Archive for Labret and Monroe Piercings

Everyone is generally familiar with the classic tongue piercing and lip ring, we’re going to cover a few facial and oral piercings you may not be too familiar with as well as general care and healing information for the aforementioned piercings.

Tongue Piercing

Typically this piercing is placed centrally but can be placed just about anywhere on the tongue. Two piercings placed side by side is often referred to as ‘venom bites’. A traditional tongue piercing is placed where the nerves are primarily for taste and temperature, it is more painful is be pierced towards the tip or edges. Healing time is about 4-8 weeks, during the first week there will be significant swelling and tenderness, drinking cold water especially immediately following the procedure will help with the swelling and soothe the area. You can eat normally but it is advisable to do so slowly and take small bites. Many people find smoothies, shakes, and soups are easiest to start with. Avoid chewing gum, salty, spicy, or very hot foods as these may be injurious or irritating.

The Labret Piercing

 A traditionally placed labret is centered under the lower lip, but may be placed higher, lower, in pairs or even multiples.  Usually pierced with a 16 or 14 gauge needle, a flat disk-back  stud or ring are the most common jewelry worn. Healing time is about 6-8 weeks but may take longer. Cleaning is easiest by using a sea salt soak (1/4 tsp to 8oz water) in a shot glass held flush against the face or a cotton ball/q-tip with the solution on it.


The Monroe Piercing

This piercing imitates a beauty mark and is placed off to one side above the upper lip. Also paired with another piercing on the opposite side which is nicknamed ‘angel bites’. Typically done at 16 or 14 gauge this piercing heals in about 2 to 3 months or longer. Aftercare is the same as the labret.

The Philtrum Piercing

Also commonly knows as the ‘medusa’ this piercing is placed center of the natural divot between the mouth and the nose. It is common that during this piercing the client’s eyes may water.  Healing time for this piercing is typically 2 to 3 months and usually at 16 or 14 gauge.


Cheek/ Dimple Piercings

Cheek piercings can be done in most locations on the cheek but are usually placed in the natural dimple on the client’s face and should not be placed further back than the first molars. This can cause issues with the salivary glands that are located within the cheek. This is considered one of the lesser painful facial/oral piercings, usually done with 16 to 12 gauge barbells preferably with a flat back. This piercing takes anywhere from 2-3 months or longer to heal. Cleaning can be done with the sea salt solution, many find using a small shot glass to hold over the area to be an easy way to do so.


The Smiley/ Scrumper and Frowny Piercings

Smiley and scrumper are both names for the piercing of the upper frenulum, which is a piece of skin that connects the center of the upper lip and gums. The frowny is a piercing of lower frenulum that connects the lower lip and gums. Performed with usually with jewelry between 16 to 18 gauge circular barbell, horseshoe, or curved barbell; this piercing heals in about 4 to 8 weeks. This piercing comes with the risk of rejection and migration as well as the wearing of the tooth enamel, all things to consider before getting this piercing.

 The Lingual Frenulum Piercing

This is a piercing of the web located underneath the tongue if the client has the substantial anatomy to accommodate the jewelry. Most often done with a small curved bar or 16 gauge ring. This piercing heals quickly and easily in about 4 to 6 weeks. This piercing has a tendency to reject but most people keep it for at least a few years. Clean the piercing by using a non-alcohol based mouthwash. Be sure to keep it free of food and debris. Avoid swimming, alcohol, and sexual contact until it’s healed.



Lip Piercings: Updating Your Winter Look

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updating your winter look

Sick of your boring old surgical steel lip rings?  Looking for a little extra zazz for the holiday season?  Then here’s some ideas to turn your lip jewelry blahs into joyous Winter fashion ahs:

A pop of color goes a long way when it comes to the lips.  Fun brights like red and blue can be nice during the holidays, but even more classic tones like gold can brighten up your look without being loud.  Just experiment to find the hue that most suits your style and skin tone, and get ready for the compliments to come rolling in.

 bright titanium lip studs

Sometimes a hint of glitter can be fun for the festivities too, and adding some sparkle is sure to get your pout some extra notice.  Just pop in some shimmery studs or loops, and you’ll be inundated with invitations to meet under the mistletoe.

 glitter lip jewelry

And when in doubt where celebratory glam is concerned, just remember that a bit of bling always brings it home.  Gorgeous push-in studs featuring a shimmering gem solitaire in a classy prong setting take any party ensemble from zero to fabulous in seconds flat, letting your lips be part of some serious holiday magic.

bioplast push in gem studs


Piercing Inspiration: Stiff Upper Lip

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piercings of the upper lip

Like many piercings of primarily contemporary origin, those that adorn the upper lip stem from a vast array of popular and cultural inspirations, including some of the most revered American icons.

