What is a labret lip piercing? A labret piercing pronounced as ‘LAY-brett’ or ‘luh- BRAY’ refers to a piercing done through the labrum (lower lip) just above the chin. A labret or standard lip piercing is usually placed at the center of the lower lip. There are several different labret variations based on where the piercing is positioned on the lower or upper lip. They can be done singly or in pairs usually to either side of the center.
History of Labret Lip Piercings and meaning
Lip piercing hold a very religious significance in various cultures. They are widely practiced throughout the world and its history is richest in tribal cultures. Labret lip piercing was a traditional lip piercing among the American Northwest Coast Indians where it was related to social status.
In most cultures, a pin made of ivory or metal was inserted for a labret. However a ring can also be used to pierce through the lips. For example the Dogon tribe of Mali and the Nuba of Ethiopia used a ring to pierce through their lips known as labret ring piercing. The Aztecs and the Mayans used labrets made of pure gold with precious stones. In some African tribes, lip piercings are replaced by large decorative lip plates or discs.
Traditionally, a lip piercing could be worn by either men or women depending on the particular culture. While men wore labret for status and social rites, women wore labrets for beauty or as a part of a betrothal rite. Lip piercings continue to be practiced by many people as a fashion statement or belonging to a particular cultural group.
Tribal lip piercing has heavily influenced the modern piercing scene with old African, American and Indian cultures being filtered into contemporary society making an inviting fashion statement. Many stars, actors, music and fashion icons are showing up with fancy and glamorous lip accessories. Celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne have had lip piercings.
Labret lip piercings can be placed anywhere around the mouth. The types and the names actually depend on the positioning.
Types of Labret Piercings
A vertical labret lip piercing begins near the top of the lower lip, goes through the lip and emerges down just above the chin. This is the most common type and other types are consider variations of it. Horizontal labret lip piercing goes through from one side of the lip to the other giving an impression of two barbells sitting next to each other in the middle of the lip.
A low-Bret is a piercing that is placed as low as possible in the chin beneath the lower lip.
Snake bites– are piercings made side by side in the bottom lip just like snake fangs or bites.
Spider bites piercings refers to two lower lip piercings placed close together on the side of the lower lip usually to the corner of the lip. These can be pierced separately or at the same time.
Monroe lip piercing is placed to the left side of the upper lip where Marylyn Monroe had her beauty mark.
A Madonna piercing is the same as a Monroe piercing only that it is placed on the right side of the upper lip.
Medusa or philtrum piercings are made through the ridges of the upper lip, under the tip of the nose in the cleft of the Cupid’s bow.
Crayfish lip piercing is a double version of a Monroe piercing with labret worn on both sides of the upper lips. Longer barbells worn on these piercings resembles feelers on a crayfish hence the name.
It is important to note that labret lip piercings can really make a statement on your face. Some, if not done correctly can distort the symmetry of your face. There is a lot of information of safety of piercings on the web. It is recommended that you try to gather as many facts as possible on where and how you want your lip piercing to be done. Also, get professional advice on what piercing suits your facial features best.
Does a Labret Piercing Hurt?
How painful is a labret lip piercing? This is the first question that will always come up for anyone who fancies a labret lip piercing and most people with piercing will tell you that it is the most annoying question that anyone would ask. So, are labret lip piercings painful? Well, yeah. The lip tissue is very sensitive with a rich nerve supply.
While this greatly depends on the location of the piercing itself, a needle being driven through your lip is painful as it sounds. This however depends on individual pain threshold and how well you are prepared. Fear makes everything worse!
Labret lip piercings to the side hurt the most. It is also normal to feel a sting which should be gone in no time. If a nerve is injured during the piercing, it may cause numbness and sharp pains. This can be avoided by visiting a professional piercer and using the right type of jewelry. You will however be glad to know that there are no nerves in the lips that can cause serious or long lasting complications.
Standard Piercing Gauge for Labrets
What is the standard gauge size for labret lip piercings? This depends on the size of your lips. The standard gauge size for lip piercings is 14g or 16g in thickness. The length of the jewelry depends on the anatomy of where the piercing is made. Due to swelling that usually occurs in the first few days, a piercer places a longer bar to prevent embedding.
Note: it is best to use studs on unhealed labret piercings. Rings can actually cause trauma, delay the healing process and trigger hypertrophic scarring.
Labret Piercing Price
The total price of a labret lip piercing depends on what lip piercing you want and the type of jewelry you choose. Gold jewelry costs more than silver, surgical steel and titanium. The place that you choose to get your piercing also matters on the total price range. Beware of cheaply deceptive offers- for better results, choose a reputable piercing studio with a well- trained piercer and high standards of cleanliness. Note that, labret lip piercing range may also vary on where you decide to get your piercing in terms of location and different piercing studios. Here are the prices for different variations of labret piercings at Piercing Planet;
- Snakebites/ Angel bites/ Spider bites- $79.90 with a discounted price of $59.90 if the two piercings are done at the same time.
