Body Mod Hypocrisy feedback

Back from the near-dead! I’ve gotten my technical issues resolved so there should be no more future problems!

Now, this post has been a long time coming, but a while back I asked some friends to answer some questions for me regarding hypocrisy in the body modification community. And these are their responses.

Cheryl answers:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Anything that alters your appearance, hair colour, tattoos, piercings, scarification, makeup, nail polish, fake nails, plastic surgery and contact lenses (especially circle lenses).

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

All. They all are acceptable in their own ways.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

Have blue hair, get told you shouldn’t do that by people who have blonde highlights and other “natural” colours.

Get insulted for having tattoos? The person insulting you has permanent makeup on.

Get insulted for having piercings, destroying your body, the whole shebang, they have ear piercings! Heck maybe even a nose piercing!

Wear dark makeup or bright makeup, you shouldn’t hide behind that mask says that woman with a face full of too dark foundation.

Black nails are so depressing, says the woman with dark blue nails.

So you got a boob job because you really didn’t like the size of your breasts! That’s alright! But of course as soon as someone finds out you get an ear full about how you should have been satisfied with what god gave you. Woman gets into a car accident and her face is brutally mutilated, she gets plastic surgery to reverse the damage she is praised for getting though it.. even though some would say that the car accident and what happened to her face was an act of god so she should have kept it. ;]

I’ve only had to deal with the hair, piercings, makeup, and nails. Really funny seeing people try to insult what you are doing when they are doing the same things. Annoying though.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

People are always going to be hypocritical. Doesn’t matter if it’s about body mods or anything else.

Perfect example, a person who shows up stoned to work on a daily basis.. isn’t really seen to have a problem at all even though they are under the influence at work, they are just “a big stoner”. A person shows up to work drunk on a daily basis.. it’s a big deal since they can make more of a scene.. they are under the influence at work and they shouldn’t be. Even though the stoner won’t be as belligerent, why isn’t it a big deal for someone to show up stoned to work but when one is drunk it’s a big deal? Shouldn’t both be treated equally as bad?

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LAUREN:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Piercings, stretched lobes, tattoos, implants (trans,sub, dermal) scarification, branding or whatever getting an image burnt into your skin, tongue splitting, plastic surgery

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Piercings to an extent, tattoos (as long as they aren’t offensive like pussy licker or fuck you across the face) to any extent, dermal implants as long as they aren’t facial.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

People saying that tattoos and unnatural hair colour is unnatural but they are sporting an ear piercing or a smallish tattoo. Or on a personal note my mother got her first tattoo when she was 43 but I still got tattoos before her. She than proceeded to get 2 more, however it’s like a HUGE sin for me to want to get tattooed but it’s okay for her even though I am of legal age and I pay for it myself. Or it’s okay for my cousin to get a piercing/tattoo but OMG if I get a piercing or tattoo than that’s just nuts! I hate modded people bashing other modded people for their mods.

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HANNAH:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Tattoos, piercings, branding, scarification, any form of cosmetic surgery (I don’t count medical surgery, as modification is a choice, and most, if not all, medical surgeries are not), hair styles, hair colour, makeup, nail polish, nail clippings, contact lenses, etc. Essentially, anything that alters your appearance, regardless of how permanent.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

I deem every form acceptable. It’s visual self expression, and I believe every person on the planet has that right from the day they are born to the day they die. Whether I personally find one aesthetically pleasing or not is entirely irrelevant.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

It bothers me when people are accepting of piercings and tattoos, but not stretched lobes or anything else. To me, it’s all or nothing. Or when people say you’re going to hell for being pierced and/or tattooed and “ruining the body God gave you,” when they themselves have lobe piercings, or have clearly gotten cosmetic surgery.

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CHARLOTTE: 

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Mainly I think of piercings, tattoos, branding, scarification, implants (of any type) and plastic surgery. But really little things, like dying your hair, shaving, even clipping your nails is body modification. I think it’s cool because even the people most against “body modification” do it too without even thinking.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Every single one as long as they are appropriate. For example, getting “FUCK YOU” tattooed on your forehead with bleeding and flaming skulls to the side is not appropriate. If you feel the need to get something inappropriate, at least get it somewhere where yo can hide it, for the sake of others and perhaps future employers. As long as your modifications are tasteful and done well, I’m cool with it. Anything is acceptable, but there are limits to when and where they are deemed acceptable.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

When people just bash body modification in general, especially when they have no knowledge in the subject. You can’t put a a good argument when you have no knowledge. Another one is if you have any piercing besides what others have. If they have on helix and you have a triple helix all of the sudden you are mutilating yourself just be wise you don’t have exactly what they believe is acceptable. This one isn’t really a hypocrisy but it bothers me when people ask why I got a said piercing done. I understand they are curious, but use a little common sense! I get pierced because I want to, not because John Doe has that piercing and he is just so cool. (although that is a reason some people get pierced) Or because Jane Doe told me to get said piercing.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Just because someone chooses to modify themselves, it does not make them any less of a person than someone who does. And if someone chooses NOT to modify themselves, they are not any less of a person who does.

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 ANONYMOUS

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

– Exciting

– Beautiful

– Knowledge/Education

– Open mind

– Significance/Memories

Piercings, tattoos, scarification, hair dying, manicures/pedicures, dental/breast/skin implants… can’t think of anymore at the moment.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

Personally, I think all of them are acceptable, because they are done to alter our appearances in personal preference. It’s not hurting or endangering anyone else, other than the body modifier, when a modification is performed. Though if I was a “reputable business person”, I might not hire someone who went “overboard” (as in, cannot function on a day to day basis or the modifications interfere with physical work) and/or is immature/ignorant/uneducated about modification.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

I am disturbed greatly when people say things like “it’s just for attention”, “it’s just a fad” and/or “if you get tattoos, you will regret them later or you will hate them when they are wrinkly when you are old”. Well maybe I want to be noticed… it’s not a fad when humans have been doing some of the modifications for centuries now… if I get tattoos and they became wrinkly like me when I’m older, they will still hold the same significance and memories like they always did.

Not sure if this matches the question, but I get bothered when people say things like, “I could have done the same piercing for you, but cheaper,” or “They aren’t professional, anyone can go do what they do.” No, you can’t do the exact same thing, you have no knowledge and experience. Yes, they are professionals. There’s reasons why they are working in shops and not in homes or anywhere else. There’s reasons why they are always willing to keep learning about modifications, why they always have concerns about their clients and make sure to give them the best service they can provide.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Yeah, DON’T be an IDIOT, go get everything PROFESSIONALLY done. NEVER stop learning and ALWAYS be accepting of others personal preferences.  

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NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST:

 1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

First of all, modifications themselves. Piercings, tattoos, scarification, cosmetic surgery, ear-pointing, tongue-splitting, hair-dying etc, etc. First thing that popped into my head today was a girl with purple hair and snakebites.

Then all the things associated with them: beauty, self-expression, art, etc.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

For me personally, any healthy mod that isn’t deliberately worn to offend (someone else mentioned a “fuck off” tattoo on the forehead… another one I consider inappropriate is one I’ve had described of a sleeve with two lesbian devil chicks getting it on…). What I see society accepting, though, is piercings in the ears, cheeky small hidden tattoos, boob jobs, nose jobs, and not-too-far-off-natural hair dye.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

The ones I hear most are people with shitty gun-pierced lobes complaining about how any other piercings are “barbaric” “disgusting” “unhealthy” and “disrespectful to your body”, and people with no clue how to care for piercings ignoring advice from less modified people, as they couldn’t possibly know their stuff.

That latter one hits me closest to home. I am not heavily modified, I’m light on the piercings, I’m tattoo-free… but the reason for that is I pay the extra to get top-notch jewellery and to get pierced by a fantastic piercer, and I know my body and my health, so I’m cautious. I have done (and am still doing) my research, firstly for my own safety and then purely out of curiosity… so it does upset me when some idiot with a nasty, red, oozing piercing with jewellery a good half-inch too long and a pocket full of alco-wipes tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

There is a remarkable amount of hypocrisy both within and outside of the “modified community”, from people covered in tatts expressing disgust at people with breast enhancements, to people drawing arbitrary lines between what is “okay” and what is “wrong” and “inhuman” and fiercely defending those standpoints. I just wish that people would stop and think about what they’re saying sometimes.