The Monroe, for example, of course takes its name from legendary beauty Marilyn Monroe.  But piercings in this area on either side of the nose are also known as Madonnas, or even Crawfords, citing the famous mole of supermodel Cindy Crawford.  All three women bore such distinctive beauty marks, Monroe and Crawford on their left side, and Madonna on the right (though the illustrious Madge eventually had hers removed).

 pop culture lip piercing inspirations

A piercing in the center of the upper lip, just above the cupid’s bow, is also laden with cultural references, being generally referred to as a “Medusa,” alluding to the infamous Grecian gargoyle who could turn men to stone with her gaze. When a Medusa is performed vertically however, it’s most often called a Jestrum, rumored to have attained its odd moniker via the first person known to wear the piercing, Jesika Bornsen.

 Medusa and Jestrum upper lip piercings

Tribal lip piercing and even stretching have also heavily influenced the modern piercing scene in recent years, with African, American Indian, and South American cultural practices filtering into the modern primitives movement.  It remains to be seen how these and other inspirations will continue to affect the modifications of our future, but we can rest assured that lip piercings and the like will only grow bigger and better as time goes on.

upper lip philtrum piercing

Location: The Medusa is located just above the center of the upper lip, under the tip of the nose/septum, in the cleft of the cupid’s bow, which is anatomically know as the philtrum.

Alternate Names: Upper lip piercing, medusa lip piercing, cupid’s bow piercing, philtrum piercing.

Piercing: Like other lip piercings, the medusa is performed with a hollow piercing needle and a pair of pennington forceps.  Common sizes are a 14 or 16 gauge, but more rarely a single size larger or smaller can be seen.  Since piercings of the philtrum have begun to come into the mainstream, variations including stretches and doubles have also sprung up.

 types of medusa piercing

Aftercare: Most piercers will recommend seas salt soaks or rinses, along with the avoidance of acidic foods, smoking, makeup use, and alcohol.  The lip will swell during the initial healing phase, so rinsing multiple times per day after eating is essential to the prevention of irritation and infection.  With proper care primary healing should occur around the 12 week mark.

Jewelry: Most medusa piercings will be worn with stud style jewelry, like that used in lower lip piercings and monroes.  For those who have a set of two piercings in the philtrum, a common practice is choosing a larger stone or design closer to the lip, with a smaller or simpler item above.

Popularity: Though far less prevalent than standard labrets or monroes, the medusa and it’s vertical cousin the jestrum are growing in popularity amongst the punk and alternative subcultures.  It is estimated that lip piercings in general account for at least ten percent of overall piercings in the United States.


Lip Rings

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upper and lower lip modifications

Lip Ring- a piece of jewelry worn in piercings of the upper or lower lip, including labret, monroe, medusa, ashley, jestrum, dahlia, etc. coming in many styles: stud/post, circular, curved barbell.

Lip Piercings:

piercings of the top lip

piercings of the bottom lip

Multiple lip piercings or “sets” of lip piercings in particular configurations are often referred to as “bites,” and consist of the following primary examples:

sets of lip piercing bites

Some of these piercings will be called by several different names, which tend to vary widely based upon country, or even region, of origin.  Piercings of the lips are amongst the most popular modifications worldwide, including instances in both westernized and tribal societies.  The stretching of such piercings is also experiencing a resurgence on the coattails of the Modern Primitivism movement.


Most piercings in or around the lips will require dual aftercare including washes or soaks for the purpose of facilitating healing, along with rinses using alcohol free mouthwash to stave off infection and keep food particles from becoming lodged within.  Avoidance of acidic foods and beverages, alcohol, smoking, and lipstick or lipgloss usage are also encouraged.  With all fresh piercings, getting adequate sleep, practicing good hygiene, and resisting the urge to touch or play with piercing jewelry will assist in the skin’s reparative process.  As with most oral piercings, initial healing is relatively quick, generally occurring between 4 to 10 weeks.

 caring for piercings of the lips

Lip Ring Styles:

Some of the jewelry that can be worn in lip piercings includes circular jewelry like BCRs and horseshoes, as well as lesser used jewelry like the spiral barbell, and the curved barbell jewelry often worn in vertical piercings like the jestrum.

styles of lip jewelry

Lip rings are a difficult subject to tackle, because so many different types of piercings can be worn in or around the lips, and a multitude of jewelry styles work there as well.  For our purposes here, we’ll just cover the basics, starting with the different types of lip ring.

