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Lobe Stretching 101

It’s well established that people have been piercing their ears for as long as people have had ears to pierce. In fact, the worlds oldest body piercing is a stretched lobe dating back over 5000 years. Some people consider lobe stretching a modern western fad, but this is clearly far from the truth.

In the UK (at time of writing), first lobes are most commonly pierced at 18g (1mm), 16g (1.2mm) or 14g (1.6mm). Lots of factors determine the initial size for a piercing, including client/piercer preference, jewellery style, anatomy and desired aesthetic. These sizes would be considered ‘standard’ sizes.

For many of us, lobe piercings are our first venture into the weird and wonderful world of body piercings and a lot of people tend to have their first lobes pierced at a young age. So what happens if you have your ears pierced at a ‘standard’ gauge and change your mind later about the size you’d like your lobes to be? No problem! Due to the soft, elastic nature of ear lobes, stretching the piercing channel to create a larger diameter is absolutely possible and lobe stretching has been practiced by many cultures all across the world for thousands of years.

Some beautiful, healthy stretched lobes. This is the goal!

How It’s Done

A quick search on Google or Youtube will bring up a plethora of information about how lobe stretching is achieved. As with anything, there is a tonne of misinformation and unsafe practices being preached over the internet. We always recommend visiting a professional piercer to discuss your goals with ear stretching and never to undertake the journey alone. And it is definitely a journey.

Ear stretching takes a heck of a lot of patience in order to achieve your desired goal safely. You need to be willing to give your body plenty of time to adapt and heal in between the different stages of lobe stretching. This is not a process to be taken lightly and doing so will have life-long implications (more on that later!)

Once you have decided to start your lobe stretching journey and you’ve discussed your goals with a professional piercer, your lobe should be stretched in millimetre increments. The best way to do this is to allow your piercer to stretch your lobes for you. Although you can stretch at home, leaving it to the professionals is the best way to avoid mistakes.

The physical stretch can be performed in two main ways. The first – Dead-Stretching – is simply waiting a long enough time that the lobe has naturally stretched out and the larger size of jewellery can be simply slotted into place. The second method uses an insertion taper to guide the new jewellery into place. The Gold Standard for stretching jewellery are single-flared Glass Plugs. These are comfortable, smooth, non-porous and safe to wear long term.

Tapers are often considered ‘the devil’ when it comes to online stretching advice! This is not necessarily the case. Like any tool, they can be used correctly or incorrectly. The main thing to know is that tapers should never be left in the piercing channel and worn as jewellery. Many tapers sold online are made from material such as acrylic which is not safe for long term wear on the body – You can read more about safe materials here. Tapers are much longer than plugs and tunnels which puts you at a higher risk of snagging your piercing, and yet the gradient of the stretch is so steep that you risk tearing your piercing. Tapers are simply an insertion tool to guarantee the smoothest introduction of the next size of jewellery. They are best left in the hands of a professional – We do not recommend their use at home.

Once the taper is inserted, a plug or tunnel will be inserted whilst the channel settles and relaxes into its new size. The plug or tunnel should be made of biocompatible material such as ASTM F-136 Titanium, ASTM F-138 Steel or borosilicate glass. The jewellery needs to be non porous as otherwise it will allow for the collection and growth of bacteria- The most common cause of that classic stretched lobe odour.

You should be leaving at least 6-8 weeks in between each 1mm stretch in order to let the channel settle, heal and relax into it’s new size. Stretching too quickly is a very risky procedure that often ends with very poor results. Everyone will stretch differently – the above time is often the minimum appropriate length of time. It is not at all unusual to wait far longer.

What Happens When It Goes Bad

Lobes are very forgiving – The most forgiving piercing when it comes to stretching. However this doesn’t mean they can be abused. The most common causes of issues with stretched lobes are caused by:

  • Stretching too quickly.
  • Stretching using tapers as jewellery.
  • Wearing inappropriate jewellery in unsafe materials.
  • Wearing jewellery that is too heavy.
  • Using threaded jewellery that traps a portion of the piercing fistula inside.
Even if the blow does not blow out or split, thinning of the lobe can easily occur.

