Nose Ring Sizing: How to Get a Perfect Fit


There are six basic materials that most nose rings will be made of: stainless steel, gold, sterling silver, titanium, bioplast, and acrylic.  They can also be found in platinum, glass, and carved organic material like bone, but these media are generally more expensive and harder to come by.

Nose Rings - Different Materials

After choosing a material, there are four things you’ll need to know to get the perfect nose ring.  The first is what style.  The four common nose ring styles are the nose bone, nose screw, L-shape, and the hoop.  Nose bones are a short, straight piece with a slightly larger ball-like tip that holds them in place, while nose screws are held in by the corkscrew-type curve at the end.  L-shaped nose rings are kept in place by the ninety degree angle at the base, and nose hoops are either moveable with a tiny opening that prevents them from falling out, or fitted with a small disc at one end that holds them into the nose.

Common Nose Jewelry Styles

There is also an item available on the market called a fishtail nose ring, which is meant to be taken to a piercer and shortened, shaped, and bent for a custom fit.  This type of jewelry cannot be worn as is, because it is extra long (19mm or 3/4″), and has no shaping to hold it in place.

Fishtail Nose Rings

Next you’ll need to know above the gauge size of the item.  Standard sizing for nose rings is normally a 20 gauge; this means the thickness of the portion that goes through the piercing is approximately .8 millimeters.  Nose piercings can also be done in a slightly larger 18 gauge (1 millimeter thickness), or in the case of some Indian style piercings, a very tiny 22 gauge (only about .65 millimeters thick).  Knowing the correct gauge size is incredibly important to be sure the item fits comfortably without slipping out.

Nose Ring Gauge Sizes

Once gauge has been determined, then you’ll need to know sizing for the ring itself.  The length sizing for a nose ring is the length of the portion that actually passes through your piercing, not including any part that shows or rests inside the nose, and is measured from the base of the gem or decoration, to the curve, bend, or sphere.  Average is about 6 millimeters, but for those who have slightly thinner or thicker nasal cartilage 5mm and 7mm are readily available.  Other sizes for piercings that are done in non-traditional areas of the nostril can be custom made or created from a fishtail item.

Measuring Nose Rings for Length

For nose hoops, sizing won’t be measured as length, but instead as diameter.  This is the measurement of the widest portion of the hoop from inside edge to inside edge.  The standard for sizing here is 5/16″ (8mm) or 3/8″ (10mm).

Nose Hoop Diameter Sizes

The final element to perfectly size your nose ring is the most aesthetically important: the size of the gem or decoration that will show.  There are nose rings called “micro nose rings” out there that have extremely small ornamentation (usually a gemstone), but for the most part nose rings’ decorative tips come in three basic sizes, which are 1.5 millimeter, 2 millimeter, and 2.5 millimeter.  Some non-geometric shapes may be up to around 3.5mm in one of their dimensions, but usually no larger.

Nose Ring Gem Sizes

Now you’re ready to pick out the perfect nose ring that will beautify, enhance, and comfortably fit your specific nose!


  1. Ellyn Fasel says:

    Thank you for the info!! I really needed this because I keep getting nose rings that don’t fit! After reading I think it’s the gauge size cause mines is really little. Thanks!

  2. Elsie Silverman says:

    Yes! This was super helpful. Thank you so much!

  3. Becca Rowlings says:

    I always have a fit problem. Thank you for this very much!!!

  4. Wendy Hicks says:

    I never have fit issues, but I only buy mine from BodyCandy and nowhere else and always in the same size

  5. Rich says:

    Same here. I wear nose hoops from body candy.com and they always fit just perfect.

  6. Kat says:

    This was BEYOND RIDICULOUSLY helpful!! Thank you so much for this post!

  7. dtg914 says:

    I am looking for a 22 guage with 1.25 flat diamond. Do you know where I can get this in NYC?

  8. Barbara says:

    Wow…this is so well written and explained!! GREAT JOB!!

  9. Alexandra says:

    i have my nose pierced with a 20 gauge and i want to try and get a 22 gauge into it, do you know how to do that ?

    • Lorna says:

      Actually, the sizing for body jewelry goes backwards, so a 22 gauge is smaller than a 20 gauge. This size is very hard to find because it’s considered a specialty size since most piercers do not perform piercings in so small a gauge, but if you’d like we can talk to our artisans and see if we can work something out. Please contact us at 1(800)694-1426. If you’re looking for a larger size item though, that would be an 18 gauge, which is readily available in almost every style here. A piercer in your local area should be able to help you get to a larger size with minimal pain and effort. :)

  10. paula says:

    Is it easy to bend and/or cut a surgical steel nose stud? and is it easier to do that before i put it in or not?