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BIANCA:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Well back a few years ago, I just thought it was just plastic surgery, but I realized that it’s also tattoos, piercings, scarification, etc.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

All body mods should be accepted. The person choose to modified themselves, and if they’re happy about it, nobody should be trying to bash it.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

Oh god, I hate when people bash it, but the worst are religious bashers. I know this personally since my mom goes all bible when my brother mentioned he wanted a tattoo.Another is saying “Oh, you’re destroying your face” or “Modded people are destroying themselves.”

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

Don’t get gunned ever. And don’t DIY your mods unless you are a trained professional. Also, be accepting of other people’s likes for mods.
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LOTUS:

1) List what you think of when you hear “body modification”. Anything and everything.

Piercings, tattoos and scarrification of course. Cosmetic surgery, hair removal. An argument can be made for less lasting things like nail polish and haircuts/shaving, but they don’t tend to jump out to the front of my mind. And corset training, because it can have a dramatic and lasting effect on your torso’s overall shape. It sure has mine.

2) Of those you listed, which ones do you deem “acceptable” for society? Why?

I don’t think I get to decide what society at large is accepting of, but I know I always enjoy seeing well-done tattoos and piercings, and have a tendency to want to talk shop with other corset training people when I meet them. I think every sort of mod has its place and should be an option, but I think that the more permanent mods should be approached like any other major life decision: with research and thought.

3) What hypocrisies in body modification bother you most? Like which ones hit closest to home?

I don’t have any tattoos myself, but it bugs the heck out of me when people with pierced ears or cosmetic work are rude to friends with ink, and I also find it really infuriating when people with any sort of mod(or wearing high heels. The pain one is especially rich from someone in steep heels.) imply that my corset must be painful, or that it’s going to damage my organs. I’ve been corset training for several years now, thanks. If it were painful or affecting my health, I’d have stopped. I am very careful with my corsets and have done my research. Just because you don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean I’m not doing it safely and having a blast.

4) Anything you’d care to contribute on the subject.

I get sort of weird unhappy feelings when I see a pre-toddler with pierced ears, and I can’t really explain why, but I got mine pierced as a something-teenth birthday gift from my folks and I feel like that’s alright. I would probably not have a very young child wear a real, body-shaping corset either, but my sixteen year old sister recently got her first corset and now we’re training buddies, finding outfits to wear with our modified silhouettes. I guess what I’m trying to say is, please wait to start modding your children until they express an interest in it and are old enough to understand some of the implications of permanence. It’s a personal thing, and it should be a personal decision. Even little things like ear piercings can last a long time, and if someone doesn’t like them they should be free to not have them, same as people who want them should have the freedom to go get them.

Body Jewelry Types, and How They Work

There are so many different types of jewelry out there, how do you know which ones or which kinds you need? How do they work? Why are there so many different kinds?

I’m really only going to focus on the basic types of jewelry, seeing as there are many, MANY variations on these same styles, and it would be a really long post if I were to try to include all of them. A lot of the same types of jewelry can be used for different piercings, so I’m not necessarily going to say “This type of jewelry only works for this individual piercing”. Some are that restrictive, but I’ll list them as we get there.

So, let’s get going.

Before we get started, there is going to be some terminology thrown around. However, it’s very simple. We’re going to talk about the difference between internally threaded pieces, and externally threaded. Each term refers to the barbell of the jewelry itself, not the bead that is screwed onto it.

Internally threaded means the “female” end of the threading is inside the barbell, and there is a threaded rod on the bead that is the “male” end. With these pieces, when the barbell is inserted into the piercing, there is no sharp threading exposed that can tear up the inside of the fistula. These also create a tighter seal once screwed on properly, helping to prevent germs and lymph building up and potentially causing irritation. You thread the bead into the barbell.

Externally threaded means the barbell has the threaded “male” end on it, and the beads have a recessed “female” end. With these, you thread the barbell into the bead, the opposite of the internally threaded kind. These are usually frowned upon because they tend to be of poor quality, and the threading on the barbell tends to be sharp, tearing up and causing irritation to the inside of the fistula when inserted. They also don’t created as good of a seal as the internally threaded kinds, allowing germs and lymph to build up.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s start with the types of ring jewelry.

This is a Captive Bead Ring, or CBR for short. Certain areas of the world call them BCR or Bead Capture Ring, Bead Closure Ring, among other names. But they’re all the same thing.

These very simple pieces of jewelry have a rounded barbell with a bead suspended in the middle. This piece has no threading on it at all, the bead is held in by pressure from the barbell itself. There are small dimples in the bead that the rounded ends of the barbell sits in, securing it in place.

These can sometimes be frustrating to work with. The barbell can be clamped very tightly against the bead, not allowing you to loosen it and insert the ring. One thing you don’t want to do when opening those rings is to pull them apart in opposite directions. This can distort the shape of the ring, not making it perfectly round anymore. You want to twist the sides away from each other, one up and one down, and twist them back once the bead is in place. These rings take some practice to get working right, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.

My technique is to make sure the bead sits comfortably against the ends of the ring, but can still be pulled out with reasonable pressure. You shouldn’t strain and shouldn’t have to fight against it. Once you have the ring in place, put one dimple of the bead in place against the end of the ring, line up the other dimple with the other end of the ring, and push it into place. If the ring spins easily but doesn’t pop out on its own, that should be just right.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in lips, in noses, in nipples and in genital piercings.
Common variations of this piece are the seamless ring, and the hinge ring. The seamless ring is a full circle of metal, with a segment that is removable, so there is no bead that sticks out and it gives a very smooth, seamless look to the entire ring. Just pop out the segment, insert the ring, and pop it back in, very similar to the traditional CBR. The hinge ring is similar to the seamless, though one end is on a hinge, allowing it to swing open and closed, no piece comes out completely. Simply open up the non-hinge side, insert, then close the hinge back up.

The next type of ring is the horseshoe ring, or the circular barbell.

While the shape of the barbell is similar to the CRB, the ends are very different. The ends of the circular can be removed and changed, allowing you to screw on different ends, like round beads or spikes. These can be internally or externally threaded, so be very careful when inserting and removing these pieces of jewelry.

The best way to insert them is to unscrew one end only, leaving the other end on as a sort of “stopper”. Once the barbell is in place, simply screw on the other side and it’s done. Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, but in the mirror this is reversed. Use the mirror to line up the piece properly, then close your eyes and screw the piece toward the right. Closing your eyes makes it so you’re not distracted by the mirror and don’t end up screwing the piece on backwards, making it not work and getting frustrated. I’ve done this a million times before, and the frustration is immense, so closing my eyes really helps this sort of thing.

These can be worn in various ear piercings, in noses, in lips, in nipples and various genital piercings.

Now on to the various barbell shapes. These are sometimes more restrictive than rings, so I’ll elaborate as we go.

This is the basic straight, dual ended barbell.

These are pretty much a straight version of the horseshoe ring. The ends are interchangeable due to their threading. These can also be internal or external, so be aware of what you’re buying. These are probably the standard piece of jewelry for the majority of piercings in general.

These are inserted very similarly to the horseshoe ring as well. Unscrew one side only, so the attached one acts as a sort of stopper. Slide the barbell through, and screw the removed end back on, always remembering “righty tighty, lefty loosey”.

These are suitable for some ear piercings, nipples, tongues, and some genital piercings. These are not usually recommended for lip piercings because the bead on the inside of the mouth can cause damage to the teeth and gums.

Here we have the curved barbell.

This is just a curved version of the straight barbell. Nothing special, the ends still screw on and off, and it should be inserted the same way.

These are appropriate for some ear piercings, they are the standard for navels, and some genital piercings. These are also not suitable for lip piercings for the same reason the straight barbell isn’t.

This here is the flatback labret barbell.