- Madonna/ Monroe/ Medusa- $39.95 for any of the two
- Standard/ Horizontal labret piercing- $39.95
The above prices including titanium jewelry but may vary depending on the type of jewelry you choose for your initial piercing. However, you can pay an additional charge of $4.95 on all the prices for clear jewelry for your initial piercings so that the piercing can be discreet.
Labret piercing pictures
Piercings can possibly go all wrong if done in the wrong way, which is why it is always recommended to find out what lip piercings suits your personality, facial features and fashion sense the best. Go through information on the web and seek professional advice on what best to go for.
It is best to have visual information on what you are about to get yourself into in terms of healing, infection and what a lip piercing looks like on either gender. Making a mistake at the piercing stage can leave you with a dented regret. Below are labret piercing pictures that will help you make an informed choice.
Image 1- This photo shows an infected labret piercing
Image 2- This is the picture of a man with different labret lip piercings
Side labret piercing
A side labret lip piercing is a term used to refer to a piercing done to the left or right of the lower lip. Just like the Madonna and Monroe are placed on the upper lip. Labret studs, CBR’s and rings can be worn on side labret piercings. The cost of getting a side labret lip done depends on the type of jewelry you want for the initial healing. Gold jewelry will definitely cost more than silver, surgical grade or stainless steel. The average cost for a side labret piercing is $35- $50 depending on the type of jewelry you want.
Side labret piercing healing time is usually 4-12 weeks. This however depends on proper aftercare and individual healing capabilities. Take zinc and vitamin C supplements to increase healing capabilities and reduce the healing time.
How much does a side labret piercing hurt? Well, while pain cannot be compared to anything, side labrets do not hurt as much because of the placement- top side labrets hurt more than those done on the lower lip. Whether a piercing hurts or not also depends on individual pain threshold.
If you are considering getting a side labret piercing, it is recommended that you get all the information to able to make an informed decision. Here are side labret piercing pictures to give you an idea of what they look like.
Images 3 and 4 show side labret piercing with color plated CBR and silver bead ring respectively
Image 5- This is what a standard side labret lip piercing with barbell looks like
Horizontal labret piercing
Horizontal labret piercing also known as likeee or dafucccck is a lip piercing that usually goes through the bottom lip. It usually goes through the softer redder part of the lip giving an impression of two barbells next to each other. The placement can be done at the middle of the lip or at the corner. It is actually presumed to be the most painful of all lip piercing because lips are generally very sensitive.
For horizontal labret piercing aftercare, clean the wound with saline solution and dry with disposable paper towel. While this makes eating and drinking a bit difficult, eat in small potions and keep off cold drinks.
Labret piercing healing
According to bodypiercing.ygoy.com, labret piercing healing time is usually 6-10 weeks. The mouth has natural abilities to fight off infection making it very rare to get an infection. Even so, you may experience swelling, redness, tenderness, bruising and bleeding.
These are all normal in the lip piercing healing process. Proper aftercare is key and determines how fast healing occurs. It is however important to note that, each body is unique and labret lip piercing healing varies from one person to another.
Clean the wound regularly and brush your teeth after every meal to prevent food particles from being trapped in the piercing.
Does Smoking Affect the Healing Process of A Labret Piercing?
Smoking delays healing and gives unsatisfactory healing. Nicotine inhaled from cigarettes temporarily constricts blood vessels reducing blood supply which is very vital in the healing process. For a perfect piercing and faster healing, most piercers would recommend that you keep off smoking before getting the piercing up until it is healed. After complete healing, it would be perfectly fine to smoke.
You may have to hold your cigarette in a different way depending on which labret lip piercing you got to avoid getting cigarette debris into the piercing.
Slow healing process while smoking is caused by lower PH levels in the mouth and trapped cigarette debris in the piercing. This calls for regular cleaning usually after every cigarette. Some regular smokers with lip piercings, advise that it would be easier to carry around a bottle of mouthwash and use it every time you smoke.
Labret Lip Piercing Embedment
During the healing process, a labret may get embedded in your lip tissue in case of severe lip swelling. This may happen when severe swelling occurs or if the piercer inserts an under-sized labret without considering possible swelling. Make sure there is enough room for the jewelry to move freely after the swelling. Professional lip piercers will always place a longer bar in a freshly pierced lip to prevent embedding- this can be changed once the swelling subsides. If your jewelry becomes embedded, remove it and replace it with a longer or larger one. Let this be done by your piercer or do it in a sanitary way.
