We’ve said it before: we are a very busy studio. We’ve also been around for a while. As of February 1, 2020, our studio will have been open for twenty-five years, or (since this is a statistics article) a quarter of a century, or 9,131 days—including leap years! We’ve seen a lot of changes as body piercings have become more ubiquitous; our industry’s jewelry manufacturers have honed their craft, expanding their product lines with innovative designs and high-quality materials; and piercers have connected with one another and a world-wide community has grown and flourished. Though piercings may be more popular today than ever before, whether you’re the piercer or the piercee there will always be something intimate and adventurous about piercings, and every push of the needle requires focus and an exchange of energy. So as you follow this year’s exhaustive review of our 2019 piercing statistics, remember that there is infinitely more to what we do than numbers.
Total Piercings and Jewelry Insertions
We have numbers for over a decade through our in-store point-of-sale (POS) system, but it wasn’t until 2016 (and 2017) that we started to publish a year-end wrap up of all of the services we performed the previous year. While the numbers tend to be somewhat consistent, there are always one or two things that surprise us, and 2019 was no different. Our piercers performed a total of 12,985 piercings in 2019, for an average of 35.5 piercings per day. While this number represents the total number of individual piercings, not clients (so a set of earlobes or a pair of nipple piercings would be counted as two), it also doesn’t include jewelry changes and insertions.
We aren’t able to track every single jewelry change we do: some jewelry changes are a client’s own jewelry where no transaction through our register takes place; also, since we don’t charge to switch out jewelry, we don’t track the number of jewelry changes per interaction. So while we can’t tell you exactly how many piercings had jewelry inserted or removed, we can tell you that we helped a whopping 9,340 people change out jewelry in 2019, as tracked through our POS system. Breaking that down that means we helped an average of 178 clients per week with jewelry changes, or about 25.5 per day—in addition to the clients being pierced.
Combining piercings and jewelry insertions, changes, and removals, our piercers performed a total of 22,325 services in 2019. So when we say that we are a busy studio, what we mean is that on average we are seeing 429 clients per week, or just over 61 people per day, every day.
So how do these numbers compare to previous years’ totals?
Total Piercings, by Type
For the second year in a row, earlobe piercings have surpassed the 2016 and 2017 leader, the nostril, as our most popular piercing service. We performed 3,235 individual earlobe piercings in 2019, or approximately 62 earlobe piercings per week. Of those 3000-plus earlobe piercings, 170 were on kids under twelve years old. (We started piercing kids ears younger than sixteen years old by appointment in late 2018, so this is the first full year of numbers for younger clients.) Though a good amount of these piercings were on clients who had never had their ears pierced before, the real rise in popularity comes with multiple earlobe piercings and unique lobe placement, such as the “curated ear.” Now more than ever, our piercers and clients are getting creative with earlobe piercing placement—and we’re all for it.
Our second-most popular piercing for 2019 was the nostril, coming in at an impressive 2,412 piercings performed. That’s over 46 nostril piercings per week, or 6.6 per day. Following close behind was the helix (outer ear cartilage) piercing at 2,066. Nipple piercings are still consistently one of our most popular piercings, and in 2019 our piercers performed 1,276 of them, 180 of which were as single nipple piercing (just one nipple pierced), and the remaining 1,096 were done as a pair.
Top Ten Piercings, 2016 to 2019
One of the most fascinating parts of reviewing the year’s numbers is watching piercing trends rise and fall. Some, like earlobes, skyrocketed this year: from 2016 to 2018 we performed approximately 500 more earlobe piercings each year, but in 2019 the total increased by almost 1,200 piercings! Though nostril piercings didn’t get to take first place in 2019, their popularity continues to rise.
Ear cartilage piercings account for six of our top ten piercings performed in 2019: outer helix, conch, tragus, forward helix, daith, and rook piercings all reached peak numbers this past year. (You can see a more detailed breakdown, below.) Some, like the daith and outer helix, have more than doubled and tripled (respectively) in number over the past four years, while the others show nearly identical trends in popularity.
Nipple and septum piercings take fourth and fifth place for top piercings in 2019. While septum piercing totals were close from 2016 to 2018, averaging to just under 650 per year all three years, that total jumped up to almost 800 in 2019.
For a further breakdown of piercings in each category, keep scrolling.