These are the standard piece for lip piercings. They work the same way as the straight barbell, though the flat back end does not come off. Only the decorative end is removable.

These are safe for lip piercings, some ear piercings, and nostril piercings. Their flat back end is very comfortable for some ear piercings because it makes them easier to sleep on that side, the same with wearing them in the nostril, the flat inside is much more comfortable than a bead on the inside.

So there you have it, the five basic, standard types of jewelry for body piercings. Again, there are many variations on these basic styles, so shop around, shop wisely, and be patient. If you don’t get the bead into your CBR right away, take a break for a few minutes, then come back and try again. If you can’t seem to screw the end onto your labret barbell right away, take a break and come back later. Being frustrated won’t help you at all, they take practice and patience.

Keloids versus HT scarring

This will be my last post before the official Christmas holiday, and I’ll have more up shortly after the New Year. Merry Holidays, everyone!

There has been some debate recently over what is a keloid and what is hypertrophic scarring on piercings. So, let’s find out the difference, shall we? It’s very important that you recognize the difference between the two and know how to treat them because, unfortunately, many piercers don’t even know.

First, the definition of each. In the sense of body piercings:

Keliod: an abnormal scar that grows beyond the boundaries of the original site of skin injury.
Hypertrophic scarring: a widened or unsightly scar that does not extend beyond the original boundaries of the wound.

Contrary to popular belief, not every lump or bump on a piercing is a keloid, it is not a general term for piercing growth abnormalities of any kind. Keloid scars are actually very rare, while hypertrophic scarring, or HT scarring for short, is much more common. Keloids extend far beyond the initial injury site, becoming a raised amorphous growth, and are usually painful. These will be huge growths taking over the area well beyond the area that was pierced to begin with. They are also much more common in dark skinned people than they are in light skinned people.

These are keloid scars:


Keloid scars can form the same way other scars can, but what exactly causes a keloid isn’t really known. Trauma to the area, infections, foreign bodies in the wound, or excessive tension and movement can all contribute to the formation of keloid scars. Certain areas of the body such as the sternum and chest, the upper arm, the ears, and upper back have an increased chance to develop keloid scars. These areas also go through a lot of muscle and skin tension and movement, which can encourage the growth of keliod scars.

The best way to treat an actual keloid is to have it cut off and removed by a doctor or dermatologist, since they can be recurring without proper treatment, removal and aftercare. Some may also recommend steroid injection treatments, which can only be prescribed and performed by a doctor or dermatologist. There are no home remedies to cure a full blown keloid.

Hypertrophic scarring, or HT scarring for short, is actually much more common. It is also called the “piercing bump, piercing pimple, or piercing lump”. Unlike keloids, HT scarring doesn’t continue to grow beyond the initial wound site, and once it reaches a certain level or height it will usually stop and just remain there. They can sometimes be painful, but are more sore than actually painful. Hypertropic scars are usually raised a bit, usually reddish in color, but don’t go beyond the original wound.

This is Hypertrophic, or HT, scarring:


These scars, at least on piercings, are caused by trauma to the piercing, sleeping on it, pulling on it, constant movement of jewelry, etc. They can also be caused by metal allergies. The first step in treating HT scarring is to figure out what’s causing it, and rectify that. If you’re wearing rings in your piercing, switch them out for barbells instead since barbells do not allow for movement the way rings do. Do not sleep on the side that your piercing is on, be very aware that you are not catching the jewelry on a hairbrush, earphones, you’re not playing with it, etc. If you think you may be having metal allergy reactions, switch the jewelry for something non-metallic, or opt for titanium or niobium, if you must wear metal, since both contain no nickel.

There are two most effective treatments for HT scarring, and both are very easy to do. The first one is Tea Tree oil. This amazing oil does everything; it’s antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic. It can even help treat acne. However, some find that direct undiluted applications of Tea Tree oil can cause allergic reactions on their skin. So, before treating HT scarring on piercings, do a test patch on your skin. Dab straight oil onto the underside of your wrist or elbow, and leave for 24-48 hours. If no reaction occurs, you should be just fine to use it.

For the purposes of treating HT scarring, dab Tea Tree oil onto the scar after every sea salt soak you perform each day. If you would like to dilute the oil, you may do so with another carrier oil, do not mix with water (remember 3rd grade science, everyone, you can’t mix oil and water!). A great oil to mix with Tea Tree is Jojoba or Vitamin E, both of which will also help keep your skin from drying out from the Tea Tree oil. Continue to apply the oil until the scarring disappates, this can take weeks or even months depending on the severity of the scarring, how long it’s been there, and what you’re doing to stop it from recurring. As the oil starts to take effect, it will dry out the scarring cause it to peel away. Do not pick at the peeling skin. Continue salt soaks and Tea Tree oil treatments until the scarring is completely gone. Mixing the Tea Tree with a carrier oil, like Jojoba or Vitamin E, can help prevent the drying out of the skin, but can also make treatment take longer. Once the oil is on, do not wipe it off, do not wash it off, just leave it alone to air dry.

A few words of warning about Tea Tree oil, however. It is considered toxic if consumed, so do not use this method for inside of the mouth treatments. It is also deadly to cats, so keep it locked away from your furry friends. Do not purchase Tea Tree oil if it is not in a black or dark brown glass bottle, since sunlight can degrade the oil. The best way to get it is in its organic, pure, essential oil formula, and it is available nearly everywhere. You can get it from grocery stores, drug stores, health food and supply stores; I have never not found it when I’ve been looking.

The second method is the aspirin paste method. Crush one plain, uncoated aspirin tablet as finely as you can. You can also sometimes find aspirin powder in small packets, this works just as well, just use one packet as you would for one pill. Add a single drop of water at a time to the powder or crushed pill until it forms a paste. Apply this paste to the scarring, allow it to air dry for about 5 to 7 minutes, and then rinse off. This method is safe for inside of the mouth treatments, it just doesn’t taste very good. This is also known as an effective spot treatment for pimples and acne.

And so with that out of the way, I wish everyone safe and sane Holidays to come. Eat lots, drink lots (if you’re of age), and be very merry, indeed. I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year, and hope everyone gets everything they want this gift-giving season.

Microdermal Anchors

Microdermals are very popular piercings right now, but I think there is a lot of misconception about them. So, let’s clear it up a bit.

WHAT ARE THEY?
A microdermal anchor, known by many names such as microdermal, micro, anchor, dermal, surface anchor, among others, is a piece of metal jewelry implanted under the skin with a decorative piece of jewelry visible above the skin. They’re the latest incarnation of the transdermal implantation techniques and jewelry, in the same general category as other anchoring techniques and pocketing. They are designed to replicate the aesthetic look of other, more dangerous, risky, or difficult surface piercings without the invasive procedure and painful healing process.

There are several varying styles of microdermal jewelry, but they all work in essentially the same way. They are flat plates of metal with holes in the bottom, called the foot or anchor. A stem extends up from the foot, the end of which sits flush against the skin, and where decorative jewelry is screwed in. They get their name because once the jewelry is inserted, the flesh grows through the holes in the foot, anchoring it into the skin.

They are usually very small pieces, many I’ve seen being about 4mm long, and about 2mm high, not including decorative jewelry. The gauge of jewelry that can be inserted is 14ga, on average. They are also primarily made of titanium rather than any form of steel.

These piercings are designed to be what’s called a single point piercing, meaning there is only one visible end that looks as though the jewelry was screwed directly into the skin. They also have only one insertion hole, which is also the exit hole, while other piercings are more “through and through”, having a separate entry and exit hole.

HOW ARE THEY IMPLATNED?
There are no special tools required to implant microdermals. There are two ways they can be implanted, either via the needle or the dermal punch.

With the needle process, the skin is lifted and the needle is inserted at an angle to create a pocket. The needle is then retracted and removed the same way it went in. The long end of the foot is then inserted into the newly created fistula, it’s maneuvered to make sure it’s deep enough and sits level and flush to the skin, and you’re done!

