Right ear or left? Left nostril or right? Whenever a client comes in, it’s one of the first questions we ask. Which side should you have pierced? The answer is one of anatomy and personal aesthetics.


Your first consideration is the anatomy of your ears. Ears come in a tremendous range of shapes and sizes—no two are alike, and often vary from one side to the other. They may be subtle differences, but the distinctions are important when it comes to the possibility and success of a piercing. The helix on your right ear may be able to handle an industrial when the left may be too small, or your antihelical fold may interfere on one side but not the other.

Your second consideration is the aesthetics. Some things to keep in mind when deciding which ear to pierce are how do you wear your hair—does it cover one ear and not the other? If you want the piercing to be seen (and who doesn’t?), then obviously the bare ear. The side on which you go to sleep can also play a role in your decision. A piercing may be uncomfortable to rest on, so choose the opposite side.

Which side is the gay ear is a commonly asked question. If you’re a child of the 70’s, you may remember that left is right, and right is wrong. But that was more than 40 years ago (my apologies if I just made you feel old), and piercings have evolved quite a bit since a piercing was a coded message for gay men. Piercing today is a practice embraced by people of all stripes, and it truly doesn’t matter whether your ear is pierced or which side you choose.


The traditional placement for a nostril piercing is at the crease line on the side of the nose. This area is often thinner than the rest of the nose, so it may heal faster and feel less tender when pierced. The jewelry will rest in a natural niche, where it nestles most gracefully. Personal taste plays more of a part than anything else, though, when it comes to which side of your nose to pierce.

In western cultures, the placement of a nose ring on one nostril versus the other is fairly insignificant. If a client asks for my opinion, I’ll look to see if her face has any beauty spots, freckles or birthmarks. If she does, I recommend she place the jewelry on the opposite side to provide balance. However, in India, women often pierce their left nostrils with the belief that it will make childbirth easier. It’s also a symbol of social standing, a mark of beauty, and a Hindu’s way of honoring Parvati, the goddess of marriage.  The bottom line is, if you’re of Indian heritage and want to honor your cultural traditions, pierce your left nostril. Otherwise, which side you pierce is really just a matter of personal preference.