Archive for Labret and Monroe Piercings
Depending on the type of piercing, there are four basic styles of jewelry generally worn in the lip. Those are: the stud, the talon, the curved barbell, and the circular.
For those who have a vertical labret piercing, an inverted vertical labret (also called an Ashley), or a jestrum (the vertical version of a medusa piercing) which lays just above the top lip’s center underneath the septum, curved barbell jewelry will be the standard. The barbells are usually small, with a length of about half an inch or less.
Persons who have a standard Medusa piercing or a Monroe will generally prefer a stud (jewelry that has a flat backing and a visible ball or gem that either screws on or pushes into the back). Studs can also be worn by those who have standard labrets, lowbrets, dimple piercings, or any variety of “bites” including Dahlia bites, cyber bites, spider bites, snake bites, etc.
Talons, also called claws or hooks, are worn almost exclusively in regular labret piercings or “dolphin bites,” a set of two piercings underneath the bottom lip. This style is often referred to as “Disturbed Labret,” after famous wearer David Draiman, frontman of the rock band Disturbed.
Finally, circular jewelry can be worn in piercings of either the bottom or top lip. Common types of circular include the ball captive ring, the horseshoe ring, and the lippy loop, which gives a look similar to that of a vertical labret piercing, but for those who have a regular piercing.
All of these types of jewelry will commonly be found in either a fourteen or sixteen gauge, and will be measured by length for barbells or stud ring shafts, and by diameter for circular pieces.
Location: Through the bottom lip, normally in the center, but on an angle so that both ends are visible, one atop the lip and the other just underneath it.
Alternate Names: vertical labret piercing, inverse labret piercing, vertical lip piercing
Piercing: The piercing of a vertical labret is done much the same as a standard labret. The bottom lip will be thoroughly cleaned, a marking will be made to assure proper placement, and a pair of piercing clamps will be used. The lip will then be pulled away from the gums, and a hollow piercing needle of about 14 gauge will be pushed through, followed by the jewelry. To insure placement and safety, it’s recommended that a seasoned professional piercing perform this piercing.
Aftercare: As with other oral and lip piercings, sea salt soaks or sprays and mouthwash are recommended for aftercare of a vertical labret. Avoidance of certain foods, alcoholic beverages, and cigarette smoking may also be required or strongly encouraged. One of the advantages of a vertical labret over a standard labret is that because the jewelry doesn’t sit inside the mouth, the risk of associated dental issues is nearly eliminated.
Jewelry: Most vertical labrets will be initially pierced and worn with a small curved barbell, though occasionally a straight barbell or spike may be used, usually after healing is completed.
Prevalence: Although no specific studies have been completed, it is commonly asserted that women are more likely to get a vertical labret piercing than men. Oddly enough, the modern history of vertical lip piercings suggests that they first came to prominence as an imitation of regular labret piercings that had gone awry due to a piercer’s inexperience.
Get ready for a special insider look at our own BodyCandy team member Cat getting a Monroe piercing. Unfortunately, our bodacious burlesque beauty had to appear sans her signature retro red lipstick, but she still wasn’t afraid to show us how it’s done. Watch as she effortlessly flashes a sweet toothy grin, takes the needle in stride, and emerges on the other side even more radiant than ever.
Here’s what Cat had to say about the experience of getting and caring for her new lovely lip piercing:
“I have always idolized the pinup and burlesque queens of the golden era, especially Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn made me feel comfortable in my own skin. She showed me that being a curvaceous girl was not a flaw. It was an easy decision to get my Monroe pierced in honor of my idol.
The anticipation leading up to the piercing was far worse than the actual piercing itself. I went with my friend and fellow burlesque performer Jojo, who also got her lip and nose pierced that day (check our YouTube channel to see her videos). It was easier to have a friend there in case of panic. This was my first professional piercing. I was dumb and pierced my nose with a safety pin when I was 14, it worked out for me ok but is NOT recommended. So I did not really know what to expect. After watching about 100 people get the same piercing on YouTube I was ready.
James, from American Skin Art, was so soothing, professional, and fast. He made me smile in order to find the perfect placement for my permanent beauty mark, then cleaned and clamped the area. The poke did hurt, but in a kind of exhilarating and wonderful way. He effortlessly put the jewelry in and then POOF my look was complete. I felt like that little gem had been there forever. To me this piercing was less of a body modification and more like a step to body completion (which is how I feel about every piercing and tattoo I get). It went with my face so flawlessly that my own Mother, a woman who is VERY against body modification of any kind (especially on her only daughter), said she thought it suited me.
