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Surgical Stainless Steel - Surgical implant grade metal is the most popular for body jewelry. Also referred to as "surgical steel," it's the best metal for extreme sizes or sensitive positioning.
Lucite - This is a trademark given to an acrylic resin or plastic. All Lucite barbells are a bit more expensive since the balls have to be tapped and threaded. Don't clean Lucite body jewelry with alcohol; it will shatter!
Titanium - This lightweight metal is commonly used for colored body jewelry. There are no dyes or chemicals used. The jewelry is submerged in an electrolyte bath and subjected to electrical charges, resulting in a variety of colors. Although you can't achieve a red color, you can get gold, purple, blue, rose, green and teal.
Niobium - This soft metal is excellent for body piercing and can be worn for extended periods of time. Like titanium, it reacts to electricity by changing color. Niobium and titanium will both fade if worn in the mouth.
Sterling Silver - This is an alloy of silver, copper, nickel, or other metals. Sterling silver will always be stamped with the number 925, since it's made from 92.5% silver. Although many charms are sterling silver, nothing that's inside the body should be made from it.
Base Metal - This is basically "junk metal," a mixture of leftover metals. It can be polished to look like silver but should never be used for body jewelry.
Organic - This jewelry is typically made of wood, stone, horn or bone, and it's all hand-carved. Keep in mind, organic jewelry should never be used in new piercings or for stretching.
Glass - This hypoallergenic jewelry is usually hand blown. It's great for new piercings and stretching 'cause it's nonporous and easy to clean.
There are many piercings being done today and several different styles of jewelry to choose from. We've listed some of the more common ones just to get you started.
|Name||Location of Piercing||Common Styles Worn|
|Ear Cartilage||Cartilage of the Ear||Captive Hoop / Barbell|
|Ear Lobe||Soft Tissue of the Ear||Captive Hoop / Plug / Circular Barbell|
|Eyebrow||Vertically Through the Outer Eyebrow||Captive Hoop / Curved Barbell|
|Labret||Beneath the Lower Lip||Labret Stud / Hoop|
|Lip||Through the Center or Side Lower Lip||Captive Hoop / Labret Stud|
|Monroe||Above the Upper Lip (Like a Beauty Mark)||Labret Stud|
|Navel||Either Above or Below the Navel||Captive Hoop / Curved Barbell|
|Nipple||Through the Nipple||Captive Hoop / Curved Barbell|
|Nostril||Through the Outer Side of the Nostril||Captive Hoop / Nose Bone|
|Septum||Through the Septum - (Between Nostrils)||Captive Hoop / Circular Barbell|
|Tongue||Through the Midline of the Tongue||Barbell|
|Tragus||Flap of Cartilage Near Ear Canal||Captive Hoop|
The size of a piece of body jewelry is determined by its gauge, length, and inside diameter. The gauge is the thickness of the jewelry shaft. The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the jewelry is. Here, check out this chart...
Frequently Asked Questions
What gauge am I?
Since there is no universal sizing system for body jewelry, we strongly recommend checking with your local piercer to determine the appropriate gauge and length. If that's not possible, we've listed some guidelines below. These are suggestions only and are not meant to serve as recommendations.
Belly Button (navel) Piercing
Although piercing a navel with either larger or smaller gauges is possible, the vast majority of belly button jewelry (probably more than 99%) is 14 gauge. Choosing sizes other than 14 gauge will make finding navel rings next to impossible!
The length of the piercing will depend somewhat on the size of the person being pierced, ranging from 5/16" (8mm) all the way up to 5/8" (16mm). In most cases, either 3/8" (9 - 10mm) or 7/16" (11mm) will be most appropriate and these are the sizes that most navel rings come in. Most navel piercing will accomodate either 3/8" or 7/16" bellybutton rings with ease.
The gauges most piercers recommend for an initial eyebrow piercing would be 16 gauge or 18 gauge. Although 14 gauge is becoming more popular, most eyebrow jewelry still falls into the 16 - 18 gauge range.
Nose nostril piercing is commonly done in either 18 gauge or 20 gauge and either size will allow you to find a wide variety of very nice nose studs or nose screws.
