Oh man. So let me just first begin this post by saying what some readers may already be aware of – piercings freak me the f*%k out. I’m not really afraid of needles, but the whole concept of a needle going in one side and out the other has always rubbed me the wrong way.
That being said, writing for this blog has left me woefully aware that my fear of piercings is keeping me from enjoying some seriously cute body jewelry. That’s not some gimmicky sales-y thing, that’s just the truth. I knew it was time to shake up my look, bite the bullet, and just get a new piercing already.
I’ve always wanted to get my labret pierced just so I could get a thin stainless steel captive bead and run it over my bottom lip. I think a perfectly poised pout with a lip ring over the top of it is about the sexiest thing ever, so I finally made the decision to get one for myself.
I set a date in my calendar to go to town, talked to my pierced and tatted friends to get a referral for the best shop in town, and promptly lined out a friend to help me take video of the experience – I was committed.
Until that day arrived.
Man, I was a hot mess the day I was supposed to get it done. I spent the day in a rotation of cafes and bars, getting some work done while my husband stayed home with our toddler. I told myself I wasn’t going to drink, but my nerves got the best of me.
A couple of hours before I was set to go in and meet my friend, I down a couple of microbrews, put my laptop in my bag, and on shaky legs headed over to the piercing parlor. There was no turning back now, though I considered it half a dozen times that day.
I’m picky as hell when it comes to who I let tattoo me, but I had no idea where to really start looking for a reputable piercer in my area. I asked around to friends I knew I could trust, and their resounding, unanimous answer was to go see Vito at Mystic Rhythms in Great Falls, Montana.
I chatted with Vito a bit beforehand, making sure he was comfortable with us taking an amateur video of the process and posting it online. I should have asked myself, because in hindsight, I would have told me to brush my damned hair. #busymomproblems
Vito was excellent, just pure, professional excellence. He was kind, informative, and just generally knew his shit. He took his time explaining everything to me, and was very nice about the fact that I was being such a ridiculous wuss about the whole thing.
The shop was clean and well-lit, and he had all of the documentation and care sheets that showed me he knew what he was doing. I felt completely comfortable here. If you’re ever in the central Montana area, drop in and get something pierced at Mystic Rhythms in Great Falls – you won’t regret it.
Before it was time to go under the needle, Vito had a bunch of paperwork to go over with me. I mean seriously, a bunch. But I wasn’t complaining – it was nice to see that he was so thorough, and as an information sponge, I soaked up the advice he was giving me.
Here are a few things I learned from him:
Everybody kept telling me that getting your labret pierced absolutely did not hurt. Pfffft. I was like, yeeeea RIGHT, man – no way does getting a needle put through your lip not hurt. Even my piercer confirmed this, and I still didn’t believe it, right up until I had it done.
You guys. Really, seriously, I have NO reason to lie to you – it absolutely does not hurt. I may have been coasting on a bit of a microbrew buzz when I went in, but nowhere near strong enough of one to dull the pain of something like that, and I can honestly say, I did not feel that needle go in.
Now when Vito put the jewelry in, yea, I felt that, and it hurt a bit, but definitely not much. Imagine what it feels like when you split your lip, and then you poke it – that’s it. “Ouch, yep, there you are putting something in my lip”, and it’s over.
I sat up, got cleaned up, let Vito walk me through the rest of his aftercare instructions and warnings, and that was it – done and over in less than five minutes.
I knew it’d be an adjustment having a little hunk of metal in my lower lip, but I didn’t really appreciate how much it would affect my talking and eating those first few days – that was the biggest adjustment. During the video, you can definitely hear my voice change (shut it, don’t you laugh), and it’s because you’re definitely making a conscious effort to keep your bottom teeth from catching on the back of the barbell post.
Those first few days, I got the post caught over the top of my bottom teeth more times than I can remember, and godDAMN, that seriously hurt.
As we were getting ready for the piercing, Vito told us a story about going to get a sub sandwich after he pierced his labret, and biting down very hard on the post he had in. “It was like getting punched in the lip. I walked right from the studio after having it done, right to sub shop, and bit right down on it – it was horrible.”
I carefully went through my evening talking without my usual forceful expressions and eating like a delicate little mouse instead of the voracious bottomless pit that I usually am. That is, until I decided I need tacos after a night out with my mommy homies.
Conclusion: DON’T eat tacos right after you get a labret piercing.
The thing is, tacos and subs require similar mouth mechanics to eat – you have to kind of reach with your lips to get all of that cheesy, taco-ey goodness in your face, and the process requires so much coordination that you can’t even really think about the little metal rod in your lip.