It has now been a little over a month since I got my Monroe pierced and it healed up excellently. The redness and swelling went away within a day. I cleaned it with H2Ocean Body Piercing Aftercare Spray, which was awesome because the worst thing you can do to a new piercing is touch it or aggravate it. I must admit it is hard not to play with the new piece of metal in your mouth, but JUST SAY NO; it does bad things. After two weeks I went back in to get a smaller bar put in, because they pierce you with a longer bar to accommodate for swelling. I continued the cleaning regiment until it was completely healed. I now have a healthy, healed, sparkly, new addition to my face. I couldn’t be happier.
The only “problem” with this piercing is the fact that I immediately wanted more. So stay tuned for my next piercing adventure. I am thinking about a micro dermal under my right eye (in honor of another one of my heroines’ beauty marks, Dita Von Teese).” What do you guys think?
Style Extra: The lovely Cat got pierced in the same parlor as our other retro vixen, Jojo. The coolest part? As she was receiving her Monroe piercing, images of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol were still visible in the background.
Get ready to meet beautiful and fearless burlesque artist, Jojo, and watch as she gets a cool new addition to her flirty retro pinup style: a labret lip piercing. Jojo performs live on stage, as well as modeling for still photography, so she’s no stranger to being in front of the camera. Just check out some of the cute and hilarious faces she makes during this up close video of her sweet new piercing.
First the piercer cleanses the area to be pierced, and marks where the needle will enter the skin so that there’s no goof-ups in placement. Then, he opens Jojo’s kisser and puts a pair of special piercing clamps over her bottom lip. He moves the clamps back and forth a couple times, adjusting them, and makes certain that the mark he’s made is visible and centered.
Now he tells our sweet retro starlet to take a deep breath, and in goes the needle. Jojo barely flinches as her piercer loosens the clamps and pops a piece of cork onto the protruding piercing needle in her lip. Another deep breath, and the post of her new labret stud is pushed through, forcing the needle out the other side. Our pro uses a cue tip to clean around the jewelry, and affixes a body jewelry ball to the end.
“That didn’t hurt at all,” our heroine exclaims, drifting to the mirror to get a closer look. And just like that, the lovely Jojo is beaming over her glorious new accessory.
Style Extra: Can you spot the other bit of hot retro style in this video? Just take a look at the upper left hand corner, and you’ll see an iconic art print of Marylin Monroe by Andy Warhol.
Everyone is familiar with style icon Marilyn Monroe, perhaps even more so since the recent release of BBC Films’ much anticipated cinematic portrayal of her inner life, “My Week with Marilyn.” But concentrating purely on the evolution of alternative style in the new millennium, some may not realize just how much Marilyn has contributed to the pierced and tattooed pin-up style, or to iconography in the world of neo-vintage alternative fashion in general.
Starting with lending her name to the “Monroe” piercing, Marilyn has inspired an entirely separate neo-vintage look. The Monroe (sometimes also called a Marilyn) is a piercing of the upper lip, as you may have guessed, in the general area of its eponymous beauty’s trademark freckle. Although the piercing itself has grown in popularity amongst young men, the real story of its style is exclusive to the far greater number of females who’ve gone under the needle.
Modern styling common to the Monroe piercing is generally conducive to a simplistic and minimalist feel, including more mundane lip coloring and the clean look of polished stainless steel or clear gem solitaires. But the retro incarnation, though genius in its own pseudo-simplicity, is a far cry from reserved. The classic style that’s so very Marilyn inspired is seen over again and again: black stud jewelry, pale doll-like skin, vivacious red lips, and tapered cat-eye liner.
In variation ranging from decidedly neo-vintage (including retro inspired hair styles and a soft, matte finish to the skin), to a more Marilyn-esque approach with modernized dewy complexions and bright, luxe eye makeup, the pin-up fashion surrounding Monroe’s flirty upper lip piercing must undeniably be attributed to the icon herself. Just one more way that Marilyn puts the va-va-voom into modern vintage.
