Lip piercings have been historically common in many African tribes and South American cultures. The jewelry worn in such lip piercings ranges from rings to decorative lip plates that are typically worn in the lower lip.
Types of Lip Piercings:
- Vertical Labret Piercings
- Snake Bite Piercings
- Monroe Piercings
- Horizontal Lip Piercings
- Lowbret Piercings
- Dahlia Bites/Joker Bites
- Medusa Piercings
- Viper/Vampire Bites
- Spiderbite Piercings
You can also review the diagram below to see the placement of some of the more popular types of lip piercings from the list above.
The Lip Piercing Process
Once you decide on the type of lip piercing you want, ask your piercer if you have a choice between a lip stud and a lip ring or if the type of lip piercing you're interested in requires a certain type of lip piercing jewelry. If opting for lip studs, you'll probably actually get labret studs, which have a flat disc on the back that's less likely to irritate your gums or other parts of your mouth than the inner curve of a ring may. If you find that a traditional metal labret stud is uncomfortable or are worried about it damaging your gums, you can get a bioplastic flexible labret stud to wear as a lip ring that has a softer backing. Those backings can be easily cut down with a dermal punch to get a disc that's just the right size for your mouth.
Once you've chosen the type of lip piercing you want and have selected your jewelry, your piercer will sterilize the jewelry by autoclaving it. S/he will then clean and mark the area to be pierced. If you're happy with the placement, the next step is to insert an appropriately-sized piercing needle, followed by your new jewelry.
Lip Piercing Aftercare & Healing Time
The healing time for a lip piercing varies based on the person and their attentiveness to their lip piercing aftercare regime. It can take up to 3 months for a lip piercing to fully heal, but some people may find their piercings are healed within 4-6 weeks. Even if you feel your lip piercing is fully healed in less than 3 months, you should wait as long as possible to change your jewelry to give the fistula (i.e. hole where you were pierced) time to strengthen and reinforce.
The key to helping your lip piercing heal as quickly and well as possible is to keep it clean! Don't wash with soap, as that can dry the skin around your piercing and irritate the delicate, healing fistula. It's okay if some sudsy water washes over your piercing when washing your hair or face, but don't soap up your lip piercing directly. Instead, rinse the outside of your lip with a spray like H2Ocean or Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray 2-3 times per day for at least the first 4-6 weeks. You should also rinse the inside of your mouth with a gentle oral rinse designed specifically for piercings, like H2Ocean's Arctic Ocean Rinse or Lemon Ice Ocean Rinse, both of which contain purified ocean saltwater. It's especially important to rinse your mouth after eating, even if you can only swish with warm water until you can get to something like H2Ocean's oral rinses to do a more thorough cleansing. If food particles get trapped in your fistula, that can lead to infection, so it's important to keep the fistula flushed.
If you'd prefer to make your own sea salt solution, just boil water for at least 5 minutes to sterilize it. Measure 1 cup into a heat-safe container, then stir in 1/4 tsp. sea salt (not table salt, which contains iodine), let it cool, and then apply the mixture to the outside of your piercing with a series of clean cotton balls. You can also swish some around the inside of your mouth.
If your skin becomes dry around the outside of your lip piercing, add a drop or two of tea tree oil to your sea salt solutions. It will moisturize your skin and has natural antiseptic qualities. Don't apply tea tree oil directly to your piercing; always dilute it in sea salt solution, or just add a drop to a cotton ball that's been saturated with an aftercare spray like Recovery. You should not rinse the inside of your mouth with sea salt solution containing tea tree oil either.
If "crusties" form around your piercing, don't be alarmed. They're a natural part of the healing process. Your body excretes a clear fluid called lymph while healing a fistula, and that lymph typically dries to a whitish crust. Don't turn your jewelry to loosen up the dried lymph, as that can introduce bacteria into the fistula. Instead, moisten your lip with a warm water compress to soften the crusties, then gently wipe them away with a cotton ball or swab that's been dipped in sea salt solution.
When it comes to lip rings, you have lots of options. The type of lip piercing you choose will in part determine the best type of jewelry for you to wear, at least during the initial healing process. If you have a preference for one of the following types of lip rings, though, talk to your piercer and see if the style you prefer is viable for the type of lip piercing you want to get. For instance, getting captive bead rings put into joker/Dahlia piercings (at the corners of your mouth) might not be the best idea because they could get in the way when you're eating, which could keep your piercings in a constant state of irritation and prolong the healing process. That doesn't mean you can't wear CBRs later, once your piercings are fully healed, but labret studs may be your best bet for starter jewelry, if that's the type of lip piercing you're most interested in getting.
The following styles of body jewelry tend to make the best starter lip rings:
Later, once your lip piercing is fully healed, you might want to check out some of these options, too:
- Clear Lip Piercing Retainers
- Organic Body Jewelry
- If you're interested in stretching your labret or other lip piercing, check out our plugs.
Although the many gorgeous types of lip rings available can make it very tempting to swap out your starter jewelry for a cooler lip ring soon after getting pierced, resist the temptation! You need to wait at least 4-6 weeks before changing your jewelry, and preferably longer. The only exception is if you're having an allergic reaction to your starter jewelry or it's causing an irritation because of the way it fits, in which case you should get your piercer to help you change to a stainless steel or titanium lip ring or labret stud. Those are the two most inert metals that body jewelry is made of, and therefore the least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Also, opt for threadless or internally-threaded jewelry, since externally-threaded jewelry can scrape the fistula when it passes through your lip piercing.
Lip Piercing Resources
To read our forum members' stories about their lip piercings and other facial piercings, share your own stories, tips and advice, or submit a question for our knowledgeable moderators and experienced community members to answer, visit the Facial/Oral Piercings section of our forum.
Finally, for some general tips to avoid common piercing pitfalls and perils, check out our Studio Blog.
Happy piercing... and happy shopping! We hope that with the thousands of length, gauge and style body jewelry options we offer, you'll find the perfect lip ring for you--and at wholesale prices, no less!