Self expression is all around us. You see it in the way people dress, the way they style or color their hair, tattoos, the accessories they choose...one of the most noticeable of these has to be facial jewelry. The face piercings someone chooses and what jewelry they use can say a lot about their personality. There’s more to facial accessories than simply piercing your ears. Here we’ve gone over 10 of the most popular types of face piercings (and how to take care of them!) in this need to know guide!
Our pain scale is on a rating of 1-4, with four being extremely painful.
Undoubtedly the most common of the face piercing family. This is usually the first non-ear piercing people get when they start their journey of body modifications. Consider it a right of passage for any teen or young person looking to go through a major style change. It can be anything from a simple stud (commonly a diamond) to a silver, gold or (on occasion) black hoop. A nostril piercing adds a subtle but quirky vibe to your overall look and can easily pair well with other jewelry, makeup and clothing.
The stud and hoop are pierced slightly differently as their way of entry is either straight down or at an angle. Most people will tell you to start with a stud but if you’re planning on graduating to a hoop and having that be your usual nostril jewelry, it's best to start with the piercing you most want so it heals in the way it needs to for easy entry when swapping out jewelry.
The healing time for a nostril piercing ranges from 4 to 6 months. It’s best to leave the stud or hoop that you were pierced with in and clean around it with sea salt spray and a q-tip for best results. This piercing is a little on the painful side only because the skin of your nostril is very thick. Nothing a good hand squeeze from a friend can’t help!
Pain Scale: 😬😬😬
The septum is that little section of skin that separates each of your nostrils. This area of the nose is pierced with either a horseshoe piercing, a clicker (a U-shaped ring with a horizontal bar that goes through the septum), or a hoop. Septum piercings have become very popular as of recent years, probably due to the variety of jewelry styles that come with this type of piercing. A septum ring can be sweet and subtle or bold and attention grabbing. Septum piercings are commonly the centerpiece of the overall look. They are often paired with one or two nostril piercings.
This piercing is accomplished by piercing the flesh behind the cartilage of your nose with a hollow needle attached to a tube that goes through the sweet spot a few seconds before the actual jewelry. Septum piercings take about 6-8 weeks to heal and while this isn’t a very long time in comparison to other piercings, it can be a struggle as it is in a very compromising area. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’ll have to be very gentle with blowing your nose in the early stages of healing. Try to take strong allergy medication in the meantime to avoid hurting yourself and extending the healing process.
For cleaning, take a sauce dish or tiny bowl filled with sea salt solution or diluted water and spend about 10-15 minutes a day blowing bubbles with your nose into the liquid. It seems silly but it really helps clean out the piercing and it less painful than trying to clean it with a q-tip.
Subtle and stylish or bold and eye catching, your new septum piercing is going to look awesome on you!
Pain Scale: 😬😬
Eyebrow piercings aren’t nearly as common as they were in the 90’s/early 2000’s, but not entirely forgone. Eyebrow piercings do for the face what a leather jacket does for an outfit. A bold eyebrow piercing can transform your look from contemporary to edgy and punk rock. Most common eyebrow jewelry is usually barbell style but it's not unheard of to see an eyebrow piercing with rounded spikes on the ends. On occasion, you may even see someone rocking a small hoop through their brow!
Eyebrow piercings are inserted similarly to how septum piercings are with a hollow needle followed by the jewelry itself. It takes about 8 weeks for an eyebrow piercing to heal and can be easily cleaned using sea salt solution and a q-tip. These are probably the least invasive type of piercing, seeing as it is in a location that won’t really get in your way and doesn’t require extra amounts of cleaning (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of it anyway!)
Now go out into the world and raise some eyebrows!
Pain Scale: 😬
The medusa piercing is located just right above the bow of the lip. It is commonly seen as a small sterling silver or stainless steel stud, but can also be gold or sometimes black. If not a simple stud, medusa wearers have been known to wear a small stone or a different kind of stud in a small shape like a flower or some kind of sunburst. They are such a subtle piercing that they can be worn alone or paired with an upper lip barbell, lower lip barbell, dimple piercings or smiley.
Medusa’s are a bit of a riskier piercing in the sense that you should DEFINITELY NOT get them done by a piercer you don’t trust. Medusa’s, if done wrong, can cause gum recession or dental erosion. They also need to be centered correctly, otherwise they can look very wonky and amateurish. When you get your medusa done, your piercer will have you wash your mouth out with antiseptic to cleanse the area. Then while holding your upper lip with a clamp, will penetrate the carefully marked piercing spot and then insert the barbell style piercing into the hole. It should take about 6-12 weeks to fully heal a medusa piercing, but only if you keep your oral hygiene up to snuff.
