What size nose ring do I wear?

If you’re wondering how you know what size your nose ring is you’re not alone! It’s the most common question I’ve encountered since I started making nose hoops.

There are three important things to pay attention to if you’re going to buy a nose ring online. First, you need to know which gauge you wear. This is the thickness of the jewelry. Second, you need to know which inner diameter will fit you correctly. Hint: this has nothing to do with the size of your nose! Third, you need to check to see if the seller you’re purchasing from has any special measuring considerations.

For example, part of the design could take up some of the inner diameter or perhaps they list sizes in outer diameter (I don’t, all of my nose rings are measured using inner diameter).

Table of Contents

  1. How do you measure the gauge of a nose ring?
  2. What's the typical gauge for a nose piercing?
  3. What diameter is my nose ring?
  4. How do I make a nose hoop fit snugly?
  5. Should my nose ring be tight?
  6. How do I make my nose hoop smaller?
  7. My nose piercing is placed to high to get a hoop. What can I do?
  8. Is my nose ring too small?
  9. Is my nose ring too big?

How do you measure the gauge of a nose ring?

The gauge of your nose ring refers to how thick the metal is. Remember, smaller numbers are always thicker. For example, a 22 gauge (0.64mm) nose hoop is thinner than an 18 gauge (1.0mm) nose hoop. It’s incredibly important to make sure that you’re buying the correct gauge. Do not try to force a thicker piece of jewelry through your piercing. You cannot use a ruler to measure the gauge.

If you’ve forgotten the size you wear, then you have several options when it comes to determining which gauge your nose piercing is:

Ask your piercer for help.

This will always be an easier, more reliable way to make sure you’re wearing the correct gauge.

Compare an existing piece of jewelry to a printed gauge card.

Alternatively, if you have a gauge card from a previous online purchase, you can also try to compare the thickness of a piece of jewelry that you already have to the markings on the card.

Use a caliper or micrometer.

A caliper is an inexpensive way to get accurate measurements for body jewelry. Not only can you use it to measure the gauge, but you can also use it to measure the inner diameter of an existing hoop and even your actual piercing. Make sure you don't clamp the jaws down so hard that you're marring your jewelry. A micrometer can also measure the gauge, but you most likely won’t have one laying around unless you take a lot of precision measurements (it isn’t a cheap tool). In the image below, the micrometer is on the top and the caliper is on the bottom.

Gauge tools that don’t work well for nose hoops:

Gauge measurement wheels.

These are typically made from steel (they look like a circle with cutouts around the exterior), have sharp edges, and are likely to scratch your jewelry. Gauge wheels are also intended for measuring straight wire, not oddly shaped pieces of body jewelry. Although, you could potentially use one to estimate the gauge of a nose stud (using the tail of an L-bend) if you found a plastic wheel. Another similar tool is a sheet metal gauge tool, which looks like a small rectangle with cutouts along one side. Again, these tools are very likely to have sharp edges that will scratch your jewelry. You’re better off investing in a cheap caliper than using either of those tools.

Drill gauge.

This tool will not work for estimating the thickness of your nose hoop. It is intended for straight objects, like drill bits, wire, and metal rod. You could potentially use it to estimate the gauge of a labret or the tail of an L-bend nose stud. Again, be very careful not to scratch your jewelry if you decide to try it. I would still recommend investing in a cheap caliper instead.

Different wire gauges:

What is the typical gauge for a nose piercing?

Most nose piercings are done at 18 gauge. However, many people choose to downsize their jewelry after the piercing heals to 20 gauge because of the variety of jewelry options available in the smaller size. Occasionally, people choose to go down as small as 22 gauge, but if you didn’t intentionally downsize, then you most likely don’t wear such a thin gauge.

I highly recommend avoiding any jewelry that is thinner than 22 gauge (like 24 gauge nose hoops) as they will pull out of your piercing easily and be incredibly quick to deform. Don’t waste your money on 26 gauge nose hoops (yes, I’ve found a few for sale) - these are hair-thin and have no business being in your nose piercing.

What diameter is my nose ring?

Important note: You do not measure the circumference of a nose ring. Circumference is the measurement of the entire distance around the ring. In other words, to take the circumference of a hoop you would be measuring in a complete circle around the outside of the hoop. This measurement has no bearing in relation to your piercing.

If you already have a nose hoop, but you don’t remember which diameter you bought, measuring the inner diameter is really easy to do at home! You can use a ruler or a caliper to take this measurement. If you're unsure of what the inner diameter is, then imagine a straight line drawn horizontally through the inside of your nose hoop. This is the inner diameter.

Different hoop inner diameters:

When you’re measuring with a digital caliper, set the caliper to millimeters and use the inside jaws on the top of the caliper intended for measuring the inner diameter of objects. Make sure you aren’t spreading the hoop open unintentionally while you measure.

To measure using a ruler, place your hoop on top of the side marked in millimeters and count how many millimeters are inside of the hoop. The hoop in the picture below has an 8mm inner diameter.

How do I make a nose hoop fit snugly?

