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An Introduction To: Cartilage Piercings

Cartilage piercings are a versatile piercing, and are most people’s first forays into piercing! Besides lobes, cartilage piercings of various types are our most common appointment, and we can see why. 

A lot of people will walk into Rogue and ask for a cartilage piercing. This is not super helpful because the whole ear is made of cartilage! There are many placements that are available to be pierced, and we will be discussing them today. 

Cartilage piercings come in all different places. From the traditional helix piercing, to conches, to faux rooks and flat piercings, there is a lot you can do with cartilage!

Here are a few options of simple cartilage locations. Most cartilage piercings (even the ones with silly names like snonch!) will boil down to these shown above.

Getting Your Cartilage Piercing

After booking your appointment, the first thing to do is fill in your consent form on the morning of your appointment. This frees up time in your slot for extra time choosing jewellery! We stock a huge range of jewellery for cartilage piercings. Choosing your jewellery can be a bit of a long process as we stock over 500 different options. We think it’s totally worth it though as everyone’s personal style and taste is catered for!

A stunning faux-rook, pierced with a singular Neometal Prong.

For cartilage piercings, we strongly advise you to start with a flat-back labret as opposed to a ring. Labrets are comfortable, do not move about during the day and are generally less irritating for your piercing. Initial rings have to be large in order to avoid issues with swelling, and the large diameter introduces its own issues in regards to movement, snagging and the rotation of bacteria into your piercing. Labrets are a much better choice! You can swap to a ring after roughly 6-8 months. 

Once you have picked your jewellery and received your aftercare speech, it’s time to head to the piercing room! As with all our piercings, we first sit you down and discuss placement. Your anatomy and personal preferences will dictate the piercing’s final location, but there is a lot of wiggle room with this so we like to ask what you want from the piercing! Then, we draw some precise marks on the ear where you would like the piercing to go. Once we double and triple-check the position with you, we are happy to pierce! From there, you lie down for the piercing. We find that a comfortable reclined position helps to stop you from moving about, and prevents that funny lightheadedness that can sometimes occur after you get pierced. Win-win! 

The piercing itself takes literally seconds from beginning to end. We pierce with a super-sharp, high-quality tri bevel needle that makes the process a smooth and pain-minimised experience. Then it’s another quick moment and the jewellery is installed for you. The piercing itself is not overly uncomfortable. It feels like a quick pinch, then you may feel some spreading warmth as your ear has already begun the healing process! You can read all about the stages of healing in my blog post here. Then ta-dah, you have a new piercing! 

Healing a Cartilage Piercing

There are lots of articles on the internet that say that healing cartilage piercings is so hard, so difficult, and really quite fraught with danger. The simple fact is that when you follow the basic rules of aftercare, it is a straightforward process! Healing a cartilage piercing takes anywhere from 6-12 months, depending on the location and how well your body deals with a new piercing. The general rules of healing are to keep it clean, dry and secure. The less you do, the better really! 

Cartilage piercings are a little more sensitive than lobe piercings when it comes to snags, knocks and pressure. Cartilage has little direct blood-flow, so any irritation naturally takes longer to dissipate. The main issue with cartilage piercings and irritation is that people want to feel like they are ‘doing something’ to help themselves heal. This has led to quite a lot of internet cure-alls being touted as ‘magic cures!’ In fact, the best thing you can do is be gentle and let your body do what it does best without the irritation of harsh lotions and potions. You can read more about the causes and cures of lumps and bumps here. 

General Piercing Maintenance 

So you have passed the 6 month mark and your cartilage piercing is healed – Congratulations! You now have a happy and healed piercing that, with good care, will last you the rest of your life. So, now what?

My well-healed conch piercing is currently holding a BVLA Marquise Fan. I remove the end to clean once every two weeks to keep myself a sparkling example to our clients!

Caring for a healed piercing is a lot like caring for the rest of your body. Piercings tend to collect a mixture of oils, skin cells and shampoo residue over time. If you never wash your piercings, things can get pretty gross! Keep it clean by simply rinsing in the shower, occasionally with the aid of a very gentle soap. I like using a gentle fragrance-free face wash because it is much less harsh than body wash. Simply massage a little bit of soapy foam around your piercing, and rinse well. Once you have finished your shower, gently pat dry. And that’s it! 

