Industrial Piercings – Everything You Need To Know & FAQ | Painful Pleasures Community

Industrial Piercings – Everything You Need To Know & FAQ

Before you get pierced, here’s everything you should know about industrial piercings. Learn all about the piercing process and aftercare.
by Painful Pleasures Last Updated: December 29, 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Industrial Piercings 

Industrial piercings are eye-catching and, frankly, cool as hell. If you’re thinking about getting one, we can’t recommend it enough. But as any good piercer would, we recommend doing a little research and making sure industrials are right for you before committing. So before you step into the piercing shop, here’s everything you should know about industrial piercings – from the piercing process to the final product.

What is an industrial piercing? 

Industrial piercings are actually two (or even more) piercings of the ear cartilage joined by a single piece of jewelry. The most common configuration features two piercings through the helix – the thick ridge of cartilage along the top of the ear. The first piercing goes through the forward helix, near where the ear meets the skull, and the other goes through the rear helix, near the back of the ear. 

Industrial piercing variations

There are also other options for industrial piercing combinations. For example, an industrial piercing could join helix and daith piercings or rook and conch piercings. To get a better sense of the possible combinations, take a look at our ear piercing FAQ.

Are industrial piercings right for me? 

If you really want an industrial piercing, there’s usually a way to make it work. That being said, the shape of your ear does come into play, and piercers might need to make special accommodations for some ear shapes. Sometimes, the helix of the ear is small and thin enough that it can’t support a standard industrial. If this is you, your piercer might suggest going with a smaller 16-gauge as opposed to the standard 14-gauge. Or you might have better luck with one of the industrial variations we mentioned above.

 Remember, the shape and thickness of your helix are the real factors here, not the size of your ear. Even if you have particularly large or small ears, your piercers can just use a shorter or longer barbell to fit your ear. 

The process of getting an industrial piercing 

Piercing client getting marked for an industrial piercing

It’s always a good idea to do some research and find an experienced piercer with awesome reviews, but it’s especially important for more complicated piercings like industrials. You want someone who has the skills to line up the piercings just right so that you can wear your barbell comfortably.

At your appointment, your piercer should examine your ear’s anatomy to confirm that it can support an industrial and make recommendations for the best placement. Then, they’ll confirm that you’re happy with the proposed placement, sanitize the area, and make marks with a sterile surgical skin marker.

Next up is the actual piercing. There are a few different methods, but most piercers will start with the uppermost piercing and put the barbell in. They’ll then use a new, sterile needle for the next piercing and place the other end of the barbell through this piercing, connecting the two. Some piercers may recommend wearing two smaller pieces of jewelry, like labret studs or seamless rings, for the initial healing phase since they might put less pressure on the healing piercings and are less likely to get caught in hair or clothes.

illustrated straight barbell with glowing end balls to indicate pain

Do industrial piercings hurt?

As with any piercing, expect a pinch as the needle pierces your skin. Cartilage piercings usually hurt a bit more than earlobe piercings since cartilage tissue is firmer and harder to pierce. And, of course, you’ll have to feel that pinch twice since industrials require two piercings. Your own experience will depend on your pain tolerance and the configuration you choose. Most people with industrials say the pain was tolerable and very short-lived.

Industrial piercing jewelry 

The best part of industrial piercings? The ability to wear so many different styles and types of jewelry. The most common is an industrial barbell, which can be plain and simple…or a little extra if that’s your thing. We have a huge variety of industrial barbells that are adorned with everything from playful charms to sophisticated jewels to detailed metalwork. You can also opt for curved, looped, and zig-zag barbells, or you can switch up the look entirely and wear separate pieces of jewelry, expanding your options to include labret studs, bent barbells, seamless rings, or captive bead rings.


Industrial Piercing aftercare

We’ve said it before (like a million times), and we’ll say it again: good aftercare is critical. And with an industrial, you’ve got two piercings to care for, so staying on top of your aftercare routine is doubly important. First, pick up these piercing aftercare essentials from our online store or at your local piercing shop. 

Tea tree oil or jojoba oil


Illustration of washing hands


Wash your hands: It’s tempting to skip, but don’t. A new piercing is essentially an open wound and touching it with dirty hands increases infection risk.

Illustration of ear cartilage and cotton swab

Soak with sea salt solution (SSS): Twice a day, soak a clean cotton ball with SSS and gently hold it against your piercings for a minute or two. Repeat this process for five minutes, soaking both the inside and outside of each of the two industrial piercings. You could also fill a glass with SSS and tilt your head sideways to submerge your piercing for the same amount of time – just make sure both piercings are submerged.