The dermal punch method works in a similar way. The dermal punch is around cutter that cores out a bit of flesh. So, for microdermal purposes, the dermal punch is inserted straight down into the area. The bit of flesh is removed as the dermal punch is removed as well. The jewelry is then inserted, maneuvered to make sure it’s deep enough and sits level, and you’re done!

No matter the insertion method, it’s very typical that a bandage will be placed over the new piercings. This helps absorb any residual bleeding, mostly, and protects the new piercing from outside elements, jewelry, coats and shirts, etc. It also helps to make sure the dermal stays sitting as deeply as it should, allowing it to heal as deeply as possible. You may also get a little bit of folded gauze under medical tape, same thing as an adhesive bandage. It’s important that you leave this on for as long as you can.

Look! A handy dandy diagram!

AFTERCARE
Aftercare is pretty simple. Sea Salt Soaks are standard, but depending on location of the microdermal, direct soaking can be difficult. If this is the case, just take a bit of folded paper towel and soak it with the sea salt solution, then compress instead. Do this 2-3 times a day, for about 5-10 minutes each time. Beyond that, not much more needs to be done. Remember that a proper sea salt soak is 1/4 teaspoon of pure organic sea salt (not iodized salt or table salt), dissolved in 8oz of pure water, made as hot as you’d make your bath water.

Some people have noticed that microdermals will raise up a bit on their own as the skin beneath moves and shifts. This is fairly common, and a few days compressed under gauze and tape, or an adhesive bandage, can help quite a bit to reverse this.

Healing times can vary greatly, based on location of the microdermal, the style of jewelry used, how you take care of it, and your body’s own healing rate. But on average, you can expect to have a healed microdermal in about one to three months.

Do not try to change the jewelry on the end of the microdermal yourself. It’s best if you go to your piercer and have them change it for you. Try to find jewelry you like and stick with it, rather than changing it all the time.

Since microdermals only have one exit hole, and it’s stopped up with jewelry all the time, they tend to not drain as well during the healing process as normal through and through piercings do. This can cause a buildup of lymph and other healing fluids underneath the jewelry, which can cause pain, swelling, redness and irritation. This is why warm salt water soaking is SO incredibly important, because it loosens up these fluids and allows them to come out, relieving the pressure underneath. In my experience with microdermals, as well as several others’, the first sign you’re getting sick or getting a cold is your microdermals will get swollen and sore and angry for seemingly no reason.

REMOVAL
Sometimes, no matter how well you take care of yourself or your piercings, microdermals do have to be removed. Just as there is with insertion, there are a few different ways of removing microdermals as well.

The most painful way is probably the twist and yank method. Basically the piercer will grab the jewelry and twist it, to dislodge and break any flesh holding onto the anchor. It is then pulled out of the skin.

A similar method is the massage method. The piercer will massage the area to try to loosen any flesh attached to the foot, then it can be gently pulled out of the skin. This can also be painful and time consuming.

A better way is the needle removal method. The tip of a regular piercing needle is used to slice open the skin above the anchor. It is then used to cut away any flesh that still may be attached through the holes. The needle then scoops out the anchor like a spoon, or it can just be lifted away.

Sometimes no professional removal is required, the anchor removes itself. This is called rejection. Rejection means your body doesn’t want this foreign object you’ve put into it, and it forces it out completely. This is pretty common with microdermals, and any other form of surface piercing. Trauma to the piercing can also cause rejection to start, like pulling on it, sleeping on it, hitting it, anything like that. And once rejection starts, you cannot stop it no matter what you do.

The most obvious sign of rejection is more of the jewelry being visible than there was originally. With microermals, this may be hard to notice since the stem that comes up is already very short, but it’s also something to keep an eye on. You can also pay attention to where the foot end is, if you can see the foot end beneath the skin, almost a shadow of it, then it’s too shallow and either is rejecting and should be removed, or it wasn’t implanted deeply enough in the beginning and should be removed and re-implanted once you’ve healed up completely.

WHY MICRODERMALS OVER OTHER SURFACE PIERCINGS?
What makes microdermals a better option than other surface piercing options is that these are actually designed to give you the best possible outcome for healing. Other methods, like surface bars or regular barbells, aren’t designed for this. Microdermals are small and their implantation process is as minimally invasive as possible, while the barbells and surface bars are much more traumatic processes and are larger pieces of jewelry. Microdermals heal faster and easier, with holes in the foot designed for the skin and flesh to latch onto quickly, easily, and securely. Surface bars and barbells have to create a tunnel of flesh around a foreign body, which is hard for your body to do, and doesn’t give the skin anything to latch on to. And even if they do need to be removed or reject on their own, the scars microdermals leave behind are MUCH smaller and easier treated.

WARNINGS AND DO’S AND DON’T’S
Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but my personal word of warning is that these piercings are very much not for someone new to the piercing world. Meaning, do not make this your first piercing. They are very different than more traditional piercings, requiring special care, special treatment, and even special training by the piercing professional in order to implant. My recommendation is to get some other piercing first, develop good piercing care habits, learn to recognize irritation from infection, learn how to treat irritation and infection, and further educate yourself on piercings, both through reading and experience, before getting one of these done.

Microdermals are very delicate little piercings. A common misconception is that they are very stable and have a very low rejection rate; some have even called them the “cure-all” piercing, when in reality this isn’t true at all. The slightest trauma can set them on the path to rejection, and there is no stopping it once it’s started. These things are very small, with very little surface area for the flesh to grab on to, making them very easy to rip out. They don’t sit very deeply below the skin, the tallest ones being around 2-3mm tall (not including decorative jewelry screwed in).

Depending on the location of the microdermal, how you take care of it, and your body’s acceptance to the jewelry, certain areas are more willing to take the jewelry than others. Before you get one of these, consider the location you want. Place a finger on the area you’d want the jewelry. Now, move the muscles around, flex them, bend and twist and move. If the skin and flesh under your finger moves a lot, it’s probably a bad area to get a microdermal there. Any area with thin skin, close to bone, or that undergoes a lot of movement, shifting, bending or pressure probably isn’t a good idea.

Consider your clothing and accessory choices. If you wear a lot of necklaces, scarves or other neck accessories, or wear a lot of crew-neck shirts, getting microdermals around the collarbone isn’t a good idea since those items will catch on them easily and the neck seam of shirts can catch on them as well. Seatbelts, purse or bag straps as well can get caught on them. If you wear glasses, getting a microdermal around the eye or temple might get in the way. If you wear a lot of makeup facial microdermals might not be a good idea because the makeup can get inside and cause irritation. Certain areas in general are just terrible ideas, like the hands, butt, back, and hips being near the top of the list.

Microdermals are beautiful piercings, and they are becoming more and more common as demand for them increases. This means more piercers are getting the necessary training to implant them. But remember, just because you can pierce something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or that you should pierce it. But all in all, if you want a microdermal, get one. Just do your research first.

Jewelry Materials

On the subject of shopping for jewelry, what kinds of options for materials are out there? Which ones are safe for new piercings and new stretched piercings? What do the names mean? How do you take care of and clean these materials?

First off, let’s break down jewelry into two main categories: organics, and non-organics. Organic materials are porous and are usually natural materials and cannot be autoclaved, while non-organics are man-made, non-porous and can be autoclaved.

Non-organic materials include metals, plastics and glass. We’ll go over each.

STEEL: Steel is usually the most common metal available for body jewelry. It typically comes in two forms, 316 and 316L, or sometimes 316LVM. The letters just denote the type of steel, L stands for “low carbon”. And LVM is ” low carbon, vacuum melting”, which means the vacuum melting process reduces the chances of contamination on the surface of the batch of molten steel from the air, usually meaning it makes it a more pure form of steel, with less contaminants and mixed metals. All forms of 316 steel are good, but 316L is better than just 316, and 316LVM is better than the former two, that kinda thing. This is also a good metal choice if you have metal allergies, since its nickel content is near zero. This material can also be autoclaved to be fully sterile, and can also be washed with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. Do not use any sort of alcohols or cleansers, just soap and water at most. It is not porous, is safe for new piercings as initial jewelry, and is safe to wear in newly stretched piercings.

