Industrial Piercings: Industrialized Or Just A Fashion Statement?

Wondering what that hortizontal piercing on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram was? It was an industrial piercing and it’s still ranking as one of the most searched piercings on Kylie. And if you were wondering about the title of this article, head down to the bottom for what it means. 

What is an industrial piercing? 

An industrial piercing is typically found in the upper cartilage of the ear. It is a body modification made up of two piercings connected with a bar. An industrial piercing is a very unique design that gives its wearers and awesome, and sometimes edgy look, and as a result you may have noticed it more and more in the last year or so. 

Why is it called an “industrial” piercing? 

An industrial is a piercing that passes through two holes made in the body. Typically, this type of modification is done through the upper cartilage of your ear. It is comprised of two holes, one on each side of the upper ear, with a long (2.5 to 3 inch) barbell slid between the holes. This gives the appearance of a large bar going through the ear, and there are usually sizable balls screwed on the ends of the barbell.

Since most piercings are named after the part of the body that they pass through, the term industrial sounds confusing. Everyone knows humans aren’t born with an “industrial”, so there is no real answer to why it is called an industrial piercing.

Industrial piercing earrings

The industrial bar piercing is an awesome adornment for your upper ear. It accents it because it’s daring and eye-catching if you wear it to school or college. With many designs and unique industrial barbells to choose from, it’s a total statement look.

Today’s industrial barbells feature a variety of style options like:
  • Decorative ends like wing, arrows, and faceted jewels, 
  • Or variations on bar the bar itself like twists and bends
  • Or decorations like gems and charms that are attached in the middle so they rest nicely against the flat of your ear. 

Most of the barbells used for this piercing are made of surgical stainless steel, and therefore do not come in a variety of colors of styles. Many people do not take issue with this because the industrial piercing is unique enough on its own. There are some titanium and niobium barbells available, but these are not recommended for fresh piercings.

The jewelry you pick makes a huge difference in the healing process. Hypoallergenic metals for industrial piercings such as implant grade titanium, gold (14k-18k) for safe, nickel-free jewelry are the best choices. Next, you need to pick the right gauge size. 

Consult with your piercer before choosing the gauge size of your jewelery as the usual gauge for an industrial piercing is 14. 14 is long but has its benefits, starting with healing. When the piercing is healing it’s better to start with a longer bar. Secondly, longer jewelry allows room for swelling, whereas a short bar can result in restriction and pressure. This can be painful as well as slowing healing time.

At the end you can slowly switch to more snug fitting jewellery after 2 to 3 months. This will be at the end of the initial healing period.

What is the industrial procedure?

When getting an industrial done on your ear, there are several things that come into play. First, the piercer must mark where the barbell will go on your ear. In most instances, the gauge of this barbell will be between 12 and 14; is a thicker size than a typical earring. One of the holes will be made at the top of the ear close to the head (what is also known as an anti-helix piercing) and one will be made through the helix as well. The piercer must take care to line these holes up so that your barbell goes straight through.

The preferable metal is titanium, as this one is the most convenient and does not contain toxic substances, which reduces the chances of allergies, suppuration and infections. Normally, it is essential that the piercing has the appropriate size for the body spot where it is going to be placed.

Step-by-Step Process

The process used to complete the actual piercing include:

  • Your ear will be marked and sterilized, and a sterile needle (or two, depending on the piercer’s technique) will be inserted through the skin and cartilage. 
  • This piercing is often painful due to the large gauge of the needle, and it may bleed. 
  • Your piercer will make sure that the needle or needles have gone through the flesh, and then he or she will insert your industrial jewelry. 
  • You will receive cleaning and care instructions (Some shops prefer to use Bacitracin, others prefer a product like H2Ocean spray).

This piercing usually has a specific piece of jewelry used to set off the unique look. A long barbell (the piercer will measure your ear to make sure he or she gets the right length) will be inserted between the helix and antihelix holes. There are a lot of piercers who  feel that it is better to put a captive bead ring in each of the holes and let that captive bead ring heal before placing the industrial jewelry in. This way it’s easier to clean and handle the holes of the piercing (an industrial with a barbell can be tricky to keep clean) and you will have less complications – a total plus! 

Industrial piercing cost? 

On average: $40 to $70.

The price of an industrial piercing varies from place to place so it’s tough to narrow down a price range for an industrial piercing. This is because the price is likely to be lower in a more rural area than it would be in a bustling city. As rent and property are more expensive in bigger cities, it naturally drives up the prices of shop services.
On the other hand, certain piercers consider it to be two separate piercings, some only see it as one. An experienced piercer can also vary the price. At an  average, you should be looking to spend between $40- $70.

Industrial piercing men

Industrial piercings are a popular cartilage piercing for guys and girls alike. If you’ve caught the industrial piercing bug and are thinking about getting one, there are many looks to try out. 

A traditional industrial piercing is comprised of two helix piercings connected by a long barbell. However, the beauty of industrial piercings is that you can accent it with various placements and configurations. For instance, you may choose to vertically connect two conch piercings; a rook and a daith piercing; an anti-helix and a rook piercing; or a daith and a lower conch piercing (just to name a few options!)