You want to prevent getting bacteria and other nasties in your new piercing by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and using non alcoholic mouthwash. Additionally, for the first week, no kissing (sorry, them's the rules). For the first two weeks, avoiding swimming pools, and be extra careful eating as you don’t want to hurt yourself by moving your piercing around or get anything stuck in the wound.
To properly clean a medusa piercing, use mouthwash for the inside. For the outside, soak it in diluted warm water to remove any crusting and clean it gently with sea salt solution on a q-tip, re-rinsing it again in warm diluted water 30 seconds later. It’s a piercing that takes a lot of care, but that shouldn’t scare you as it is one of the most popular face piercings today!
Similar Piercings: Lip and bite piercings, ex: monroes, angel bites
Pain Scale: 😬😬😬
Think of a labret as the opposite of a medusa. The labret is pierced underneath the lower lip and can be done as a singular stud resting underneath the lips, or as a vertical labret using a barbell style ring to have a stud appearing above the top of the lower lip and underneath it. You might recall, Christina Aguilera used to wear a labret piercing back in her Xtina days! Not to be confused with a run of the mill lip piercing, as a labret is classified as a barbell that hides behind the lips as opposed to being showcased in the front.
While some people have taken the labret piercing to the extreme with oversized jewelry taking over the entire lower half of the face (sometimes even gauged to show teeth), it is more commonly seen as a small subtle stud or barbell through the lip. Labret’s are often paired with a medusa, snake bites, or a smiley.
The labret piercing is done basically the same way the medusa is done except through the area beneath the lower lip. In the same way, a labret piercing can also run the risk of gum and dental problems if not pierced correctly or not taken care of properly. It needs to be cleaned and cared for the exact same way as the medusa with careful but frequent teeth brushing, flossing, mouth wash (non alcoholic), diluted water and sea salt solution for the outer half of the piercing. Again, a lot of work but worth it for a more alternative look!
Similar Piercings: Medusa, lip and bite piercings, ex: snake bites, dolphin bites
Pain Scale: 😬😬😬
Ah, the classic tongue piercing. Believe it or not, this practice has been around since the time of the ancient Aztecs. Nowadays, it's a pretty common piercing amongst women and men. Tongue piercings are a common shared badge of courage amongst those in the heavy metal, goth, or punk rock scene. That isn’t to say that it's not for everyone of course. Tongue piercings are commonly a symbol of rebellion, as in order to properly show them off you’ll have to stick out your tongue. Pair it with the “rock on” symbol and you’re there.
A tongue piercing can be done through the center of the tongue or or closer to the edge with a barbell. An ongoing but dangerous trend with tongue piercings is the “snake eyes” piercing. Where the barbell goes horizontally through the edge of the tongue with each end of the bar resting against the back of the teeth. This is considered a pretty bad idea as your piercing is basically scraping up against your gums and teeth all day every day and can cause erosion (as well as a potential speech impediment). So, we don’t recommend you get pierced this way, stick to the traditional tongue piercing.
A tongue is pierced by the pierce-ee sticking out their tongue and the piercer using a clamp to hold it still. The hollow needle is then inserted through the tongue followed by the barbell. It is said that this is one of the least painful piercings, maybe that's why in most videos you see of people getting their tongues pierced they look generally calm. It’ll take you about 2 to 4 weeks to see a completed healed tongue piercing.
The tongue piercing is in a spot that we used all day every day so the healing process can be a bit annoying, but not too terrible. It is completely normal to have swelling for the first couple of days. For aftercare, you’ll need to properly care for your mouth by brushing twice a day, flossing and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water once in the morning and once at night. Don’t rinse with peroxide and don’t rinse with mouthwash with alcohol in it, they are far too harsh for the wound.
For the first couple of weeks you’ll want to eat cold and soft foods. Avoid hot coffee, hot soup, hard things like cookies or granola bars, as well as anything spicy or sticky. Oh! And nothing acidic!
Here's a list of other things you really really shouldn’t do after a tongue piercing:
Kissing for up to 3 weeks (the number one cause of infection in tongue piercings!)
Putting your fingers in your mouth
Blood thinners like aspirin
Again, don’t be intimidated, piercings take a lot of responsibility but once the healing phase is over, you can enjoy your new look with ease!