TITANIUM: Titanium is even better than the steel forms. It contains nearly no nickel whatsoever. It can be autoclaved, is non-porous, is very safe for new piercings and new stretched piercings, and is very safe for those with metal allergies. If it gets dirty, just use soap and warm water, no chemicals or alcohol. It tends to be expensive, but is worth the money. Titanium can also be colored through as process called anodization. Basically it creates a layer of colored metal over the natural silver color of titanium. This coating is very safe for metal allergy sufferers. This coating has been known to dull or fade overtime, but I personally haven’t had any problems with that at all. And even if it does wear away, it only exposes more titanium, so it’s okay if it does.

NIOBIUM: Niobium is another great metal. Again, fully able to be autoclaved, is non-porous, and is very safe for anyone with metal allergies. As with the last two metals, just use soap and water to clean, no chemicals or alcohol. It’s one of the more expensive metals available, even more than titanium, usually, but it’s nearly pure, meaning it’s not mixed with other metals that can aggravate metal allergies. It is also pure in the sense that it’s not a man-made material, like steel is and titanium can be. Niobium can also be colored through anodization. It is the heaviest of the three main metals, which can be annoying to some people. Titanium is the lightest.

Other common metals include silver and gold. These metals aren’t as good as the others listed, since they are commonly mixed with other, potentially irritating metals like nickel.

GOLD: Only 14K and 18K gold are appropriate for body jewelry, anything more is too soft. It cannot be autoclaved, so to clean it, simply wash with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. It’s not recommended for wear in new piercings or new stretched piercings, even though some have had no problems, best to not risk it. Get gold colored titanium instead. Avoid gold plating or coating since it can wear off or flake off and irritate piercings. Gold can get dull overtime, so just buff it with a soft buffing cloth to make it shiny again. Do not use chemicals or other products to shine it.

SILVER: Silver, most commonly listed as sterling silver, is another metal that’s safe for body jewelry, but is one to look out for. Silver can contain nickel, which is the reacting metal in metal allergies, meaning when you say you’re allergic to metal you’re actually allergic to the nickel content in the metal. Silver should never be worn in new piercings or new stretched piercings. You can wear it in healed piercings, but it’s not recommended for everyday, long term wear. Save it for special days out or special events. Silver can tarnish and when worn in a new piercing, and that tarnish can be deposited into the skin causing it to stain or darken. If you’ve ever had a gun piercing, you’ve probably suffered from this dark staining. Silver is soft and is easily scratched, so again, if you want silver jewelry, save it for special occasions. If you have a nickel allergy, do not wear sterling silver since it is very commonly mixed with nickel.

PLASTICS: Plastics, usually most commonly called acrylic, are also very commonly used in body jewelry. Plastics come under many names, including acrylic, Bioflex and Bioplast, PTFE, dental acrylic, Lucite, and a new one I’d never heard of until recently, Delrin. Plastics, almost all of them, are not safe to be worn in new piercings or newly stretched piercings, though it is safe for short periods in fully healed piercings. When worn for a long time, over a long period of time, it can release toxins into the body. Dental acrylic is safe for longer term wear, especially in tongue and other oral piercings, but that’s about it. They are porous, and cannot be autoclaved, except for dental acrylic. If they get dirty, soap and water is all you need, no alcohol or chemicals. Any threading on plastic beads can be stripped if threaded too far, so be careful there. If left in heat or sunlight, the plastics can warp out of shape. Do not boil it, as many people do to clean new jewelry, because that will ruin it. Acrylic is also fragile and can break under pressure.

BIOFLEX, AND BIOPLAST: The only exception to the plastics is Bioflex or Bioplast, which is technically a brand name. It is special among the plastics, so it has special rules. It can be cut to fit most any length and threaded with any compatible metal bead. You can be pierced with it, it is safe for new piercings and new stretched piercings. It can be sterilized in an autoclave. It has also been said that those pierced with Bioplast have faster and easier healing experiences. This is not a standard, though, so be aware if you’d like to get pierced with it. I still very much recommend metals or glass to pierced with initially, but Bioplast or Bioflex are probably the best plastics out there.

PTFE: Another exception to the plastics rule is PTFE, or Polytetrafluoroethylene. It is also listed as Teflon and Monofilament nylon. It is a very safe, flexible plastic that is commonly used in surface piercings or for piercings that need extra flexibility, like pregnancy jewelry or as retainers when metal cannot be worn, like for surgeries or X-rays. It can be used for initial piercings, can be autoclaved, and only needs to be washed with soap and water.

SILICONE: Another great alternative to metal is implant grade silicone. It is safe to wear in new piercings, but NOT to stretch it. It has been done successfully, but is not worth the risk, your body could react very badly to it, as some people have been known to be allergic to silicone. It should be washed with soap and water before wearing. It can be autoclaved as well. Using a lubricant of some kind during insertion of silicone plugs or tunnels is recommend, mostly to reduce the risk of tearing the silicone. I’ve torn silicone before, it makes me very sad indeed.

GLASS: One of my favorite non-organic materials is glass. Other names for glass include Pyrex, tempered glass, and quartz glass. It is a great alternative for those who’d like to not wear metal at all. It contains no nickel at all, so it is 100% safe for those with metal allergies. It is a very sturdy material, though not as much as metals. Smaller gauges and sizes will be more fragile than larger ones, and tunnels are more fragile than solid plugs. It is tough, but is still glass, so be careful! Pyrex is also a brand name, the same brand used to make common kitchen glassware. It’s very strong, and if it does break, it tends to break in chunks rather than explode and shatter into tiny pieces. It is not porous, can be autoclaved, can be worn in new piercings or new stretched piercings, and only needs to be cleaned with, you guessed it, soap and water. The great thing about glass is it can be formed into many beautiful and intricate shapes, and comes in many beautiful colors. It’s light, smooth, and very comfortable to wear. I swear by it!

Now, on to my favorite type of jewelry, ORGANICS! There are many types of organic materials.

HORN AND BONE: These are some of my favorites among the organic family. Bone and horn are usually considered similar, if not the same material, meaning they are to be treated the same way. Most of the time it comes from water buffalos, but sometimes other animals. The website itself, or the specific jewelry listing, should say what it’s made of.

Many animal welfare organizations and followers are against animal products being used for body jewelry. I, personally, am not, so long as the entire animal has been used as best as possible. Body Art Forms, for example, only uses horn and bone from buffalo that have already been harvested, meaning they are not killed solely for their horns and bones to be turned into jewelry. If you are ever concerned about where or how a seller is acquiring their animal products, read through their website to find information, or send them a message asking directly. If they don’t answer you, to your satisfaction or at all, or you don’t like where they acquire their horn and bone, shop elsewhere.

Horn and bone are very fragile materials. They CANNOT be autoclaved or fully sterilized in any way. To clean them, I personally recommend a soft damp cloth, with maybe the smallest bit of a mild soap, and then dry the piece immediately and thoroughly. You can also just use damp or wet fingers to wash them. Do not hold under running water. After washing, rub down with a light coat of coconut or jojoba oil, do not use any wood treatment oils or protectors. They are very porous as well, so they cannot be worn in new piercings or newly stretched piercings. Do not shower, swim or participate in any water activities in horn and bone, because it can ruin them very quickly. Do not ever soak horn or bone in any liquid ever, even water. Horn and bone should be rubbed lightly with coconut or jojoba oil about once a week to keep them from cracking, as well as before insertion into a piercing. Do not sore horn and bone in direct sunlight, near extreme heat or cold, or anywhere that’s wet, like the bathroom. I use a small wooden box lined with velvet to store all of my organic jewelry. They tend to get dull overtime, so take a clean, soft polishing cloth and a drop or two of oil and that will help shine them up.