If you don’t have an existing nose hoop to measure you’re not out of luck! Measuring your nose piercing for a hoop is also something that’s pretty easy to do at home. Remember, the inner diameter that you wear has nothing to do with how big or small your nose is. Instead, this measurement is based on how high up your piercing is placed on your nose. Or in other words, how far your piercing is from the edge of your nostril.

Use a ruler and a piece of paper to find out which inner diameter will fit your nostril snugly. Don’t just hold a ruler up to your nose and try to see what it says in the mirror. Cut a small strip of paper, line up the top with your piercing, and mark where the edge of your nostril is on the bottom of the paper.

Now, you can measure the marked portion of the paper against a ruler. You could also do it the other way around by lining up the edge of the paper with the bottom of your nostril and marking where your piercing hole is on the paper. The measurement that you get will be the smallest inner diameter that you can wear comfortably. Alternatively, if you would prefer a looser fit, then just add 1mm to that measurement.

Should my nose ring be tight?

No, your nose ring should not fit tightly. If you feel pressure on your piercing after inserting your hoop, or you have a difficult time fully closing your nose hoop, then the inner diameter you’re wearing is too small. Don’t keep wearing the hoop that’s too small, switch back to a different piece of jewelry until you can get a properly fitting hoop. A close-fitting nose ring that fits well because you took the time to measure your piercing is different from a hoop that fits too tightly.

How do I make my nose hoop smaller?

You can’t make your nose hoop smaller at home safely. If you purchased a hoop that fits too loosely then you need to measure your piercing and reorder the correct size. Trying to resize a hoop without the proper tools will either end with a very deformed hoop that fits poorly or a nose ring that has sharp edges and is no longer safe to insert into your piercing.

My nose piercing is placed too high to get a hoop, what can I do?

If your nose piercing has a high placement and you don’t like the way that round hoops fit try a different shape! For example, you may find that an oval nose ring fits your nostril exactly the way that you want it to. This will most likely be a custom job, and you can still use the instructions for measuring your nose piercing found above to provide measurements to the jeweler (the distance that you measure will end up being the inner diameter of the longest part of the oval).

Another option that you may like better than a fully round hoop is an open hoop (shaped like a “C”). You can gently manipulate an open hoop by hand so that it fits the contour of your nostril better. Just make sure that you aren’t trying to reshape it while it’s in your piercing - take it out first.

Is my nose ring too small?

There are three different measurements that could be too small for your nose piercing: the inner diameter of the hoop, the wearable length of your nose stud, and the gauge of the jewelry. Here are some questions to ask yourself to find out if this is the problem:

Can you fully close the hoop?

If there is a gap between the ends of your seamless (endless) ring, then you are most likely trying to wear a hoop that’s too small. Make sure you’re closing the ends correctly before deciding that this is the case. Sometimes, a gap happens if the ends aren’t twisted together properly.

Does your hoop make your piercing feel irritated?

If you know that you can wear the metal, then irritation is usually a sign that the inner diameter of the hoop (or the length of the post) is too small. A piece that is too small will put pressure on your piercing. In addition to it feeling too tight, it will also feel like it’s slowly cutting into your skin (because it is).

Does the gem or charm of your nose stud constantly rotate?

You may be wearing too small of a gauge. For example, if you were pierced at 18 gauge and try to wear a 22 gauge nose stud, then the jewelry will constantly spin in place because it fits loosely in the piercing hole. This can also happen with a large, top-heavy design even if you’re wearing the correct gauge.

Is the hoop constantly rotating?

You may be wearing a hoop that is too thin for your piercing, make sure you selected the correct gauge.

Is my nose ring too big?

Hoops that are too big for your nose, or a stud that is too long, will feel very uncomfortable to wear, and you will constantly feel like you’re adjusting the placement of your jewelry. Just like jewelry that is too small, a piece can be too large for your piercing in three separate ways: the inner diameter, the gauge, and the length of the stud.

Does your hoop constantly rotate out of place?

Although this could mean that the gauge is too thin, it could also mean that you have a nose ring with too large of an inner diameter. For example, if you purchased a beaded nose hoop from me and you find that the beads are constantly falling down your nostril, then you most likely need a smaller inner diameter. You will know that you have a hoop that is too big because, in addition to rotating constantly, there will also be a noticeable space in between the hoop and your nostril.

Is your jewelry always catching on things?

Then it most likely sticks out too far from your nostril. Finding a shorter length or a smaller inner diameter may fix this problem. Does it feel like the stud or ring won’t go through your piercing? If yes, then stop! Don’t try to force it in. You most likely have a gauge that’s too thick and forcing it will damage your piercing.

Quick Note: Do you have a new nose piercing? The starter jewelry that you were given was purposely selected to be a larger inner diameter or a longer length than you actually need to accommodate the initial swelling that a new piercing goes through. After the swelling subsides, you most likely will feel like your jewelry just isn’t sitting quite right. However, please resist the urge to change it too soon, unless you’re under your piercer’s guidance! You will only prolong the healing period if you start messing with it before you’re fully healed.