The most common result of these issues is a blowout. So, what is a blowout?

The inside of a piercing channel is called a Fistula. This fistula is made from a type of collagen scar tissue. Scar tissue is far less elastic than the normal skin that surrounds the lobe piercing. When this scar tissue is not given the appropriate amount of time to relax after a stretch, it can be split, damaged or pushed out of position. This extruded scar tissue is called a blowout.

This is a fairly extreme example of a fresh blowout.

Blowouts are difficult to repair. When caught early on, the best way to help minimise them is to immediately remove your jewellery for an extended period of time – 3-4 weeks. Once any initial irritation has settled, it is recommended to gently massage the lobe with a neutral oil like Jojoba. Once the blowout has completely settled, you can gently reinsert jewellery. Often this jewellery will be much smaller in diameter than the one that caused the blowout – A fair cautionary tale against rushing the process.

If a blowout has progressed too far, it is often too late for an easy fix. A true permanent blowout can only be repaired via a surgical procedure to remove the blown out tissue and stitch the lobe back together. This is outside the legal remit of piercers in the UK, however we can recommend artists outside of the UK who can perform this for you. Within the UK, the only route is to visit a plastic surgeon. Depending on their experience with this procedure, results may vary.

Lobe Stretching Maintenance

Once you have started to stretch, or when you have reached your goal size, this does not mean the work stops! Maintaining stretched lobes means getting into a routine of cleaning and caring for them.

  • Clean your jewellery on a daily basis. Once you have sat at a size for a few weeks, we recommend removing your jewellery in the shower so that you can wash your entire lobe with a gentle fragrance-free soap. You should also be washing your actual jewellery in the same way. This is the best way to avoid a dirty or odorous lobe that can cause irritation later one.
  • Once you have cleaned your lobes, it is important to dry them well to avoid moisture irritation.
  • When your lobes are squeaky clean and dry, you should gently moisturise them with a neutral oil such as Jojoba oil. Less is more – Use your oil sparingly.

In the winter, it is very important to protect your lobes from extremes of temperature. Ensure they are covered with a hat if you are outside for prolonged periods of time, and make sure they do not experience a temperature shock when you re-enter a centrally heated home. It is not at all uncommon to need to downsize lobes in the winter and take extra care when cleaning and moisturising as the lobe tissue will dry and contract. The annual cycle of downsizing and upsizing can improve blood flow and ensure your lobes stay healthy in the long run.

In the summer it is so important to keep them clean when swimming. And the most important thing which people often forget: SUNSCREEN! Ears in general are susceptible to burns, and your stretched lobes are very fragile. Take good care of them and avoid sunburns. A cause that is very close to Kat’s heart: Skin cancers often begin on the ear due to years of neglect when it comes to sun protection.

The Pay Off.

There are hundreds of designs to choose from, even from just one brand.

The journey of lobe stretching is long, often tedious and requires a lot of commitment, time and patience but let’s have a look at why it can be so, so worth it! The styles of jewellery worn in large-gauge lobes are simply not available to the general public, and the sheer variety of options is pretty mind blowing.

These Dichroic Weights from Gorilla Glass might be our favourite. You can purchase a pair here!

At Rogue, we do a lot of large gauge work whether that’s initial piercings or long term stretching projects and one of our all time favourite large gauge jewellery creators are Gorilla Glass. Based in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Gorilla Glass artisans have been hand making high quality soda-lime and borosilicate glass jewellery since 2002.

Gorilla Glass are like a family – And they have a pet Donkey who you can follow on instagram here!

Gorilla Glass are our go-to for single-flared glass plugs – The gold standard for stretching jewellery. These are an affordable, safe option when it comes to stretching. We carry a wide range in-studio and can custom order anything from their website that you could possibly want!