WOOD: Wood is another organic material that takes some special care. Many woods are used for jewelry, including coconut, blood wood, ebony, sabo, Arang, olivewood, verawood, among many many more. The care of wood is very similar to that of horn and bone. Wood cannot be autoclaved or fully sterilized. It is porous and cannot be worn in new piercings or newly stretched piercings. It needs to be oiled before each wear, and at least once a week as regular maintenance. Do not get wood jewelry wet, do not go swimming or showering in them. If they get dirty, use the same cleaning method for horn and bone, just a damp cloth and dry immediately, do not leave under running water, do not soak, do not use any chemicals or polishes, no alcohol, and only the smallest amount of a mild soap. Dry very thoroughly and rub down with a light coat of oil immediately afterward. Do not leave wood jewelry in direct sunlight, near extreme heat or cold, or in wet places like the bathroom. Wood can sometimes “raise up” or almost sort of warp out of shape, so if this happens you should VERY carefully sand any burs down with 800 grit sandpaper, then buff with 1200 grit sandpaper.

STONE: Another very common organic material is stone. Stone comes in many forms, including quartz, amethyst, jade, opalite, agate, obsidian, malachite, turquoise, hematite, and countless others. Stone isn’t as fragile as horn and bone or wood, but isn’t as strong as metals. I would compare them to the strength of glass jewelry, on average. Strength also depends on size, gauge and style of the jewelry, as well as the type of stone, some are just stronger or denser than others. Because there are so many types of stone, some are heavier than others as well. Most stone cannot be autoclaved or fully sterilized. Some can, but to be on the safe side, don’t have any stone jewelry autoclaved. Though not really considered porous in the way horn or bone or wood is, stone should still not be worn in new piercings or newly stretched piercings. Use soap and water to clean, and dry right away. No oil needed.

An interesting “stone” available for body jewelry is amber. Though an incredibly beautiful material, it is very rare and very expensive. Most body jewelry labeled as amber is actually synthetic, not true amber stone. Most synthetic amber is actually a type of plastic or polymer. If it looks too perfect or unblemished, it’s probably fake. Real amber is fossilized tree resin and is, in actuality, very rare and can run into the thousands of dollars depending on quality and size. Ultimately, real amber is no better or worse than fake amber, it’s more a choice based on personal preference and your budget.

Care of amber, real or fake, is pretty straight forward: no chemicals or alcohol, just soap and water to clean. It cannot be autoclaved or fully sterilized. Do not expose to extreme temperatures, do not apply excessive pressure as this can warp the material. Because of its stone-like material, do not drop amber jewelry because it can chip, crack or break altogether. Treat it as you would treat other stone jewelry.

Because this has been brought up to me several times, I’ve decided to add this part as well:

UNSAFE MATERIALS

Hate to break it to you, but polymer clay, or any other type of clay is NOT safe to be worn in the ears. It’s porous, which I’ve already explained why that’s bad. They’re also nearly impossible to form into the right sizes, so all those polymer clay spirals and shapes and such you see on Etsy and Deviant Art are actually very harmful. There are chemicals in the clay, air dry and bake alike, that are toxic when worn inside the body, and wearing them in your ears IS considered inside the body. One of it’s main ingredients is PVC, also known as the most toxic form of plastic out there. A chemical called phthalates is added to polymer clay to make it pliable and soft, and this chemical has been linked to birth defects, liver and thyroid damage, and can even cause cancer. Many professionals recommend working with polymer clay only while wearing gloves, in a ventilated room, on a surface that’s cleaned frequently and properly. With something THAT potentially toxic and harmful, do you really want it leaking those awful chemicals into your body through your ears? There is never EVER a safe way to wear polymer clay in the ears. EVER.

There are also many rare, exotic or special materials. Those include petrified wood, fossilized mammoth tusk or bone, shell, rare or expensive metals, bamboo, ivory, all sorts of lovely things. If you’re unsure how to take care of these materials, either read any information the website may provide or message the website directly and ask for any specific care instructions.

Shop ’till you drop.

Now, here’s a post everyone will love. Where to go SHOPPING!

There are dozens of jewelry websites on the internet, so it will be impossible for me to list them all. I will, however list sites that I’ve ordered from, and people I know have ordered from, so you can get some reviews on them.

http://www.bodyartforms.com: My favorite jewelry website of all. I cannot tell you how much I absolutely ADORE this website! Most of my current earring collection has come from this website. Their selection is incredible, their quality is impeccable, their shipping is wicked fast, their prices are reasonable and sometimes slightly cheaper than most other places. I have only ever heard of one person ever having problems with BAF, and that was with a product, not their customer service. I’m not entirely sure how good their international shipping may be, but I’ve heard from others that it’s pretty awesome. They’re based out of Texas, and when I was in Seattle, it took four days from order to delivery, even with the basic, cheapest, slowest shipping method.

http://www.piercedfish.com: Another great website. I’ve only ordered a few things from them, but what I have ordered has been great. The only unfortunate thing is that everything I’ve ordered has been externally threaded, which is bad for new or healing piercings. Otherwise, they’re great. Shipping was quick, prices are cheap, and selection is pretty awesome.

http://www.painfulpleasures.com: A website I personally haven’t ordered from, but I know many people who have, and they’ve loved it. They also have lots of other things besides body jewelry, like belt buckles, cell phone charms, lots of neat stuff.

http://www.heartonsleevejewelry.com: I have not ordered anything from this site, but I would love to. They specialize in wood products, mostly plugs and tunnels in various types of woods and even shapes. They also do custom orders. Their prices seem reasonable, and their products are certainly beautiful. As a lover of organic material jewelry, I would love for someone to order from this site and let me know what their experience was like and what the products were like.

http://www.relicstoneworks.com: Another specialty website, this time in types of stone. They mostly cater to larger sizes of stretched piercings, the smallest I found ready-made was about 1/2 inch. Their prices are pretty up there, but they’re hand carved and many are one of a kind or limited numbers, and you VERY much get what you pay for with this sort of jewelry.

http://www.Etsy.com: Surprisingly enough, this website carries MANY great options for body jewelry, mostly stretched piercing jewelry that I’ve found so far. It will be impossible to list them all, but here are some Etsy stores in particular that I found lovely:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/glassheartstudio
http://www.etsy.com/shop/Frozenfire
http://www.etsy.com/shop/somaticglass
http://www.etsy.com/shop/emblemglass

http://www.bodyjewelleryshop.com: This one is a UK based website, but I have heard good reviews for it. Fairly cheap, good selection, good shipping rates and speed, the standard. They also have some neat, not body jewelry products as well.

http://www.bodycircle.com: Again, haven’t ordered from here, but heard good things. Have a lot of basics for fairly reasonable prices, as well as some other cool stuff. I really want one of their CBR finger rings, way cool.

http://www.steelnavel.com: Steel Navel has also gotten good reviews. Good selection, competitive prices, they even sell aftercare products like H2Ocean and Tattoo Goo.

http://www.tawapa.com: Tawapa makes some of the most beautiful organic jewelry I have ever seen. They are by far my favorite organic brand. I own several pairs of earrings from this brand, and hope to own many many more.

http://www.isbodyjewelry.com and http://www.anatometal.com: Industrial Strength, and Anatometal, respectfully, are probably the best brands of metal body jewelry on the market today. They’re expensive, but you get what you pay for and as always, good jewelry isn’t cheap and cheap jewelry isn’t good. Unfortunately, according to their websites, you cannot directly purchase from Industrial Strength or Anatometal, but they do tell you what stores in your state or country sell their products. And many other websites, including Body Art Forms, carry their products as well.

Of course, professional body piercing shops usually have some kind of body jewelry selection. What they have depends on location, costs, how much space they have to sell, etc. Many can and will order in special requests you may have as well, mostly for just basics like simple barbells and rings. If you want super pretty things, shopping online or in another shop with a better selection is your best bet.