First we have the “labret/monroe ring,” or stud.  This is basically just a stud style piece of jewelry with a small decoration on one side, a post in the center, and a flat backing of some type on the other end.  The flat portion sits under the lip (inside the mouth), and the post rests inside the piercing itself, while the decorative portion is the only part that shows.  This type of jewelry is measured for length along the shaft, from the backing to the bottom of the embellishment.

 traditional stud style labret lip jewelry

Next there’s the circular, most often just referred to as a “lip ring” or “lip hoop.”  There are several different types of circular jewelry that can be worn in a lip piercing, including horseshoes, segment rings, BCRs, spiral barbells, and lippy loops.  Each of these items will be measured for diameter rather then length, which is always the distance between the two inside edges at the widest part of the hoop.

 BCR, spiral, and circular barbell body jewelry

Finally, we’ve got the last type of jewelry worn in the lip, the small curved barbell.  This type of jewelry generally only works with certain piercings, like the jestrum (vertical medusa), the vertical labret, or the ashley (inverse vertical labret).  This item will be measured for length like a stud, but instead of measuring along the curve of the barbell, you’ll be measuring the distance straight across from the bottom of one ball or decoration to the other.

 curved barbell style ashley and jestrum jewelry

Once you’ve got the length or diameter measurement for your lip jewelry, there’s a couple more things that you’ll need to get a good fit.  First, you’ll want to know the gauge, or thickness of the item, as lip piercings can be done in more than one standard size.  Most commonly a labret, monroe, or medusa will be pierced with either a 16 or 14 gauge, and the difference can make or break the fit of certain jewelry.

measurements for lip ring sizing

After making sure of the correct gauge and length (or diameter) of your lip ring, you’ll then need to decide what type of ball or decorative tip you’d like and how big you want it.  For those interested in minimizing the look of their piercing due to professional or aesthetic reasons, a small simple ball or single gem might suffice, but if you have fuller lips or are looking to make a statement, anything from larger gems or multiple crystals, to spikes, shapes, or even dangles might be what you’re looking for.

 decorative lip jewelry variations

The last you’ll want to consider is material.  For some, allergies might dictate what they can wear, and others might find non-metallic backings more comfortable against the gums.  It really is a matter of anatomy and preference.  If you’re ever in doubt, your piercer is a great resource for sizing and material suggestions.  For more about jewelry and sizing, check out our Jewelry Sizing Category, and as always, buy smart.


 ball labret monroe rings

Regular ball studs are arguably the simplest of labret/monroe piercing jewelry.  They consist of a metal or bioplast backing with a flat end, and a ball of some type that either screws on or pushes in.  For everyday wear, the ball stud is a great choice, particularly in a universally flattering hue such as steel, black, or blue.

 gem and crystal labret monroes

Gem studs are a slight step above a standard ball.  They include the same style post, but with a ball, prong setting, or bezel setting containing a decorative gem.  These types of simple jewelry will come in a variety of sizes to ensure a proper fit.

 decorative stud lip rings

Embellished studs are good for special occasions or short term wear, and can include a variety of gems, metals, and more intricate designs.


 titanium BCRs

The standard ball captive ring is often worn in lower lip piercings, particularly sets of piercings such as spider bites or snake bites.  This type of jewelry is composed of two parts: a ring with an opening, and a dimpled ball or bead that fits into that opening to secure the item in place.  Captive balls can be made out of metal, acrylic, or natural stone, and may be embellished with gems or designs.

 horseshoe circular barbells

The horseshoe circular barbell is exactly what it sounds like: a horseshoe-shaped ring.  A ball, spike, or decoration screws onto either end to hold the barbell in place, and the look of the jewelry makes it ideal for lower lip piercings.  Like BCRs, horseshoe rings will come in a variety of sizes, so knowing exactly what diameter you’ll need is vital.

 segment style captive rings

Segment rings are very much like captive rings, but with a slightly larger opening and no ball.  Instead, the piece that’s used to secure the jewelry is tube shaped, fitting perfectly into the ring’s opening to give the illusion of a solid hoop.  Segment rings make beautiful lip jewelry, but due to their sleek design, opening and closing them properly can take a small amount of practice.

 lippy loop labret jewelry

Specialty jewelry pieces called “lippy loops” are also great for lower lip piercings, and unlike most circular jewelry, are made specifically to be worn in the lip.   Their unique shape provides a comfortable fit, and as such they can be worn for long periods of time.

There are many different looks that can be created with different lip jewelry, and the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.  So why not try a type of jewelry you haven’t worn before?  You might discover a style that’s almost as unique as you are.