The Takeaway

  • Let a professional do it for you whenever possible.
  • Take it slow – Wait 6-8 weeks between stretches as a minimum. If it hurts –> Stop!
  • Wear single-flared glass plugs when stretching and wait at least 3 months after stretching to change styles.
  • Never wear tapers, pinchers, spirals or other asymmetrical jewellery when stretching.
  • Keep your lobes moisturised with a light oil.

As always, we are available 7 days a week to stretch your lobes or provide jewellery upgrades and troubleshooting. You can book your appointment here.

Follow us on social media, or contact us via email with any comments and questions!

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Nipple Piercings 101

Some folks may be surprised to learn that nipples are among the most common piercing we perform here at Rogue, and we’re not alone! Most people that you see out there, in their suits and ties, with their fancy frocks and briefcases, they’ve got a barbell-shaped secret under their shirts.

So, why would anyone want to pierce their nipples? Lots of reasons! Although they’re quite a private piercing as they’re not on public display as much as nostril or ear piercings for example, they are definantly a piercing that can help people to feel empowered. A piercing that is just for them and whoever they choose to share it with. We are always honoured to be a part of that experience for someone. Of course, nipple piercings can also serve a sexual purpose and as such should never be performed on anyone under the age of 18.

History Time

It is difficult to confirm when nipple piercings became popular in the West. There are many stories online of Bavarian monarchs piercing their nipples in order to accessorise extravagant dresses. Or sailors using them to mark a particularly long voyage. There is some evidence presented in ‘The English Mechanic and Word Science’ magazine in the form of letters written in 1880’s that provide insight into the opinons people had at the time regarding these piercings and also the experiences that (in particular) women had when travelling out to Paris to have these “operations” performed. In response to a lady teling of her desire to get gold rings pierced into her nipples, someone writes “it is incredible that in this enlightened 19th century any Englishwoman should wish to mutilate herself in a way that is utterly without sense or reason”. Needless to say, it appears that his opinon is a lot less common today. Throughout the discussion on “The English Mechanic”, several writers express concerns about the practically of breast feeding, even today we continue to bust the myth that a correctly performed nipple piercing will prevent breast feeding in the future. You can read more about that here.

We also have Jim Ward to thank for documenting his first experience with nipple piercings and how they were popularised throughout the underground fetish and LGBTQIA+ scene of 1960’s America. That’s right, we have kinky gay men to celebrate for bringing piercings to the mainsteam world! In his book “Running the Gauntlet”, Jim describes how he was fascinated by the idea of piercing his nipples after discovering “the erotic pleasures of nipple play”. He had small gold rings made up by a watchmaker and used them as his inital jewellery (we live and learn through the trials and tribulations of piercings pioneers such as Jim, thin gauges are definantly not recommended these days in order to heal a nipple piercing well!)

Nipple piercings were almost exclusive to gay men involved in the leather and BDSM community, underground and often unsafe by modern standards. However, thanks to the rise in acceptance and education of these marginalised groups, nipple piercings are incredibly common. Worn publicly by celebrities such as Rihanna and Kendall Jenner, nipple piercings have become a strong fashion statement for people to wear with tight shirts and no bra. In the year 2022, we have the privelege of performing many nipple piercings each week here at Rogue, from the standard 14g all the way up to 8g for those who are a fan of heavy gauge work (anatomy dependent of course!)

NOTE: Sources used to research the history of nipple piercings come from documents written in English and are therefore bias to English perceptions. If you have any information regarding piercing history from anywhere around the world, in any language, please feel free to reach out to us at hello@rougepiercing.co.uk – we always love to learn!

Anatomy of the Nipple

A common problem we see with nipple piercings, is placement. The piercing should pass through the nipple itself and not the areola surrounding the nipple. If you take a look at the diagram below, you can see that the nipple is it’s own delinieted tissue with a clear boundary between it and the aerola (the often slightly darker skin that sits around the nipple).