One website that many, many people suggest is http://www.kingsbodyjewelry.com. I, personally, don’t like this website for several reasons. They sell inappropriate jewelry materials and styles as stretching tools, namely claw, crescent and talon shapes as tapers, and these are not safe to stretch with. They encourage the use of tapers way beyond the safe sizes (beyond 2ga-0ga is unsafe to use tapers with) by selling stretching kits up to one inch, sometimes even beyond, and in acrylic. Some stretching kits even include horseshoe barbells which, again, are not appropriate jewelry to be worn in newly stretched piercings. Most of their barbells are externally threaded which is bad for newly pierced or still healing piercings. They sell good brands, like KAOS softwear and Gorilla glass, but beyond that, I’m not a huge fan. I also hear their shipping times are really slow, and their customer service isn’t very helpful. Their prices seem about right, on average as well.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR WHEN ORDERING JEWELRY ONLINE?
Be aware of what currency the jewelry is being sold in. Most UK websites, for example, sell either in British pounds or Euros. If you use Paypal to order, the conversion is done automatically on the confirmation page, as far as I’m aware, so you know exactly how much is being deducted from your account. If you use your debit or credit card directly, if you don’t do the conversion rates properly, you could end up being charged more than you’d like. So pay very close attention to what currency the website is using. I’ve also seen some that have a currency converter on the website, so use that if there is one.

Pay attention to pricing. If the prices are too good to be true, they probably are. If you find a site that’s selling titanium plugs and tunnels, which can average anywhere between $75 to over $200 a pair depending on size, for a measly $20, beware. That’s not a reasonable price for that large of a size and that quality of material, so where are they cutting corners? Have they stolen another websites image and are actually selling a much lower quality item? Is it not actually titanium, but a much crappier metal that they’re trying to pass off as titanium? These are things you need to be aware of. Shop around, try to find an average price, and be willing to spend good money on good jewelry. Cheap is never good, and good is never cheap. You get what you pay for.

One thing that really gets to me, as a grammar Nazi, is when jewelry websites use bad grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. throughout their website. Remember that this place is a business, and a website business depends on its visual appeal. If you shop a website and things are spelled wrong, you can tell that English is obviously not their first language, their sentences or answers to questions are lazy and not very thorough, beware of that, too. If they’re going to slack on something as easy as typing out information, or they can’t express a simple thought or bit of information through words, what else are they going to be lazy with?

Read everything the website offers for information. Read their About Us sections, their shipping information, their FAQ section, everything. The more you can figure out about a website, the better. And by reading their shipping information, you know when to expect your item and when to contact them if you don’t receive it.

Know what different materials are. You’ll find many different names for the same basic material so it’s important to know what each one is. The best example of this is plastic. Plastic comes under many names, including acrylic, dental acrylic, PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), Bipolast, Lucite, and a new one I just learned of is Delrin. It’s a type of plastic. Most websites should list what the material is, so make sure you pay attention to that as well. If you don’t recognize a material, look it up!

Don’t trust Ebay or Amazon to sell you good body jewelry. Sure, it’s cheap and easy, but remember what they say about things that are cheap and easy? Try to order only from places that specialize in body jewelry, you’re more likely to get better quality, which is the important part. Also, with Ebay, how do you know the person selling the jewelry hasn’t already worn it? Gross.

Also avoid mall stores that sell body jewelry, like Hot Topic, Spencer’s, Claire’s, Arene’s, Piercing Pagoda, various kiosks, basically anything in the mall. Most of these things are going to be low grade materials, externally threaded, with gems that are glued in instead of bezel or prong set; this means that the gems are more likely to fall out, to discolor, or oxidize.

But everyone’s doing it! I just wanna fit in!

There are many, many reasons why piercing yourself is a terrible idea. It’s an equally bad idea to let your friends pierce you, your family pierce you, or someone who is untrained pierce you. We’ll go over some of the main reasons why people feel the need to self pierce, and why it’s a bad idea.

People use all sorts of reasons to justify self piercing. Here are some of the most common.

~”My parents won’t sign or pay for me, or I’m too young to do it professionally.”
This is one reason that really bothers me. When you’re under 18, you are legally the property of your parents, according to U.S. law. That’s the way it is, and there is no getting around it. Your parents essentially own you until you are 18, so if they won’t sign for you, or won’t pay for you, then don’t do it. It’s not hard to wait until you are 18, trust me, it’s really not, and honestly, if you really want something, you’ll be willing to wait for it. Use the time you’re waiting to research more, do more studying, and really know your stuff so when you go and finally get pierced, there will be no surprises.

~”I’m old enough to do it, I just don’t have the money/don’t want to spend the money.”
Again, if you want something bad enough, you should be willing to wait for it. And think about it, would you rather pay $60 for a piercing, or pay several hundred, even thousands, dollars for hospital treatments and antibiotics to treat resulting infections and complications? Remember, a good piercing isn’t cheap, and a cheap piercing isn’t good.

~”Professionals don’t do anything that I don’t when I pierce./I know what I’m doing./I read or watched online how to do it.”
No, actually, none of that is true. Professionals, true professionals, have several years of training under a mentor, they take blood borne pathogen courses, sterilization courses, human anatomy classes, and train for years to know how to pierce properly. You have NO idea what you’re doing when you pierce yourself. You don’t know where the nerves are, and everyone is different. You don’t know where the major veins and arteries are, you don’t know proper placement, you don’t know proper technique, you don’t know anything. And how do you know that the people you saw online, or read about online, did it the right way? You don’t know. And we all know how incredibly unreliable most internet information is, so why trust it at all?

Besides, if alcohol or flame or boiling water was a sufficient sterilization method, and safety pins were good enough to pierce with, why do professionals spend several dozen times more on special needles, potentially thousands of dollars on autoclave machines and the necessary tools for it, to use? Why would they “waste” money on the good stuff if they can get the “same” things for cheaper? Think about that.

~”I want control over my own body. It’s spiritual.”
I know I’m going to get a lot of backlash for this, but I almost equate this reasoning to self-harm reasoning. ALMOST. Many self-harmers say they do it to feel control over something, even just their own bodies, they say they do it to feel alive, to make sure they’re alive, or so they can feel anything at all. This reasoning for self-piercing sounds very similar, to me. Admittedly, self-harm is done with negative thoughts, negative intentions, and under negative emotions, while “spiritual self-piercers” will do it with positive thoughts, intentions and emotions in mind. So that’s the main difference there. But this also goes back to you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you feel good doing it, or right after, you could still seriously screw your piercing and your body up if you do this wrong.

Many people do feel a sort of spiritual satisfaction from piercing themselves. But these people have done YEARS of research, many will research and take the same classes and courses that piercing apprentices and professionals take. They have had close contact with professionals before they started their self piercing adventures. These people are different than the average, run of the mill self-piercer. They are VERY few and far between, but they do exist. These dedicated individuals are NOT to be confused with the uneducated masses. They are NOT self harmers, and shouldn’t be lumped in with them. Again, self piercing is with positive intention, self harm is with negative intention. I just wanted to make that very clear.

~”I just felt like it. I like it, so I did it. I was bored.”
This is a terrible reason to do anything. If you’re bored, do something constructive. Clean out the garage and sell stuff, make a profit from the sale and make room for new stuff. Clean your room, organize your bookshelf or movie shelf, help your folks out with chores, read a book, go for a walk with the dog, play with the cat, learn to knit. Boredom leads to stupidity, we’ve all seen dumb stunts performed on youtube and elsewhere on the internet, and where do you think those ideas came from? Boredom, or wanting to be famous. Either way, terrible idea.

~”Too far to travel.”
Then make a full day of it. Go to the shop, get pierced, then go to lunch, see a show or a movie, walk around the city or town, do something fun while you’re there. I travel across 4 states to get pierced and tattooed, driving two hours to a good shop is nothing.

~”It’s cooler to self pierce./ Others will think I’m cool./I’ll fit in better with my chosen subculture./I’ll be a rebel, I’ll be hard ex core./I’ll get back at my parents.”
This mentality is so not true, and honestly unhealthy. If you’re only getting pierced to impress others then you’re going to regret it. You won’t take care of it as well, you won’t appreciate it as much, and you won’t love it. Body mods are 100% personal and selfish things, you should only get modded for yourself, not for anyone else.

And when you do it to impress other people, those same people are only liking you because you look like you fit in with them, you fit the mold. They don’t like you for who you are, for what you stand for or what you believe in, they only like you because you look the part. That’s just fitting the template, that’s not truly belonging to a group. Because the minute you don’t look like them, you’ll be ostracized again. And really, do you want to be friends with people who are that shallow and superficial to like people based only on what they wear?