    • Lorna says:

      It’s definitely easiest to go to a piercer and have them do it for you. They have special equipment to properly measure your nose for a perfect fit and can then bend the nose ring accordingly whether you want it bent into an l-shaped nose ring or a nose screw. Bends are almost always done prior to inserting the nose jewelry.

  11. Shida1ne says:

    My question is how do I get a hoop no seeing that fits snugly on my nostril? I always get my body piercing jewelry from body candy.com, and have been happy with each purchase, but the hoop moseying I ordered has quite a bit of space between the hoop an my nostril, and I don’t like how it looks. I want a more snug fit. Can I get the hoop nosering I already have cut or shape smaller to make it more snug on my nostril? Or would I have to purchase a different sized ring? The one I have is 5/8. Thanks in advance for your reply!

    • Lorna says:

      Hello! It sounds as though you may have been using standardized circular jewelry, rather than an item specifically designed for the nose. Whatever the case, trying a couple of smaller sizes is the first thing we’d always suggest. 5/8 is about sixteen millimeters, so trying a 3/8 (10mm) or even a 5/16 (8mm) might be just the ticket. If all else fails, purchasing a fishtail nose ring and taking it to your piercer to have them custom fit it is always an option. You can find our regular nose hoops in 3/8 and 5/16 sizes here, and a selection of nose rings available in fishtail style here. Hope this helps!

  12. Amy says:

    I currently have in the 18g screw that was used during my piercing. My biggest complaint is that is often twists and can be seen in my nose. You can sometimes see it even when it doesn’t twist. My question is, when it is healed and ready for replacing, what is the best style to get that will stay in securely and still not be seen on the inside of my nose? Thank you!

    • Lorna says:

      The best style if you’re having a problem with it being too noticeable is usually a nose bone. These ones in the picture are bones and you can find them here. It’s basically just a straight back with a little ball at the end to hold it in. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment!

  13. Jackie says:

    I was pierced with an 18 gauge and 2mm gem labret in my nostril, even though I wanted a 1mm gem. He said this would be better for an initial piercing. Now he’s telling me to stick with the gauge and size I have, but I want to go to a 20 gauge with a 1mm gem.

    When you first go to a smaller gauge, what do you do to keep it from falling out or through while the piercing shrinks?

    Thank you so much.

    • Lorna says:

      Getting a really secure nose ring style sounds like it would help here. One of the best is a nose screw, which has a larger, twisted bottom to help hold it into the piercing. A 20 gauge in one of these items would still feel loose, but the design should keep it from falling out a lot as long as you start with a 1.5 millimeter gem. You can find some here. Hope this helps, and thank you for the comment. :)

  14. Jenn says:

    Hi there..This is extremely helpful. I recently changed out my nose ring to a hoop because it was fully healed. However, the nose ring is a lot chunkier than I thought :( It’s an 18 and I would really like a 20. Would it be a bad idea to put a 20 hoop in my nose? I really wished she would have pierced it smaller so that the nose ring wouldn’t be as huge.

  15. Rachael says:

    My piercing is placed a little to high on my nose to where I tryed on a regualr nose hoop and it didn’t fit. Is there any where that I could buy a nose hoop with a larger diameter?

    • Lorna says:

      Nose hoops come in a variety of sizes, so you’ll need to look for one that’s a size up from what you tried. If it seemed really small, you probably had an item with a 5/16″ (8mm) diameter, which is a small common size. If that’s the case, what you’ll want is a 3/8″ (10mm) diameter like these one’s here: 3/8″ Nose Hoops. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment. :)

  16. Alexis says:

    So helpful! I’ve had a hard time finding the right size.

  17. Kahtia says:

    Well I’ve been wanting to get my nose pierced for the longest but I heard that most piercing places pierces your nose with a 18 gauge needle but I want a 20 gauge nose rings instead. Will it be okay to still get it pierced with a 18 gauge needle and put 20 gauge nose rings in?

    • Lorna says:

      The 18 gauge is definitely bigger, so a 20 gauge nose ring in an 18 gauge piercing would likely be noticeably loose, and could possibly fall out. Your piercer will definitely know what to do to help you get the fit you need though, and some parlors will order 20 gauge needles for their customers upon request, so it’s probably best to start by calling around to piercers in your area. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment!