Piercings should never pass into the areola tissue

Biologically, male and female nipples devlop the same way. Begining in utero at around the fourth week of development, each fetus begins to grow breast tissue. During puberty and extending to early adulthood, female breast tissue will continue to grow as estrogen levels rise in the body. Lobules inside biologically female breast tissue transport milk through the nipple ducts when stimulated to do so by hormones released after giving birth.

Nipples and Surgery

There are two main types of surgery that effect the nipple: Breast augmentation, and a mastectomy or top surgery. Both can impact your anatomy and wether we can pierce you!

We recommend having a discussion with your surgeon before the procedure about your piercing aims, so that they can give you as much information as possible. The general advice that we give clients is to wait a full year post-surgery before booking in for nipple piercings. Surgery takes a large toll on your body, and we do not want to take energy away from your healing body to heal your piercings. In addition to this, it’s important to keep in mind that the scarring from surgery (especially methods that involve full nipple removal and re-attachment) can change in shape and size over time and again needs to be fully healed and settled in place before we pierce through them. If pierced whilst the body is still healing and regenerating, we cannot guarantee as good a heal, or a straight piercing. Patience is definitely the name of the game with this! It is always better to wait longer than you think, than go into it too soon and have less-than-perfect results.

What to Expect

At Rogue our aim is to always make you feel as comfortable and safe as possible, regardless of where you’re getting pierced. You’re always welcome to bring a chaperone for moral support and we will talk you through each step of the process as we go, answering any questions/concerns/queries you may have along the way.

When you arrive for your nipple piercing (which you can book here), we will initally do an anatomy check and measurement of the nipple to discuss placement and provide you with your initial and healed sizes for jewllery. Then comes the fun part, picking your jewellery! We carry a range of options for you to choose from and we’re always happy to help with recommendations, you can check out some of barbell ends here (remember, these are sold seperately to the barbell itself which can be purchased here). As your new jewllery sterilises, we will chat to you about how to care for your piercings.

Aftercare & Healing

As always, follow the three Golden Rules for piercing and click here for a more detailed post about that!

  1. Keep it Clean
  2. Keep it Dry
  3. Leave it Alone!

Clean with sterile saline twice daily, pat dry with clean kitchen paper/non-woven gauze and avoid soaking/submerging your piercings.

Some healing times to consider:

  • 4 – 6 weeks – come see us for your check up & downsize, you can book that here
  • 3 – 4 months – you’re about halway there! you can safely change your jewellery at home and potentially swap to rings
  • 6 – 9 months – that’s your full heal! everything should be back to normal and fully settled at this point

If you every have any concerns about your piercings, pop in to see us for a check up and we will help troubeshoot with you 🙂

When it comes to getting your nipples pierced, we will always endevour to make you feel at ease, we understand that this piercing can be an intense one and bringing along some moral support is always recommended if you’re feeling a little nervous. Never hesitate to ask for reassurance (or a cuppa!)

In Conclusion

We love nipple piercings here at Rogue, no matter the size or shape, they’re certainly an empowering piercing for everyone with a wonderful and weird history behind them. Whether they’re for functional, sexual or aesthtic purposes – pierced nipples are a great way into the world of body piercing and they’re far more common than you might think!

Special thanks to Dr Matt Lodder for his research guidance, much appreciated!

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Lip Piercing 101

Let’s explore the world of lip piercings. Where they originate, how they’ve developed, what they’re called and how to care for yours! Lips are one of the most popular facial piercings so let’s talk about the anatomy of the lip and what options are available to wear in your lip piercing.