Labret piercing aftercare
The healing process of a labret lip piercing may be affected by many occurrences. Some of the things to expect during the healing process include; bleeding, bruising, swelling and pain. Proper piercing aftercare should be taken to avoid infections and other complications.
Here is how to look after a labret lip piercing
- Always wash your hands before touching your labret piercing
- For cleaning, use packaged saline solutions with no additives or non-iodized sea salt solution. Dilute your saline solution to avoid irritation of the fresh wound. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of 8oz warm water.
- Clean your piercing two times daily- morning and evening for the first 3 days. It is recommended that you do this as the last thing after your shower so that cleaning and other grooming products do not get into your piercing wound
- If possible soak the pierced area in the warm saline solution or just soak a clean gauze saturated in saline solution and place it on the piercing for some minutes. Use a clean rinse afterwards to remove any residue.
- Mild antibacterial soap can be used once a day. Lather up a small amount and gently clean the piercing and the jewelry. Allow the soap to sit for not more than 30 seconds and rinse off with running water while rotating the ring or shuffling the stud to ensure all the soap is out of the piercing.
- Use a clean paper towel or cotton wool to gently pat the area dry. Towels and other cloth products can harbor bacteria which may be a primary source of infection.
- Closely watch out for any signs of infection. Get immediate medical attention if you experience extreme swelling, pain and fever.
How to maintain good oral hygiene after a labret lip piercing
- Get a new toothbrush as soon as you have the piercing done. Old toothbrushes harbor lots of bacteria
- Brush your teeth and use saline rinses or non-alcohol based mouthwash after every meal. This prevents accumulation of bacteria in your mouth which can easily colonize the freshly pierced lip
- Brush your teeth and floss gently to avoid plaque build-up.
How to reduce swelling after a labret lip piercing
- During the first 48 hours, allow small pieces of ice to melt in your mouth. Use small pieces or crushed ice so as not to cause frost burns on your already bruised skin.
- Sleep with your head elevated above the heart to avoid more pooling of blood around the pierced area.
- Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen will reduce the swelling and pain. These should however be taken in moderation.
- Talk less.
The lip piercer will usually place a longer bar in your piercing to allow for the swelling. Once the swelling subsides, change to a shorter bar-style jewelry to minimize contact with your gums and teeth. Continued contact with jewelry is one of the causes of receding gums and may cause teeth erosion. It is best to get this done by a professional.
Do not leave the freshly pierced wound without jewelry or a retainer. Even after an infection, an alternative retainer is left in place to allow for pus drainage. According to safepiercing.org, once you remove jewelry surface cells start to close up sealing up the piercing. In cases of an infection, if the piercing seals with pus inside, it may result in an abscess which is another problem that you wouldn’t want to be dealing with.
Tips for Labret Piercing Aftercare
- Do not use alcohol, peroxide or betadine to clean the area around the lip piercing. These may overly dry tissue and slow down the healing process.
- Do not apply ointments and other oil based products on the piercing. These may clog the piercing and prevent oxygen supply. Oil is also sticky and can collect dirt and germs.
- Do not play with jewelry during the healing phase.
- Reduce oral contact- DO NOT engage in oral sex and wet kissing until the wound is completely healed.
- Do not chew on gum, fingernails and other foreign objects during the healing process.
- Do not smoke or chew on tobacco. Smoking prolongs healing time and also increases the risks of complications.
- Avoid taking alcoholic beverages for the first two weeks.
- Do not take warm beverages or spicy foods for the first two weeks.
- Eat food in small bits and chew slowly.
- Take zinc and vitamin C supplements to boost your body’s healing abilities.
- If for any reason you need to take your jewelry out for a short time, use a
Fake labret piercing
Fake labret piercings save you from the pain and a permanent scar. Fake piercings are also good for teenagers whose parents would not allow them to get a piercing or those with low pain tolerance level. Fake labret piercing can be done using glue for fancy gems or magnets for studs to hold the jewelry in place
The practice of using magnetic jewelry has risen and can be worn safely anywhere to give an impression of a real piercing. Simply place a thin magnetic backing between the lip and the gum and then place the jewelry in front. The magnet helps to hold the jewelry in place.
Note that is not safe to use fake studs and gems on the tongue or anywhere inside the mouth due to the risk of chocking. Many jewelry shops sell fake labrets at an average price of $3- $5. In the UK, get studs, fancy balls, rings and hoops at Claire’s. You can also buy online with free tracked delivery for orders over $25.
Remember that once you decide that you no longer want the piercing, simply remove or have your piercer remove it. Continue cleaning the wound until the hole closes. Usually, only a small mark will remain.