Nose ring sizes: A guide to finding the right measure
Oct 20, 2022
If you're planning on getting your nose pierced, you may already have an exact piercing type in mind. But if you're new to piercing, you might not realize just how many sizes (and types) of nose piercings are out there! Here's how to select your nose ring sizes.
Standard nose ring sizes explained
The most common nose ring gauges sizes are 18 gauge (1 mm) and 20 gauge (0.8 mm). However, piercers will often use a slightly larger needle (about 16 gauge/1.2 mm) to make healing easier. The larger hole allows for some swelling and prevents the healing from getting too tight as it heals.
The standard nose ring diameter sizes are 8 mm (5/16") and 10 mm (3/8"). A too-small ring can become uncomfortable or not fit at all. A larger ring might look overly bulky or run the risk of getting caught on clothing, etc.
Different nose ring sizes for different nose piercings
There are nine main types of nose piercings. Here they are, along with the gauges they commonly use:
1. Nostril piercing.
This is probably the most common nose piercing. It goes through the top part of the nostril. It's typically 18 gauge (1 mm), though some people might opt for the slightly thinner 20 gauge (0.8 mm) after the piercing heals.
2. High nostril.
This rare piercing looks like a nostril piercing but is placed higher up the bridge of your nose. It can be quite painful, so most use a relatively thin 18-gauge needle.
This piercing goes right in front of the septum cartilage. It's somewhat common, and some people call it a "bull" piercing because it looks like the ring through a bull's nose. Septum rings are typically 16 gauge, though you may sometimes see them done as 18 gauge piercings.
This complex piercing involves first getting a septum piercing. That piercing is gradually stretched (ideally by a skilled piercer). After this, a smaller needle goes through the cartilage between the nostrils. The end result is a piercing that sits right between your nostrils. For this one, the initial septum piercing will be 14-16 gauge, and the final part will usually be 18 gauge or 20 gauge.
5. Austin bar.
This unusual piercing is named for the first person who received it. It's a straight barbell that goes through the tip of the nose. It makes it look like there's a little bead on each side of your nose. Many piercers use an 18 gauge needle, but your piercer will work with you to determine what gauge is best for you.
This piercing looks a little like the Austin bar, but it actually goes through the cartilage of your nose. It's usually a 16-18 gauge piercing.
7. Vertical tip/rhino.
This one is often called a "rhino" because it leaves a little raised "horn" at the tip of your nose. The other end of the piercing is over the skin on your septum. Like many other nose piercings, it's usually 18-22 gauge.
This piercing is also called an erl. It's placed right at the bridge of your nose so there is a bead on either side of the bridge. However, the barbell just goes through the skin above your nose. It's usually 12-14 gauge.
9. Third eye.
This one is sometimes called a "forehead piercing," but it's really just a bridge piercing turned vertically. It sits right between your eyebrows and is usually a similar gauge to a bridge piercing.
How Do Nose Ring Sizes Work?
Now that we've seen some of the more common types of nose piercings, you might have some questions about nose ring sizes like gauges, diameters, and other measurements. Here are the terms you'll need to know if you're planning on getting a piercing:
1. Nose Ring Gauge Sizes
What is a gauge? "Gauge" refers to the thickness of a piece of jewelry. Somewhat confusingly, the lower the number, the thicker the piece of jewelry. For nose piercings, the most commonly used gauges are 16 gauge (1.2 mm), 18 gauge (1.0 mm), 20 gauge (0.81 mm), and 22 gauge (0.76 mm as the smallest nose ring size).
The majority of nose piercings typically use 18-gauge or 20-gauge jewelry. But in some cases, a skilled piercer may recommend a thinner or thicker piece of jewelry.
- Thicker pieces of jewelry are less likely to be rejected by the body and make healing easier
- A thicker piercing can sometimes help you stand out
- Piercing with a thick needle tends to be more painful
- The hole for the piercing may be more noticeable when not wearing any jewelry
- Piercing with a thinner needle is generally less painful
- 18G is a common gauge for nose piercings, so it should be easy to find jewelry that suits you
- Your body may reject too-thin-piercings
2. Diameter of Nose Rings
The diameter of a nose ring (or hoop) is the measurement across the circle. A too-small ring can become uncomfortable or not fit at all. A larger ring might look overly bulky or run the risk of getting caught on clothing, etc.
