. Their flat backs are less obtrusive inside your nostril than some other nostril rings, and they’re very secure. Additionally, there are tons of options for decorative tops since you can use any matching dermal top with a labret stud. Installing them without help can be a bit of a challenge for some people.
- Circular/horseshoe barbells: These styles are an excellent option for septum piercings! They’re distinctive, highly customizable, and easy to change. They can be quickly hidden by simply flipping them upwards inside the nostrils. Circular barbells tend to slide more than other styles, though, so you may find yourself adjusting them frequently.
- Other Septum Piercing Jewelry: Septum pinchers and septum tusks are cool alternatives to wear in your septum piercing once it’s fully healed. You can find pinchers as small as 16g, but many designs are only available in sizes upwards of 12g (2mm). Tusks are best suited for those who have slowly stretched their septum piercings over time.
- Plugs and tunnels: These types of jewelry are only appropriate for stretched septum or nostril piercings, but they’re an incredible alternative to more traditional styles of nose rings.
- Straight barbells: Straight barbells are a must for nasal piercings, but they can occasionally work with bridge or rhinoceros piercings, too. Straight barbells are highly customizable, and they come in a wide variety of lengths, gauges, and ball size combinations. However, they can put undue pressure on bridge piercings, which can trigger the rejection process.
- Bent barbells: Bent barbells (a.k.a. banana barbells or curved barbells) are the ideal jewelry to use in bridge piercings and rhino piercings. When used in a bridge piercing, the curve of the barbell works with the curve in the bridge of the nose so that the jewelry doesn’t put undue pressure on the fistula and increase the likelihood of rejection. A curved barbell provides a little more flexibility for rhino piercings than a straight barbell in terms of placement of the entry and exit points.
- Nose piercing retainers: If your employer doesn’t allow facial piercings, or if you need to take your nose jewelry out for a while but want to make sure your piercing remains open, you’ll want a retainer.
Whatever style of nose jewelry you select to start with, make sure you ask your piercer its gauge, length, and diameter before you leave the shop. That way, you’ll have a guideline for what size to get when you’re ready to buy new jewelry for your nose piercing. You can also shop for a nose ring based on material by selecting one of the options below:
- BioPlastic Nostril Jewelry
- Gold Nose Rings
- Platinum Nose Rings
- Sterling Silver Nose Rings
- Surgical Steel Nose Rings
- Titanium Nostril Rings
- Glass Septum Jewelry
We hope this comprehensive guide to nose piercings and nose rings has helped you understand the history, process, and details of nose piercings and given you a sense of the various styles of nose jewelry available. Be sure to check out the PainfulPleasures community page for even more information about piercing and body jewelry, and remember to return to the PainfulPleasures online store for all of your body jewelry needs.