Inside: The best types of piercing needles to get the job done right and safe!

Generally, I don’t look at the needle prepped to be going into my skin– I do everything I can to avoid it! I run my mouth and talk my piercer’s ear off. Or my friends, or both. I’m okay with needles and needle procedures if I can’t see it. If I don’t see it, it’s not a real needle.

However, if you’re interested in the different types of needles used for piercings just because or if you’re interested in doing some at-home piercing work, then I’ve decided to put my queasiness aside and do some research for you!

It’s of course so common to do an at-home piercing in your youth with whatever sharp objects you had lying around. I always think of the scene at camp in the Parent Trap, where they used a sewing needle… Yikes.
Here are some best practices for piercing needles!

Someone opening needle packages with latex glove hands

Different Needle Types

To achieve proper piercings in different locations and styles, there are several different needle types to accommodate spacing or skin type based on where the piercing is to be located.

If you’re interested in learning about the needle type that you need to do your own piercing, here are the four main needle types for piercings.

You can find these anywhere online to purchase, but make sure to do some reading up on how you can safely pierce at home, including a proper sanitation process.

Dermal Punch – A dermal punch doesn’t only have the piercing function, these are also used by doctors and dermatologists to pierce the skin and take samples for a biopsy. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I’m talking about!
But if you’re going for a dermal piercing (like back dimples, collar bone, sternum, et cetera), this is the kind of tool you’ll be needing. Then set an anchor base in place to hold the jewelry.

Hollow Needle – The hollow needle is the most simple needle form for piercing. Extremely sharp and able to pierce the skin or cartilage all the way through, if you want to do a simple at home ear piercing, this is the best needle to invest in! After you pierce the skin with the needle, replace the needle with the stud.

Curved Needle – If you’re looking at doing a piercing in a tight space like a rook or tragus, you’ll want to use a curved needle.

With the force which you’re using to pierce the skin to the other side, it is a potential danger to then stab the skin on the opposite side with the needle. A curved needle prevents this from happening, as it obviously curves back around versus going through to the other side. Specialty ear piercings are going to benefit from the use of this needle.

Cannula – The cannula isn’t a type of needle. It is a plastic sheath that is part of the piercing set up in some cases. It’s function is protecting the piercing during the process without further irritation. These are limited to medical professionals only in the United States, since it’s regulated as medical materials. Outside of the US however, it is common to see these being used for regular piercings.

A little girl having her ears pierced

What Types Of Piercing Needles To Not Use At Home

How many movies and TV shows have we seen with sleepover ear piercings, or a boy wants to become edgy overnight so he pierces his own ears with a safety pin?

How many of us have done this in real life? I can’t say that I have, but I also can’t say that I haven’t thought about it! Often, I think about piercing my own thirds on my lobe. I mean, how hard can it be?

Actually, I’ll leave it to the professionals.

But I have heard a lot of buzz while growing up using a few different objects to get an at-home piercing. I can tell you right now, you never should use these.

Safety pins, push pins, sewing needles and the like are all household items we often use to pierce our own ears at home.

Every reason why you shouldn’t use these is obvious, but first and foremost, they’re going to give you an infection.

I personally wouldn’t trust anything that I’ve had laying around my house, even after I disinfect it.

None of these objects, though sharp, are sharp enough to cleanly pierce the skin. This can cause complications with healing the piercing. This is also a potential cause of infection.

You can buy tools online now for all of your DIY piercing desires, but avoid the piercing gun. We saw these a lot in piercing shops back in the day! The aggressive style of piercing these guns end up using is pretty traumatizing to the ear.

They don’t often use needles sharp enough to pierce the skin safely, but simply use enough power to force the stud through the ear. This is not a natural or safe way to pierce your ears!

Will it get the job done? Yes. Should you probably use them? No.

Woman piercing a belly button

What Size Gauge Needles To Use For Each Piercing

If you need a run down on gauge sizes, I’ve collected a whole guide for you here discussing what each size really means! This is super helpful if you’re trying to read up on new earrings.

I had no idea what size earrings to buy for my rook piercing! I would order a hoop for a piercing and it would be way too thin for the piercing hole.

So now that we kind of know what the different sizes mean, let’s look at what sizes and types of piercing needles needle you’ll need for each kind of piercing, and what size jewelry you should be looking for for each one.

14gg or 16gg
14gg or 16gg

18gg is the standard earring size. If you’re not sure what is going to work for you, this is always a safe place to start!

Woman having her ear pierced with a needle

Piercing at home or simply learning more about your piercings has never been easier! You can research every tool and even get set up to do your own piercings all at your fingertips. Make sure to do proper research about the right types of piercing needles to use, since just about anyone can write up an article with not so great tips.

You can get somewhat decent equipment online… Make sure it’s truly the product you want to be using for each process.

Disinfection should be your next research endeavor once you make sure you’re working with the right needle! It’s a fairly simple process, but once you’re on the right track you want to make sure you stay there and are continuing to work in the right direction.

If you’re ready to try piercing your own nose now that you know what needle supplies you’re looking for, try this nose piercing guide!