The two most common diameters are 8mm (5/16") and 10mm (3/8"). However, you can find sizes ranging from 4.8mm (3/16") to 22mm (7/8").
Larger diameter sizes:
- Larger rings can sometimes help you make a statement
- They tend to look more natural on people with larger noses or nostrils and may look disproportionate on someone with a small nose
- There's more space for designs or decorations
- They might be more likely to catch on your clothes, towels, etc.
Smaller diameter sizes:
- They have a delicate aesthetic that suits smaller nostrils
- They are often inconspicuous enough to work well in professional situations
- They are less likely to get caught on clothing or other things
- If you have larger nostrils, some smaller rings may not actually fit
3. Nose Ring Length Sizes
When you have a hoop or a ring, you measure the diameter. But when you have a nose stud or similar piece of jewelry, you measure the length.
When you measure the length of a piece of nose jewelry, you don't measure the entire thing. Rather, you measure the "wearable length." This is from the bottom of the gem to the beginning of the bulbous end or the beginning of the bend or curve.
While a piercer can give you an exact measurement to help you select a piece of jewelry, it may be helpful to know that the average length for a nose stud is 6mm (1/4"). If your nasal cartilage is a little thinner, you might do best with a 5mm stud. If you have thicker nasal cartilage, you might prefer a 7mm stud.
Longer nose studs:
- Longer studs have enough room to accommodate swelling in a new piercing
- If you have a larger nose or thick nasal cartilage, they may offer a better fit
- If need be, you can trim down the length of the jewelry
- If it's too long, it may irritate the inside of your nose
- It can easily be partially or fully bumped out of your nose
Shorter nose studs:
- They're less likely to be visible through your nostril
- They likely won't irritate the inside of your nose
- It's easier to make them fit snugly against your nose
- If the end is not secure, they can easily slip out of your nose
- If they are too tight, the piercing can become very uncomfortable
4. Gem Size
When it comes to gems and other decorations for nose rings, your choices are virtually endless!
Many gems are about 2mm in diameter. However, you can choose "micro" nose studs with gems from 1.2mm-1.6mm (about 1/16") or find statement pieces with gems up to 7mm (about 1/4") across. Some specialty rings have even larger gems or decorations.
So what size should you choose? Here are some things to consider:
Larger gems sizes:
- They can be a great way to stand out
- The larger size allows for more intricate designs
- Their large size can be overpowering on smaller noses
- They may look too unprofessional for the workplace
Smaller gem sizes:
- They tend to be better suited to people with small noses
- They are ideal for those looking for a more professional aesthetic
- They're less likely to snag on clothes, etc.
- If you have a larger nose, a smaller gem might look disproportionate
- Very small gems can be very easy to miss
How to Choose the Right Nose Ring Sizes?
If you're getting your first piercing, you might be unsure of what nose ring sizes to get. It's generally best to choose a common size (like 18G and 8mm) if you aren't sure. But the best course of action is to consult your piercer, as they can recommend the best gauge and jewelry size for your face.
How to measure your nose ring sizes?
If you want another piece of nose jewelry but can't remember the size of the one you're wearing now, it's reasonably easy to measure the nose ring sizes. Here's how to do it:
- Gauge: A micrometer will give you an accurate measurement, but gauge measurement wheels can be an affordable way to measure that's still fairly precise. You can also ask your piercer if you aren't sure of the gauge.
- Diameter: Using either calipers or a ruler, measure the inner diameter of the hoop.
- Length: Use a ruler to measure from the bottom of the gem to the start of the bend or bulb in the stud.
- Gem Size: Use a ruler or calipers to measure the diameter of the gem.
The most common nose ring sizes are 18 gauge (1 mm) for thickness and 8 mm (5/16") for diameter. If you aren't sure, it's generally best to choose a common size. But the best course of action is to consult your piercer, as they can recommend the best gauge and diameter size for your face.
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