Every so often you may want to clean the jewellery itself. This can be done either while the jewellery is in your ear, or by removing just the end. We recommend cleaning your healed piercings like this roughly once a month. Simply remove the end (leaving the labret in place) and use a very soft toothbrush and mild soap to polish any residue from the crevices in your jewellery. Rinse well (do not drop it down your sink!) and then return to its home in your ear!

So there you are, a simple overview of cartilage piercings. I adore cartilage piercings because you can go as big or small as you want, and have as many as you can fit!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next week for another blog. In the meantime, check out our social media for more awesome piercings!

Kat x

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The Best of April

Well, what a welcome! You have all be utterly wonderful and we cannot thank you enough for being so supportive, kind and generally lovely during this first week of piercing.

Today I’ll be giving you a highlight reel of some of the piercing work we have done this month! We have experienced everything from the excitement of first lobe piercings, to the more unusual including vertical scaffolds and intimate piercings. 

Aiden

A perfect bridge piercing with a mirror-finish Titanium barbell.

My personal favourite piercings that Aiden has done this month are the weird and wonderful. Anything to do with big needles makes me so happy! Large-gauge lobes are the perfect way to skip the hassle of stretching lobes. We can pierce up to 5mm, and clients often find it easier than standard stretched lobes to stretch up to 8-10mm once healed. You can see some photos of these badass guys and their cool new additions below!

Vertical scaffolds are so fun! This one is now happily healing out there in the world.

We have also had a run on bridges recently. We think it’s due to the currently mask mandate. It’s one of the few facial piercings we are offering right now, and one of the few that are visible when you wear a mask! Bridges are a complex piercing to perform simply because they have to be aligned and even in three planes of view.

Jess

Jess has been working hard on her apprentice piercings for the last three weeks! She has been doing an amazing job working on rooks, navels, forward helixes and scaffold piercings. She still has a few slots left for apprentice-rate navel, scaffold and forward helix piercings! Get in touch via her work account to claim your slot. There are only a limited quantity of each, so get in quickly!

Aside from apprentice work, Jess has been working with some beautiful anatomy recently. We love that every single client is different. It’s what makes this line of work so exciting! Gold jewellery has been very popular this week, and you can see a stunning example below. 

This was a fun one! This conch piercing looks stunning adorned with a BVLA Sophie Tear set with a genuine Diamond.

We love using BVLA jewellery. It adds a special touch to any piercing, no matter how simple. Our next BVLA order deadline is Sunday, May 16th. Get in touch before then in order to secure your place! Custom ordering from BVLA is no more expensive than if the item was in our studio, and you can customise the item to even the smallest minutiae.

Kat

I have been working hard behind the scenes – I may not be a piercer but I have been carefully curating all of our jewellery orders for over a year now. It’s a wonderful feeling to see a client fall in love with a piece of jewellery that you also adore. We have recently received our latest Anatometal order, and I happily chose a few statement pieces that can be purchased both in store and through our website! 

An Anatometal 4-Gem Marquise Fan set with rainbow Swarovski crystals in solid 18k Gold. You can purchase this here!

Again, we can’t believe the wonderful welcome we have received from the lovely people of Nottingham. We might make this a monthly series where you can see the best of that months piercing portfolio!

See you soon,

Kat

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An Introduction To: Navel Piercings

Summer is now just around the corner, and that means that people are thinking of ways to jazz themselves up before the season of bathing suits and crop tops! A navel, or bellybutton piercing is a perfect way to do so.

We love navel piercings. Between the three of us (Aiden, Jess and myself), we have 5 navel piercings! They are a brilliant way to add a bit of sparkle to an area that some people are self-conscious of. In my experience, adding a piece of jewellery you love can really help with your confidence.

So, what are navel piercings like? How do you heal one? And finally we will answer the most common query, “But I was told my navel was unpierceable!” 

Types of Navel Piercing

There are three main types of navel anatomy, two of which can be pierced. These two types are both equally common, and the only thing that changes is what kind of jewellery you can wear in it!

A perfect example of a Traditional Navel. Note the obvious upper lip and lack of crease lines either side!

“Traditional Navel” – This is the standard anatomy that you probably have in mind when you think about navel piercings. It has a good ‘lip’ at the top of the navel, and when you bend over the crease that forms will sit well above the navel. The navel itself holds its’ shape when you squish down. This type of navel can easily hold the traditional navel jewellery that comes to mind when you think of navel piercings! Small, cute gem on the top and a larger gem on the bottom. 

A beautiful floating navel wearing a Neometal Purple Opal Cabochon. See how this navel is squishing flat?

