Archive for Piercing and Aftercare Information
There are very few styles that can stand the test of time. Fashion trends are meant to have a shelf-life, to develop, bloom, and then fade into memory. However, there are certain forms of decoration that transcend this definition and become something more than beauty enhancement. This is what it means to be iconic.
The bindi is one of those kinds of icons.
Bindis are a traditional sign of faith and devotion to the Hindu religion and accounts of it’s significance can be found in texts dating back thousands of years and have become a staple in Indian fashion.
The bindi symbolizes so much more than a religious devotion: it is a symbol of Indian identity and a culturally specific fashion accessory. Online debates about who should, and should not, wear a bindi are becoming more prevalent as the appeal of incorporating more “global” accessories into an everyday look become more common.
With the ever evolving history of body modification and piercing, the vertical bridge piercing has been described by piercing experts as an effective way to “customize the way you face the world” (The Piercing Bible). This kind of piercing should not be done casually; typical gauges for a bindi piercing are 16 or 14 gauge curved barbells which can extend the healing time of the piercing. Also, with the thickness of the piercing, minor but visible scarring can occur if the time comes for the piercing to be abandoned.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever your fashion taste, remember that only the best accessories can be considered iconic. Pierce or place a bindi on your forehead because it belongs to all of us.
I love my body. I love my tattoos. I love my piercings.
Whenever I decide to get a new tattoo or body piercing, family and friends are bound to ask “What will they think of you at work?” or “Won’t that look unprofessional?”
Fair questions, I guess. As a working professional at the age of . . . well, forget my age; it can be a challenge to balance the professional me with the actual me. My job involves meeting and taking with people all day, everyday. At work I am not Kate, I am usually called Dr. C or Professor. The vision students—and other professors—have of how a college professor should look often doesn’t include tattoos and body piercings. I have to consider how my piercings can affect how well I can do my job.
But I love a challenge and I have found a balance that works for me. More and more places of business are relaxing their policies on body art due to increasing workers–blue collar, white collar, Ivory Tower alike–who have visible ink and piercings. With a little research, forethought, and persistence, I discovered that there are a wide range of piercings which are fashion forward and professionally appropriate.
Ear piercings are considered very safe and easy. Aftercare and reducing the risk of infection can be easy as well. With over a dozen different places for piercing on the ear (and double that for both ears!) there are countless combinations of styles to suit your professional appearance.
I decided to get my anti-tragus pierced. I have three piercings in my left ear lobe along with a BCR in my left tragus. It seemed natural to add to my right ear where I have only two ear lobe piercings and I liked the proportional look of balance piercing my tragus and anti-tragus.
Experienced piercing professionals will have an informal, informational routine to the piercing process. James, my piercing artist, made me feel at ease immediately. We chatted about music and movies as he carefully set out the tools and jewelry, taking his time to show the sterilization labels on all the instruments, and putting on his latex gloves.
James and I discussed the placement of my piercing; he cleaned the outside of my ear he made a small mark in washable ink for where the barbell would go. After looking in the mirror, making some placement adjustments, he cleaned the outside of my ear again.
It was time to lie back on the piercing bench.
Did it hurt? No more or less than my other piercings. Stillness and steady breathing are important. Give yourself something to squeeze, hold on to a friend’s hand. It only takes a second. The tragus and anti-tragus on ears have very few nerve endings and, therefore, pain is minimized in comparison to other body piercings.
Aftercare can be a challenge for a working professional with a hectic schedule. Thankfully there are a wide range of products that are effective, safe, and convenient. Follow the instructions your piercing professional gives you, don’t be afraid to call them with questions or concerns.
If you are a working professional, find your balance. It can be done.
Love your body. Love your tattoos. Love your piercings.
Welcome to the Final Installment of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Keeping your lobes healthy is continuous process. Using products like Hold Fast stretching balm or jojoba oil keeps the skin soft and moisturized. These also help reduce scar tissue and thicken your lobes, and can reduce blow outs over time if used daily.
What is ear funk and how do I fix it?
Your ears, like any area of skin, shed dead cells. This becomes trapped in between your lobe and jewelry after several days of continuous wear. The dead skin cells build up and cause your ear lobes to smell. You can remedy/avoid this by removing your plugs and washing your lobes or wearing organic plugs, as the porous nature of the material will absorb the cells.
Wearing Double Flared or Saddle Plugs:
People often find difficulty in wearing this style plug in sizes 0 gauge and under. To insert a double flare plug, lube your lobes beforehand, then place the plug in at an angle. Be sure to never force a piece of jewelry into your ear.
Organic Plug Care:
Materials that fall into this category are, wood, horn, bone, coral, stone, and the like. Wood in particular should be kept dry to avoid cracking and swelling. Using an oil such as jojoba is recommended to condition the wood and give it shine. Simply massage a small amount onto the jewelry.
