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What To Know Before Getting An Industrial Ear Piercing

If you’re looking to add a bit of edge to your everyday style, an industrial ear piercing might be the ultimate aesthetic-enhancing choice. Combining the novelty of a more non-traditional placement with the versatility of a classic ear piercing, it’s no surprise why the industrial — a style that’s enjoyed waves of popularity over the decades — is once again the piercing du jour among tastemakers and celebrities alike. Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith, and Demi Lovato have all shown off their respective industrial piercings over the years, with jewelry styles so different and reflective of each star’s distinct personality. That’s the beauty of an industrial piercing: with so many jewelry types to choose from, you can effectively customize your piece of body art to fit all sorts of moods and vibes whenever they may strike.

As undeniably cool as industrial piercings are, it’s still a body modification — and that means it requires a bit of prior research into candidacy, pricing, pain levels, and aftercare to ensure that your piercing ends up looking its very best and heals as healthily (and as quickly) as possible. To help navigate the world of industrial piercings, Bustle turns to Cassi Lopez-March, owner and head piercer at So Gold Studios in Brooklyn, New York, for some professional insight into the entire process. Ahead, find everything you need to know about the industrial style.

You may sometimes hear industrial piercings referred to as bar piercings, and they’re both interchangeable terms that refer to the same thing: two distinct ear cartilage holes connected by one single barbell. The thickness of the barbell is left up to the individual, but the piercing in general is one not everyone’s ears are suited for. “These piercings require very specific anatomy and if you don't have a piercer who's well-versed in how to do these, you can be left with some really intense scarring,” warns Lopez-March, describing industrials as one of the piercings she often sees done incorrectly. In general, an industrial piercing is right for you if have defined outer cartilage folds (also called the helix) though proper in-person assessment from a professional is key before forging ahead with your new jewelry.

While the most popular industrial piercing style connects your helix and forward helix (that inner, closest-to-your-face part of the curved ear ridge), an experienced piercer can give you a verticle take on the look or adjust the placements to be higher or lower. Your jewelry options are more varied than you might think, too. Miley Cyrus, for example, has worn multicolored, beaded, and pearl-tipped versions over the years, trading them out to suit different outfits and hairstyles. “Lots of people got industrial piercings in the late 2000s,” Lopez-March tells Bustle. These days, she’s starting to see those with established industrials looking for new ways to wear it — usually via something like a chain hanging across the ear, she says. “But I do have people that are still looking for the classic barbell going across, sometimes in titanium and sometimes in gold as well.”

Because of the real possibility that your ears might not be suited for an industrial piercing, you’ll want to make sure you arrive at your appointment with enough time for the piercer to evaluate the situation. From there, you will decide on your preferred placement together, and your piercer will mark the exact locations to puncture with sterile, single-use needles. Lopez-March confirms that it does require two separate piercings done in immediate succession, but that doesn’t mean double the pain. It’ll feel like a pinch, and you’ll probably be so distracted by the first one that you won’t even notice the second. “Pain is relative,” Lopez-March says, “but with an experienced piercer, it should be pretty minimal.”

The final element to consider is how much an industrial piercing costs. Despite the two punctures required for the look, you’ll only be charged for one piercing. Typically, expect to pay between $30-$70 for the actual piercing itself, not including jewelry — at So Gold Studios, for example, all piercings are a flat $40 before jewelry. “Quality studios will generally charge a separate piercing fee, and implant grade jewelry can start anywhere from $40-$50,” Lopez-March says. That, of course, can stretch well above depending on the metal, gauge, and any additional gemstones or intricate designs.

Once your new jewelry is in place, you’ll want to be especially mindful as your body starts the wound-healing process. Watch out for hair tangling around the piercing (especially while you shower or style your hair) and be mindful of things like hoods and beanies that could get snagged on the protruding studs. In general, though, Lopez-March says industrial piercing aftercare is pretty simple. A good stream of water in the shower is really all you need, she confirms, though says a sterile saline wound wash also is a solid aftercare pick. It’s most important to just keep the area well-rinsed, she says, and allow your body to do what it does best.