The Low Down on Dermals

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all about dermal piercings

So, like a lot of us, you may have been thinking recently about getting a dermal.  With all that internet info out there though, things can get a little confusing when you’re doing research.  To  remedy the issue, we’re going to break it down into just the basics, to turn that “uh, huh?” feeling into an “ah-hah!” feeling.  Here we go:

The Look

Dermals have an amazing and unique look that fits into a variety of aesthetic niches.  As single point piercings, they can be as simple as a solitary gem resting on the cheek, or as extravagant as a large-scale, multi-element design, and everything in between.  Some common locations for microdermals include the cheek/eye area, the wrists, the chest/clavicle, the hips, and the nape of the neck.

 microdermal versatility

The Jewelry

There are two main types of dermal jewelry: single piece items, and two piece items.  Single piece choices are called “skin divers,” and are most often simple items in a barbell-like shape.  The side that’s designed to rest above the skin will sometimes contain a metal shape or colored gem, while the opposite unembellished side sits below.

 single piece dermal jewelry

More common two piece dermal jewelry will be composed of a separate top and a foot-shaped base, which may contain one or more small holes.  Over time, the tissue will grow through these holes, anchoring the dermal pretty strongly into place.  This type of dermal anchor set-up will often require surgical excision if removal is desired.

 dermal anchors and tops

The Process

Dermal piercings can be created in a variety of ways, but the two most common methods you’ll run into are needle piercing, and dermal punching.

Needle pierced dermals are similar in process to a standard piercing, but instead of passing through a portion of the skin and out the other side, a hollow piercing needle is pushed into the skin at an angle, creating a single pocket-like point of entry.  The dermal base is then inserted and usually twisted into place underneath the skin to secure it.

 dermal needle piercings being performed

Punched dermals utilize a small device called a dermal punch that looks like a glorified pen, but really holds an extremely sharp cylindrical razor that actually “punches” out a whole in the skin.  This leaves a nice, clean, circular opening for the dermal base to be inserted through.  Some artists prefer this method, because it ensures that the hole penetrates deep enough to lessen the risk of migration or rejection, but the use of surgical instruments isn’t an option in a lot of locations.

In the United States a person must be 18 years of age or older to receive a dermal piercing, and both modification artists and clients should exercise care where dermals are concerned, as they are considered in some areas to be a surgical modification, and fall under a stricter set of laws than standard piercings.  As always, your friendly neighborhood piercer is the best resource for microdermal piercing information.

nose hoop jewelry sizing basics

In the market for a shiny new nose hoop?  Well before you buy, you’ll want to know exactly what size you need.  Here’s how to find out:


The gauge is the thickness of a body jewelry item, and directly correlates to the needle size used for your piercing.  Because there are so many different sized noses, nose piercings will also be done in different sizes.  The most common are an 18 gauge, and a 20 gauge.

 sizing hoops for different noses

Even though the number itself is larger, the 20 is actually the smaller size; for body jewelry, size goes down as the number goes up.  Nose piercings that were performed in eastern nations such as India may sometimes be a teeny 22 gauge, but for the most part 18 and 20 are our primary choices.


After figuring out your gauge, you’ll then need to know what diameter size you require.  Diameter for nose hoops is measured as the distance from inside edge to inside edge across the widest portion of the hoop.  Depending on how high up your piercing is and how large your nostril is, an incorrect diameter size can look a little funny, so this is actually pretty important aesthetically too.

 common diameter sizes for nose hoops

The two most common sizes here are 5/16″ (8mm) and 3/8″ (10mm), but those with larger noses may prefer a slightly larger ring, so measuring one that you already know fits properly is a good idea.  Alternatively, a piercer in your area can measure either your jewelry, your nose, or both and recommend a specific size for you.

Now all you need to do is choose the style of hoop you like best, and you’re all set.

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Breast Cancer Awareness in October

Even though the month is almost over, it’s never too late to support one of the most important women’s health causes around the world: Breast Cancer Awareness.  With an estimated 1.4 million new cases being diagnosed each year worldwide, Breast Cancer effects the lives of persons in every country, every social class, and every age group.

 pink awareness silicone bracelets

Wearing pink is a great way to show support for all of our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends who are struggling with this deadly disease or working towards the evolution of a cure.   A portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Breast Cancer Awareness items shown here will be donated to awareness, research, or charity funds, and they give the added bonus of boosting recognition within the community when worn.

 pink ribbon awareness belly rings

So let’s encourage awareness, knowledge, testing, fundraising, and community support, and make Pinktober last all year long.