The History of the Lip Piercing

Lip piercings have a fascinating and ancient history. As far back as 6400 B.C we have evidence of lip piercings being worn in Sudan. Probably the most well recognised ancient piercing practice is the lip plate body modification practiced by the Mursi and Surma women of Ethiopia in which large plates of clay or wood are worn in lip. These can then be decorated with carvings and inks. Traditionally, once the girls reach child-bearing age and are ready for marriage, the lip is either pierced or cut by their mother to begin the lip plate process and then slowly stretched up to the desired size. Lip plates are a symbol of great beauty, worn during ceremonies, times of celebration and when presenting their husbands food. As the tradition is passed down orally to each generation, there is no clear documentation as to why this practice began. Some speculate it may be connected to dowry payments, the larger the lip plate, the larger the payment in exchange for marriage. Others believe it is a symbol of fertility and commitment to the tribe. Regardless of it’s origins, images of tribal members adorning large, decorated lip plates still fascinate people all over the world to this day and contribute to tourism throughout Africa from curious travelers.

The Western world embraced lip piercings throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, particularly within the alternative scene. Many metal musicians rocked a labret including David Draiman of Disturbed and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. The most common is the lower lip piercing, worn either in the centre or towards the edge of the lower lip. A paired set of lower lip piercings is known as “snake bites” and these became very popular in alternative teenage circles throughout the early 2000’s. We’ll talk more about placement names later so don’t worry! And here we are, in 2022 and the love for lip piercings is just as strong. With the resurgence of 90’s nostalgia and pop culture, here at Rogue we have been loving the comeback of this classic piercing. In all it’s placements and with all it’s jewellery choices, there’s never been a better time to embrace the tradition and find a lip piercing that works for you and your lifestyle!

Lip Anatomy and Piercing Names

Let’s look at the anatomy of the lip. It’s important to keep the base anatomy in mind when marking and piercing lips!

The vast majority of lip piercings pass through the Orbicularis Orbis – The ring of muscles that encircle the vermillion zone (the lips themselves). The Orbicularis Orbis is actually made from four seperate quadrants of muscles. Top and bottom, left and right. The fibers are split into ‘deep’ and ‘shallow’ sections. The deep allow for chewing and swallowing, and the shallow are used for speech. The main blood supplies that feed these muscles are the superior and inferior labial arteries and veins.

mouth piercings

Because of the vast amount of places on the lips that can be pierced, there are many names that have been coined for each type of piercing. There is a lot of contention surrounding the names of lip piercings and these names can also change culture to culture and country to country. Here is an example of a few.

If you’re ever unsure of the name of the piercing you’d like, don’t worry! You can always show us reference images or simply point to where you want your piercing to be. (Of course we always double check placements with you before the piercing is performed!) The names for lip piercings change so often that it is often tricky to keep up!

No matter what you want to call your lip piercings, we love them all! They’re a great celebration of piercing world history and a fantastic facial adornment. Check out a small selection of the lip piercings we’ve had the pleasure to perform here at Rogue, and some of the beautiful lip jewellery worn by our team.

Click here to see more of our work on Instagram

Oral Piercing Aftercare

Oral piercing aftercare is slightly different to other body piercings as the piercing passes through both a mucous membrane and normal skin. Our usual aftercare advice can be found HERE.

  1. Keep It Clean! –> We recommend cleaning the outside of your lip piercing twice a day with sterile saline solution. Spray a small amount on, let it soak into and soften any crusties, then gently wipe to remove the crusties with a piece of folded kitchen roll or nonwoven gauze. Dab dry. Clean the inside of your lip piercing a maximum of five times a day with an alcohol-free, chlorhexidine based mouthwash. If you snack, smoke, or have sexual contact using your mouth then rinse afterwards with just clean water.
  2. Keep It Dry! –> Avoid soaking and submerging the piercing for 4-6 weeks.
  3. Leave It Alone! –> Do not touch, fiddle, twist or turn the jewellery. Do not rattle the jewellery across your teeth!

Healing Times

Standard Lip Piercings – 12 Weeks

Vertical Labret/Jestrum – 6 months

Cheeks – 18-24 months.