Upon unwrapping my delicious feast, I promptly caught the back of my labret stud over the top of my teeth, and yanked. My god you guys, Vito was not exaggerating: it really does feel like getting hit in the mouth.
Not to be deterred from my buzzed-mommy-no-kids-around-to-share-with feast, I kept going, but not without making a considerable fool of myself, and catching the piercing at least another two or three times. I quickly learned that I needed fork foods, and to keep the food towards the back of my mouth while I chewed. Using your incisors too much is only going to make it easier to catch your piercing, so avoid it as much as you can.
By day three, I was getting much better at eating without looking like a drunken monkey, and on the second day, my weird speech had completely gone away. After a week, I was no longer catching the piercing on my teeth.
It’s a common misconception that oral piercings take forever to heal. On the contrary, the mouth is full of so much active tissue that it’s constantly adapting to changes and replacing cells.
My piercing healed completely within a couple of weeks, and I waited the extra two to change out the jewelry just as a precaution. It took about four days for the swelling to go down, and there was some light tenderness in the area the day after when I woke up, but I attribute that primarily to the taco incident.
Like many piercers, Vito didn’t recommend cleaning with much but plain anti-bacterial soap and water in the shower. For the first week or so, he suggested cleaning it three to five times a day. To keep things clean, and since I wear makeup, I just used a q-tip with some diluted hydrogen peroxide. I also diluted my mouthwash down (per his suggestion), and made sure to rinse morning and night.
I never had any issues with infection, and really, I’m sure I only cleaned it twice a day most of the time. As a mom, I can barely pee alone, let alone clean a fresh piercing five times a day, so I did what I could, when I could.
The main difference I noticed was definitely with drinking lots of cold water. It helped tremendously with the swelling and what minor discomfort there was, and I made sure to swish it around a bit as I ate a meal, to keep food particulates from trapping bacteria in the area.
This is a pretty common concern with labret piercings and one that’s pretty valid. For many people, labret piercings aren’t even an option because of their potential to cause gum recession and damage to the bottom teeth.
Because of its placement, labret piercing jewelry can rub against your lower gum line, and cause issues with gum recession over time. If you’re not careful, it can definitely cause a chipped tooth, or maybe some scratches on your enamel.
Vito filled me in on an interesting little tidbit though, and it’s something I encourage everyone to remember when trying to decide if labret piercings are worth it. As your labret piercing heals, the back of the jewelry forms a bit of a depression on the inside of your bottom lip. A lot of people try to prevent it, always popping the jewelry out and trying to keep the outside of the stud snug so the back isn’t touching the inside of their lip.
Don’t do that.
It’s not permanent, and that little depression isn’t going to hurt anything by being there. What it is going to do is give the back of your jewelry a little alcove to rest in, so it’s not constantly bumping into your teeth and gums. No tissue forms over the back of the jewelry, so there’s no concern for embedding, it’s just damned convenient, so enjoy it. It took me about two weeks to form that little dent, and when I did, I was pretty damned excited. From that point on, my jewelry never even touched my gums or teeth.
Even since switching to a captive bead, I haven’t had any issues with friction, or concerns about gum recession. The natural curve of the jewelry keeps it away from my teeth, and again, the soft tissue of your lips tends to make room for the foreign objects, so it’s nestled pretty comfortably in my pout at this point.
So remember how I said getting your labret pierced doesn’t hurt? Well, it totally doesn’t, but changing out the jewelry is another story – especially when you’re like me and definitely not a professional.
My first piece of jewelry was put in by the piercer of course, and was a little stud like this with a screw-on head. My husband warned me that as a precaution, most piercers will screw them on pretty tight, so I had better be prepared for a struggle. Being over eager and an hour from Vito’s shop, I summoned my courage and sterilized my jewelry. I ordered a whole arsenal of really cute stuff, but decided to go with this captive bead ring.
Getting that little jewel unscrewed was no joke, oh my gosh. I put on latex gloves for grip and bit the back of the jewelry, but it still slid around too much. I held onto the back of the jewelry with another gloved hand and twisted with the other, and still nothing.
You guys, it was so hard, and tugging on it for half and hour was definitely making it hurt. The thing is, you can’t really see your labret unless you’re in front of a mirror, and then when you are, you’re holding onto that miniscule piece of jewelry, and your hands are actually keeping you from seeing what you’re doing. It’s maddening.
