The Ultimate Guide to Cartilage Piercing

The Ultimate Guide to Cartilage Piercing

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Thinking about getting a cartilage piercing and leveling up your ear jewelry game? Here's everything you need to know, including the various styles to choose from, and what to expect while your cartilage piercing heals.

You have probably seen an ear with loads of earrings when scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest. For fashionistas, adding cartilage piercings to their ear adds a lot of personality to their style.

Cartilage ear piercings are one of the most popular types of body modifications. It’s fairly easy to get your cartilage pierced, and it can add a whole new level of coolness to your style. There are many different types of cartilage piercings, each with its own unique look. The most popular are tragus piercing, conch piercing, and helix piercing.

But before you get your new piercing, read this guide first! It will teach you everything you need to know about cartilage piercings, from the different types of piercings to aftercare.

cartilage piercing

What is a Cartilage Piercing?

Cartilage piercings are any piercings that go through the hard, non-bendy tissue, called cartilage, above your earlobe. Cartilage is much harder to pierce than the skin, so piercings usually take longer to heal.

But they're worth the wait—cartilage piercings are unique and more interesting than traditional lobe piercings, and they can really make your style stand out.

Types of Cartilage Piercings

Before we give you the full scoop on how to style your ear stack, let’s talk terminology. In this section, we’ll talk about the names of different ear piercings, where they are positioned on the ear, and which style of earring looks best in each type of piercing.

Ear Piercing Chart

ear piercing chart

Helix piercings

Let’s start at the top! A helix piercing is any piercing in the upper ear cartilage / outer edge of the ear. Stylish and classy, the helix piercing is one of the most common ear piercings out there, with many people getting multiple helix piercings, and goes particularly well with huggie hoop earrings.

Conch piercing

Center of attention? Absolutely! Located in the inner part of your ear, a conch piercing is done through the thickest part of the ear's cartilage, just below the helix, and it's usually the center piece of any ear stack! There are two main regions of this middle cartilage: the inner conch and the outer conch piercing. Both studs and hoops look great in this eye-catching cartilage piercing.

Tragus piercing

Located on the little flap of cartilage on the side of your face that covers the ear canal, the tragus piercing is one of the most versatile cartilage piercings. Can’t choose between a teeny tiny cartilage hoop or a flat-back earring? Get them both and alternate styles in your tragus!

Daith piercing

If we were handing out superlatives for ear piercings, the daith piercing would win Most Loved! Located on the smallest fold of the cartilage in your ear canal, where the outer ridge of your ear meets your inner ear above the ear canal, the daith is one of the most fun piercings to style. We recommend starting with a statement piece for your daith, so you can build your ear stack around it.

Rook piercing

Multiple looks, one rook! The rook piercing is located on the upper cartilage, between your outer and inner ear and above your tragus. This distinctive ear piercing looks great with a dainty cartilage hoop or a delicate, curved barbell.

Industrial piercing

An industrial piercing is actually two piercings that are connected by a barbell. It's done through the cartilage on the top of the ear and is often worn as a decorative piercing.

Forward Helix piercings

The forward helix piercing is located at the small outer rim of the cartilage at the top front of your ear, just above the ear canal. Flat back earrings are the most popular jewelry for this type of ear piercing, but don’t limit yourself! A small cartilage hoop also looks great in a forward helix piercing.

A forward helix piercing is a unique ear piercing that not many people have, but it can be a great way to make your ears stand out.

Anti Tragus Piercing

We’ve talked about the tragus, now let’s learn about the anti tragus piercing. The anti-tragus is the relatively small vertical lip of cartilage above the earlobe and across from the tragus. We love styling this piercing with a curved barbell or huggie hoop, which goes through the fold of skin on the small, curved area above your earlobe.

Snug Piercing

Snuggles are great, but a snug piercing might be even better! A snug piercing is a horizontal piercing through the inner ridge of the ear cartilage that sits right above the anti-tragus. Snug piercings are unique and look beautiful with tiny huggie earrings or dainty curved barbells.

Lobe Piercing

This is the piercing that started it all-- it's probably the first spot you got your ears pierced! Ear lobe piercings, as the name suggests, are piercings to the earlobe. We love lobe piercings because they’re (mostly) pain-free and have the quickest healing time. The sky is the limit when you have a lobe piercing in your ears. Choose flat back earrings, studs, huggie hoops, big hoops, drop earrings, and the list goes on and on!

cartilage piercing cartilage piercing

How much does it cost to get a Cartilage piercing?

The price of a cartilage piercing will vary depending on the type of piercing, the jewelry you choose, and the studio's location. But on average, you can expect to pay between $40 and $100 for a simple cartilage piercing.

If you're getting a more complex piercing, such as an industrial or a rook piercing, the price will be closer to $100.

And if you're getting your piercing done at a high-end studio with top-of-the-line jewelry, you can expect to pay even more.

