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Everything You Need To Know About These 12 Piercings

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    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

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    The practice of getting pierced dates back about 5,000 years. Yep, the act of putting sharp objects through ones skin isn't an idea we conjured up in the past couple of decades — or even centuries — but it's still holding on strong. The It Girl smiley piercing has been trending as of lately and a handful of celebrities have been seen sporting the more inconspicuous nipple piercings.

    Compared to getting a tattoo, piercings can be a wee bit more intimidating (What, the idea of a complete stranger sticking a foreign object in you doesn't make you giddy with excitement?!). J. Colby Smith of New York Adorned equates the act to riding a roller coaster. "You wait in line, you're like, 'A-ha it's really scary,' but it's really fun once you actually do it," he says. "People just get scared, which is totally normal — I feel like it's part of the experience."

    Just like a roller coaster, once that minute-long ride is over, you often want to come back for more. But before you even get in line, there are some things you need to keep in mind. While the one and done appeal is great, the aftermath is a little more involved — but no less important. As Brian Keith Thompson of Body Electric explains, one of the first things you should ask yourself is: Do I have time to take care of this? "Piercings are a kind of instant gratification thing — you do them with your friends, you're having fun, you go to a piercing place, and you're like, 'Let's do this.' But not always do you think about how long it's going to take to heal," he says. "You have to think about piercings as a long-term thing...You can't take a new piercing in and out; the human body just doesn't heal overnight."

    Another factor to weigh is who you're going to go to. This is where the world wide web comes into play. (Hi!) Thompson recommends taking your time finding someone you really trust and believe in, because that could be the difference between a great piercing that hurts a little and a mediocre piercing that comes with a little more pain. "There's so many great places in the world now to get pierced. There's a thing called the internet. Type in some key words and all of this information flies out at you...There's no excuse anymore of 'I didn't know,'" he says.

    Before you even step foot in an actual studio, it all comes down to getting yourself in a good mental head space, says Colby. Get a good night's sleep before you come in, bring friends that are supportive, and, most importantly, don't stress. Going back to the tattoo comparison, while piercings might be a little more intimidating, the upside is that they're also a lot less permanent.

    "It's one of those things where you can try it out and see how it goes. The cool thing about piercings is none of it is life-threatening," Colby says. "Say you have it for six months, you can take your jewelry out for five years and you can put your jewelry back in five years later and revisit it. If you are feeling like you want to change your look, you can just get rid of it for a little while and then come back to it."

    Now that we've got the general logistics out of the way, ahead we talk specifics. From cheek piercings to the classic ear and some other NSFW areas, we talk with piercing gurus Smith and Thompson about what you should know about any and every piercing. There's no better time than the present (or the new year!) to make a change — be it temporary or not.

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  2. Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

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  3. Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

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