Let’s get this out of the way: This guide to male piercings is not a DIY tutorial. No way, no how. You need to visit a professional to get a hole punched in you—anything with a needle and sterilization and potential bodily harm should not be conducted at home.
What this guide will outline, however, is some things you need to know about the various ways you can get pierced—which will hopefully form the most educated questions for your piercing studio. That way you don’t show up for your dick-puncture date without any unreasonable expectations, you know? You need some baseline knowledge for that, and for nipples, lips, eyebrows, the nose, the tongue, and even ears.
For this rundown on male piercings, we spoke with two artists at Mission Ink Tattoo & Piercing in San Francisco, Salome and Indy, and also got some advice from Sean Dowdell, former body piercer and the CEO of the Club Tattoo and Piercing studios in Las Vegas and across Arizona.
1. You Get What You Pay For
If you’re looking for a budget piercer, then perhaps reconsider getting it done altogether. “If the price seems too low to make sense (like $20 including jewelry), they must be cutting corners somewhere and most likely it is with your safety and quality of jewelry that they are about to put into your body,” Dowdell says.
The same can be said of the quality of metals you wear in there: “Good implant-grade titanium and other metals with a high polish run a little more expensive, but will give you the best chance at healing and won’t tarnish or fall apart,” Indy says. “Low-cost jewelry is made from mystery metals which people can have reactions to, often the polish is not up to par and tiny scratches and pores in the metal can irritate the inside of a piercing or can harbor bacteria. Always ask your piercer if they use internally threaded jewelry, and what grade of metal they use—watch for titanium, gold, or high polish steel.”
2. Titanium Is Tops
All three piercers we questioned agree that titanium is the metal of choice for this task. “Titanium is the purest material you can put into your body,” Dowdell says. “It is hypo-allergenic, and only in very rare cases do people have a reaction to it. It is much safer than implant-grade stainless steel, as those alloys still have carbon or nickel elements in some grades and tend to cause reactions.”
3. Sterile Needles > Piercing Gun
Always go with a sterile needle instead of a piercing gun. That means, generally speaking, don’t go to the mall to get pierced.
“A piercing gun cannot be properly sterilized, and they use a blunt stud to create a hole,” Salome warns. This creates more trauma on the wound and is typically more painful than a needle. “A needle is far more accurate for the task and can be sterilized. With a sharp bevel edge, a needle creates a perfect puncture wound and an implant grade piece of jewelry is inserted. This makes healing much safer and easier.”
4. A Septum Piercing is Lower Than You Realize
Most people assume that a septum piercing drives right through the hard piece of tissue at the base of the nostrils. But this is not true: “There is a ‘sweet spot’, a gap, in your nose between the tip and the septum cartilage,” says Salome. “Properly pierced septums will heal fairly quickly. Piercing through the cartilage can take much longer to heal (if ever) and generally doesn’t fit the person’s face aesthetically. Any experienced and trusted piercer will know where to locate this spot and that the piercing, when done correctly, can be painless and quick. Healing is also quick, and your pro piercer can advise on the best size for you.
5. Eyebrow Piercings are Slow to Heal
Eyebrows are one of the slowest-healing piercings, Indy says. This is because they are surface piercings and can catch on things or easily react inversely to skincare products, dirt, sweat, and so forth. For this, have a sterile sea-salt solution (like NeilMed Piercing Aftercare) applied immediately after you shower or cleanse, 2-3 times daily.
6. Tongue Piercings Come with an Oral Care Warning
“Tongue piercings can be done from the top down or the bottom up,” Dowdell says. “Each piercer usually develops whichever technique works best for them. The piercing sits in between both sides of the tongue muscle in a layer called the medial lateral, and they generally heal up in about 8-12 weeks, but need to be downsized with a shorter barbell in 2-3 weeks to avoid tooth damage. ”