If you experience swelling, redness, itching, discharge and/or hotness you may have an infection. It is recommended to downsize the jewelry and allow the ears to return to normal. Wearing steel or glass is a good option for irritated ears as the non-porous material minimizes the risk of prolonging infection. If you feel the problem is serious, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
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Welcome to Part 2 of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Methods of stretching:
Tapers are one of the most common ways ear are stretched, especially within the range of 14-00 gauge. A taper is a straight piece made usually of acrylic or steel that is smaller on one end and gradually increases in diameter.
Types of Tapers
Acrylic tapers are the least expensive and an easy option for most. The are light weight and come in many colors and patterns. Acrylic tapers though, can not be sterilized and may be a bit harder to get through the ear.
Basic steel tapers are higher quality than acrylic but remain a good option for those on a budget. They can be sterilized as they are non-porous and can be autoclaved. Also, they slide easier through the ear. Due to the flat back to them, they require a steady hand when switching from taper to plug.
Concave Steel Tapers (Highly Recommended):
Concave tapers are the best and highest quality tapers to use. Like the basic steel tapers, they can be autoclaved and sterilized for a safe and clean stretch. They also have a concave back (an indention on the end of the taper) so that the plugs actually fit inside of the taper so when you’re ready you can insert your taper, put the plug into the back of the taper, and follow through. These tapers are bit more costly but well worth the price.
Time to Stretch!
-Get a good quality lubricant such as Surgilube or jojoba oil.
-Lube your ears thoroughly as well as the taper.
-Insert the taper up to the base of the larger side.
-Once through, follow your plug through after the taper.
-Don’t worry if it takes a few minutes, take your time!
The Wrapping or Taping Method
Once you reach about 0-00 gauge, you will find this is a good option for stretching, as the jumps between sizes increase. Wrapping is simple, you take your current size plug ( we recommend a straight plug or tunnel; non-saddle plug) and wrap between 1-3 layers of tape. You can trim or tuck the excess into the tunnel. Doing this about once per week is the recommended pace. It takes about 1-2 months but it allows for healing time and has minimal risk for damage or blow outs.
Types of tape to use are PTFE tape and Bondage tape. These are non-toxic and won’t irritate your skin.
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Hey there! Watch at Sue gets her septum pierced!
Welcome to Part 1 of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
The practice of expanding the ear lobes goes back about as far as human history, from King Tutankhamen to the Iceman; a mummified body from 3300 BC, stretched lobes are a tradition across the world.
The typical jewelry worn in stretched ear lobes is called a plug, the size of the plug is the gauge. Plugs come in many materials and styles, from metal to wood, and from tunnels to ornate hanging designs. Finding what works with your body and style is all a part of the experience!
If your ears aren’t pierced yet:
-Find yourself a reputable piercer, certified piercers in your area can be found through
-Tell your piercer you plan on stretching your lobes, this is important because of the placement of the piercing on the ear lobe. Ear piercings for standard earrings are usually placed more towards the face, in the event that the client wishes to have multiple ear piercings. Ear piercing placement for stretching is placed centrally on the ear lobe, to ensure the skin around the plug will be even as you stretch.
-Make sure you let your piercing heal before you begin to stretch.
What size do/ should I start stretching at?
Most people find that 16/14 gauge is a good starting point, especially if you’ve been wearing regular earrings daily for a long period of time.
How big can I stretch my ears before they won’t go back to normal?
This is a tricky question, because everyone’s body is different, but in the body modification community the generally accepted answer is between 2-0 gauge.
Other factors on whether or not your ears will return to normal include: how fast you stretch and if you skip sizes. Stretching too quickly or skipping sizes can do more tearing of the skin than actual stretching and can also lead to blow outs and scar tissue. It’s important to take your time and be patient with your body. Waiting a full month between stretches is recommended.
What is a blow out?
A blow out is the result of stretching too fast and/or skipping sizes. It causes the skin on the inside of your ear to be forced outwards, causing a flap on the back of your stretched piercing. The recommended action to remedy this would be to down size but it is best to be avoided if possible as a blow out that is allowed to heal is permanent.
Will stretching my ears hurt?
Stretching your ears should not hurt, if you are experiencing pain this means you are stretching too fast. Reaching the next size is exciting, but moving at a pace your body is comfortable with is important.
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That is the question.
For many who are not seasoned in the art of body modification, the decision to pierce can be a tough one. Will it look good on me? How bad is it going to hurt? What if it doesn’t heal? These are all questions that can detour someone from going through with a piercing.
Let’s clear a few of those up!
Will it look good on me?
We all know beauty is not only skin deep, but maybe you’re unsure if a certain piercing is fit for your body. Negative body image can greatly effect your decision and lead you to believe there are physical reasons your piercing won’t work out. Well, we’re here to tell you that if you take care of your body, that’s not true! Consult with your doctor to be certain of any health related issues that might complicate the piercing or healing process, or just ask your piercer. A professional will never pierce you if they feel it’s unsafe. And no need to feel self-conscious around these artists. A good piercer is compassionate about their work. After all, your body is their canvas.
How bad is it going to hurt?