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extreme body modifications

If you’re among the modified (or just have a Tumblr and Instagram habit), you’ve probably seen the phrase “heavy mod” in your travels.  So what exactly is it?  Well, the answer can vary from person to person, but in the most basic terms, heavy mods are those that involve the use of more than just a needle.

surgical and stretch mods

This includes surgical modifications like ear pointing and punching, implants of various types, tongue splitting, stretching, branding, etcetera.  Some may incorporate large scale microdermal skin designs, alternative types of scarification, and certain styles of tribal tattooing (including facial tattoos) as well.

dermals, scarification, and face tattoos

For many of these modifications, specialized equipment will be used such as cauterizing tools, dermal punches, scalpels, and tapers.  Those who have performed hook suspensions or received ocular tattoos will tend to also consider these procedures to be temporary heavy mods, as they are performed using large gauge hooks and syringes.

 suspensions and energy pulls

Many other modifications that are not surgical in nature but involve the use of devices to shape the body are sometimes categorized in this way too, such as tightlacing corsetry for waist augmentation, foot binding, and neck elongation via metal coils or rings.

 nonsurgical extreme body modifications

For more about heavy mods, stretching, and tattooing, visit our Body Art and Extreme Modification category, and tell us about your mods in the comments below.


Check out this awesome video of Stephanie getting her rook piercing done by James at American Skin Art in Buffalo, New York.  Look for the money shot (actual needle insertion) at about 17 seconds.

First the piercer cleans the ear thoroughly, and then proceeds to mark the area where the rook piercing will go.  Stephanie approves the placement, and the needle and receiving tube are carefully put into place.  Next, our piercer tells his client to take a deep breath, and expertly pushes the needle through her cartilage, corking the free end to avoid any mishaps.  A ball captive ring is then pushed into place and carefully secured through the use of some expert tools.  Just a quick final cleanup, and Stephanie is ready to enjoy her rockin’ new rook.

rook ear cartilage piercing

The rook is an ear cartilage piercing performed where the fossa (the flat upper plane) and crus, or inside edge of the helix, meet.  That visible outcropping of cartilage just between the inner and outer conch areas?  Yep.  Right there. Although it’s been around since the 90s, (first popularized by famous piercer Erik Dakota) the rook piercing is still fairly rare and provides a beautiful and unique look, whether alone, or paired with other piercings.

the ear anatomy in relation to rook piercings

For more fun piercing close-ups, don’t forget to subscribe to our awesome YouTube channel.


cool creepy body jewelry

All Hallow’s Eve is imminently upon us, but there’s no reason the rest of the year doesn’t deserve some creepy attention too, so with that in mind, get ready for some fantastic freaky staples that will take you through Halloween time, and into any time.

These creepy crawlies may look a tad menacing, but encased in clear resin they give stretched ears a very vintage taxidermy-like je ne sais quoi.  Stingless, biteless, but definitely not frightless.

creepy bug resin plugs

Performers get a dose of vintage style glam, with monochrome shades of sparkling glitter.  Afterall, the show (and the shimmer) must go on.

glamorous silver glitter jewelry

Show all of your admirers that when you play with fire, you might get burned.  Flames in stunning brilliant reds meet shining steel for a match made in Halloween-worthy heaven.

sweet flame body jewelry

Hoops are where it’s at for Mischief Night mayhem, but they’re just as good for when you feel like hanging around, and these high-shine little beauties will turn all eyes on you, just like a circus.

shining retro nose hoops

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Quick Take: Eyebrow Ring Styles

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different types of eyebrow rings

There are three basic styles of eyebrow piercing jewelry: circular barbells, straight barbells, and curved barbells, with the latter being the most commonly worn in most areas.

eyebrow jewelry styles

Those who do their initial healing with a barbell may find it difficult or impossible to switch to a circular down line, and vice versa, so it’s good to know what style you prefer right off the bat.  Once you know that, you’ll want to find out your exact size, and simply go from there.  Circulars will be measured with a gauge size (thickness) and a diameter, while barbells will have a gauge size and a length.

sizing eyebrow piercing jewelry

Quick Tip: For barbells that are curved, length is still measured as the distance straight across from the base of one ball to the other, and not loosely along the curve.

meauruing curved bars for length

Dangle eyebrow rings are also available, along with pieces featuring other subtle variations in style, such as spikes or dice instead of balls.  To ensure that these more complex items are worn well, be sure that you get a nice snug fit, and always know your materials to avoid skin issues.  Eyebrow rings will generally come in a variety of hypoallergenic options including 14kt gold, titanium, bioplast, and more.

hypoallergenic eyebrow ring jewelry

Getting ready for Halloween?  So are we, and we’ve got the body jewelry goods for all of your popular costume needs.  Check it out.