Downsizing

As with any oral piercing, wearing jewelery inside the mouth can pose a risk of damage to your teeth and gums and this can be a particular problem if you’re wearing inappropriate jewellery. Your piercer should always endevaour to ensure that they consider your teeth and gums when discussing placement and provide you with adequate information on the assosiated risks.

The most important way to protect your oral health is to downsize the length of the jewellery once your swelling comes down. This is usually recommended to be done 2-3 weeks after your piercing. Jewellery must be longer initially to allow room for your swelling, but that excess length will cause issues when it comes into contact with your teeth. If you do nothing else with your lip piercings, please have them downsized! Once downsized, lip piercings can experience what is called ‘nesting,’ where the disc sits just inside the soft inner oral tissue. This is completely normal and actually ideal as it again protects your teeth and gums from damage.

So there you have it, a good introduction to lip piercings! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Sources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tmi.12812

https://www.icdo.at/the-mursi-tribe-and-lip-plates/

https://www.mursi.org/introducing-the-mursi

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Interview with a Rogue – Jay Abell

Tell us about your first experience with piercing?

My first ever experience with piercing was when I got my lobes pierced, but I was too young to remember, so my first actual experience was when I got my helix pierced. I think I was around 14, and my mum had got her daith pierced, and I begged her to let me have my ear done. Knowing what I know now, it probably wasn’t the safest piercing I ever had, but it was a new experience and I kind of just didn’t stop from there.

What’s your favorite piercing you have?

My favorite piercing I have currently is the one in my chin, probably because it’s more of a “fun” piercing, very short term and not viable. It’s a fun challenge to see if I can heal it, but in the meantime it’s just really cute! I love watching people’s reactions when they see I have a piercing in my chin! 

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the industry through gaining my apprenticeship with Rogue. To be honest, I was extremely lucky with how I landed it. I left university and came home to Nottingham, got a local bar job, followed by a second job at a cafe. During this time I started visiting Rogue and slowly started to upgrade my jewellery to brands like neometal. (I was wearing a lot of odd sizes, and different materials like plastic). Upon talking to Kat and Aiden, I told them I was wanting to become a piercer, but I was working other jobs. I interacted with the studio online, but I also did a lot of home research. I started learning more about the APP and UK APP, and how they work and things like that.

I actually had a folder at home, with lots of their stuff printed out!

From there I got offered an interview with the studio, spoke about Harry Styles and One Direction a lot, and was just honest the entire time about what I  liked, what I knew and didn’t know and fortunately, got offered the apprenticeship.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Rogue?

Probably the environment. The clients are absolutely lovely and always make you so excited to work with them. There’s no pressure to wear anything I’m uncomfortable with, I can be myself, I can also have a couple of biscuits with my tea if I want to. There’s the right level of pressure, do your job and do it well, make sure your stuff is done, keep moving forward and working and aspiring harder. 

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

To be honest right now I’m just proud of making it this far. Every single day I learn something new, or I do something new and it’s all so exciting. Honestly, I’m just super proud of how far I’ve come since a year ago. 

Jay’s first ever piercing, performed on Aiden

What does the future hold for Jay?

The future probably holds a lot for me but to be honest I hate thinking about it! I find if I make any sort of long term plans it always changes by time I get there! Plus I just really struggle to think that far in advance. I like to take every day, and every week as it comes by, and I just work with what I’ve got and what’s coming.

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a modded person?

To be honest, I’ve been extremely lucky when facing any challenges. I wouldn’t say I’m heavily modded or anything like that, although I suppose I might stand out a bit more in a crowd than your average person. I’ve been extremely lucky with working jobs where heavy makeup, and short dyed hair, and piercings were never an issue. They’ve also been a great conversation starter for people as well! My biggest issue has been with people asking if there’s other places I have pierced that they can’t immediately see, or purposely pointing out tattoos on my legs and chest which can be quite uncomfortable. Either that, or remarks from family, or people slightly older telling me I’d look much nicer without it all.