“Collapsing Navel” – This is another type of navel, which can also be pierced. This type of navel is also called a ‘floating navel,’ because the jewellery often looks like it is a single gem floating above the navel itself. This is not to be confused with a surface piercing, which is unsuitable for any navel piercing. A collapsing navel, as the name suggests, will squish flat when you bend over. People of all shapes and sizes can have collapsing navels, it is nothing to do with your weight! It is dictated by where your abdomen creases, and in this case the abdomen creases perfectly along the bellybutton. When your navel squishes flat, there is no room for that large gem that traditional navel jewellery has! Wearing traditional navel jewellery in a collapsing navel will cause all kinds of pressure issues and is not conducive to a long-term heal. Collapsing navels are pierced using a strongly curved barbell (Anatometal curves are our favourite for this!), and hold a large gem on the top and a small ball or disc on the bottom. This small ball or disc is much more comfortable, and will not cause issues when you bend over or move!

“Outie Navel” – Outie navels are caused by a remnant of umbilical cord which sticks out of the body. Unfortunately, this is the one type of navel that it is actually unsafe to pierce. A standard navel is pierced through only skin and a little soft tissue, but an outie would be pierced through quite a lot of complex internal tissue. This piercing would be unstable, and any issues could quickly become quite serious. Because of this, we do not pierce outie navels. There are lots of other cool options though, so definitely pop into the studio if you would like to discuss alternative piercings! 

Getting a Navel Piercing

The easiest part of the whole process is the piercing itself. The most comparable piercing is actually your earlobes! It is the same type of soft, flexible skin with a thin bit of soft tissue in between. 

First, we check your anatomy to see which style of navel is suitable for you! Then, we will clean and mark you while you are standing up. This helps us to see where the jewellery will sit, and make sure it is perfectly straight. We do the actual piercing with the client laying down – This is much more comfortable and makes it less scary!

Often the most intimidating part is actually the clamping of the tissue- Some piercers will use a set of clamps to hold the navel while they pierce. This can be quite uncomfortable! At Rogue we don’t use clamps for navel piercings, everything is totally freehand. This means less discomfort for you, and a much easier piercing. The actual piercing takes only a couple of seconds! 

 As with all our piercings we use a very sharp single-use tri-bevel needle, and install implant-grade ASTM F-136 Titanium or solid 14k or 18k Gold jewellery. We have something for every budget and style!

Healing Your New Piercing

A navel piercing is quite a simple piercing to heal, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. For our full aftercare advice, click here! 

Firstly, you have to avoid putting pressure on this piercing while it heals. Unfortunately this means avoiding tight or high-waisted clothing and tight belts or corsets for the first 8-12 weeks of the healing period. Pressure will irritate your navel piercing, and unfortunately will slightly increase the risk of rejection. So here is your written permission to wear sweatpants for 8 weeks!

The second thing to be mindful of is keeping this piercing dry. This means you must avoid bathing or swimming for a minimum of 4 weeks. Keep this in mind if you are planning to be newly sparkly for a seaside holiday! The most common issue is the collection of moisture underneath the lower part of the piercing. The bellybutton itself is a perfect cup to hold water in, and a wet piercing is easily irritated and can become a breeding ground for bacteria. So after you shower or swim it is really important to dab your piercing dry both top and bottom!

Navel piercings take between 6 and 8 months to fully heal, so in fact the best time to get them is between Autumn and late Spring! This way you can heal them perfectly before they need to be on show. 

So there you are, a quick overview of navel piercings! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are open for bookings, which you can book here! We are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10.30am-5pm. See you soon!

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Reopening Rogue and COVID-19

Well, it’s currently Friday the 9th of April and we reopen in 4 days on the 13th. I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a long wait and a very long time in the making. Being closed for another three months means that we have been forcibly closed for a total of about 36 weeks since March last year. It has been touch and go at times but we are proud to have made it out the other side of yet another National Lockdown. Hopefully this is the last long lockdown we have to endure, and we look forward to flourishing in Nottingham in the coming months and years!

Today we’re talking about what the COVID-19 policies will look like in our studio when we reopen. For a short summary, look on our instagram.  We have reopened our booking portal, so click here to book your appointment! We remain an appointment-only studio, so do book to avoid disappointment as we do not take walk ins.