In the United States, the UK, Australia, and other Western countries, the stretching of lip piercings is something fairly new, but in other areas of the world, lip stretching has been practiced for thousands of years. In Iran, the Sudan, and even parts of Central America, for example, lip plugging or plating were common practices millennia ago. Even in modern times, the practice of stretching the lip to accommodate a large plate is still commonly seen amongst tribal cultures, particularly in Ethiopia near the Omo River Valley. Two tribes from this area, the Mursi and the Surma, are known for the size of their beautiful and decorative lip plates.
In the Mursi tribe, girls will begin the process when they’re a teenager, usually around 15 to 17 years old. The initial “piercing’ is actually more like scalpelling, as the lip is cut to an incision size of at least a whole centimeter to accommodate a wooden pin. Afterwards, the lip will be stretched by the insertion of progressively larger wooden plugs which the girl will often carve herself. This method of stretching is not unlike what we would think of as “dead stretching,” although the difference in size from one plug to the next is under the control of whomever does the stretching, rather than having one specific pre-designated set of sizes. According to many who have studied the Mursi tribe, the size of the final healed modification appears to be up to the individual, and as it is a rather painful process, some will go larger than others. Once the bottom lip has been stretched to a size of approximately 4 to 6 centimeters in diameter, plates will begin to be used rather than plugs, and these will generally be handmade by their wearer out of clay.
The exact meaning and symbolism of the lip plates worn by Omo River tribes has been speculated upon again and again, but one of the more likely theories is that, much like standard piercing in the West, the stretching of the lip is a rite of passage designed to symbolize passing into adulthood or belonging to a particular social group.
A lip piercing, especially worn with an on-trend hoop, draws a lot of attention to your pretty pout. But when people have a looksie at your luscious lips, is your color combo of choice going to fall flat? Never fear; we’ve got the solution to lip jewelry color woes right here:
If you like to light up a room in retro red, black is the lip jewelry color of choice. This combination of vibrant red and neutral, unobtrusive black holds attention because of contrast while maintaining a classic sophistication that perfectly compliments your retro look. Just be sure to offset your stunning lip color with the right texture hoop. (If you wear matte lipstick, go for shining titanium jewelry, and if you go for glossy lips, keep jewelry matte or subdued, rather than blingy.)
For natural girls who love to lace their lips with nude shades, solid stainless steel is the ticket. Just take a look at our neutral lipped models. The current trend in peachy nude tones is a glossy lip, but in this case a shiny finish on your jewelry will compliment, rather than overpower. Gems can work too, and for this particular look, dark jewel tones are best. Just don’t forget to smile.
And last but not least, for those who prefer pastoral swaths of inky pink on their pouts, your surefire shot at attention grabbing greatness is contrasting white. Shades of powder and cream keep your rosy lips feminine and hint at a little wild streak, especially when paired with black clothing or accessories.
Talk about lip service.
The Ashley piercing, also often called by it’s more technical name, “inverse vertical labret,” is a modern lip piercing in which one end rests inside the mouth (normally in the area where a standard labret would fall) and the other end is visible in the center of the bottom lip. Although there are variations of this piercing done in pairs or to the side of the lip, unlike most others of its kind, all of them are generally referred to by the same name.
There is little information directly available concerning how the Ashley piercing got it’s name, but it is suspected that as with many other contemporary piercings it came from either the piercer who invented it, or the first person to successfully wear it. And although it is similar to both a vertical labret and a jestrum (named for the first woman to be seen with it, Jesika Bornsen), the Ashley has not been around as long as either of these piercings, and is likely an inventive modification of traditional vertical labrets.
As with other piercings that pass through the tissues of the lip itself, many professional piercers who are familiar with this type of piercing recommend the use of a curved barbell to lessen the risks of migration and rejection. Healing time is usually longer for an Ashley as well, averaging anywhere from three to twelve months, due to the fact that it’s placed in an area of the lip more prone to irritation and jostling from movement. Normally Ashley jewelry is purchased or modified by its wearers to have a flat disc or dome instead of an actual ball on the inside of the lip, and is done in either a 14 or 16 gauge.
If you haven’t heard of the Ashley, it’s probably because of it’s age! This piercing is still in the stages of being perfected and standardized, so much so that many piercers who have been practicing for years have never even performed one. It’s new, it’s interesting, it’s pretty to look at; it’s definitely one of the coolest piercings you may have never heard of.
