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Septum Piercing 101: The Pain Level, Healing Time, Risks, And More

They’re so freaking pretty.
PHOTO: Instagram: camiejuan; hannahbaxward
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If you could see my Instagram saved collection rn, you’d probably think I have a weird obsession with noses. And it’s not not true, considering I’ve wanted a septum piercing (aka that sliver of skin between your left and right nostrils) since, like, the seventh grade. And I’m not the only one into them either—celebs like Zoë Kravitz and Zendaya continue to prove just how cool and wearable septum rings really are. That’s why I went ahead and found everything there is to know about septum piercings (yes, including how painful they are), ahead. Good luck getting through this without booking an appointment with a piercer.

Are septum piercings painful?

It’s the question everyone asks before they get a new piercing: How bad is this going to hurt? It’s important to remember that pain is totally personal and no two people (or noses) are going to experience the same level of discomfort. Generally speaking, though, septum piercings are definitely a step up from your earlobes but are by no means excruciating (think: Your eyes will water and you’ll probably want to squeeze a friend’s hand). That’s because your piercer doesn’t actually slide the needle through your nose cartilage (which would seriously hurt) but instead aims for your “sweet spot,” aka the soft and flexible area of skin that sits toward the tip of your nostril.

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Other than the first initial days—during which your septum piercing will probably feel a little tender—you shouldn’t expect any major pain or discomfort during the healing process (which, BTW, can take anywhere from six weeks to three months). As long as you keep it nice and clean (more on that later) and away from your hands, you’ll honestly forget it’s there.

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Are septum piercings safe?

As with any piercing, it’s super important to make sure you’re getting pierced at a clean studio with a licensed professional (i.e., you want to go to someone who really knows what they’re doing). Taking care of your septum piercing during the healing process is non-negotiable too—you’ll want to clean it with a saline spray twice a day to ward off an infection or prolonged healing time. So before you book that appointment, make sure you stock up on your care supplies like castile soap, saline cleansing solution, and antimicrobial soap.

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Can you flip a septum piercing up while it’s healing?

It’s no secret that one of the reasons people love septum rings so much is that they’re super easy to conceal (ever wonder why/how so many celebs pull them off?). Even though you can definitely flip up your septum ring after it’s healed, it’s best to leave it completely alone throughout the entirety of the healing process (which, again, can last for many months). The more you touch and mess with your piercing, the longer it’s going to take to heal (and the higher the chance you’ll end up introducing some bacteria in there). Golden rule: Leave your new piercing TF alone.

What’s the best jewelry for septum piercings?

Even though you’re obsessed with that sweet and delicate septum chain you saw on Instagram, know that you’ll probably have to wait until your piercing is healed before you can try it, since most piercers will use a simple 16-gauge ring or barbell for the initial installation. As soon as your piercing is healed, prepare to load up on other jewelry options like delicate hoops and clicker rings.

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So, should I get my septum pierced?

Why TF not?! As long as you’re prepared to go to a legit piercing studio and take great care of it throughout the healing process, you should definitely consider getting your septum pierced. It is the year of curated piercings, right?

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.