If you have an ear for it, industrial piercings can even connect four piercings at once: an anti-helix, daith, a rook, and a lower conch. With this intricate industrial piercing, you can run two vertical industrial barbells side-by-side through the conch, or in a criss-cross pattern through the upper ear; this is called an “ear cage.”

When you get an industrial piercing, you can either let your piercing artist put in a standard industrial barbell, or you can ask for separate pieces of jewelry to wear until your fistulas fully heal. Some people opt for labrets, small seamless rings, small captive bead rings, short straight barbells, or mini curved barbells; mini curved barbells are particularly popular when a rook or daith piercing is part of the industrial piercing.

Industrial piercing healing

An industrial piercing generally heals in about 3-4 weeks to six months. You should be careful during the healing time. This type of piercing is not easy to handle as it could be very painful and prone to infections. The best way to avoid any risks, is to follow your piercer’s aftercare advice. So, here are some tips:

  • After you get your pierced, you should be extremely careful and do your best in cleaning the pierced area:
  1. Run warm water over the piercing, or use a salt spray solution to loosen up and discharge and dirt around and in the piercing. 
  2. Twist the piercing around a little bit to make sure the solution and water go right through the piercing site and make sure to give equal care to each piercing. 
  3. Rinse and dry the piercing with a thick kitchen towel by dabbing the site.
  4. Or, lather up antibacterial soap and warm water and lightly rub the metal rod with your pinky, twisting the piercing around to coat it with soap. Apply the soap, gently behind the rod on the inside of your ear and around the pierced holes for three minutes. Rinse your jewelry and piercing by allowing the water to flow onto your ear until all the soap is gone from your piercing and jewelry. Pat your piercing and ear dry with a disposable paper towel.
  5. Also, a great way to clean the pierced area is to use some sea salt. Simply, fill a bowl with 1 cup of warm water and add 1/4 cup of sea salt. Dip a gauze pad in the water and clean your ear with it. Repeat this one or two times a day.
  • Before you touch the piercing or the pierced area, you should always clean your hands with hot water and use an antibacterial soap. So before touching the pierced area make sure your hands are clean.
  • Lean your head under a faucet and run warm water on your ear for 30 seconds. This loosens up dried skin and crusted areas around the piercing.
  • Avoid harsh products, such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as cleaning agents for your piercing will lessen the risk of a longer healing period.
  • Avoid wearing hats and unclean clothes
  • Avoid saunas, pools, the ocean. 
  • Do not take off the jewelry for at least 3 weeks and change the jewelry.
  • A new industrial piercing gets caught while brushing hair. It can take a while to get used to having this forgeign object in your ear but its good to become conscious of this piercing as you brush your hair. Be aware and be extra careful. Say the same thing to your hairdresser, in fact avoid going there till it heals. 
  • Avoid sports, especially sports that involve physical contact, to best care for your piercing. An industrial piercing is extremely sensitive and even the smallest amount of abrasion or chafing may cause it to heal incorrectly or could even cause infection. You should sit out any sporting events or regular exercise routines for at least 2 weeks following your piercing procedure.
  • Never rubbing alcohol to clean jewelry while it is in your ear as it will irritate the area.
  • Avoid piercing in unprofessional conditions.

If you believe you may have an infection, see a doctor or the person that did your piercing.
If you notice yellow discharge, redness or red lines, swelling or have extreme pain see your doctor as your piercing could be infected. Do not use gel-based ointments that will prevent air from getting to your ear. Doing so will protract the healing process.

Industrial piercing pain

So it’s unfair to say that the pain won’t exist at all. It is minimal and completely bearable. It will only take a couple of seconds during which you might feel some discomfort. This is especially true if you are getting two piercings, but it shouldn’t be too sore, more of a pinch really.  Now then it comes to cartilage piercings, everyone handles pain different as opposed to a nipple piercing where it’s either too sensitive or almost feels like nothing. 

Most people rate an industrial piercing as a less painful earring:

Industrial piercing: 4 out of 10

Septum piercing pain: 2 out of 10

Nose piercing pain: 3-4 out of 10

Vertical labret pain: 4 out of 10

medusa piercing pain:  4 out of 10 

Daith piercings pain: 5-6 out of 10.

Rook piercing pain:  6 out of 10

Industrial piercing meaning 

Lastly, let’s look at the significance of this piercing. This is where the title of this blog comes into the picture. 

To an outsider, an industrial piercing can look like a new trend or a very old one – so it depends on if you’ve seen this a lot, and where you come from. And that’s why it’s hard to pinpoint a time in history when these piercings became popular. Let’s say it’s a combination of industrialization and fashion which flourished during the punk phase and evolved to impress the Kardashians.  

Throughout history, there were clearly many cultures that embraced body modifications that looked more extreme than the industrial piercings we have today. With that in mind, just embrace this piercing if you want one and get it. 

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