Medusa and Jestrum Piercings

If you’re looking for a unique new facial piercing, why not try a Medusa or its vertical counterpart the Jestrum?  Medusa piercing is also called philtrum, divot, or upper piercing.  It’s a facial piercing above the middle of the upper lip in the center of the divot between the nose and mouth.  The actual scientific name for this area is the infranasal depression.  This piercing looks good on its own or can be successfully worn with other facial or lip piercings.  Depending on the aesthetic you are going for and your actual anatomy, the medusa may work better nearer to the nose, closer to the lip, or right in the center.  Jewelry is normally a flat back labret post.

A Jestrum piercing is a vertical medusa, still located in the middle of the upper lip.  It is directly under the nasal septum.  The procedure is very similar to a vertical labret piercing.  Unlike the Medusa a Jestrum piercing generally uses a curved barbell.  Both ends of the piercing are visible externally, with the lower part of the barbell curving around the underside of the upper lip.  A Jestrum piercing looks awesome alone, or creates a symmetrical look when combined with a labret piercing.

pairing Jestrums and Medusas with Labrets

Both Medusa and Jestrum piercings should be done by a trained, professional piercer with a 14 or 16 gauge hollow piercing needle.  The piercing spot is marked with a surgical pen, forceps are applied to the area to keep it in place, and the needle is pushed through the flesh in a smooth motion.  During this procedure some people report that it feels a little like you’re getting a quick punch to the nose (rather than the normal sensation you feel with an oral piercing).  Your eyes are also likely to water. Incorrect jewelry and improper placement can lead to oral problems such as tooth and gum erosion, so make sure your piercer is professional, and check their portfolio for similar piercings.

Medusa and Jestrum piercings are both fun additions to your own personal collection.  Do you have these piercings?  Respond below with your story!



multiple piercings around the lips

These days a lip piercing is pretty, interesting, but it’s not really anything to balk at anymore.  Facial piercings are common place, and lips are one of the most popular locations.  The growing and evolving culture of mod though, has spit out plenty of developing trends, and one of them is multiple piercings visible around the mouth.

Combinations of labrets, monroes, and medusas can be used to create sets of piercings called “bites,” and unnamed combinations can include up to twenty piercings around the lips.  Common sets of bites look something like these:

 types of lip piercing combinations

Many of the most pierced individuals wear sets of coordinated studs in their piercings, which is sometimes required for every piercing to be able to have jewelry fit in it (because they’re so close together).  For the most part there aren’t any impairments to normal functions like speaking, eating, or brushing the teeth, but a number of piercings have the potential to start healing shut if jewelry isn’t regularly worn.  Just ask Elaine Davidson, the most pierced person in the world, whose visible lip piercings number over 17!

 most pierced person in the world

How many lip piercings would you get?  Let us know in the comments below.

monroe lip piercings

So you have this amazing new monroe piercing that you’ve been checking out in the mirror every morning for the past few weeks and are super psyched about, but now it’s healed up enough to finally change your jewelry.  What do you do?

With so many options available to fit the wide variety of lips and faces out there, it can be a little overwhelming the first time you go online to shop for a new Monroe stud.  The great news is, that if you arm yourself with a few choice bits of knowledge before you hit the e-store, shopping can be way less stressful.  Here’s what you need to know:

Like most piercings, the monroe can be done in a couple of different gauge sizes depending on the preferences of the piercer and the person being pierced.  For this piercing, the two common sizes are a 14 gauge and a 16 gauge.  If you’re not sure what you were pierced with, just ask your piercer, or if you got it done on vacation, go to a new piercer in your area and they can measure for you.  You’ll definitely need to know before you shop because the wrong gauge size just won’t fit right.

 knowing your sizing information

Next you’ll need to know how long you need the post to be.  This is another thing that your piercer is a great resource for, but if you already know what size you’ve been wearing, visually gauging whether you need it to be shorter, longer, or the same size should be relatively easy.  The two most common lengths for monroe jewelry are 5/16″ (8mm) and 3/8″ (10mm), but there are definitely people who have thinner or thicker flesh in this area and need a slightly shorter or longer size.  For these individuals, jewelry as small as 1/4″ (6mm) or as large as 1/2″ (12mm) is available.

Now that you know your size, you’ll want to decide which style stud is best for you.  This is generally just a matter of preference, so you might want to try a couple different types before choosing a stand-out favorite.  There are monroe studs that push in, those that screw on, and even internally threaded styles that screw in (as in the threads are on the ball rather than the post.)  From here, it’s just a matter of what you think looks good.  Happy shopping!

monroe stud jewelry types