How did your family/friends react when you became a piercer?

I first wanted to be a piercer when I was 17 and was going to leave sixth form. My mum was really supportive and was behind me pursuing what I wanted to do. She’d just make sure that I knew what I was doing and that I had back up plans! For example, I was working a part time job as well. And then when I told my family I was dropping out of university to pursue it, again everyone was really supportive and happy that I was doing what I wanted to do. They’ve been really proud of me every step of the way, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Top 3 movies?

That’s such a nightmare question, I don’t watch movies a lot, and when I do I can never remember them afterwards! 

What’s on your playlist?

The song I’m obsessed with rightnow is ‘Friendly Sex’ by Caity Baser. But overall it’s a really weird mix of 80s, 90s, and early 2000/2010 love songs. Although if you ask me again in about a week it’ll probably be something completely different!

What advice can you offer to aspiring and established apprentices?

Be yourself, and work hard. When wanting to be a part of a world that thrives on ‘being yourself’ it can be really easy to be swept up with trends, or what other people might be doing. It can be really easy to lose yourself when trying to fit in, and in the long run it doesn’t benefit anyone. You’ve got to stick to your guns, and be unapologetically yourself.

You’ve also got to work hard, whether that’s at your apprenticeship or the other stuff you’re doing. I worked two jobs before I gained my apprenticeship, and dropped out of uni when truly realizing it’s what I wanted to do, but every step of the way I continued to work hard. I finished my year at uni, taking every last exam and meeting, even though I knew I was leaving. Working hard is a really good way to prove your commitment to things, but also if and when you do eventually leave, it’s always good to keep those connections in life.

What’s some of the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far?

“It’s amazing what you can learn when you stop talking and start listening”

What’s your favorite snack?

I really struggle with having favorite things, I just normally fixate on something for a few weeks and then never touch it again! My latest one is probably magic stars. wonderful.

Favorite drink?

Obviously redbull.

If you weren’t a piercer, what would you be doing? 

That’s a tricky one. I think if I’d never had realized I wanted to do piercing, I’d probably still be at university studying acting. However, if I’d never have gotten my apprenticeship when I did, I don’t think much would be different. I’d still be working in the pub and the cafe, still trying to gain one!

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Interview with a Rogue – Breo Hoek

Hey Breo! Can you tell us about your first experience with piercing?

My very first experience with body piercing was when I was 17. It was on my left nipple, and indeed, a bad idea. It never settled down after years due being pierced in the wrong spot with wrong jewellery. I’ve learnt, like most. the hard way.

How did you become a piercer?

The tattooist doing my rib piece in my hometown told me he would pay for my initial courses and certificates if I agreed to join him at the new studio he was about to open. This was in 2006/2007. I traveled to Madrid and Barcelona to do a couple of courses and I started right away. Not the best way, but back then we had no social media and the access to piercing information was almost unreachable for us, so learning by trial and error was the main resource we had.

What was your experience like coming to the UK?

It was a little bit random. I was living in Barcelona, I had no job at that time, and a friend of mine offered me to go to work in London. I didn’t hesitate, I needed a change, I wanted to work speaking English (that would give me the opportunity of working anywhere in the world in the future), and it was very clear I had to do it alone, for self growth. I’d been in London for 3 years. After that, I worked in Shrewsbury, at a shop called Adorn. I was there for 4 years. Then, the pandemic hit us, and I started working abroad with a jewellery company called Maria Black. Here is where I traveled more than ever in my life. And since about a year ago, after several months as regular guest at Rogue, I became a resident piercer officially at the beginning of this year. It’s been a hell of a journey, but I wouldn’t change a single thing even if I could.

How has the industry changed since you joined?

When I started, the lack of information was the main issue we all had. Piercers would never help you, I guess because the fear of being judged. Poor jewellery quality, poor aseptic techniques, poor customer service and worse work quality. Shops with loud heavy metal music, dirty walls and aggressive looking staff was the average thing. It was just a matter of being able to go through with a needle and fit something through after. 

