What IS a Hickey? How to Get, Give, and Get Rid of Them


Ever found an angry, purple mark on your neck after a particularly enthusiastic makeout session? We’ve all been there, left to wonder what is a hickey, anyway? How long will it last? And how do I get rid of it? Or maybe in this moment, you’re less concerned with getting rid of your hickey as you are in understanding how to give someone a hickey in turn.

The truth is, hickeys are really no big deal. There’s never any reason to shame someone for having a hickey — like all forms of consensual sexual behavior, you don’t have to justify someone making out with your neck — but the paradox of the hickey is that it takes something private and creates a public, lingering effect. Nothing feels more right in the moment, but walking through the next few days with it displayed on your neck can be surreal. Suddenly, your private life becomes public. I was once a part of an act of passion, it screams, and now I’m just in math class.

After math class, you could even find yourself seated across the dinner table from your father who, after catching sight of the damage, blurts out in earnest: “Did you fall on your neck?” (Not speaking from experience here.)

Whether your goal is to avoid hickeys, also called “love bites,” entirely or simply give the best ones possible, we’ve rounded up all you need to know about hickeys below. 

In this article, you’ll find:

What Is a Hickey Anyway?

How to Give Someone a Hickey

How to Get Rid of a Hickey, Fast

What Is a Hickey Anyway? 5 Things to Know

1. A hickey is really just a bruise.

Hickeys are basically just broken blood vessels caused by sucking, which results in a bruise. Though a bit of biting or hard kissing could contribute to getting a hickey, sucking is generally the culprit here, since it’s more likely to burst your skin’s tiny capillaries. It doesn’t take long to get a hickey — 20 to 30 seconds of targeted sucking can do the trick — and they often appear quickly, too. You might be surprised to emerge from a makeout session to the sight of a visible hickey as soon as five to 10 minutes later! Hickeys are also most likely to occur on softer, more sensitive skin like the neck, shoulders, and chest, though you can technically get a hickey anywhere.

2. Most hickeys look pretty similar.

What does a hickey look like, you ask? Generally after getting a hickey, the blood under the skin is dark red at first. Once it dries out, though, it turns to a darker purple or brown color, creating the marks we know and love (or hate, whatever). As your hickey begins to heal, it may take on a yellowish color, typical of most bruises. (And if you’re wondering “how long do hickeys last?” we’ll get to that below.)

As far as size goes, it probably isn’t a surprise that most hickeys are mouth-sized and shaped. Meaning? They’re ovular, and they aren’t necessarily all that large. Sometimes, you might get more than one hickey at a time. That can give you the appearance of having a larger hickey on the neck, for instance, since your love bites are likely to be clustered together.

3. They can last as long as two weeks.

There’s surprisingly little research done on hickeys, but the general consensus is that they rarely last longer than two weeks, with many hickeys clearing up within just a few days. How long the mark stays on a person is up to the types of hickeys at play (read: the harshness level of the suction involved) and the health of the person affected. The more intense the hickey, the longer it’ll stick around, while the healthier the person is (think: well-hydrated, good circulation, enough iron), the shorter the hickey’s time on earth.

4. They can show up at any age.

The neck, the shoulders, and the chest are seriously sensitive to touch, meaning that being kissed there feels pretty incredible. When you’re newer to kissing and still finetuning how to give the Perfect Neck Kiss™, you’re more likely to be a little aggressive with your mouth, which is why hickeys tend to show up more on younger or newer kissers. With substantial practice and the right partners, your kissing will probably ease into a less hickey-centric mode. That said, especially if you’re someone who really appreciates a good necking, the occasional love bite can show up at any age.

5. Hickeys are seriously no big deal.

Ultimately, if you have a hickey that you were given in a consensual way, you just have a bruise, and it’s probably going to be gone in a few days. So try not to stress about it if you’re feeling worried! Likewise, if you’ve given someone a hickey they wanted (more on that below), as long as you’re both committed to keeping the situation as respectful as possible, it’s all good.

How to Give Someone a Hickey

Giving someone a hickey is, really, pretty simple. After first asking if your makeout partner is comfortable with receiving a souvenir mark — particularly a visible one — warm up their neck or the intended site of the hickey with some long kisses. Then, put your lips against their skin and form an “O” with your mouth. Draw in your breath and suck; it should create a bit of a vacuum effect. Teeth aren’t needed to cause a hickey — suction alone will do it — but you can mix in a bit of light biting and nibbling here if your partner is interested in that. After about 20 to 30 seconds of uninterrupted suction, you’re likely to have visible hickey results within the next few minutes.



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