Thinking Of Getting A New Piercing? Titanium Jewelry Might Be Your Best Option

Piercings are typically treated as a fashion statement and a way of expressing individual style, but after imagining the cute hoop on your nose or mentally designing your earring stack, it's important to remember that piercings are a form of body modification that can come with some medical risks.


Piercings can result in swelling, skin keloids, bleeding, infection, and even sepsis, according to Healthline. Thankfully, there are several ways to minimize complications, starting with your jewelry material. Though surgical steel used to be the standard — and is still commonly used in many piercing studios — you might be better off asking for titanium instead.

Titanium is a durable metal made up of a mixture of zirconium, hafnium, and rutherfordium, as per Piercing Mania. While it might sound industrial (it's used in aircraft parts and even missiles, after all), it's a go-to in medical procedures. In fact, the metal is commonly used in surgical implants, bone fracture repairs, and dental implants. It's also a smart option for piercings, especially if you want your new body mod to look good while healing properly.


Titanium piercings are ideal for sensitive skin

The last thing you want is a rash or annoying itch ruining your new piercing. That's why many doctors and piercing professionals recommend titanium jewelry. As dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon told Bustle, "[T]he best material that can be used for piercings and individuals with sensitive skin is titanium." This is largely because titanium is generally free of nickel, says Healthline. Nickel is a common allergen, affecting over 18% of people in North America, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Reactions aren't usually dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable and may require you to remove your jewelry — which could ruin a fresh piercing.


Even if you don't have skin sensitivity or a nickel allergy, titanium is considered a safe and reliable material. "[Titanium] is a top choice for piercings because it's biocompatible (meaning your body won't recognize it as foreign and form a reaction against it)," Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist, co-founder of LM Medical PLLC, and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, shared with Byrdie. With biocompatible titanium jewelry, your skin has a better chance of healing without added irritation.

Titanium comes in different styles

If the material used in dental crowns doesn't sound very stylish, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that titanium looks great in piercing jewelry and comes in a variety of finishes. While titanium piercing jewelry is often a dark silver, the metal can be anodized to take on other hues. So, if you want a black pair of studs, a rose gold eyebrow piercing, or a purple belly button bar, titanium is the way to go.


If you'd rather get something a little fancier, the metal is still your best bet. "Medical-grade implant titanium with genuine Swarovski cubic zirconia is perfect for initial piercings and is both beautiful and inexpensive," Nici Holmes, senior piercer and owner of Newcastle's Blue Lotus Piercing, told Refinery29. This gives you both skin-safe hardware and some added sparkle. "Find a studio that offers a large selection of jewelry in different sizes, styles, and materials — that way, you're not limited to one price range or manufacturer when choosing your jewelry," Holmes added.

Titanium is easy to care for

Piercings should be fun, not fussy, but with cheap, low-quality materials, you might have to spend extra time caring for your jewelry. Skip the questionable earrings you found in the discount bin and stick to implant-grade titanium to keep things easy. Jewelry e-commerce shop Piercing Mania explains that titanium is the best material available in part because of its durability. It's as strong as steel (meaning your rings and bars won't bend or break), yet lightweight and comfortable. Moreover, high-quality titanium jewelry doesn't tarnish and has an indefinite lifespan. And for piercings that take months to recover, you don't have to worry about wear and tear. "When [titanium] comes from a reputable company, it is high polish and hypoallergenic, which can make healing a new piercing a breeze. Titanium handles moisture well and is very body safe for the long-term wear body piercings require," Cozmo Faris, a professional piercer and piercing teacher, revealed to Byrdie.


Note, however, that no piercing jewelry is entirely hands-off. With new piercings, you'll want to follow your piercer's care instructions, such as keeping the titanium piece in place and routinely cleansing the skin. When you have the okay to safely change your piercing jewelry, soak it in soapy water (steer clear of soaps with harsh chemicals) before gently scrubbing the surface with a toothbrush where needed.

Watch out for low-quality titanium

Even if titanium is generally a safe and reliable choice for piercing jewelry, know that not all titanium products are created equal. To ensure quality, the Association of Professional Piercers suggests looking for medical-grade, implant-certified titanium that is ASTM F-136 compliant, ASTM F1295 compliant, or ISO 5832-3 compliant. For commercially pure titanium, check that it's ASTM F-67 compliant. When in doubt, ask a professional piercer for help when choosing titanium pieces.


When possible, inspect the jewelry before buying it. The metal's surface shouldn't have any roughness or unevenness, which could cause skin irritation or injury. Especially with new piercings, go for jewelry that's completely smooth and polished.

Finally, be aware that titanium jewelry might seem pricey compared to steel alternatives. Still, it's important to choose your jewelry carefully and opt for quality, even if it means spending a little more money. In the end, your nicely healed piercing will thank you.