  18. luis says:

    I have a 22gauge piercing and i would like a nose hoop but found all the hoops that I’ve found are to small to wrap around my nostril I need help on where to find one my size…

  19. Meghan Elthon says:

    I am planning on buying a nose hoop on BodyCandy.com but I am worried about the size to get. I want a snug fit on my nose, but I don’t want to get a 5/16 and have it be too small and waste my money. On the other hand I don’t want to get a 3/8 and have it be too big and be unhappy with it. What should I do?

    • Lorna says:

      The best way is to have your piercer measure for you and tell you what you should get. By measuring your nose and current jewelry, they can tell you what size will fit the way that you want it to. Then if you order the size they recommend and is still looks too big or too small when it arrives, just make sure the item is still in its enclosed packaging, and you can send it back to us and we’ll let you exchange it for the other size. Hope this helps, and thank you for the comment! :)

  20. Lauren says:

    I got my nose pierced and I have an 18 gauge in my nose right now and I’m trying to decide what if I should get a size down on my guage or leave it at an 18. What’s your opinion.? Thanks, Lauren

  21. Devin says:

    Like a month ago I got my nose pierced with a gun. (I know bad idea, I was sold false information about it) and soon I’ll be ready to change my stud to a hoop. But I’m not sure what gauge I’m going to need to buy.

    • Lorna says:

      Hi, Devin:
      Most gun piercings are done with an 18 gauge, but the best way to be sure is to find an actual piercer/modification artist in your area and have them do measurements for you. That would definitely be helpful for when you switch to a hoop anyways, because there are several different sizes of nose hoop, and which size you’ll take depends upon the anatomy of your individual nose and exactly where it was pierced. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment. :)

  22. Yasmeen says:

    Hi Lauren,

    Very helpful information. .thanks alot for this. I am looking for a nose hoop/ring I measured mine the length or diameter for a hoop/ ring its 10mm its an exact measurement, I wan snugly comfortable hoop. I am confused about the guage. mine piercing is done almost 7years ago n used thin gold ring but now my ring is stolen so I dont have an idea..now at present using neem thin stick..hope u get an idea.which guage should I use 20/22??? Plss help me. Do you ship item to Australia???? Thanks Lauren

    • Lorna says:

      A 22 gauge is extremely rare; most who wear very small nose rings are wearing a 20 gauge. If you’re really concerned, any piercer in your neighborhood should be able to take measurements for you and tell you exactly what size to get. We do ship to Australia, and you can find some of our 20 gauge 3/8 (10mm) nose hoops here. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment.

  23. marita elliott says:

    I bought two hoops, 20g with one 5/16 and the other 3/8. I put them both in yet they ends of both of them do not come close to being in my nostril, they just stick out on the outside of my nose. I am having trouble with every hoop I buy and I am at a loss at what to do. the size is fine, and the stopper is all the way against the hole inside my nose, it just does not “hoop.”

    • Lorna says:

      It sounds like your nose piercing might just be slightly higher up on the nostril than average. It definitely happens from time to time and can make wearing hoops a bit difficult. If you like the look of a hoop though and the 3/8″ size seems okay, you can try a 20 gauge 3/8″ ball captive ring like the ones here. The ball just pops out and back in to close it, and because the hoop makes a complete circle you won’t have the issue with it not curving under anymore. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment. :)

  24. catherine says:

    Can I find a nose hoop with a very small gap between the head and the end of it? My nostril is thick and the gap is very visible.

    • Lorna says:

      I would try one of the gem hoops like the one pictured above under “Nose Ring Styles.” If it’s still an aesthetic problem though, you always have the option of wearing a BCR like the ones here: Captive Rings. That way the hoop is closed off completely by the ball, so it’s decorative, and there’s no gap. Just be sure to get the correct gauge size for your nose piercing. Hope this helps! :)

  25. Lauren says:

    Question: I was pierced with, I believe, an 18g, and I somehow managed to get it down to a 24g. I now want to go back up in size, but I don’t know how to do this. These noserings that I currently have can only be found in one store in this area, and I would like more variety. Should I just switch to a 22g? Is it possible without hurting my nose? Thank you for your quick response!