Septum piercings, through the septum bridge between the nostril openings, are most commonly done at 14 gauge although larger guage septum piercings are becoming more popular (particularly 12 and 10 gauge). Septum piercings in gauges larger than 10 are rare.
Tongue piercings range from 14 gauge up to even 2 gauge or larger. Despite the wide range of barbells available for tongue piercings, most piercers recommend getting your initial piercing done in 14 gauge. Once healed, the tongue is a relatively easy piercing to stretch if desired. The length of barbell you need will vary somewhat based on the thickness of your tongue, but 3/4" (19mm) is usually a good size to allow for the inevitable swelling that occurs after the piercing. Once healed, 5/8" (16mm) is the most common length and stretching is easy if that's what you're looking to do.
Labret piercings, also known as monroe piercings, are usually done in 18 gauge, 16 gauge, or 14 gauge. Most piercers recommend 16 gauge, as it is by far the size which will give you the widest selection of labret jewelry. If you later find a 14 gauge labret ring that you must have, stretching the healed piercing up to 14 gauge shouldn't be a problem
As always, please check with your local piercer to determine exactly what's right for you!
What type of material should I wear?
Professional body piercers use surgical stainless steel and titanium initially because they are hypoallergenic. These are the best materials to prevent adverse reactions to the object in your body! Once a new piercing heals, you can experiment with different materials and styles.
How long will it take for my piercing to heal?
Everybody reacts and heals differently, and each area of the body has its own unique healing period and process. Typically, a new piercing should be cleaned once or twice a day with a mild, antibacterial soap and warm water. Although we can't predict how quickly you'll heal, this is a general guideline for healing times:
|Name||Approximate Healing Time|
|Cartilage||4 months - 1 year|
|Ear Lobe||4-6 weeks|
|Navel||6 months - 1 year|
|Nipple||(Male) 2-3 months|
|Nipple||(Female) 2-3 months|
How can I stretch my piercing?
There are many ways to stretch your piercing, but we recommend having that conversation with you piercer, mmmkay?
How do I clean and care for my piercing?
Although it's always best to check with your local piercer regarding cleaning procedures, we've included some general tips here.
NOTE: These guidelines are not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor.
- Never touch your piercing without first washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap. This is a great way to avoid infections even after your piercing has healed.
- Do not use petroleum-based ointments, peroxide, alcohol, or iodine. These substances can hinder and prolong the healing process. Use a mild, antibacterial soap instead.
- The easiest and most comfortable time to clean your piercing is either during or immediately following a hot shower. The hot water and steam will help soften your skin and loosen the crust at the base of your jewelry.
- Use disposable products like tissues, cotton balls or swabs to remove any crust around your piercing. Do not use a hand towel because bacteria can lie dormant in the cloth.
- Your jewelry should remain in place during the entire healing period. Removing your jewelry prematurely can cause an infected hole to close up, trapping an infection and leading to complications requiring a medical professional.
- Mild saltwater soaks are strongly suggested at least once a day to accelerate healing and increase your comfort. This may also help to reduce irritation in the area.
- Leave the piercing alone except for when you are cleaning it! It is not necessary or advisable to rotate a ring while healing except during cleanings.
- Don't use bandages on a new piercing. They limit air circulation and the adhesive can irritate the surrounding area.
- Oil your organic body piercing periodically with jojoba, olive, peanut, mineral, grape seed or Vitamin E oil. Never submerge your organic piercing in water.
- Using a mild soap to clean your glass piercing is fine.
NOTE: These guidelines are not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor.
- Rinse your mouth for 30-60 seconds with an antibacterial mouth rinse after meals. Check with a local piercing studio or drug store; many of them sell these products for your convenience.
- A new soft bristled toothbrush should be used to help minimize the introduction of bacteria into your mouth.
- Rinse your mouth with a mild sea salt mixture or warm water for 10-15 seconds, no more than twice a day.
- Try to sleep with your head propped up on pillows during the first few nights. Keeping your head above your heart will help to avoid much initial overnight swelling.
- Take small bites when you eat and go slowly when you chew! Cold foods and beverages feel great and may help diminish swelling.