A Medusa is a horizontal piercing of the philtrum, the indent above the center of the upper lip between the cupid’s bow and the septum. It’s usually done with a labret/monroe stud in either a fourteen or sixteen gauge, so that the base of the jewelry rests inside the lip unseen and the ball or gem is visible just above the bow. Piercing of the philtrum can also be done vertically, and in this case both ends of the jewelry are visible and the piercing is called a Jestrum.
The Medusa is a bit of a mystery in terms of timeline. While it’s clear that piercings of the area around the upper lip were being performed for many centuries, what we think of as the modern Medusa and Jestrum piercings are believed to have caught on around the late eighties to early nineties in the US and UK. After being around long enough to gain a little momentum, the piercing was finally given the name “Medusa” in the mid nineties, reputedly by a Toronto hairdresser. Since then the piercing has still been known by others names in specific areas of the world, including “philtrum piercing,” “cleft piercing,” “upbret,” and “cupid’s bow piercing.”
Like all labret and monroe type piercings, a Medusa must be cared for with proper oral care and piercing skin care, as the jewelry worn in it extends both inside and outside of the mouth. This type of piercing usually heals fairly well within about twelve weeks, with full internal healing ranging up to around the six to eight month mark. For Jestrum piercings, this time may be extended to the more fragile nature of the lip tissue that it has been pierced through. Special care must be taken for both piercings in terms of placement to ensure that the gums, lips, and connective tissue inside the mouth don’t get irritated.
If you haven’t heard of the Medusa or Jestrum, it’s probably because both piercings still find their highest concentration of fanbase within alternative cultural sub-groups. Popularity is still rising amongst underground and grunge musicians, belly dancers and burlesque artists, and in the younger set amid proponents of “scene” and emo lifestyles. It may not have the most attractive name, but as far as ambiguity goes, the Medusa may just be one of the coolest piercings you might have never heard of.
The words “lip piercing” can mean a number of different things to different people. Most commonly when we hear this phrase it refers to one of three things: labret piercing, monroe piercing, or any combination of multiples. The labret is a piercing done below the lower lip which can be done exactly in the center, or off to the side. When pierced any lower than the indent of the chin, this is commonly referred to as a “lowbret.” Monroe piercings are piercings done off center above the upper lip, which again change name (this time when pierced in the center), to Medusa, referencing the famous mythological character.
Labret piercings in particular have a long and diverse historical context, having been practiced by tribal cultures across the globe for over a thousand years. The Aztecs, Mayans, Inuit, Dogon, Nuba, Makololo, and several other world tribes are known for practicing this technique, citing every size and adornment from thin shards of bone or ivory, to chips of natural semi-precious stone, and even large wooden plates. From ancient history through to the modern era, piercing of the lip has taken place on every continent and has grown in popularity to become one of the most prevalent body modifications. In Asia, parts of Europe, and the United Sates, the lips are second only to the tongue in commonality of oral piercing.
Most piercings of the lips will be performed at either a 14 gauge or a 16 gauge, with women often choosing the 16 due it’s slightly smaller, more feminine appearance. Length of jewelry will vary depending on the thickness of the individual lip, but is generally 5/16″ (8mm) to 3/8″ (10mm), and is measured as the distance from the base of the item to the underside of any visible decoration. Labret piercings can be stretched with a fair degree of ease for most who are pierced, but this usually requires the use of special jewelry, and once stretched the lip may never return to it’s former shape.
The modern evolution of lip piercings includes several combinations of multiple piercings with different names. Amongst these are snake bites, shark bites, dolphin bites, cyber bites, angel bites, spider bites, canine bites, and dahlia bites, each named for their placements and appearance. Due partly to the rising popularity of these sets of piercings (particularly those of the lower lip), the use of BCRs, horseshoe rings, and segment rings rather than studs has regained momentum. Lip hoops like these were initially the jewelry of choice during the punk and anarchist movements of the 1970′s, but with the sudden mainstreaming of facial piercing beginning in the 90′s, a flux in fashion culture caused the turn toward gem tipped stud jewelry.
The mass popularity of piercings of the lip and around the mouth only continues to grow, with new styles and types being innovated all the time. The only thing that’s for certain is that we will continue to see lip piercings for a long time to come.