In the end, I got desperate. I grabbed some pliers, sterilized them, held the back of the jewelry with my gloved hand, and proceeded to crank on the bead with the pliers. I slipped several times, and eventually, the pliers slipped towards my face, pinching the skin surrounding the post of my jewelry, resulting in an immediate torrent of blood.
Yea, I don’t recommend trying this one at home – just go to your effing piercer.
Thankfully, while sitting down and assessing my damage, I noticed I had made progress – that little bead was finally turning. I let the tissue calm down a bit for about half an hour, then went back to the bathroom to resume the process.
Pulling the jewelry out was relatively painless. I knew I wanted it to be quick to prevent the possibility of the piercing swelling shut while I fiddled with the jewelry, so I hooked the captive bead on the corner of my lip while I removed the stud so I could quickly slide it into place.
Inserting the new jewelry was tricky. I found what worked best was pulling my lower lip out and stretching it so I could see the hole on the inside, and starting to feed the ring through there. Keep in mind that a labret piercing is done at a bit of an angle, so the hole inside your mouth is going to be a bit higher than the one on the outside.
After some panicking and poking around, which was very painful, I got the ring through. I then proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes trying to get the stupid bead in the ring – a topic for another day.
After that, I treated it like a fresh piercing. I didn’t touch it, I cleaned it two or three times a day, and drank lots of cold water to help with the swelling. After about three days, the swelling went back down, and things were back to normal again.
I didn’t know what I wanted, so I ordered a little bit of everything (you can do that with FreshTrends’ prices!). I wound up with five different pieces:
First up, I knew from the very start my end goal was to have a hoop over my lip – I effing love that look. I bought three different pieces of jewelry in the hopes that one of them would be the perfect fit for my pout, plus a kickass little spiked ring, and an adorable jewelry teardrop stud.
Vito had a few recommendations for achieving this look. If you want the hoop over the lip look, you can actually achieve it with a lip loop – essentially a bent barbell in the shape of a “D” meets an “L”. The straight part of the barbell goes into your piercing, and the curve sits comfortably over the top of your lip.
Additionally, Vito said that it wasn’t likely I would need larger than a 3/8″ diameter captive ring to achieve that look. However, I was skeptical – it seemed like the width between my piercing and the top of my bottom lip was at least 1/2″, so I got a few different options to try.
Erring on the side of caution, I started with the 1/2″ captive bead, which I immediately realized was too big (even with all of the swelling after changing out the jewelry for the first time). It flopped around on my lip quite a bit, and more often than not sat at an unattractive angle that I just really didn’t care for.
After waiting about a week for the swelling to subside, I changed the jewelry again, this time opting for the 3/8″ captive bead with the gem bead. Vito was right – this one fit perfectly. My lip swelled a bit again this time, but definitely not as much. Since this ring was smaller, it was a bit harder to get around my lip at first, but once I go it in, it sat comfortably and perfectly in the center of my lip.
With this piece, sometimes I let the bead sit on the top of my lip, other times I turn it to the inside of my mouth to keep the look clean and modern. I love how flexible it is, and it definitely makes for some kinky kissing. One thing to note though is that having a hoop over the center of your lip definitely affects the way you eat and drink – I use a lot of straws now, and am constantly making sure I don’t have any food on my jewelry (because yuck dude).
My preference is definitely for the captive bead ring. My concern with the lip loop is that if my lip is just a little too thin, the loop is going to sit funny on top of my lip. Also, any wiggling of the barbell will cause it to stick out, and I’m just not sure how securely it’s going to sit. I have yet to actually try it on though, so it’s entirely possible I’m wrong about all this.
The studs are really cute, and very subtle – I could easily see getting away with wearing them in an office environment. Even the teardrop one is pretty small, and very feminine, so it’s not going to come across as intense as the captive ring look is.
I honestly didn’t know how I’d feel about having a facial piercing. Since having my son, I’d just kind of given up on doing something wild and different like this. However, we’ve been able to establish some clear boundaries, and my two-year-old is very sweet and respectful of the fact that we don’t touch Mommy’s lip ring.
The look is versatile, coming across as edgy, but still pairing well with my favorite lace tops and skater dresses. My husband was really adverse to the idea at first, but he’s a total fan now – it’s cute, it’s kinky, and a great alternative for those of us without the “right” nose for a nostril hoop.
Conclusion: Even if you’re a mom, even if you’re a total wuss scaredy-cat-chicken-shit, labret piercings are not that bad, and look completely adorable. Take the leap and get it done son.