Getting Prepared For Your Nose Piercing: Styles, Sizing, And More

While there are several different types of nose piercings, we focus on the most popular version: nostril piercings. These piercings offer the most variety in the styles, designs, and looks that you can wear. You can find them in just about every metal, with gemstones and creative charms as accents. Read on to discover the wide range of options of nose rings you can choose from, how the sizing process works, and tips on getting your first nose piercing.

Nose piercings can add something interesting to your look, as not everyone has one and it’s something people will notice right away. Whether you want to appear edgy or just love the idea of a dainty diamond stud gracing your face, if you’re in the market for a nose piercing, this article is for you.


While nose rings are nothing new, they have been gaining popularity in the U.S. in the past few decades. The first recorded nose piercings date back to 4,000 years ago in the Middle East. From there, they spread to India, Africa, and beyond. Nostril piercings are even mentioned in religious texts like the Bible, so they truly have a deeply rooted history that has been worth noting.


Many cultures around the world embrace this style, whether it’s a popular fashion trend or carries a deeper cultural meaning. The first person to reportedly wear a nostril ring in the U.S. was French singer Polaire, who is said to have worn one during her world tour. In the 1960s, “free love” hippies traveled in flocks to India for enlightenment and brought the nostril piercings back with them. In subsequent decades, punks, goths, and other American subcultures adopted the trend as a statement of nonconformity.

You don’t have to belong to a rebel crowd anymore to sport a nose ring. People of all stripes wear them, and nose jewelry is becoming more broadly accepted even in professional settings. Except in the most conservative circles, nose piercings are just another personal style choice, like getting a tattoo or a new haircut.


While there are several different types of nose piercings, we focus on the most popular version: nostril piercings. These piercings offer the most variety in the styles, designs, and looks that you can wear. You can find them in just about every metal, with gemstones and creative charms as accents. Read on to discover the wide range of options of nose rings you can choose from, how the sizing process works, and tips on getting your first nose piercing.

Types of Nose Rings


The type of nose ring that works for you depends on your personal tastes, your face structure, your hairstyle, and other factors. A well-made nose ring is a thing of beauty. Here are the most common styles that you’ll find behind the jewelry counter.



Studs are straight posts that sit comfortably in the piercing and are held securely with a ball on one end. For a first nose piercing, most people start with a stud because it helps form a permanent hole in the nostril, assists with healing, and is easy to remove and clean. There are several different types of stud nose ring variations.



twist or U-shape nose ring is easy to place in the nose and remove as needed. The hook at the end of the nose ring rests on the inside of the nose, keeping it firmly in the piercing. This is the most common jewelry that a piercing studio will place in a new nose piercing because of its ease of use and secure fit.



The fishtail nose stud is made to be custom-fit to the wearer’s nose. It’s longer than other stud styles because the end will be bent after the piercing is done to fit comfortably in that specific individual’s nose based on its size and shape. Before bending, it’s too long too wear, but afterward to will be suited to your unique specifications. Due to its custom fit, the fishtail is also a good option for first-timers.




nose bone is a straight post that fits through the piercing with an adornment on one end a small ball on the other that keeps the stud in place. The ball is of large enough diameter to fit snugly and comfortably against the nose without popping out. It’s best to wait to wear a nose bone until your piercing is fully healed.



The most simple of all the nose stud styles, the pin is like the bone stud except it doesn’t have a ball ending to keep it from falling out. Instead, the gauge (width) of the pin is a little bit thicker so that it won’t get loose. It makes for easy changing and cleaning, but is the least secure in terms of losing jewelry.



The L-shaped post ring is similar to the U-shape in its design and is a popular style because it’s designed to fit securely against your inner nose. It’s bent at a 90-degree angle and doesn’t require twisting off a screw to take out, making it easy to remove and replace while being more secure than a nose bone.



Hoops are a fun alternative to studs and stand out a bit more because they’re larger and cover more of the nose. They can rest closely against the skin of the nose or hang more loosely for a different look.


There are a few main types of hoop ring closures. Captive bead rings are held in place by a central bead that’s used to open and close the hoop. To dazzle it up even more, captive beads can be adorned with gemstones and other designs.

Seamless closures have a tiny opening that you twist to place the ring in the nose and then twist back into place to secure it. Segmented rings are like captive bead rings except there is a small segment of the hoop that keeps the ring secure instead of a bead.

The Nose Ring Fitting Process

Now that you have a sense of the different nose piercing styles, you’re probably wondering what happens during the process of getting pierced and placing your first nose ring. We’ve broken the process down into four main parts for fitting and choosing styles: gauge size, length (for studs) or width (for hoops) of the jewelry, metals, and adornments.

Part 1: Gauge Size


What do we mean when we say “gauge?” It’s the thickness of the jewelry metal – the part that actually goes in your nose. The size of the gauge determines the size of the piercing hole that will be made in your nose – and ultimately, the fit and feel of the piercing.