Pain Scale: 😬
Dimple piercings (or cheek piercings) are a major face jewelry statement. Those who choose dimple piercings demand to be seen! Dimple piercings are done where your dimples are (or would be). Sometimes people get cheek piercings with the intent of making man-made dimples. Traditionally, you’ll see dimple piercings as small diamonds or silver, gold, or black studs. The jewelry fits exactly where your dimples are located when you smile. This is a popular trend for those associated with the Scene or Cybergoth aesthetic. They’re super cute and will add a little punk-ness to your face instantly. Dimple piercings are commonly paired with angel bites, a monroe, labret and medusa piercings.
Like other piercings associated with the mouth, dimple piercings take a lot of responsibility and care. They’re easily susceptible to bacterial infections and such. You also run the risk of dental damage depending on where on your face the piercing is located in conjunction with your teeth. The type of “backing” the bar has can make all the difference. You can get a completely flat back, a rounded back or somewhere in the middle. Ask your piercer what they suggest for you.
Additionally, your dimple piercings more than likely won’t be 100% symmetrical. Just as your face isn’t perfectly symmetrical. If you already have noticeable dimples, your piercer is going to insert the bar right where they are, so keep that in mind. Also, you will definitely have scarring, so if this is just something you want to try for a few months and then stop doing forever, maybe reconsider.
When you are pierced, you’ll have to wear longer bars at first due to the amount of swelling you’re going to face. The swelling is at its worst in the first 3 days but goes down. You don’t want your skin to try to heal itself on top of your piercing, getting it trapped in your skin (and needing surgery, ouch!). Hence, you’ll have to start your dimple piercing journey with some fairly noticeable lengthy bars. You’ll have to keep these in for a couple of months for best results. Your swelling will stop sooner rather than later, but just to give your new flesh wounds time to heal before you swap out these prominent bars for some more subtle ones.
Cleansing is extremely important! Swishing your mouth with PURE sea salt in warm diluted water is the way to go. You’ll want to this once in the morning, after eating, and then again at night. As for the front of your face, take a q-tip and clean with sea salt solution. We don’t recommend swishing with alcoholic mouthwash, as it’ll be really harsh on your new piercing.
You’ll definitely want to keep your piercings under constant care. It isn’t uncommon to have swelling or get infections even years later, especially if you wear foundation. Clean, clean clean!
Don’t forget to smile!
Similar Piercings: Canine bites
Pain Scale: 😬
A smiley piercing is a small ring or horseshoe that is pierced through the frenulum (that thin web of skin right above your front teeth that connects to the inside of your upper lip) and is visible when smiling, hence the name. Alternatively, you can do the same thing to the lower frenulum (the skin web that connects to your lower lip) and achieve a “frowny.” Smiley’s are commonly paired with septum rings, vertical labrets, medusas and tongue web piercings.
You should know that if your piercer considers your frenulum to be too thin or small, they won’t go through with piercing you, and it's for your own good. A thin or short frenulum can result in tearing due to the jewelry being too heavy to be supported by the skin. If your piercer says its too thin to be done, don’t try to find a piercer that will do it for you anyways. You’ll find yourself wasting money and rushing to the doctor to fix your torn frenulum, and who wants that?
When you go to get your smiley, your piercer will first check your frenulum to make sure it is pierceable. Then they’ll have you rinse your mouth out with antiseptic. When getting pierced, your upper lip is held up by a clamp, while your piercer punctures the skin with a small hollow needle, then the jewelry is inserted. This piercing, depending on your pain tolerance, is usually not very bad on the pain scale and the process only lasts a few seconds.
For aftercare, rinse your mouth out with warm water and PURE sea salt once in the morning, after meals, and then again at night. Try not to touch your new piercing with your fingers or tongue as much as possible. You don’t want to get it infected or move it around too much because it’ll take longer to heal. When brushing your teeth, wash your hands really thoroughly with hot soapy water as you will need to lift the piercing when you brush your front teeth. If minty toothpaste is too harsh on your piercing you can try out a milder flavor for the first week or so. If not, regular toothpaste and non alcoholic mouthwash is perfectly acceptable.
Smiley’s are a subtle piercing that can really add a new edge to your look. Your smile will be the first thing people notice about you from now on!
Similar Piercing: Frowny (lower lip frenulum), tongue web piercing
Pain Scale: 😬
For a look that’ll turn heads and make people think you’re hardcore and tougher than you look, a lip piercing or bite piercing will do just the trick!