Piercings by Category
Ear piercings make up a large percentage of piercings performed at our studio: in 2019 they accounted for more than half of the piercings we performed, coming in at 57.4% with a total of 7,450 total piercings. That means we are putting a new hole somewhere on an ear on average over 20 times per day, every single day. Next in line are facial piercings, which make up a little over a quarter of the piercings performed at Infinite at 3,335 for the year. Nipple piercings make up almost 10% of piercings done at our shop, with oral and genital piercings following behind at 2.8% and 2.5% respectively.
The two smallest categories are navel piercings (1% of piercings performed here) and surface piercings (0.9%): this comes as no surprise, as we are pretty particular when it comes to whether or not we will perform both of these types of piercings. Navel piercings require a very specific navel shape to have a good chance of healing, so we unfortunately don’t do as many of them as we’d like to. Similarly, while surface piercings and anchors can be fun, they require a little extra care and, due to their nature, have a higher rate of rejection. Because of this, they just aren’t as popular as more “traditional” piercings.
A Closer Look at the Categories
In 2019, we performed every single piercing that is traditionally done on an ear at least twice! Snugs came in last place in the ear piercing category at a whole two piercings done in the year. Part of this is because they simply aren’t as well-known as others, but also because they are notoriously difficult to heal, and many ear shapes are not suitable for this piercing. Anti-tragus piercings are similar: they are a little more well-known but require a very specific shape of ear (and a very dedicated client) to heal properly.
Bridge and tongue webbing piercings also require specific anatomy for proper healing, and require the go-ahead from a piercer before we’ll even sign you up to be pierced. It’s not that we can’t pierce every bridge or tongue webbing, but we want to make sure your piercing won’t reject or, in the case of tongue webbing piercings, that they won’t damage your teeth or gums.
Cheek piercings don’t necessarily require specific anatomy, but they do require a specific candidate: we require a mandatory in-person consultation with a piercer to make sure clients know what they’re getting into. Cheek piercings not only take a year or more to heal, but they also require multiple and regimented downsizes, and continuous care. In addition to an in-person consultation, we also require a two-week waiting period before we will do the piercing. In 2019, only one very dedicated client had the determination to get a pair of cheek piercings.
While piercing trends change over time, and piercings go in and out of fashion, Infinite continues to consistently perform a wide variety of genital piercings each year. Some, like the clitoris and princess albertina piercings, are done by appointment only whereas others, like the vertical clitoral hood, are done so often that we average almost three per week. In total, we perform an average of six genital piercings per week. Though overall trends across the wider piercing community show an increased shift towards ear and nostril piercings, our piercers are well-versed in all genital piercings, and we take great pride in offering all of them at our studio.
We don’t track our clients demographic data through our POS system, at least not in the same way we track sales. While we don’t have this data readily available, we manually went through a sampling of two weeks of release forms from 2019 and our findings are consistent with previous years’ data. This sample was from December 15 to 28, 2019 and included just under 750 individual clients who visited us during this two-week period for both jewelry insertions and piercings. While it is not a huge sample size (at least compared to our yearly totals) it does give us a representative sample of who our clients are.
Much like in years past, the bulk of our clients are in the 18-to-24 and 25-to-34 age ranges; together these two age groups make up almost three quarters of our clients totaling an impressive 72.9% of our sample. Now, that’s not to discount the other age groups: minors under the age of 18 make up only 4.6% of our clients who came in during this time period. (Again, this is also the first full year we offered ear piercings to clients under 16 years old.) Additionally, 13.6% are between the ages of 35 and 44, while clients 45 years and older make up approximately 9% of those tallied in this sample.
Several years ago, we updated our release forms to include a line for our clients’ preferred name and preferred pronouns. This change was made to give our clients a space—literally and figuratively—to identify themselves on their terms and to facilitate better communication from the beginning of each interaction. At the same time it allowed us to get a better sense of who our clients are outside of the limiting identifiers on government-issued IDs. From the same sample mentioned above, we counted the totals for the following preferred pronouns: she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/them/theirs. When nothing was specified in the preferred pronoun space on a release form, the gender identity was assumed from the sex listed on the ID.
Our findings show numbers consistent with previous years: of this small sample, 81.1% identified as female, 11.3% as male, and 7.6% of our clients identified as gender-neutral.
Again, we are a very busy studio compared to most others across the United States, so these numbers aren’t representative of every studio, everywhere. But we find the yearly changes fascinating, and hope you enjoyed our geeking out a little on our yearly numbers from 2019.