Have you ever thought about the fact that no one’s nose is exactly like another person’s? Professional body piercers probably think about it every day, because they have to look at a person’s nose shape and size to determine the best gauge size for the piercing. Leave it to them to help you find the best size for your body and personal style.


The most common nose gauge sizes are named as follows:

22 Gauge (.6mm thickness)

This is the smallest gauge used on nose piercings and would be considered unusual in the United States. It’s a more likely request in India, the MIddle East, or other places where nose piercings have a longstanding cultural significance. These pieces need to be handmade to custom fit the wearer’s nose.

20 Gauge (.8mm thickness)

The standard size for a nose ring, 20 gauge jewelry is what you’ll find most nose studs and hoops come in. This is the smallest size gauge of body jewelry that’s commonly used compared to other body jewelry like earrings and belly button piercings.

18 Gauge (1 mm thickness)

This larger gauge allows for a thicker hoop, which makes it more noticeable. It’s particularly suitable for larger noses, or piercings placed higher up on the nose.

Part 2: Length and Diameter

Choosing the length of your nose stud or diameter of your nose hoop will ultimately determine the aesthetic that your nose ring brings to your look. This is also the part of the process where you’ll choose what kind of stud or hoop you want.


The length of a stud is also known as a rise or “wearable surface,” and is the measurement from the base of the gemstone or decoration to the end of the post (before the L, U, or ball ending.) It’s the part that actually goes through the piercing and can be felt by the wearer.


Most nose studs range from 5-7 mm in length (with 6 being the average). The chosen length is based on how thin or thick the nasal cartilage is. Again, the professional piercer you work with will measure your nose and help you decide what will make the perfect fit.


For a hoop nose ring, you’ll choose the diameter – distance between the inside edge of the hoop. The most common sizes are 5/16” (8mm) and 3/8″ (10mm). The right size hoop is determined based on where your piercing will be placed and the size and shape of your gauge and nose. Getting this right is extremely important – otherwise, the piercing could look a little odd.

Part 3: Metals

Once you know the length or diameter and style of the nose ring you want, you get to move on to the most exciting phase of the process: actually picking out your jewelry! The type of material for your nose jewelry plays a part in your overall look.


Pure, high-quality metals are best so that the piercing doesn’t get irritated and the metal doesn’t oxidize or tarnish. Be careful to consider any metal allergies or sensitivities you may have.

Surgical Steel

Surgical steel is the best option for a new piercing because it promotes healing and is gentle on the skin. Its hypo-allergenic properties keep the skin from getting irritated. Stay away from cheap materials like nickel that might look similar.


While silver is a go-to metal for other types of jewelry, nose piercings tend to not do well with silver. If you have your ears pierced, you may have noticed that silver can sometimes oxidize and leave black marks on the skin. For a nose piercing, this is very noticeable since it’s on the face and could result in a black stain around the piercing. It’s recommended to wait a year before wearing silver jewelry in a nose piercing.


In addition to surgical steel, gold is another safe option for a nose ring. It’s sturdy and won’t tarnish like silver. Go for real 14k or 18k yellow or white gold instead of gold-plated metal jewelry, which will take on the properties of the base metal.



Strong and durable, titanium is not recommended for a healing piercing but is a great option for a second jewelry piece once some time has passed.

Part 4: Accents and Extras

Lastly, decide what kinds of accents or adornments you want on your nose ring. This is the icing on the cake! While the fit and shape of the stud or hoop is essential, picking the design is really the defining part of choosing your nose ring look.


Gemstones are a popular choice for either stud or hoop nose rings and add some sparkle to your everyday appearance. There are two types of settings: prong and bezel.


prong setting set the gemstone up high so it catches more light, making it sparkle and drawing attention. This has long been the jewelry standard and is the most likely to make your gemstone stand out.

bezel setting places the gemstone lower, hugging the edge of the stone and allowing it to rest more closely to the nose. This is a good option if you’re an active person because it is less likely to snag on clothing and get bumped by any objects.

The size of gemstones for nose rings ranges from about 1.5mm to 2.5mm on average. Larger adornments, such as gemstones arranged in a butterfly shape or a flower or embellishments in enamel, can be larger, even up to 6 or 7mm (about 1/4″) wide. As with everything else about choosing a nose ring, the size of your decoration will depend on your nose shape and size.


A Centuries-Long Tradition of Self-Expression


Whatever nose ring style and design you choose, make it something unique that expresses your own personality. It will become part of your everyday identity, as it will be one of the first things people see when they meet you. Nose rings have been embraced in human culture for centuries and there’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time: they can be absolutely stunning.


If you decide to go for it, make sure to follow all of the aftercare instructions so that your piercing heals properly. Because the nose ring is placed in an area with cartilage, it takes longer for nose piercings to heal than some other piercings, like earrings – about six to 12 weeks on average. While it heals, keep it clean, always wash your hands before touching it, and don’t fidget with the piercing throughout the day. Before long, you’ll have a beautifully healed piercing that’s ready for a wide range of different looks and styles!


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