Nowadays, EVERYTHING counts. From how you look, to how you express yourself, from what you use and how you use it when you do a piercing procedure, every single detail counts. Nowadays we only call them piercings once they’ve healed. Before that, it’s just the ‘project’.

How does the UK industry compare to the Spanish one?

The british piercing community is bigger than the Spanish one, and more active. 

Not too long ago, the Spanish piercing scene was split into two groups. The ones that care about the body piercing as a community, and the ones that didn’t. Nowadays, I’m seeing spanish young piercers with really high standards from the start of their careers, and that makes me really proud. It means that those winds of superiority are long gone and the willingness to learn from each other is bigger and stronger than ever.

You have LOTS of certificates, can you tell us about them?

To me, they only tell you that you attended seminars and classes. It is true that the more certs you have on your walls, the more obvious it is to clients that you have put time into your education. They will show how much you care about what you do, and those that can read in between the  lines can appreciate it. But what counts the most to me is the trajectory. It’s all about growing not only as a piercer, but as a human.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career so far?

I’m proud of my determination. I have been living in several places around the globe, always because my job, and there is not a single decision that I have taken and regretted after. I am a person with very strong convictions and perseverance. So if I decide something, I’ll do anything that is possible to achieve it.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a piercer?

Traveling alone is a challenge most of the times, but the biggest one was the fact that I have to live far from my family and old friends because of my job. After all these years, sometimes it feels like you are from nowhere, but luckily the close people to me always remind me that I’m loved here and missed everytime I go away for a little, making me wanting to come back soon every time :’)

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as modded person? (does that change from country to country?).

I am lucky enough to be modded and most of the times respected, regardless of my appearance. But I remember once that I was called a distraction at a wedding in a church, for having visible tattoos. Nothing serious, it made me laugh.

Tell us about your experience traveling.

I’ve been a traveler since I decided to be a full time piercer. I traveled all around Spain, UK, Denmark and some other European cities. All my travels made me stronger, maturer and wiser.

I have attended countless seminars all over Europe, sometimes several times a year, just to keep myself updated about how to do my job better, and I plan to keep doing so forever. Self growth is essential as human beings, and one of the best ways to do so is traveling.

What’s your favourite piercing you have?

I think it’s my philtrum piercing. I can’t imagine myself without it anymore.

What’s your favourite piercing to perform?

I love conch piercings. I literally could spend the whole day doing them.

What’s your top 3 favourite movies.

Top 1: Gozu

Top 2: Akira

Top 3: Brother, where art thou

Favourite thing to snack on.

I love cookies. And gummies.

How do you take your tea/coffee.

My tea is green and raw. My coffee has to be thick, I want my spoon standing up, mayonnaise-like texture. Jokes aside, I like it strong and just one sugar, with oat milk preferably

What’s on your playlist.

I’m probably the most eclectic person I know in terms of music taste. I keep enjoying the same music I used to listen to 15 years ago. I think it’s easier to tell what I dislike: Latin music/reggaeton (I can’t deal with it, sorry not sorry🙃), techno, or anything that sounds comercial and for the masses, like pop music, dance, etc. 

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? 

I love videogames. I used to play PUBG Mobile at a competitive level, but now I just play for fun. If you like the game and want to add me to your friends list, let me know!

I also started enjoying the gym, it feels good and rewarding after exercising.

Do you believe in unicorns? 

If you do not believe they exist, you are a horrible person without a meaning in this world. Unicorns are rare, not imaginary. 

What’s your favourite part of working at Rogue? 

The best at Rogue is, of course, the team and the customers. I love being part of this team of weirdos, always motivated and full of positive energy, and I love the city because every year we meet new people due being a university town. We know people from all around the globe and that’s awesome!

Check out more of Breo’s work over at Instagram by clicking here