    • Lorna says:

      Hi, Lauren:
      Nose piercings can definitely be stretched, but it’s generally a more difficult and time-consuming process than say, ears, because the area is composed mainly of cartilage. A 24 gauge is extremely tiny, so you may be able to be re-pierced at a larger size. Your best bet is probably to find a reputable piercer in your area and have them examine your nose piercing and determine the best way to size up. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment!

  26. Lyric says:

    Hi! I found this very helpful thanks so much but I was wondering if you could clear something up for me, alright I’ve had my nose pierced for about 8 months now and a couple of months ago I purchased a pack of nose rings from Claire’s they were nose bones , which were inserted into the nostril like a stud, but gave the appearance of a ring due to the hoop connected to it , I since then haven’t found these anywhere else. And would love too find them because I have trouble inserting regular hoops so if you could tell me where to find these I would highly appreciate it thanks in advance. Ps. I cannot just return to Claire’s and get them because I have moved to a city where there is no Claire’s store available .

    g regular hoops

  27. jaslyne says:

    HI Lorna,
    I see that you have very diligent & helpful answers to these questions. But I have a quick question as well if you could help me out. I have a 22g nose hoop in my nose.Yesterday I went and bought nose hoops that were appealing to my preference but I didnt realize all types were not the same size. When I got home I seen that they were 18g hoops. I called piercing shops all in my area and they were saying I need a size 20g . If I buy one do you think it will be painful to upgrade to the 20g hoop myself or not ??
    Thanks for all your posts…hope to hear from you

    • Lorna says:

      Hello, Jaslyne!

      I agree that the 20 gauge is probably the way to go, but as for how much it will hurt to size up, that’s really going to vary from person to person. If you’ve had your nose piercing a long time or have ever worn larger or heavier jewelry there, it’s likely not to feel too bad, but if you’re apprehensive it’s best to have a piercer in your area do it for you. They know how to minimize discomfort and will be able to make sure that the new item fits properly. It can be tricky to stretch a cartilage piercing, but it’s definitely able to be done in most instances, particularly when such a small difference in gauge is involved. Hope this helps, and good luck with your switch! :)

  28. Marchesca says:

    Hi ! I currently have a micro nose ring in my nose, but I want something thicker. I bought a 18 gauge from bodycandy.com but it is very hard to get in. I’d like some tips on how I can get my hole to stretch or which shape 18 gauge nose ring would be best to really force it in so it’ll stretch. Please help!

  29. Marie says:

    I have a question , when I got my nose pierced they told me if I wanted the regular hole or the hoop I said the regular one .. But now a year later I wanna get the hoop one so bough the 8mm one and it fit small and I dont know my size can anyone help me ? Please I want it to fix tight not loose

    • Lorna says:

      Because of the different sizes and shapes that occur in noses, there’s no one size fits all approach to nose hoops. The best way to know your exact size is to return to your piercer and have them measure. They can measure your nose and make sizing recommendations, and most of them do it for free or very small fees, especially if you’re a repeat customer. That being said, 8mm (5/16″) is the smaller of the two most common hoop sizes, so going up to a 10mm (3/8″) would likely solve your issue. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment. :)

  30. lexi says:

    hi I really like the hoop look but I cannot get one that fits my nose if I do i have to bend it inside my nose and the final shape that shows outside of my nose doesn’t end up circular I have no idea what to do I’m a size 22 g

  31. Marla says:

    Hi! I just had my nose pierced a couple of weeks ago in Spain. At first they tried a “standard screw” but discovered it wasn’t long enough b/c my nostril is thicker than average. Now I have a curved bone w/ a round ball on each end. It is VERY noticeable and when I’m healed (4 more weeks?) I want something smaller/cuter and not something that is easily seen in my nostril. What style and length of post do you recommend I try? Thank you for your time.

    • Lorna says:

      Hey, Marla!
      If you have special sizing needs, the best thing to do is to get the extra long straight item called a “fishtail” and take it to a piercer for custom fitting. This way the piercer can make the bend at the right spot for your specific nose, so you end up with a nice regular screw or l-shaped piece that’s the right size and doesn’t stick out funny. You can take a look at some of the fishtails that we make here, just to get an idea. Hope this helps! :)

  32. Elizabeth says:

    When I got my nose pierced, I wasn’t told what size it was. I believe it was a 20 gauge but I wasn’t sure and recently bought an 18 and pushed it in.
    My question is, do I have to stay at an 18 gauge or what will occur if I use a 20 gauge?
    Thank you!