What’s the point of “getting back at” your parents anyway? They probably told you no because they thought it was in your best interest. Maybe you’ve proven you’re not responsible enough to handle this very invasive, potentially deadly procedure. Maybe you haven’t educated them enough that piercing studios are as clean as doctors offices anymore, sometimes cleaner. Maybe they’re just flat out against them, no matter what you do. And really, is it worth it to make your living environment miserable over something so superficial and unimportant as a piercing? I personally don’t think so.

~”It’s how professional piercing got started./ My friend wants to be a piercer, so I’ll let him/her practice on me.”
That is true, the piecing procedures used now were once practiced on friends and selves. But it’s been proven that self-piercing is incredibly unsafe, how do you know all these early piercers didn’t reap terrible consequences, even died, from these early practices? Professionals have perfected those early techniques and built on them, dedicated their lives and careers to it, turning the industry into what it is today. And it’s still improving. It’s like using 100 year old medical technologies, just because it worked at the time. There’s a reason using leeches to treat diseases isn’t used anymore. There’s a reason mentally disturbed people aren’t nearly drowned in ice cold water. Because these techniques DIDN’T WORK, and more often than not, made the patients worse or killed them. Would you use antiquated and dangerous medical procedures and tools just because it’s cheaper than going to a modern doctor? No? Same thing with self-piercing.

The second part of this only has one instance where it’s okay. The only way you should let some “unprofessional” person pierce you is if they are an apprentice to a mentor, and they are piercing you under the supervision of their mentor, in a professional shop, in a professionally clean and sterile piercing room, using professionally approved and sterile tools. Yes, apprentices do need people to practice on, sometimes that includes themselves or willing friends or clients. But they only do it under their mentor’s supervision, to make sure everything is done properly. If you would like to let an apprentice practice on you, that’s fine, and you really are doing them a favor. But again, ONLY DO THIS if the mentor is in the room, carefully directing and watching the apprentice work.

~”I “sterilized” my needle and cleaned my bathroom/whatever room you’re doing it in, and piercing studios are dirty./Piercing kits are readily available and say they’re sterile.”
This is also very untrue. It is IMPOSSIBLE to fully sterilize a tool in your home. The ONLY way to do this is to use an autoclave, the same machine doctors and dentists use to sterilize their reusable tools. No common household has one of these expensive machines lying around. The best you can do is sanitize a tool, and that’s not nearly good enough.

No needle you use at home is good enough for a piercing. Safety pins, sewing needles, thumb tacks, nails, blowgun darts, NOTHING is piercing worthy. They are dull, ragged, shit metals. Many safety pins and sewing needles actually have a barb on the end of them if you see them under a microscope, and this is terrible for piercing. They are all the wrong size for jewelry to follow, and cause so much more damage to the tissue than a professional needle will.

Home bathrooms are FILTHY. If you were to hold up one of those special lights that reflect human biohazard fluids, your bathroom would look like a sweet rave party. Every time you flush the toilet with the lid up, a hurricane of fecal matter molecules and urine particles fly into the air and land on EVERYTHING. It’s a literal huricane of human filth. Any cloth or porous surfaces will harbor bacteria and allow them to grow. No over the counter, readily available cleaning products will fully sterilize a surface either. So there is NO WAY to fully sterilize any room in a home enough to perform a safe piercing. There just isn’t.

Professional piercing studios are FAR from dirty. Many are as clean, or even cleaner, than doctor’s offices. They use the same sterilization machines and techniques, the same cleaning chemicals, the same tools to work with, sometimes even the same furniture, like tables and rolling steel station tables to set tools on that dentists commonly use. If you say piercing studios are dirty places, you’ve obviously just never been to a good professional shop. They smell like doctor’s offices, they smell of clean.

How do you know these piercing kits are sterile? Just because it says so on the package? How do you know there aren’t holes in the package where germs could get in? How do you know the factory that produced the needle was sterile as well? How do you know the needle is new and sharp? You don’t know, there is no way to know. The blue-backed bags that professional needles come in are called autoclave bags, the tools were put in this package while they were sterilized, and seal the tool inside it, keeping out germs 100%. Piercing kit packages don’t do this.

~”I’m afraid of needles./I don’t want or trust strangers to do it, even if they are professionals.”
This is like saying you don’t trust a licensed, experienced surgeon in a well-respected hospital to operate on you, and you’d rather have your buddy take out your diseased appendix in his living room. Get to know the piercer first, talk to them, ask questions, become familiar with their practices and their techniques. Maybe even ask the piercer and another client if you could watch them get pierced so you can see firsthand how everything is done. Then there’s no mystery, and they’re no longer strangers.

I do fully understand the fear of needles, I think we all have it to some degree or another. But people don’t realize that doctors needles, which is most people’s only experience with needles, hurt more than piercing needles. They really do. Most are used to inject something into the body, and that usually stings or leaves a lingering pain, sometimes even burns. And most nurses, at least in my experience, have a TERRIBLE table-side manner when it comes to injections. Just stab and slam the plunger down. And most associate doctor needles with being sick, or already hurting or feeling bad, and that carries over into the shot. I equate most piercing pain to biting your tongue or inside of your cheek. A quick, momentary pain, maybe a lingering soreness or taste of blood for a minute or two (for oral piercings), then it’s over. Most of the time I forget I’ve been pierced at all within 10-30 minutes after the piercing. And of course, there’s always a satisfying end result to getting pierced. You waited forever to get it, saved up all the money, and have a beautiful piercing as a result. With doctor injections, there’s never anything positive afterward. Many have reactions or side effects, and you don’t ever see any results, except maybe you stop being sick later down the line, sometimes days or weeks afterward. But with piercings, there are immediate results.

~”I already did it once and was fine./My friends did it and they were fine, so why wouldn’t I be?/Everyone is doing it, if it was so bad they wouldn’t be.”
Just because you go skydiving once and live, doesn’t mean you’ll live the second time. Just because your friends can jump off a bridge and live doesn’t mean you won’t splatter to your death on the rocks below. Millions of people listen to Justin Bieber, doesn’t mean he can actually sing or his music is good. Unnecessary risks aren’t worth it. Following the trend just to follow it and fit in isn’t worth it when the risks or consequences outweigh the possible positive outcomes. Why not be different from the crowd and NOT do something stupid, when you know it’s stupid.

Most of the people who use this excuse are school kids. You’d be shocked how much people DON’T CARE about you, your appearance, or fitting in once you’re out of school. It’s like a switch goes off and people suddenly aren’t out to impress others, only themselves. They do what they do for their own sake, not for anyone else’s. What’s the point of being popular if it doesn’t get you anywhere in life? So you were homecoming queen, big deal. That won’t get you a job, that won’t get you through college, that won’t earn you a six figure a year job. It’s just a title, a superficial, temporary, meaningless title. Don’t waste your time trying to fit in and be cool when it’s not worth it in the long run.

~”It’s just a piercing, not a big deal./If you don’t like it, don’t do it.”
Piercing IS a big deal. These are potentially deadly and very invasive procedures; they can, have and still DO kill people. They are not something to take flippantly or lightly. This art form has been and is still being perfected, and is heavily regulated, for a reason. Because deadly viruses can be spread easily through this practice, so it has to be regulated. If you don’t understand how incredibly dangerous these procedures are, then you should be doing more research. Look into the hundreds of people who have suffered infections, had their ears and lips and tongues rot off, been paralyzed and even died from improper piercing. You need to respect your body and the professionals in this industry by performing it properly.

I have never felt the need to pierce myself, and so I don’t. It was never SO important to me that I would risk my life for it. I wanted it done, sure, but I always waited. I waited 6 years to get my traditional labret pierced. 6 YEARS. I don’t like self-piercers because when people walk around with infected, badly done or ugly piercings it gives the entire culture a bad image and a bad name. People will then assume that ALL piercings, and the people who get pierced, are like this and that’s very much not true. It gives a bad image to the entire culture, as a whole, and we should be fighting hard to improve our image. Being immature and impatient and uneducated isn’t going to improve the image at all.

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