Before Your Appointment

We send out all the consent forms and relevant details to you within your confirmation email. It’s super important you fill these out before you arrive for your piercing, as it takes up valuable time in your appointment which can be used for much more fun things like picking out Gold jewellery! Not only that, but we do need to be precise with our appointment timings in order to avoid overlap with previous or newly arriving clients. Please fill in all documentation before your appointment slot!

We aren’t doing orofacial piercings, but here is some inspo of piercings we can do! A beautiful daith pierced with an Industrial Strength Odyssey Clicker.

As always, we recommend you eat a good meal and drink plenty of water within 4 hours of your appointment. We find it makes the whole process much easier when you are calm, well-fed and alert! This also makes the risk of feeling a bit woozy much smaller, which I think we can all agree is a good thing.

When we reopen, we will not be performing any under-the-mask services. This includes piercings, checkups, jewellery changes and troubleshooting. This is for the safety of our staff and other clients. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and we feel it is reckless and irresponsible to be offering these types of oral and facial piercings during the pandemic. We will be closely monitoring the Government guidelines and local infection rates during the coming months, and will make a science and law-driven decision on this policy in the future. We do not currently have a provisional date for the reopening of under-the-mask services.

When You Arrive

We ask that you arrive a maximum of 5 minutes before your appointment. Normally we don’t mind if you arrive early (and bring snacks for us!) but at the moment we cannot have a waiting area and that means you will be turned away until your appointment time. We firmly stick to a one in, one out policy as it greatly reduces the risk of viral cross-contamination and gives us time to fully decontaminate all surfaces, door handles, anything that might have been touched by the previous client. 

Nipple piercings do count as intimate piercings, so you can have a chaperone for them. This pair was pierced with gorgeous Neometal threadless barbells set with Capri Blue Opals.

We also politely ask that unless you are a parent bringing a minor into the studio for their first piercings, or a client arriving for an intimate piercing or intimate piercing consultation, you must arrive alone for any piercing appointment. We do not currently allow groups or friends into the studio unless they are there to chaperone your intimate appointment. If you arrive with a friend or partner, they must wait outside the studio for the duration of your appointment. Please take this into consideration if you have booked 40 minutes of appointments and it is cold outside! If you arrive in a group, all with appointments back-to-back, then we will only allow one client in at a time to select jewellery and get pierced. This is regardless of social bubbles or family groups, this is simply to allow us to be able to socially distance from our clients within the studio and is entirely for the health and well-being of our staff.

As in previous opening periods, we will have our NHS Test and Trace QR code on the door and you must scan this before setting foot in the studio. This means you will need to download the Test and Trace app in advance of your appointment if you have not already. If you refuse to scan this, we also have a manual register on our tablet which you can fill out. 

The wearing of a medical mask is compulsory for the entire duration of your time at Rogue. This means you must not remove your mask for any reason. If you feel breathless or need a minute, we are more than happy to guide you outside where you can have a breather. If you refuse to wear a mask in Rogue, you will be asked to leave. If you have a genuine medical exemption, then please get in touch with us before your appointment and we will see if we can make reasonable alterations to our service. Our general advice in this instance would be, if you are mask exempt, to wait for a time where masks are no longer mandatory before booking for a piercing. Along the same vein, if you are medically exempt, this does not mean we will perform facial piercings on you. The same rules apply to everyone that we will not be performing any oral or nasal piercings on any clients until the laws on close-contact services are updated in the future. 

So there you have it, an introduction to the current policies at Rogue. It sounds like a lot, and it is! We are closely following current Government guidelines, and there is even more regulation that is recommended by the Association of Professional Piercers that we also follow which is more piercer-focussed and behind the scenes. You can put your trust in us as we are going above and beyond to make your visits to Rogue a safe and educational experience.

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The Importance of Saying No

The importance of saying no in piercing. 

No is a powerful word that we all as a society need to learn to use more, without explanation or argument. However, in piercing it is sometimes difficult to say no, especially to a paying client. Here I will go over what saying no can look like, and more importantly why we might say no to you.

There are a few obvious reasons we will say no to a client- If you are underage, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if you are clearly under the coercion of another person. These are the most important reasons we will say no. It is for your safety!

The first thing that comes to mind is the idea of anatomy dependent piercing. Anatomy dependent piercings include traditional industrial piercings, traditional navel piercings and most intimate piercings. For these piercings, we specifically ask you to book a consultation where you can come in and spend time with us checking your anatomy is suitable, and chatting about the piercing, what the healing process looks like, and what jewellery options you need for it. 

