If you've ever been a teenage Singaporean girl, it's likely that you would have gone through a phase of obsessively thinking about different ear piercings.
Most common ones, when I was growing up at least, included the lobes, helix and tragus, but the conch, industrial, and rook were also quite popular.
At the end of my teenage years, I somehow ended up with a total of four different types of ear piercings, and 10 ear piercings in total on both ears (one eventually closed so I have nine now).
What I have: Lobes, helix, tragus and conch — pierced in this order. All were done in my teenage (also known as xmm) years.
From my extremely subjective (and somewhat limited) experience, I've ranked each type of ear piercing from the least to the most painful.
Not pain (2/10): Lobe & upper lobe
Everybody starts with these piercings, and as you can guess, anywhere along what is considered the lobe is generally very bearable.
It's a short and sharp pain, and a certain soreness lingers over the entire healing period, but the pain is relatively manageable.
Not very pain (3/10): Helix
When I was a teenager, there were always nightmare stories floating around, such as someone who went blind after a helix piercing went awry (I never managed to verify if something of that sort indeed happened).
There were also always tales about how it hurt far more than a lobe piercing.
But despite the horror stories, I ended up two helix piercings on my left ear, and one on my right (but this closed in the end because I forgot to wear an earring).
I'm giving this a pain rating of 3/10 because it went pretty all right for me, and I was surprised by how it didn't hurt as much as I expected.
Not sure if it was just me but all three times actually felt rather similar to getting a lobe pierced.
You should probably avoid the salon while its healing, though, as hairdressers have the tendency to brush past the area.
Somewhat pain (5/10): Tragus
The tragus didn't hurt as much as I expected, either.
However, I'm giving this a pain rating of five out of 10 because the healing time took quite long compared to the helix (don't remember the exact timeframe but it was probably between several weeks to more than a month).
Because of where the piercing is situated, it is also incredibly difficult to listen to music (which is also painful in its own way). In fact, it's near impossible in the first week or so.
Sleeping on that side can also be incredibly uncomfortable. Worse than the helix piercing for me.
Nearly cried (6/10): Conch
Unlike all the others, which were done with a piercing gun, the crucial difference for the conch piercing is that it was done using a needle.
And I'm not gonna lie — my eyes watered up while the person was piercing my ear, and I nearly cried right after.
Compared to the other piercings, which were over in a jiffy, I recall that the conch piercing took significantly longer. Which means the pain dragged on for longer as compared to a short and sharp pain.
I gave this a score of 6/10. Basically, I wouldn't do it on my other ear unless I absolutely had to.
In summary, here's a nifty Pinterest photo I found summing up the ranking of least to most painful:
While I don't have an industrial piercing, I expect the pain ranking to be situated somewhere in between a helix and a conch piercing, since it's probably similar to getting a helix piercing twice at one go.
What's my pain tolerance like?
Apart from the ears, I also have a navel piercing, which I got after the conch piercing.
I would rate it a 5/10 as I don't remember it being particularly painful. Just very, very uncomfortable (felt like someone was skewering my belly).
All in all, I would say that I have an average to slightly-above-average pain tolerance at best — definitely very typical stuff. I give injections a score of around 2/10, and stubbing my toe gets a solid 8/10 for the first few seconds or so.
Also, every ear is unique as some people may have thicker lobes or stiffer cartilages. So there's really no real way to know how much pain you can expect from a particular piercing until you've really gone and done it.
At your own risk of course.