Pam and Tommy are on Hulu. Bennifer is back together. “Friends” have reunited, and they’re rebooting “The Fresh Prince.” You know what that means… the 90s are back, baby!

So, frost those tips, dust off those JNCOs, and get ready to express yourself with every badass millennial’s favorite accessory — the nipple piercing! Here’s everything you need to know.

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Illustration by Joules Garcia

Apart from making your parents mad, there are lots of good reasons to get your nip(s) pierced.

  • They’re stylish. You can rock them incognito or loud and proud in a tight-fitting shirt. There’s no wrong choice as long as the choice is yours.
  • Nipple orgasms. That’s right, folks! Nip-gasms are a real thing. Psst. You can read all about them here.
  • Increased sensitivity. Nipple piercings might improve your overall nipple sensitivity. So even if you don’t climax, they can still feel really great when flicked, licked, or sucked.
  • Body positivity. Piercing can feel like an empowering act of body positivity.

Getting your nipples pierced can be a scary proposition. What if it looks weird? Will it hurt? Will I be too sexy? Don’t worry. The entire appointment takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, but the piercing part only lasts a few seconds.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you can expect during your nipple piercing appointment.

  1. Your piercing technician (aka piercer) will sanitize the area.
  2. They’ll mark the location with a sterile, single-use pen.
  3. You’ll take a deep breath as the piercer pushes a clean needle through your nip.
  4. A nipple piercing — usually a basic bar — is pushed through the hole.
  5. The area is cleaned again.
  6. That’s it!

The short answer is yes, getting your nipples pierced hurts. But the level of discomfort can vary from nip to nip. Some peeps say it’s just a slight sting while others say it feels like a fire ant bit their breast. But that’s a small price to pay for having permanent nipple erections, right?

P.S. The anticipation of pain might be worse than the pain itself.

On average, it takes 6 to 12 months for a nipple piercing to heal. In the meantime, here’s how to give your nips the TLC they deserve.

  • Keep it clean. Apply a pure saline solution to the area 2–3 times a day.
  • Be careful with products. Lots of soaps and lotions contain ingredients that can harsh your nip’s vibe.
  • Pick the right clothes. Wear tight-fitting clothes to avoid painful snags. Also, you might want to opt for darker clothing during the first few days. Light bleeding is normal.
  • Look for signs of infection. Some minor clear discharge is common. But if your nips start to leak a white, yellow, or green substance, this could be a sign of infection.
  • Keloid awareness. In rare cases, piercings can cause keloids. These are raised scars caused by excessive collagen production during the healing process. Talk with your healthcare professional ASAP if you suspect one is starting to form.
  • Be patient. Your nips need enough time to heal before you switch jewelry or stop cleaning them. So, follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions. They’ve done this before (we hope).

What about breastfeeding?

TBH, we don’t have a ton of research to show how nipple piercings can affect breastfeeding. But according to a 2021 study, nipple piercings should not interfere with lactation in most cases. But there are still some concerns to keep in mind.

Nipple piercings can make latching a bit harder for your bébé. There’s also a chance part of the piercing can fall off and go into your baby’s mouth which can be a choking hazard. So it’s def a good idea to remove your jewelry before you nurse.

P.S. You shouldn’t breastfeed if your nips are still healing. It can increase the risk of passing an infection to your baby.

There’s always a risk of blood-borne infections when getting pierced. That’s why it’s 10/10 important you go to someone who’s legit. Also, do not DIY your own nipple piercing. Trust us.

Here are some tips to help you find a top-notch piercer in your area:

  • Opt for a disposable studio. These piercers use brand-new tools for each client. This is a lot safer than a provider who reuses the same needles over and over.
  • Ask about sterilization practices. If a piercer does reuse tools, ask if they use an autoclave. This is a machine that uses steam, temperature, and pressure to destroy viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
  • Ask to see their portfolio. Only the best work makes it into a studio’s portfolio. If their portfolio looks like hot trash, find someone better. It’s your nipples so you’re allowed to be picky.
  • Read reviews. Hit up the YELP Mafia to see who the top-rated providers in your area are.
  • Do you feel comfortable? This is a big one. If you’re creeped out or in any way feel uncomfortable with the piercer or general vibe, get out of there.
  • Method of piercing. Piercing guns are a big no-no. They can cause blunt force trauma to your nips and tend to be more painful.

FYI: It’s OK to ask questions! Even though you might feel silly for asking a lot of questions, it’s your body. You shouldn’t feel bad about advocating for it. So, if a provider doesn’t have time to respond to your concerns, find one who does.

There are tons of snazzy piercings to pick from. Here’s a rundown of the most popular styles.

  • Straight barbell. This is arguably the most popular type of nipple jewelry. It’s a basic straight bar with balls at each end to stop it from slipping out.
  • Horseshoe barbell. Imagine an upside down horseshoe… but attached to your nipple.
  • Captive bead ring (CBR). It’s just like a horseshoe barbell, but with a circular shape.
  • Seamless rings. These are seamless and look like a complete and unbroken circle. All you need to do is separate the two ends and slide the tube through your nipple.
  • Segment rings. These are similar to seamless rings except for a small segment in the middle that you remove from the hoop to insert the ring into your piercing.
  • Nipple clickers. These are hinged clickers that look kind of like bedazzled half-moons. Easy to open and close, the hinged mechanism makes for easy insertion. Plus, you never have to worry about losing it.
  • Twister barbells. These are barbells twisted into spirals with screw-on balls attached to keep them in place.
  • Dangles. Solid rings with a dangle element attached, ranging from simple to incredibly elaborate. If you decide to rock this look, be careful they don’t catch on your clothes.
  • Nipple shields. Any self-respecting nipple pierceé needs this in their life. Think of them like a nipple broach. Grandma could never.

Does material matter?

Body jewelry is worn inside of a wound. That means only certain types of metals or materials are safe to use. According to the Association of Professional Piercers, this includes:

  • glass
  • titanium
  • niobium
  • platinum
  • surgical steel
  • yellow, rose, or white gold (as long as it’s 14k or higher)

The average nipple piercing runs about $50 to $100 per nip. The exact cost will depend on your location and the type of jewelry you use.

Jewelry starts at around $30 and can run into the hundreds, depending on whether you fancy or not. The good news is that aftercare is generally cheap because you should only wash the area with pure saline solution.

Nipple piercings are hot and cool at the same time. You have loads of styles and varieties to match your unique vibe. Plus, they might increase nipple sensitivity. Woot!

While your piercing appointment prob won’t be pleasant, the actual pain part only lasts a few seconds. Just be sure to go to a high quality provider who works in a very sterile setting. You also need to follow aftercare instructions to a T. This can reduce your risk of infection and can speed up the healing process.

And as a reminder, call your healthcare provider if you see any signs of an infection or keloids.