Ear piercing is undoubtedly having a moment. In fact, the curated ear has been big news for a while now. A-listers all head to Maria Tash in New York when they want a new piercing: Gwyneth Paltrow, Chanel Iman, and Jennifer Hudson are all clients. But here in the UK, besides fleeting pop-ups, we’ve had to swallow the costly price of a ticket to the states if we wanted the celebrity treatment.
But no longer. Tash has set up a permanent piercing studio in Liberty London, and it’s by no means a small space—in fact, the department store has moved all the designer bags somewhere else in the building because piercings are the new It bags. Keep scrolling for our Q&A with Tash, who reveals everything you need to know from pain to the best piercing placements.
BYRDIE: Okay, first things first: Let’s talk pain! For someone getting pierced, can you rate, from least to most, the pain level for each part of the ear?
MARIA TASH: Pain is subjective, but to speak generally, the earlobe is not very painful, followed by thin cartilage and then thicker cartilage. Cartilage is not as vascular as lobe tissue, meaning it gets less blood flow and takes longer to heal.
However, almost all piercings take less than one second, so the pain sensation is very quick and minimal, similar to the feel of getting blood drawn. I tell people to concentrate on how wonderful their body will look after the brief sensation of the piercing. Concentrating on the outcome instead of the momentary discomfort is helpful.
BYRDIE: Should you have a piercing with a stud or hoop?
MT: It depends, and we offer both options for initial piercings. Very generally speaking, rings take a bit longer to heal than studs, only because they get torqued more easily. However, a poorly fitted or angled stud can be more uncomfortable than a ring. We give people a choice, and the truth is that both can heal well as long as they are properly fit.
BYRDIE: What placement advice would you give for someone who wants to create a curated ear?
MT: We examine someone’s personal style, taste in jewelry, as well as their skin tone. Skin tone tells us what colors of gold will best resonate with their coloring, which may or may not be in line with what their brain likes. For example, I love rose gold, but it is just not as flattering on my skin as yellow gold is. When you work with our stylists, we look at the metals you already wear, and then listen to where you want to get pierced and then pick out appropriate studs or rings. We mock-up the look on a faux ear and slide rings of different diameters up your actual ear to determine proper sizes so you can have an accurate preview of the curated look.
BYRDIE: How would you advise someone who wants to mix metals and gems?
MT: Mixing gemstones is easier than mixing metals. Mixing metals needs to be done very carefully, so as not to look jumbled and conflicting. Rose and yellow gold are harmonious, but mixing white and a colored gold should be done sparingly, or to accent a particular piece.
Gemstones, like turquoise and diamond, or opal and turquoise, can look great together as long as they are in a similar color family. All pairings should be simulated on a faux ear or tried on to see how they live in conjunction with your skin tone.
BYRDIE: If someone wants just one piercing in their ear for a more minimalist look, but not the traditional lobe piercing, where would you recommend?
MT: I would choose a Tash rook piercing or a Daith piercing. The Tash rook would be more minimalistic and the daith would be more of a conversation piece. It can be very interesting to omit wearing first hole jewelry and just have some strategic pieces in an unusual part of the ear.
BYRDIE: How many piercings can you have in one go?
MT: We usually limit it to six. We could do more, but I think at that point the healing times for each piecing would get longer as the body is working hard to heal all of them simultaneously.
BYRDIE: How long does a piercing take to heal?
MT: Different ear piercings have different healing times, usually based on the tissue’s blood supply. Earlobe tissue is a quick heal at six to eight weeks, and certain ear cartilage piercings can take up to a year to heal. Even if a piercing takes a while to heal, it does not mean that it hurts, simply that you have to clean it regularly and not touch it with dirty hands.
BYRDIE: How should you care for your piercing?
MT: Never touch a piercing with dirty hands; this is a very important rule. Cleaning twice a day with a very mild saline solution is the usual protocol for healing a piercing.
Keep scrolling for Maria Tash’s celebrity curated-ear inspiration.