Idk about you, but every single time I see a photo of a curated ear pop up on my IG, I have the impulse to get a zillion new ear piercings—a triple lobe, a daith piercing, a conch piercing, and, my favorite, an industrial piercing. As a refresher, an industrial piercing is the barbell-looking rod that runs across the upper ear, basically connecting one side to the other (peep the image above). IMO, industrial piercings just scream—I mean, ~casually~ remark—”cool.” The only downside? They’re not right for everyone. Womp.

And no, it’s not because of their appearance; it’s actually because industrial piercings may not comfortably fit every single ear anatomy. Not only that, but the pain level and healing time tend to be higher than your traditional lobe piercing. So to find out if industrial piercings are right for you, we chatted with piercing expert Lucy, a London-based piercer at Scared Gold studio, for everything you need to know before making an appointment for yourself.

What is an industrial piercing?

An industrial piercing is made up of two piercings connected by a piece of jewelry, typically a straight barbell through the ear cartilage. It’s also sometimes referred to as a scaffolding piercing, due to the way it runs across your upper ear.

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What should I know before getting an industrial piercing?

It’s important to know that an industrial piercing requires two piercings in one on sitting, so if you’re terrified of needles, you may need to psyche yourself up before popping in the chair, or re-consider the piercing all together.

Love piercings and have a super-high pain tolerance? Awesome, but that still doesn’t mean you can automatically get an industrial piercing. In fact, says Lucy, your ear needs to have a defined ridge to be a candidate. “The piercing traditionally sits diagonal across the ear, so you need very specific anatomy for this to work,” she says.

If you’re all good on the ear-anatomy front, the actual process will be relatively quick: Your piercer will give you a consultation beforehand to check whether the industrial will work for your ear, then pierce both sides, and immediately insert the rigid barbell.

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How painful is an industrial piercing?

Pain is subjective, but if you’ve ever had a cartilage piercing, you’ll know what to expect: two cartilage piercings at once, and cartilage piercings tend to be more painful than basic lobe piercings (basically, it’s definitely one of the more painful piercings, if we’re being honest).

Still, Lucy notes that that as long as the piercing is performed correctly by a professional, industrial piercings tend to be “quick, with minimal discomfort”—like a tight, intense pinch that’s over in a flash.

Trust: These will help keep your piercings clean af

Do industrial piercings ever heal?

Yes, industrial piercings do heal, as long as you take proper care of it (most on that below). Still, like many cartilage and inner-ear piercings, the industrial takes longer to heal than a classic lobe piercing: specifically, six month to a year, says Lucy. That’s not to say you’ll be oozing and sore every day for a year, but it does mean you’ll have to be diligent for at least six months about cleaning your piercing and being delicate with it.

How do you take care of an industrial piercing?

Lucy insists that, like all cartilage piercings “industrials should be kept clean and dry, and not be touched,” which unfortunately means resisting the temptation to fiddle with your barbell or change jewelry while you’re waiting for it to heal.

Lucy also adds that “it’s very important not to sleep on these piercings, as it can cause a lot of swelling,” so if you know you always sleep on your right side, maybe consider getting your industrial piercing on the left side, just to make life easier.

What type of earring is used for an industrial piercing?

The most common type of earring used for an industrial piercing is a barbell, but Lucy says her clients are getting more creative with their designs. “At Sacred Gold, we have solid gold barbells with beautiful gemstone designs in the middle, or you can wear two rings with a chain attached,” she notes.

Final thoughts

Basically, if you want an industrial piercing, you should chat with your piercer ahead of time to make sure you’re a candidate, before you go buy a bunch of jewelry and products to take care of your piercing. But once you’re in the clear? Enjoy your new bling,

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