Nose rings are the second most popular form of body piercing, after earrings. While some may have a negative attitude towards wearing nose rings, in certain parts of the world this has been practiced for thousands of years for aesthetic and symbolic purposes.
Today wearing a nose ring is becoming more mainstream and an increasing number of people are opting to get their noses pierced. As with any type of jewelry, a nose ring expresses your personality and the type of ring you choose will say something about you. From pretty and exotic to rebellious and non-conforming, you can choose your style.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not a nose ring is for you, keep reading. We cover everything a beginner needs to know about getting your first nose ring.
What type of piercing should I choose?
There are at least 10 different types of nose piercings available to you, from novice to hard-core. Here’s a quick run down of the most popular.
The most traditional and popular form of nose ring is the nostril piercing. Here, you can choose either the left or right nostril based on your preference. The commonly used type of jewelry with a nostril piercing is a stud or a nose ring. This is placed just at or above the groove of the nostril’s curve.
This is the most popular type of nose piercing at the moment because it is versatile and stylish. The septum piercing is more complicated than a nostril piercing and needs to be performed by a skilled nose piercer. Usually, the piercer will choose the area where there is an absence of cartilage (such as the web os skin where the cartilage and the bottom of the nose meet) so ensure that your piercer knows his cartilage.
You can choose to go with a simple septum ring, circular barbells, captive bead rings or other elaborate designs. The circular barbell (also called horseshoe) is the most popular. If you have a barbell septum ring, you can easily flip it upwards to hide it, if need be.
The high nostril is a variation of the nostril piercing. Here the nostril is pierced at its highest point, before the bridge of the nose begins. This is a unique and stylish spot for a piercing.
The high nostril is pierced in one of the thickest parts of the nose and is a hard to reach area, so piercing this spot can get complicated. Choose a skilful piercer for this one.
For a high nostril piercing, studs, nostril screws and L-shaped nose pins work best.
The Bridge Piercing, also known as the Erl, is done horizontally across the bridge of the nose, and is known as a surface piercing. What this means is that the cartilage or bone of the nose is not punctured.
However, as a surface piercing, the chances of the body rejecting the jewelry are higher. What the body does is to push the foreign body (in this case the jewelry) outwards towards the surface of the skin in an effort to heal. If this happens, it is best to remove the piercing and allow the hole to heal.
Curved and circular barbells are ideal for bridge piercings. It is not recommended to choose a straight barbell as the chance of the body’s rejection are higher.
Rhino Piercing / Vertical Tip
The rhino piercing, also known as the vertical tip piercing, is quite unique and rare. It almost always involves a curved barbell, that runs from the tip to the bottom of your nose. You can choose a straight bar but this can get more complicated.
Possibly the most involved form of nose piercing, the nasallang passes through both nostrils and the septum. It may seem just like two simple nostril studs, but is actually quite complicated. It is usually done with one sterilized needle in one go, passing through the width of your nose. The nasallang requires symmetry and perfection to look its best, so ensure that your piercer is experienced.
The nasallang is designed to be worn with a straight barbell.
This piercing has the same concept as the nasallang, except that it does not pass through the septum. Instead, it is a nasal tip that pierces the fleshy point of your nose horizontally. This is quite a rare piercing and is named after the first known person to get the piercing.
A straight barbell is often chosen for the Austin Bar.
Types of Nose Jewelry
A common misconception is that all nose jewelry is a nose ‘ring’. If we’re going to be pedantic about it, we would call it nose jewelry as clearly there are many other types of nose jewelry apart from a ring (this is the same with the term earrings).
This is the most commonly worn type of nose jewelry. It is designed to be a long, seamless hoop that fits into the hole and is held in place.
A curved barbell, also known as banana bars and bent barbells, is a variation of the ring. This is especially perfect for septum piercings and can be threaded through the hole by unscrewing the ball edges.
Captive or fixed bead rings
A captive bead or fixed bead ring is a combination of the traditional ring and the barbell. These are very popular but can be somewhat complicated to remove.
This is a small straight bar that can slide into a nose piercing easily. The beaded edge is what keeps it from sliding out. These are generally much smaller than other types of nose jewelry.
This is a straight post with an L-shaped bend, used to keep the jewelry from sliding out of the piercing. The bend can have an angle from 45 to 90 degrees. The end of the L-bend can be a simple ball, stud or a creative design.
This is similar to the L-bend but has a curvy tail instead of a bent bar. It holds the jewelry in place by curling around the inside of the nostril. The nostril screw holds firmly and provides extra support to the piece.
Best nose ring to start with
The best nose piercing to start with is the simple nostril piercing. This is less complicated and risky than some of the other types mentioned above and is not intimidating.
The best nose jewelry to start with is the nose ring. This allows you to clean the jewelry as you can turn it to clean all surfaces. It also has room to accommodate any swelling. However, the very fact that it can fully rotate means that bacteria from the outer part of the ring can get to your unhealed skin if you change its position.
If you don’t want your nose ring to be too attention-grabbing at the start, choose a ring with a higher gauge, such as 24 or 26 gauge.
Once you see how you feel about wearing a nose ring, and as you get more confident and comfortable, perhaps you might be interested in taking it up a notch. You can do this by choosing bigger or more interesting types of nostril jewelry, having multiple nostril piercings for layering or trying one of the other more involved types of piercings.
What’s a fake nose ring?
Now if you want the edgy, bold look of a piercing but aren’t quite ready for a full commitment with a piercing, you can try out a fake nose ring. This is perfect to see how you feel about the whole nose ring thing, before you jump in.
You can either choose to buy or to make your fake nose ring, using wire, craft materials and glue.
Check out this DIY video on how to make your very own fake nose ring.
Is it safe to wear a nose ring?
Nose rings are generally safe but it can be difficult to heal and complications can arise if the procedure isn’t done well or if there isn’t sufficient aftercare.
This is why it is important to make sure that you receive your piercing from a reputable and experienced piercer.
How to avoid nose ring infections
It is imperative that you take care of the piercing during the healing period which can take around 3 months.
Choose your nose ring metal carefully. Some of the best types for a new piercing are stainless steel, 14k gold or titanium. Plastic, nylon and sterling silver, although hypoallergenic, are unsafe as they can cause infections in a new piercing. Also, silver can permanently tarnish skin that hasn’t healed yet, leaving unsightly stain marks that is impossible to get rid of.
Avoid chemicals and chlorine until the piercing has healed. This means avoiding activities involving swimming in pools or the ocean, water sports and hot tubs. Also, excessive perspiration can irritate and burn the piercing, so always wash away your sweat from the piercing.
During this healing period, it is advised not to remove the piercing as this can cause the hole to close down or get torn, requiring the healing process to start all over again.
When cleaning the piercing, avoid rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as these can irritate the skin and burn your tissue and slow down healing. These also tend to dry and kill off new cells. A sterile saline solution is generally recommended as the best way to keep the piercing clean.
While a nose ring takes some commitment to maintain, it is a beautiful and trendy way to express your style. It is a big decision however, so take your time and do your research before you commit. Consider if and how it may impact your professional life, and whether it is something you will want to have down the line.