You can’t always trust the opinion of a friend. As a teenager, I went into my navel piercing thinking I wouldn’t feel a thing, because that’s what my girl friends told me. Every body has a different tolerance for pain. As a general rule of thumb:
- Earlobe, navel, tongue and eyebrow piercings are the least painful.
- Septum, labret, dermal (surface) piercings, cartilage piercings, nostril and male intimate piercings are typically a medium level of pain for most.
- The most painful piercings are in sensitive areas, ie. nipple and intimate piercings.
What if it doesn’t heal?
Everybody knows somebody who’s had a piercing that didn’t heal properly or rejected. An easy way to avoid either of those from happening is to make certain you’re being pierced by a reputable artist. Doing it yourself or with the help of a friend is NEVER a good idea.
To ensure your professional piercing does heal properly it is advisable not to get pierced when you are sick, physically exhausted, or stressed. If you are on medications of any sort, reschedule your piercing appointment – it’s for your own safety. If you have sensitive skin and scar or bruise easily, the chances of a smooth healing process are lower. Any open wounds or piercings that are not fully healed yet can effect the healing process of a new piercing. Upcoming medical procedures should be taken into consideration, also, since removing body jewelry is often a requirement. Removing a piercing before the recommended healing time can cause serious infection.
As long as you follow proper piercing care instructions, your piercing will heal!
To be sure you are receiving a professional service, visit safepiercing.org to find an artist in your area!
Sensitivity to certain materials can detour people from wearing jewelry, and who wants that?!
When it comes to body piercing, it is especially important to know what your body reacts to. An allergic reaction can be as simple as a rash or itching, or as severe as blistering. Because your skin is ever changing throughout your life, it is possible you may develop a sensitivity at any time. Even if you’re uncertain and just want to play it safe, the following materials should keep you in the clear.
Bioplast contains NO METAL whatsoever! It can be heat sterilized and is safe for healing swollen or infected piercings. When it comes to hypoallergenic materials, this is your savior.
Solid titanium pieces with a Grade 23 or 5 are safe for those with jewelry allergies. Steer clear of anodized titanium, however, because these pieces are only plated with titanium, and will have a center made of other metals. Like bioplast, titanium can be heat sterilized, and is therefore safe for initial piercings.
Platinum jewelry is also excellent for piercings, however the material itself is rare and therefore comes with a higher price tag. If your sensitivity is mild, some Stainless Steel & 14K-18K Gold pieces may also be an option.
When in doubt, stick with titanium and bioplast!
Watch as modified cutie Jen gets a daith ear cartilage piercing. (Look for the needle at about 22 seconds.)
First, the piercer cleans Jen’s ear thoroughly, being careful to get the cartilage all around where the daith will go. He then marks dots and a circular guideline, to show where the jewelry is going to lay. Our piercee approves the placement, and a hollow needle receiving tube is moved into place. She’s instructed to take a deep breath and exhale slowly, and the hollow piercing needle is gently pushed through, then corked. Next, the needle is chased with a BCR, which is meticulously squeezed into place with a pair of special jewelry pliers. A little final cleanup, and Jen walks away with an awesome new daith piercing to add to her collection.
Daith piercings were first performed in 1992 by piercing legend Erik Dakota, but they’ve definitely come along way since then, and are now worn with a variety of body jewelry such as ball captive rings, horseshoe barbells, and clickers. As a contemporary piercing, the daith has seen a steady rise in popularity, though it still remains less common compared to other ear cartilage piercings.
Looking for something new to try in 2015? Just check out a few of these fun new ideas:
Piercings referred to as “scaffa project” are any combination of multiple piercings across the flat plane of the upper ear underneath the helix. These piercings can number as few as three or as many as eight or nine, and will generally make either a simple design or a line.
Daith Conch Orbital
With daith piercings growing in popularity it’s no surprise that variations have arose. Case in point: the daith orbital. This involves a daith piercing, an inner conch piercing, and an outer conch piercing, all connected with a single hoop. Only a seasoned professional will be able to pierce this one properly, but there’s no denying that the look is pretty neat.
Not really an orbital in the truest sense of the word, this piercing only gives the illusion of a perfect hoop. It’s as simple as connecting two standard labret piercings, but the jewelry can be a little bit tricky. This one is best worn with a custom bent horseshoe that’s tipped with flat discs behind the lip.
Vertical labrets are becoming more commonplace, but a little changeup can give them a unique spin. Try going double for either snake bites or spider bites, and you’ve got a piercing you’re not likely to see on everyone else in town.
For some vertical surface piercings along the nose bridge aren’t feasible, but for those who can manage to pull it off, these fun piercings are interesting, unique, and draw lots of good attention to a set of pretty peepers.
This provocative piercing can be done straight across, connecting both sides with a single barbell industrial style, or it can be a set of two separate belly piercings horizontally at the sides of the navel. Time to show off those killer abs.
These cute piercings along the hairline behind the ear can be worn as a single dermal or a set of several. They’re feminine and unexpected. As if you need to be any more alluring than you are already, right?