Pro-Tip: Don't be in a low price trap. When it comes to piercings, you get what you pay for. A cheap piercing from a shady studio is more likely to get infected and take longer to heal. It's worth spending a little extra to ensure your piercing is done right.

Pain and Healing time

How painful is a Cartilage piercing?

It totally depends on your pain tolerance and the type of ear piercing you're getting. But most people say that cartilage piercings are more painful than earlobe piercings.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most painful, most people say conch and rook piercings fall between 8 and 9. In contrast, helix piercings are one of the least painful types of cartilage piercings. They're usually only a 4 or 5 on the pain scale.

How long does a Cartilage piercing take to heal?

Cartilage piercings take longer to heal than earlobe piercings. The average healing time is 8 months, but it can take up to 12 months for some people.

The healing process is slow because cartilage doesn't have a good blood supply. This means that it's harder for the body to fight off infection and promote healing.

You can help your piercing heal faster by following these tips:

  • Clean your piercing twice a day with a saline solution or alcohol-free cleansing wipes.

  • Avoid touching your piercing with dirty hands.

  • Don't sleep on your piercing.

  • Don't remove your jewelry until your piercing is fully healed.

When can I change my Cartilage piercing jewelry?

You should wait at least three-to-six months before changing your cartilage piercing jewelry. This gives your piercing time to heal and reduces the risk of infection.

You may be able to change your jewelry sooner if your piercing is fully healed and you're careful. Talk to your piercer first to see if they're okay with you changing your jewelry early.

Why shouldn't you get a Cartilage piercing?

There are a few reasons why you might not want to get a cartilage piercing.

  • They're more painful than earlobe piercings. If you have low pain tolerance, you might want to stick with an ear lobe piercing.

  • They take longer to heal. If you're not patient, you might get frustrated with the slow healing process.

  • They're more likely to get a nasty infection. This is because cartilage doesn't have a good blood supply, which makes it harder for the body to fight off infection.


Caring for a new cartilage piercing is similar to caring for any other type of piercing. Like all piercings, there's a risk of infection, so it's important to clean your piercing regularly.

Gently clean your piercing twice a day with either the saline solution or the sea salt solution. Use a cotton swab or your finger to apply the solution to your piercing, then rinse with clean water. Avoid touching your piercing with dirty hands, and don't let anyone else touch it either.

If you have any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, see your doctor.

What should I do if my Cartilage piercing gets infected?

If you think your piercing may be infected, it's important to seek professional medical help as soon as possible. Infections can cause serious health complications if not treated properly.

Some signs of an infected piercing include:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Pus(green or yellow) or crusty discharge

  • Pain or itching

  • Crusted over an area around the piercing

  • Heat around piercing area.

  • Unexpected fever

What if my Cartilage doesn't heal?

If your piercing isn't healing properly, it's essential to seek professional medical help. There are several things that can cause a piercing not to heal properly, and only a doctor will be able to give you the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Styling Cartilage piercings

cartilage piercing cartilage piercing

Where can I find jewelry for my Cartilage piercing?

I'm glad you asked! Assolari has an amazing collection of beautiful gold hoops and sparkling studs for your ear piercings. We never compromise on quality, but our prices are designed for those who want to look great without spending an entire paycheck to achieve it.

What size should I choose for my Cartilage piercing earring?

The most common size for a cartilage piercing is 16 gauge. This size is large enough to accommodate most people's healing process but small enough to minimize the risk of damage to the tissue.

Here's how to measure your Cartilage piercing:

The distance from the piercing hole to the outer edge of your ear is what you want to measure. This will give you the circumference of your ear.

Pro-Tip: Take the following measurement in a straight line; if you take it at a diagonal angle, you may get a hoop that is too large.

What material should be my Cartilage jewelry?

The best materials for cartilage jewelry are stainless steel, titanium, or 14k gold. These materials are non-reactive and hypoallergenic, making them ideal for people with allergies to metals.

I'm ready for another piercing! When can I get a new piercing ?

There are a few things to consider when thinking about what piercing to get next. The most important thing is to make sure that you are fully healed from your previous piercing before getting anything new done. Once you are sure that your body is ready, it is time to start thinking about what style you would like to go for next.


If curating a luxurious ear stack is your goal, Assolari can help!

We’ve designed hundreds of ear stacks for customers, and we look forward to creating your dream stack, too! Just tell us about your piercings, personal style, and preferences, and we’ll put together an ear piercing stack we’re sure you’ll love! This service comes with a $60 voucher toward your next purchase, so don’t hesitate, book your consultation today!

Ear Styling Service

Ear Styling Service


Bring your dream ear stack to life! Ever wondered how to style the perfect ear stack? Or maybe what piercing should you get next? Well, Brunna is not your fairy godmother, but she can definitely help you figure it out!… read more

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