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Woman wearing a circular barbell in her lip piercing
By Meghan O'Neal 03/18/2019

Among belly rings and septum piercings, lip rings are among popular ‘90s piercings that are barreling into today’s mainstream fashion. And they’re not just appearing on angsty teenagers.

When you think about a lip piercing, what comes to mind might be a captive bead ring placed to the right, left, or center of the lower lip. But a lip piercing can be so much more. The flat canvas of the lips and skin surrounding them essentially means that you can pierce your lip anywhere (barring oral health concerns).

The prospect of endless possibilities may seem exciting, but the freedom of choice comes with its struggles. With more than 12 lip piercing types, you want to be sure that you are choosing the perfect piercing for your face, especially since the lips are a prevalent part of your features.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a super quick guide to help you decide what kind of lip piercing you want.

Healing Process

First things first. In any decision to get a new piercing, you need to be aware of healing times and how they will affect your daily life. For example, if you’re planning a trip to the Bahamas in a couple of weeks, you’ll probably want to hold off on the new piercing unless you plan to avoid the water.

Common aftercare practices include keeping the pierced area dry, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and keeping the area clean, and if you’ve been pierced before, they should be common sense. Keep in mind that lip piercings have some unique healing concerns that you will need to be aware of.

Lip piercings usually take around 6 – 8 weeks to heal (although some styles, like the Madonna, might take longer). During this time, you will need to take extra care that you keep the area clean. The human mouth is riddled with tons of bacteria that you probably don’t want to learn about (unless you’re a dentist). This bacteria makes the lip piercing more susceptible to infection than other piercings.

You’ll also want to take care when you eat and try to keep food away from the newly pierced site. Additionally, as you get used to the new jewelry, you need to be careful not to chomp on the ring as you chew, which can lead to broken teeth. Choose a starter ring that’s large enough to accommodate swelling but small enough that it’s not too much of an adjustment when you eat.

The different types of lip piercings

Single Lip Piercings

Labret Piercing

The labret is typically located in the center of the bottom lip above the chin. While it is technically considered a lip piercing, it’s actually the skin below the lip that’s pierced.

The labret piercing looks amazing with either a hoop (captive bead rings are super popular), a circular barbell, or lip studs. When you opt for a labret stud, you’ll want to choose something with a flat disc back, since you’ll be able to feel the back on the inside of your mouth. The flat disc back will let the stud sit flush with your skin for optimal comfort.

In terms of pain, the labret is mild, although you will feel some discomfort. The labret piercing adheres to the standard healing time of 6 – 8 weeks.

Monroe Piercing

Named for the exquisite Marilyn Monroe and her iconic mole on the upper left side of her lip, the Monroe piercing lets you take on the timeless beauty of Monroe.

Like the labret, the actual lip isn’t punctured; only the skin above the lip sees action. The piercing’s location is optimal for lip studs with a flat disc back. Most opt for a simple bead, completing the Marilyn Monroe aesthetic, but you can also dress it up with an adorable charm.

The nerve endings in this area are quite sensitive, so you will feel momentary pain. Those with thicker lips will feel a little more sensitivity since there’s more skin to pierce through. Healing time for the Monroe piercing is 6 – 12 weeks.

If you want the same look but on the right side of your face, then you’ll want the Madonna piercing.

Medusa Piercing

Along with the labret piercing, the Medusa piercing is becoming more and more popular among both men and women. Centrally located above the lip and right below the septum, the Medusa (also known as the philtrum) sits where the two sides of the upper lip meet, drawing attention to the luscious shape of the lip.

Many combine their Medusa piercing with nostril or septum piercings. The proximity of the Medusa to the nose provides a fun canvas to play with, and styles range from subtle hoops and studs that emit a sparkle to draw the eye to bold jewelry options that refuse to go unnoticed.

Most opt for a lip stud with a flat back disc in their Medusa. The location of the piercing as a focal point of the face means that a small bead or gemstone suffices to garner the attention that this piercing deserves. However, stud charms and gemstones also look fantastic.

Since this piercing perforates several layers of skin, it takes an expert hand to ensure that the piercing is straight. Additionally, a badly placed piercing can lead to oral health issues like receding gums. Not only should you not try this at home, be sure to find a piercer that you trust. Healing time is the standard 6 – 8 weeks.

Double Piercings

Why stop at one? Double piercings have become incredibly popular among those with pierced lips. It’s no wonder why; the symmetry of the lips begs for a jewelry complement.

Dahlia Piercing

The namesake of the Dahlia piercing is a grim one. Characterized by two piercings at the crease of either side of the mouth, this lip piercing comes from the infamous Black Dahlia incident where the body of a young actress was found with her mouth cut into a gruesome smile.

However, if you’d like a (slightly) happier namesake, this piercing is also referred to as Joker Bites, based on Batman’s nemesis with a similar smile scar.

Despite dark inspiration, simple lip studs on either side of your mouth help to accentuate your smile and draw attention to the lips. The Dahlia piercing typically sports lip studs with simple beads on the end. You can make it your own by opting for fun bead colors or gemstones and diamonds.

In terms of pain, this piercing is on the low end of the scale. However, the procedure is more complicated than some other piercings, so you will want to use a piercer that you trust. Healing time is 12 – 20 weeks.

