I Asked a Piercer About Nose Studs, Tooth Gems, and Pain
It was my senior year of high school, and I was feeling extra rebellious. So I did what my father had expressly forbid me from doing: I got a small nose stud.
Years later, I still think it looks cute—but the world of piercing has definitely changed. My stud was a scandal when I revealed it to my family and friends. Nowadays, nose studs are some of the most common (and tame) piercings out there. What’s new and hip? I spoke to Molly Bennett, co-owner and piercer at Identity Body Piercing in Chicago, to find out.
FAVIN: What are some new, trendy piercings that you’ve been seeing?
MOLLY BENNETT: A lot of stuff recycles. Noses have been totally in this last year as a “new-old” piercing. As for newer styles, a lot of people like to do a large cluster-style piece—multiple gemstones but one piercing—in their conch, which is the inside flat part of your ear. [We also see a lot of] double or triple helix piercings, which are two or three plain studs or earrings along the rim of your ear.
We don’t see much simple jewelry. A lot of people come in looking for ornamental stuff. [Even] people who come in for rings ask for rings with gemstones in them or rings with a scalloped pattern.
FAVIN: How do you think piercings are perceived nowadays?
MB: Some piercings are still a little edgy to people—when you stretch out your ears to a large size, you’ll get a few looks—but it’s become a lot more accepted. Same with tattoos. Our client base is really diverse from person to person: we get doctors coming in, and we get students coming in.
FAVIN: I have a little silver stud in my nose, but it’s been there for so long that I’m getting a little bored with it. Is there any way to dress it up and make it glam?
MB: For sure. Nostril piercings are probably our number-one piercing that we do, and we get a lot of people coming in for large, ornamental pieces. Some like to put genuine diamonds in their nostrils. Just the other day we put a diamond floret in someone’s nose—seven diamonds set together in a flower pattern. A lot of people love rocking just a plain gold ring. ... [You could also] get a little chain that runs from your nose to your ear.
Above, some awesome nose jewelry from Molly’s shop!
FAVIN: What do you tell people who want a piercing but are scared of getting one?
MB: When you’re scared to get a piercing, it’s always the anticipation that’s more painful than the actual piercing. Our head piercer on staff, Cuba, is a freehand piercer, so he doesn’t use clamps or tools that pinch the skin. It’s a lot less painful, [and] he’s really fast. A lot of people, by the time they’re like, “Is it gonna hurt?”, it’s over.
FAVIN: I still have to ask: what’s the most painful place to get a piercing?
MB: We get that question from every other person that walks in our door. Everyone’s pain tolerance is incredibly different, so it’s a hard question to answer. We get people that say their cartilage piercing hurt way worse than getting a navel piercing, and other people say they’d get their cartilage pierced a million times over getting their navel pierced. It’s really different from person to person.
FAVIN: What are people’s most common piercing mistakes, whether it’s not researching a shop well enough or not following aftercare instructions?
MB: It’s always good to research the shop you’re going to and make sure the sterilization is up to date. But definitely [the most common mistakes happen with] aftercare. Back in the day, when I [first] got my ears pierced, we were told to clean them with alcohol. [But] you’re really not supposed to touch them with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. We get a lot of people doing that, and it irritates the piercing.
FAVIN: What should you use instead?
MB: Hot water is your secret weapon, and sea-salt soaks. We sell a spray version and also give you a recipe to make your own.
FAVIN: Do you have a favorite piercing?
MB: It sounds silly, but I really do love my nostril piercing. I go between plain gold beaded shapes and Swarovski-crystal florets—very sparkly flower patterns. I also have stretched ears, and I love getting big, blingy jewelry for them. In recent years, I’ve gotten pierced just because I fell in love with a piece of jewelry.
FAVIN: Speaking of jewelry, can you tell me about tooth gems? I saw some cool pictures of them on your Facebook page.
MB: Tooth gems got really big overseas in Europe. They’re called smile gems, tooth gems, tooth bling … there are a lot of different names for them. It’s perfectly safe for the tooth, all we do is use a dental adhesive. It’s stuck on pretty much the same way that braces are stuck to teeth. There’s no drilling or permanence to them—it’s just a temporary little jewel. We have everything from basic crystals in clear colors to yellow-gold and white-gold gems. They’re pretty addicting!
FAVIN: What does your dentist say about them?
MB: Our dentist actually trained us how to do them!
FAVIN: OK, after talking to you, I really feel like I need to trade in my nose stud for something fabulous.
MB: Go for it!
This interview has been condensed and edited. Top photo by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon; other images courtesy of Identity Body Piercing.
Read more about beautiful body modification:
For me, both beauty and fashion need to be accessible and not intimidating. I love a great deal and a good DIY beauty treatment. I pride myself on trying new trends, being open minded and getting a great treatment without breaking the bank. In the name of beauty I will try anything once.