A custom ball-joint scaffold piercing, using Industrial Strength components. This is a superb option if you don’t have the anatomy for a traditional scaffold piercing. Book yours here.

We say no to more traditional industrial piercings than any other piercing. This is because when pierced on the wrong anatomy, they can cause a large amount of scarring and discomfort for the lifetime of that piercing. Most clients are unaware of simply how dependent on your anatomy a scaffold is- It is not a piercing that everyone can get! However, we have still seen quite a number of incorrect industrial piercings come to our studio looking for advice. Some piercers may find it hard to say no, or simply would prefer to pierce you and take your money for a piercing that deep down they know will not work for you. If we say no to a piercing on anatomical grounds, trust us when we say that it is for the best! At Rogue, it’s important that we only perform safe piercings that have the capacity to last a lifetime. We can’t be swayed into performing piercings that are unsuitable and have a high risk of rejection.  

Another reason we may decline to pierce is on younger clients. We do lobe piercings on clients from 8 years old. We like to bring these clients and their parents in for a quick consultation before their piercing appointment so we can get an idea of how mature the child is, how happy they are to get pierced and if they have any worries about the procedure. We do reserve the right to say no if we feel that your child is not ready to get pierced. Piercings take care and attention to heal, and sometimes it is worth waiting another year or two before trusting your child to properly care for them. Not only this, but the consent of your child is vital. If they get one lobe pierced and decide that they don’t want the other one, we will not pierce the second lobe! Learning bodily autonomy at a young age is really important, and we will listen to your child and what they want. We will always work with the parent on this one, so we are happy to arrange a time in the future for the second piercing when the child is happy to get the other.

This is a beautiful collection, but this takes time! We wouldn’t dream of piercing all of this at once. Patience is a virtue when it comes to collecting piercings.

We may also say no if you already have a plethora of fresh piercings. If we can clearly see that you are already trying to heal 3 or more piercings, then we will at least think twice about burdening your body with another one. We can bend this rule if you are a regular client who we know takes stellar care of your piercings, but as a general rule we won’t pierce you if we can see that you currently have a couple of irritated or fresh piercings. Again, piercings are a long-term commitment and it’s important that they are well cared for and nicely healed before we move on to giving you more. 

We will also say no is due to client behaviour. Inappropriate behaviour towards other clients and our staff is unacceptable and will result in an automatic ban from Rogue. Inappropriate behaviour consists of suggestive comments, asking about unusual or intimate piercings that our staff have, attempts to touch our staff, or attempts to contact our staff on personal social media or in person outside of the bounds of our studio. I’m sure you can all see why this would be the case! Harassment is unfortunately a part of life in the piercing industry, but we want to make that change and really push that it is unacceptable to harass our staff.

So there you have it- A couple reasons why we might say no to a piercing. At the end of the day, your health and well-being is the most important thing for us, and we won’t do anything to compromise that. We are forever appreciative that clients trust us with their bodies, and we are grateful for the opportunity to produce only the best piercings by working with our clients to produce what they want. That trust is vital for a good relationship between piercer and client. That trust has to include trust that your piercer is working with your best interests in mind. So thank you for choosing Rogue and putting that trust into us!

If you have any questions about this article or any others on the site, don’t hesitate to get in touch via Instagram or send me an email at kat@roguepiercing.co.uk.

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How To Spot Quality Jewellery

A beautiful triple helix pierced with high quality ASTM F-136 Titanium jewellery. So shiny you can see yourself in it!

As piercing grows and rises in popularity, the number of piercers and jewellery companies has exploded. Fortunately, the amount of education and information available on piercings and jewellery is also growing. However as clients become more aware of quality and what to look for, bad jewellery companies and piercers have become wise to this and are beginning to twist the truth in order to continue to sell their poorly made jewellery. By using certain key words, some jewellery sellers are able to mislead their customers into purchasing low quality jewellery.

Here we will discuss what to look for in quality jewellery, and what to avoid when purchasing your own jewellery. We stock only the best in body jewellery, and you can shop these options here!

Metals

The first thing to discuss is what your jewellery is made of. The most common material is metal as it is durable, comfortable and easily available. However, not all metals are made equal.