Illustration of cartilage being dried

Dry the area: After soaking your piercing, pat it dry with a clean, dry cotton ball or facial tissue. Be careful not to snag your jewelry!

Illustration of Recover Saline Spray being used

Rinse between cleanings: In the first couple of weeks, carry a bottle of piercing aftercare spray to flush away debris and provide cooling relief 3-4 times per day between cleanings. If you’re experiencing persistent redness or irritation, you may want to apply a small amount of tea tree oil or jojoba oil, all-natural moisturizers and antiseptics, around the piercing.

Illustration of calendar

Keep it consistent: Incorporate these aftercare steps into your morning and evening routine — while washing your face or brushing your teeth, you should clean your piercing too. If you occasionally miss a cleaning, it’s alright — just pick up again the next morning or evening.

Keep up with the steps until healing is complete, and be sure to avoid the following:

  • Unnecessarily handling your piercing or jewelry
  • Moving your jewelry to break up dried lymph fluids, or “crusties.” Instead, use SSS or aftercare spray to soften the crusties and gently wipe them away with a cotton ball
  • Applying balms, creams, cosmetics, or ointments to your piercing while it is healing
  • Completely submerging your new piercing in water

Healing time

Industrials usually take around six months to fully heal – but that doesn’t mean six months of discomfort. Immediately after you get your industrial piercing, the site will probably be swollen, tender, and red. After a week or so, these symptoms should fade, and eventually, you’ll hardly notice any discomfort. You might be tempted to skimp on the aftercare routine at this point, but don’t. Your tissues are still healing and still need to be cleaned regularly. 

Other ways to support the healing process include:

  • Keeping long hair tied back, as it could get tangled in your jewelry and pull on the piercing.
  • Sleeping on the opposite side of your piercing. If you’re normally a side sleeper, you may want to pierce the ear opposite your normal sleeping side.
  • Taking care of yourself. Get sleep and eat well. A healthy, rested body heals faster.

Infection and other risks

See your piercer immediately if swelling presses your ear uncomfortably against your jewelry, or if you develop a rash or other signs of allergic reaction. In these instances, you may need a different size of jewelry or a different jewelry material.

If the skin around your piercing becomes hot to the touch, streaked with redness, discharges thick, yellowish pus, or if you develop a fever, see your doctor. These are all symptoms of infection, which you may need antibiotics to address. If you do get an infection, you don’t necessarily have to give up on your industrial piercing. In fact, removing your jewelry can actually trap the bacteria within the closed piercing, making it harder to fight the infection. The best course of action is to leave your jewelry in place, follow your doctor’s instructions, and keep up with your aftercare routine.

How to change your industrial piercing jewelry

Black Industrial barbell in a gloved piercer's hand

Before you can swap out your starter industrial barbell for something more unique, you must go through the full healing process for both piercings. Trust us, you do not want to push new jewelry through unhealed cartilage. Stop by your piercer for help if you’re uncertain about the healing process.

Once you’re all healed up, changing industrial piercing jewelry is usually pretty simple. Hold your barbell firmly with one hand and gently unscrew the beads from each end. It’s usually easier to guide the barbell upwards and out of the lower piercing first. Then, gently guide it downwards and out of the upper piercing. (Remove each side in whatever order feels best for you, though). At this point, you may want to use some SSS to remove any crusties and lubricate the piercing.

Then, gently guide your new jewelry through the top piercing followed by the lower one (or vice versa). As you do, be careful to work slowly and carefully the first time you change it. 

Asking your piercer to change your jewelry for the first time is always an option too. They can give you additional pointers specific to your unique piercing and anatomy.

The cost of getting an Industrial Piercing

Costs vary according to geographic location and individual piercer. However, you can typically expect to pay between $40 and $100 for the piercing and jewelry. Plus, you’ll pay a little extra if you opt for premium jewelry. Because industrials are actually two piercings, you might pay a little more than you would for a single ear piercing. 

And don’t go for the cheapest option just because it’s the cheapest! Always choose a professional piercer who follows best practices for safety and hygiene. If you don’t, you could end up paying more in the long run.

Get everything you need to love your industrial piercing

When you’re ready to brave the needle and get your new industrial piercing, you can shop our aftercare supplies to get a great price on everything you need. And once you’re healed up and ready to have some fun with your new look? We have one of the best selections of industrial barbells you’ll find anywhere, with a huge variety of lengths, gauges, designs, and metals, so that everyone can find something they love. 

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