Angel Bites

Characterized by two piercings on the upper lipin the same locations as both the Madonna and Monroe piercingsangel bites draw attention to the curvature of the creases of your lips, creating a bold and beautiful look.

The most popular jewelry in angel bite piercings is two lip studs with flat back discs with simple bead ends. Many choose to combine this piercing with other lip piercings, creating a symmetrical look with snake bites, an upper lip trifecta with a Medusa piercing, or embracing the power of a triangular look with a labret. Angel bites pave the way for tons of creative body jewelry ideas.

The pain level of angel bites is relatively normal for lip piercings, but the double piercing means that there will be more pain and swelling than with a single piercing. Many piercers will recommend that you do the Madonna and the Monroe individually to reduce risk of infection and unnecessary pain. Healing time will be 8 – 12 weeks.

Dolphin Bites

Dolphin bites are located close to each other on the lower edge of your lip. Tucked beneath the curve of your bottom lip, this piercing is easily understated, so it’s great for someone looking for something unique, yet subtle.

Since the two piercings are so close together, lip studs with small beads or gems are preferred. Others opt for small hoops as well, producing a more pronounced style.

Since the piercings are located in close proximity, a piercer will rarely allow you to do both in one sitting. Spacing the piercings will help to reduce risk of infection or undue pain. Healing will be 1 – 3 months per piercing.

Shark Bites

The shark bite piercing consists of a whopping four piercings and really allows you to take your lip piercings to the next level. A combination of the snake bite piercing and the viper piercing, shark bites are located on the bottom lip and have two puncture points close together on either side of the mouth.

For a subtle look, you can choose to fill all piercings with a lip stud that has either a small bead, gemstone, or cute charm. But, with so many piercings to fill, why stop there? You can go for all four hoops, circular or curved barbells, two hoops and two studs, or any combination. The shark bite piercing opens the doors wide to creativity.

Since you’re dealing with four piercings, this one should be avoided by newbies. The pain level will be greater than other piercings, and the healing process will be more complicated. You can expect 8 – 12 weeks for healing, and there might be a bit of a learning curve as you adapt to eating with your new look.

Snake Bites

The snake bite piercing is so-named because of its double-pierced location where snake fangs might be below the bottom lip (roughly where your lower canines reside). The location of this piercing paves the way for tons of jewelry options, making this one of the more customizable lip piercing styles.

Lip studs with a bead on the end help to accentuate the aesthetic of a snake bite. You can also choose your preferred hoop look, a curved or circular barbell, or adorable charms.

Since you’ll receive two punctures at once, the pain level for this piercing is higher than other lip piercings, but not excruciating. You should allow 8 – 12 weeks for the healing process.

Cyber Bites

Cyber Bites are a combination of the labret piercing of the skin below the bottom lip and the Medusa piercing of the skin above the top lip. You can opt to make this look symmetrical with a lip stud in both piercings, or you can go for a hoop or curved barbell on the bottom lip with a stud to accentuate the look on top.

Many who have cyber bites choose bold color options to draw attention to the piercing, but you can also create a subtler look with sleek and simple 14k gold beads. This piercing also looks amazing when combined with a daring lip shade.

The double piercing makes the healing time for cyber bites a little complicated. The lower labret piercing will only take around 6 – 8 weeks to heal, but the upper Medusa will take around 12 weeks. Due to the differentiation, it’s best to keep up aftercare practices for the full 12 weeks.

Actual Lip Piercings

The majority of lip piercings actually pierce the skin around the lip instead of the lip itself. However, there are a few unique piercing options that allow you to pierce your lips and create a one-of-a-kind look.

Vertical Labret Piercing

Like the labret piercing, the vertical labret is centrally located on the bottom lip. Unlike the labret, this piercing goes through the actual lip.

A curved or circular barbell is the preferred jewelry for the vertical labret since it matches the contours of the lip. The beads on either end of the barbell create a double-pierced aesthetic, stacking the beads on and below the lip.

Since the skin on the lip is more sensitive than the skin surrounding it, the vertical labret may be slightly more painful than the standard labret piercing. However, this piercing is still considered tame. Healing time will be around 6 – 8 weeks.

Jestrum Piercing

The jestrum piercing is also known as a vertical Medusa piercing. It constitutes a single piercing that begins in the skin above the lip and exits toward the bottom of the actual lip. Because the piercing goes through the lip, those with smaller lips might not be able to pull off this look. If you’re concerned, talk to a trusted piercer.

Like the vertical labret, this piercing prefers straight or curved barbells and elicits the aesthetic of a double piercing with the ease of a single procedure. The prominent location of the jestrum piercing encourages smaller beads and gems; less is certainly more with this piercing.

Since the jestrum piercing requires two exit locations, the piercing procedure is fairly complicated. Therefore, choose your piercer wisely. The two punctures give this piercing a higher pain rating than other lip piercings, but it will be quick. Healing time is 6 – 12 weeks, however, the internal puncture may not heal for 6 months.

Here at FreshTrends, we love lip piercings! While you’re trying to decide what lip piercings you want to get, here are some of our favorite lip jewelry for inspiration.

Meghan O'Neal

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