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Asymmetrical Piercing Trend: A How-To Guide

by Zoë Weiner / Tuesday, 03 April 2018

Victor Virgile/Getty Images

For anyone who has an abundance of mismatched earrings, this one’s for you: asymmetrical ear piercings are one of our favorite ways to get more mileage out of our jewelry collections — and they’re showing up more than ever. Brian Keith Thompson, owner of LA’s Body Electric Tattoo and the man behind Beyoncé’s ear art, recently talked us through the upsurge in piercings that veer away from the symmetrical.

“It’s more exciting,” he says of the technique (but makes it a point to note that this doesn’t mean he thinks traditional styles are boring in comparison). “It gives the person wearing it two different looks, so that different sides of the head can look completely unique.” Celebs like FKA Twigs and Jennifer Lawrence have already hopped on board — and you’ve likely seen asymmetric masterpieces all over your feeds.

There are no rules on how to create your very own mismatched ear party, but there are ways to ensure that the final result is something you’ll be happy with. Read on as Brian breaks down the basics of how to master the technique.

Start slow.

By BKT. #BodyElectricTattoo #BrianKeithThompson

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If diving into the deep end of asymmetry feels like too much too soon, Brian suggests slowly working your way up to a full-on ear party. “A lot of people still stay very symmetrical on the first holes, and then they start decorating,” he says. “I always try to tell to my clients to go slow — no more than three piercings at a time.” Be sure to keep in mind that piercings (and their subsequent recovery) can also be painful, so it may be in your best interest to do one side at a time (so that you have a free ear to sleep on for the 6 months that you’re recovering).

Don’t have a set plan.

While it’s great to use Instagram for inspiration and figuring out what you like, Brian notes that the best piercing plan is actually having no plan at all. “I like to keep things very organic,” he says. “When we first start piercing, sometimes there’s no end game. We’re just kind of playing it — no pun intended — by ear. It’s fun that way; we just go off of how they’re feeling.” Even if you’re trying to mimic someone else’s look, your piercing will inevitably be unique to you, so work with your piercer to find something that fits your style.

Get a preview.

Changing things up doesn’t necessarily have to be about multiple holes or a bunch of wild shapes; it can be as simple as wearing two different earrings. “A lot of times, we’ll do different colors on each side, so I might do purple and mint green,” says Brian. “Or, sometimes, we’ll do studs on one side of the ear and all hoops on the other.” If you’re unsure about the asymmetric look, this is an easy way to test it out with zero commitment (while also having an excuse to buy a whole bunch of new earrings).

Make use of your existing piercings.

By BKT #BodyElectricTattoo #BrianKeithThompson

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If you’re really hesitant to commit to new piercings, you can even try redecorating your existing ones. “I tell people it’s like your living room when you don’t want new furniture: You just sort things in a different way and have a different look. You can do that on your ears as well,” says Brian. “You could take even the jewelry that you have right now and rearrange it — you don’t even have to spend any money.” Sold.

Forget the “rules.”

Although Brian has plenty of insights on how to start your own asymmetrical ear art, he stresses that there’s no such thing as “right” and “wrong” when it comes down to it. “I tell my clients there are no rules,” he says. “It’s whatever your budget and your taste is, and it’s really up to you. It doesn’t matter what your friends think. At the end of the day, it’s really what you feel.”