The arrival of summer always signals a time of change, especially when it comes to your look. Last year, tattoos were everywhere, and this year, experts are predicting a summer season filled with piercings.

The stickiness of summer always gives you an excuse to wear your hair up, meaning there’s no better time to show off some new jewels hanging from your ears. If you’re excited to embrace statement-making ear stacks, NYLON has you covered, with expert advice on all things ear piercing. As some COVID-related precautions are still in effect, the piercing process might not be business as usual, but this guide is here to help.

First thing’s first: find the piercer. “Always do your research and find a reputable piercer,” Laura Bond, founder of Laura Bond Jewellery, tells NYLON. “They should be happy to answer all your questions and explain the aftercare your new piercing will need.” Next, make sure that your piercer uses a needle, rather than a gun. Bond notes that the use of a piercing gun is outdated as well as unhygienic, and can cause real damage to your cartilage.

Speaking of cartilage, if you’ve been thinking about adding some bling around your conch area — the upper or top part of your ear — it’s important to note that cartilage can take anywhere from 9-12 months to heal, according to Svetlana Hristova, head of piercing and retail at Lark & Berry.

Courtesy of Laura Bond Jewelry

Once the piercing is completed, it’s time to take care of the area. “Although a piercing is a relatively harmless procedure, it has to be treated like any other open wound,” Hristova says. “Infections can occur during the healing process if the customer is not careful and doesn’t follow the aftercare advice given on the day of the piercing. Over-touching and cleaning the new piercings more than necessary will make the healing process a lot longer and may also cause infections.”

Lisa Bubbers, cofounder & CMO of Studs, also notes that you should “always eat before a piercing and don’t drink alcohol before or immediately after.” She points out that not all ears are made the same, and you should take the time to figure out if you can, in fact, get the piercing you want. “Not all piercings work for every ear anatomy,” Bubbers says. “Make sure you have a piercing expert that can help plan your ear-scape based on your own ear anatomy.”

If you’re ready to take the piercing plunge, up ahead you’ll find the ear piercing trends sure to be everywhere throughout summer 2021.

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Stacked Lobes

Sage Royal, the piercing manager at Studs, says that stacked lobes are super trendy right now. There’s so much you can do in that one area, and depending on how big of a lobe you have, you may be able to create more adventurous patterns — like a triangle made of small studs, suggested by Hristova. These types of piercings are also a great way to balance out badly positioned piercings from your younger years, Bond recommends.

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Huggie Hoops & Charms

Hoops have made a big comeback within the past year or so, especially when it comes to “huggies,” or those with dainty charms. Piercings don’t always have to be flat or studded, and since most piercers use a needle now, it’s easier to get pierced with a hoop.

Hristova recommends wearing hoops with a charm on either the second or third lobe, and Bond noted that, “Charms and delicate chains are a great way to add texture and movement to ear stack.”

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Multiple Helix Piercings

“For the helix, we’re seeing people desire two or three piercings grouped in close proximity instead of the standard single piercing,” says Hristova. A helix piercing is also a great new piercing to try if you’re new to the piercing process.

Royal recommends trying snakebites, two stud piercings right next to each other that imitate the appearance of a snake bite. You could also incorporate a bit of twist by straying away from traditional studs and using decorative ones instead.

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Daith Jewelry

Bond predicts that daith jewelry will be huge this summer. The daith piercing is one that goes through the innermost fold of your ear, usually near the center. Bubbers recommends finding a piece of jewelry that you like for that piercing and building your ear-scape around it for the perfect ear stack.

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Conch Statement Pieces

Gone are the days where you can only use a tiny stud to pierce your ears. If you’re really ready to let your ears do the talking this summer, you could add statement piercings for a true pop. Hristova recommends trying a crescent or a bar labret, instead of a small stud.

Summer 2021 Piercing Trends: Mix & Match Styles

You don’t always have to get symmetrical piercings. In fact, if you’re planning on getting two piercings, it’s best to do it all on one side, just in case you’re a side sleeper. “The beauty of the curated ear trend is that hoops and studs are suitable for most piercing placements so you can change up your look when the mood strikes,” explains Bond.