    • Lorna says:

      If you’ve been wearing an 18 comfortably, most 20 gauge items will be too loose for you at first, but what happens from there can really change from person to person. For some, nose piercings will shrink or close rather quickly, particularly if the piercing is less than a year old and the larger jewelry hasn’t been in for very long. The only way to really know for you is to give it a try. In this case a screw style nose ring is probably your best option because it’s more likely to stay in if it fits a little loosely at first. Hope this helps, and good luck with the switch! :)

  33. Ciera says:

    SOO incredibly helpful!

  34. Deja says:

    Just received mt 18g 10mm(3/8) nose hoop. This was the largest diameter I can find. Unfortunately it is too small. The hoop ends don’t curl completely into my nose so they can be seen. Any suggestions?

    • Lorna says:

      I would try going for a captive ring rather than a traditional open ended hoop, and while you’re at it go up a millimeter or two in diameter as well to really find a good fit. Nostril size and piercing placement can make wearing normal hoops difficult sometimes, so you’re definitely not alone. Here’s a couple 18 gauge BCRs in 7/16″ (11mm) and 1/2″ (12mm), just to give you an idea of what to look for. Hope this helps, and thanks for the comment.

  35. Lillian says:

    I have a 22 gauge nose ring in my nose but I originally had a 20 gauge in and I am trying to find a 22 gauge nose hoop but I can’t seem to find them on your website. Do you sell 22 gauge nose hoops if not would it be painful to put a 20 gauge nose hoop in seeing as I have had my nose pierced originally at that size. Please help.

    • nicole says:

      Hi Lillian, We do not carry any 22 gauge nose hoops currently but do have some new 22 gauge nose rings you might like! Check em out here: http://www.bodycandy.com/search/go?view=grid&w=22+gauge+nose

      As far as getting a 20 gauge nose ring in your piercing, if you were pierced with a 20gauge needle you shouldn’t have a problem. The difference between the 2 sizes is tenths of a millimeter (very small difference). What we always recommend as a safe bet is to visit your piercer if you’re having a problem getting a particular nose ring in your piercing and they can get it in for ya!

  36. Quin says:

    How do you shrink your nose piercing ?

    • nicole says:

      Hi Quin, Are you looking to just wear smaller gauge jewelry in it? In that case, if you’re wearing an 18 gauge nose ring you could switch to 20 gauge (smaller in thickness) and the piercing will start to shrink around the smaller size jewelry. We hope that helps!

      • Quin says:

        Yes my nose was peirced with a 16 gauge and I was looking at rings to replace the one I have now with once it’s heeled. The problem is i can’t find any 16 rings

        • nicole says:

          Hi Quin, Nose Rings are typically 18 gauge or 20 gauge (in some instances 22 gauge also) When your piercing is healed you could switch to an 18 gauge and the piercing will shrink around the new jewelry over time. The difference between those sizes is very minimal.

  37. Lisa says:

    I have a 20 gauge L micro nose ring but it moves and I can see it sticking out my nose when I raise my head up. Should I try a 18?

  38. Jennifer says:

    Do the posts come in different sizes? I can’t seem to find ones that go right through my nose.

  39. I was wondering when I go and get my nose pierced can I get the smallest gauge they have .

    • Tara says:

      Hi Brittany,
      Ask your piercer what size can be done, they will know what it best for you but typically a nose piercing is a 20 or 18 gauge.

  40. toya says:

    hi i like the bones because it do not show but my problem is it not long enough could you tell me the correct size to use the standard is to short for my nose thanks

    • Tara says:

      Hi Toya,
      Since everyone’s nose is different you could try getting a fish tail nose ring, which is basically an extra long nose bone, and go to your piercer and they can then size and cut the jewelry for you.

  41. angela says:

    I just got my nose repierced with (I’m assuming, since it’s standard) an 18 gauge hoop. I like the look of the thinner hoops so I was looking to go to a 20 or 22 gauge. my question is since I have to let the piercing heal before changing it, would I be OK in a week or so to go from the thicker 18 gauge down to the thinner 20 or 22 gauge and have the hole tighten up around it to make it more snug?

    • angela says:

      correction, I just called the place I got it done and they said they use an 16 gauge to help with healing. so if I were to go down to a 20 gauge, would that work?

      • Tara says:

        Hey Angela,
        I would suggest waiting the full healing time before changing the jewelry, then go down to an 18g, then the 20g. If you go from 16 to 20 it would probably just fall through. It should tighten up around the smaller jewelry fairly quickly then.

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