Whether you go as a full-out Catrina, or just adopt some Day of the Dead makeup secrets, a bevy of blood red roses is just the thing to add a touch of Latin flare.

red rose Catrina jewelry

For ghostly glamor with classic appeal, a pinch of pearl is where it’s at.  Luminous bone and cream solitaires add a splash of extra ephemeral glow to the countenance of any Halloween-time ghoul.

ghostly white pearl jewelry

A bit of blood is all well and good, but believable vampires can benefit from some romantic gothic touches.  Dark vintage baubles hint at immortal origins and give voluptuous vamps a spark of va-va-voom.

vampy Victorian gothic jewelry

Gold is a pretty pirate’s favorite accessory, but skulls and bones will be your new best friends once you feast your eyes on this creepy crossbone booty.

pirate skull and bones body jewelry

Lovely little sorceresses can work all kinds of magic, and no mortal is a match for these shiny bewitching moons.  Time to take flight across the night.  (Enchanted brooms not included.)

bewtiching moon body jewelry

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dealing with questions and comments about our mods

So if you have tattoos, piercings, dermal implants, stretched ears, brands, or any other equally awesome mods, you’ve probably been asked silly questions by a stranger at least once, especially if you live in an area where body modification is less than prevalent.  But how do you deal when people that you don’t even know start getting annoying or invading your space?  That’s the fifty million dollar question.

There’s basically two options here: get mad, or get awesome.  Getting mad won’t do anyone much good, and may even further the negative stereotypes that are often wrongfully associated with modified persons, so that really leaves just getting awesome.  There are three main things you can do to diffuse a potentially nasty or awkward situation.

 stretched ear questions

1. Kill Them with Kindness

If somebody goes out of their way to say something less than friendly to you about the way you look, you can squash their bad attitude with a friendly smile and a compliment.  Why be nice?  Because if they get rude with you and you get even ruder back, you’re playing right into their hand.  That person wants you to be mean or rude so that they can feel better about having a negative opinion about you based on something so superficial.  Show them that you’re a way better person, and they’ll have no choice but to reconsider.

 the beauty of modified skin

2. Handle it with Humor

When things get awkward, sometimes the best way to handle it is by showing off your funny bone.  Get everybody laughing together, and there’s an instant sense of warmth and calm; it’s even proven by behavioral science.  Sharing a joke is a great way to build a rapport with those who may seem very different on the surface.  So the next time somebody pulls out a gem like, “Did that hurt?,” get creative and say something like, “No, it felt like a Swedish massage.”  You might even make a new friend.

 ink awesome at any age

3. Push it When it’s Personal

We’ve all seen it happen, even if it wasn’t to us.  Somebody comes up to a younger, modified woman, and says something way too personal for a stranger to say.  Something like, “What does your mother think about that tongue piercing?,” or “How will you ever get a job looking like that?”  It’s rude, it’s hurtful, but sometimes the best way to handle it is to take them by surprise with a reply that’s equally personal. “What does your mother think about that tongue ring?”  “She loves the fact that I’m so fearless.”  “How will you ever get a job looking like that?”  “My boss says that my intelligence and talent are way more important than how I look.”  Show them that their misconceptions about how you look and how you live are all wrong by giving them the heartfelt, realistic, personal truth.

 modified love and friendship

Modified men and women are just as smart, thoughtful, and passionate as anyone else, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that everyone else knows it.  Lookin’ good, beautiful.

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beating the undead in style

In honor of the upcoming parades of undead, we’re busting out all the right stylish accessories to help make this Halloween the most fashionably fiendish yet.  First up on our list: zombie awareness.

fun zombie-centric jewelry

Show the brain-eating undead a little love by letting the world know that they’re misunderstood.  Become a zombie awareness advocate, and all your fellow party-goers will applaud your sense of style (and your sense of humor).  And don’t forget, now is the perfect time to beef up your survival kit with some on-the-go aftercare solutions.

piercing and tattoo aftercare solutions

Did You Know?

Leave it to the US government to turn pop culture into an education tool.  Since zombie-based entertainment hit the heights of popularity circa 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released the ultimate modern public health masterpiece: a tongue in cheek PDF encouraging zombie pandemic preparedness.  Rife with metaphors (and arguably social commentary), the 40 page graphic work of zombification fiction follows an average Joe as he pulls together a proper disaster stash.  Aside from the old standbys like water and batteries, just a few of the CDC’s recommended emergency kit items include blankets, maps, first aid kits, cash, medicine, flashlights, and a manual can opener.

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