Lip piercings and bite piercings tend to fall under the same category as they can both be pierced through the upper or lower lip or at least around it. By this token, you could consider a labret, medusa or even a smiley technically a lip or “bite” piercing. We’ll define a lip piercing as any piercing that requires the jewelry to be penetrated through the actual lip, while a bite piercing is any piercing that is located near the mouth. The two can be one and the same. But not all bite piercings are lip piercings and not all lip piercings are bites.
For example, “angel bites” are two studs that are pierced on either side of the skin above the upper lip, while an “Ashley” piercing is one singular stud pierced through the center of the lower lip. An example of a piercing that categorizes as both a lip and bite piercing would be the snake bites piercing. It can either be a reverse angel bites piercing with the studs being located on the skin beneath the lower lip, or as hoops that travel around the lower lip and back out the skin underneath.
Some more examples of bite piercings are:
Cyber Bites (Combination of a labret and a medusa)
Spider Bites (Two studs pierced next to each other on the right side of the skin underneath the lower lip)
Dolphin Bites (Two studs directly underneath the lower lip with a small space in between, not spaced far apart like snake bites)
Dahlia Bites (A stud on either corner of the mouth)
Canine Bites (A combination of angel and snake bites)
And Shark Bites (Spider bites on both sides of the skin underneath the lower lip)
For lip piercings like an Ashley or a vertical labret, a hollow needle will have to be passed either directly through the center of the lip, or through the lip at an angle and out through the skin above the lower or upper lip (the reverse of a vertical labret is called a Jestrum).
Like all piercings that enter the inside of the mouth, great precaution has to be taken. Regular rinsing of the mouth with warm sea salt water or non alcoholic mouthwash is a must. Make sure you regularly swap the outside of the piercing with sea salt solution and a q-tip. Keep your mouth as clean as possible! For piercings that go through the actual lip or very near to it, no kissing for at least 2-3 weeks! And if you do, be sure you’re on top of that cleaning right after! Infections aren’t fun and you don’t want to risk having to remove your piercing!
Like dimple piercings, more than likely you may have to live with longer jewelry for the first month or so as to make sure your skin doesn’t heal on top of the piercing. It’s usually never longer than an inch, so it’s not too imposing. During this time, watch out for things that may interfere with your healing such as getting caught on clothes, pets, too much spousal rough housing, babies/young children, or wearing foundation.
Lip and bite piercings are full of variety and can range from bold and brash to subtly edgy. What’s your favorite lip/bite style?
Pain Scale: Depending on the style can range from a 😬😬 to a 😬😬😬
A common misconception about nose bridge piercings is that people who have them are piercing a barbell right through the bone and that couldn’t be more incorrect (piercings are never done through bones, only flesh and cartilage, can you imagine how painful that would be??). Because of this misconception, most people are under the illusion that this is a horribly painful piercing when in reality it's no worse than getting your septum done. In fact, on the pain scale, it's not as bad. Wearers of nose bridge piercings claim that the clamp that pulls up the skin when getting pierced is worse than the actual insertion.
When getting pierced, your piercer will have you lie on your back. They will then take a clamp with holes on either end and pull up the flesh above your nose and between your eyes and hold it in place. They will then puncture the area and fill it in with the approved jewelry. Most commonly, the nose bridge piercing is accomplished with a curved barbell to reduce the likelihood of rejection. Yes, your body can completely reject a piercing if the area is too small or is done incorrectly. If the skin above the bridge of your nose is too thin, your piercer may suggest you don’t get it done to prevent disappointment and inconvenience later on.
A common side effect of getting your nose bridge pierced is swelling. You might feel like you’ve been punched in the face, but pain reducers and anti swelling medicines will help. Some people claim it can make you crossed eyed but if performed correctly and using the right jewelry you actually shouldn’t be able to see your piercing the same as not being able to see your nose in front of you.
To clean, simply use a q-tip and sea salt solution to clean around the piercing at least twice a day. Then gently dab it with a tissue. Complete healing should take about 10 weeks.
You can get a nose bridge piercing done horizontally (most common) or vertically! The jewelry is barbell style so if you choose horizontal, you’ll have two balls on either side of the top of your nose. If you go vertical, you’ll have one ball right above where the bone of your nose begins and one just slightly above that. Whatever your style preference is, this is a piercing that will definitely turn heads!
Pain Scale: 😬
Before getting a piercing, here’s some important tools you’ll want to have on hand:
An ice pack
In some cases, a small bowl or dish
Do you have any of these face piercings? What kind and what was your experience? Tell us in the comments below!
- August 28, 2019
- Kristen Kish