Steel

Steel is not a single material, but an umbrella term for potentially thousands of different alloys. Only one grade of steel is implant grade and that is ASTM F-138 grade steel. However, the vast majority of steels used in piercing are ‘stainless steel’ and ‘surgical steel.’ Neither of these have any formal definition or safety status, and usually contain nickel and other allergens. One grade of ‘surgical steel’ that is often marketed as body safe is 316L. If you read into 316L, it is actually a low grade of marine steel. This is steel intended for use in heavy machinery, wastewater piping, and the petrochemical industry- not in the human body! These are pretty much the definition of mystery metals! We do not sell steel jewellery because of this. ASTM F-138 steel jewellery from one of our trusted brands can be ordered by request.

Titanium

High Polish, internally threaded Titanium vs low quality, scratched and poorly polished externally threaded jewellery. Which one would you rather wear?

Titanium jewellery is often considered the ‘gold standard’ (no pun intended) of body jewellery, but even titanium has its faults. There are 6 grades of pure Titanium, and multiple alloys. All of these can be marketed to the client as Titanium jewellery. Only one grade is commonly used in body piercing and is also implant grade: ASTM F-136 Titanium. Even this can be misleading! Some brands market themselves as selling ASTM F-136 Titanium jewellery, and yet when they are asked to produce mill certificates to prove this they either cannot provide them, or choose not to, or their certification comes from a source that has been exposed as falsifying documentation in the past. Every single brand we sell at Rogue can produce their ASTM F-136 certification from a trusted source. 

Gold

Gold has been successfully used in body jewellery for millenia. Before brick buildings and agriculture, there was Gold jewellery. However, it is important to understand the carat system of Gold. Pure Gold, 100% solid Gold, is 24ct. This means it is 24/24 parts Gold. The three main carats are 9ct, 14ct and 18ct. Let’s do the maths on these. 18k Gold is 18/24 or 75% pure Gold. 14k is 14/24 or 59% Gold. 9k Gold is 9/24 or 37% Gold. The rest of the alloy is what is important- If your 9ct Gold is only 37% Gold, then it begs the question of what the other 63% is? We only use body-safe 14k or 18k Gold alloyed with other high-quality, nickel-free metals which has been proven safe to wear long term. No high-end body jewellery company manufactures 9ct jewellery. The filler metals in 9ct Gold tend to be low-quality metals such as nickel and copper, which could be causes of irritation in piercings. Gold plating or vermeil is a whole other topic which is discussed below. We are incredibly proud of the Gold options we sell, and we hope you appreciate the time and effort that goes into producing and stocking only the best items for you.

Coatings

Some jewellery is available with a coating. This could be ‘Gold plating,’ ‘PVD Gold,’ ‘Titanium dipped,’ ‘Black PVD,’ or any other marketing term from a list of hundreds. None of these items are body safe or suitable for long term wear. These items generally don’t mention what material is used under the coating, so once the coating wears down or chips off (which it will!) you are exposing yourself to a mystery metal. Not only this, but the chipped surface is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and can scratch you to cause irritation.

Gold Vermeil is a new marketing term we have seen in the last few years. Vermeil is a layer of Gold plated onto Sterling silver, which is not body safe. So again, once the coating wears away you are left exposed to an unsafe metal. For this reason, we do not stock plated or coated jewellery. If you would like fun coloured jewellery, we can anodise your Titanium jewellery by passing an electrical current through it to change the colour that the metal reflects! This is the only body-safe way to wear coloured jewellery. If you want Gold jewellery, the only way to safely do so is to purchase solid Gold jewellery.

To read about more materials and their merits (or issues), click here.

Threading

Internal threading is the safest, most secure threading system.

There are two main types of threading: Internal threading (which includes threadless) and external threading. This is often the first port of call when investigating whether your jewellery is high quality. Externally threaded jewellery is when the thread pattern is exposed on the labret or barbell. There is currently no high-quality brand in the world that produces externally threaded jewellery. This is because the thread will tear the fistula every time it is inserted or removed, which in turn will irritate your piercing and increase your risk of infection as you are removing the dermal barrier. Externally threaded jewellery is not made in body-safe materials such as ASTM F-136 Titanium or 18k body-safe Gold. Why do some studios still use external thread? It is simply down to cost. Externally threaded jewellery is often up to 50% cheaper to buy than internally threaded jewellery.

Not only is internally threaded jewellery safer to insert and remove, but it is also a much more secure threading style than external thread. If you find that you consistently lose your ends from an externally threaded labret, then maybe it’s time to move to internally threaded jewellery. Our high end manufacturers pride themselves on producing only the most secure threaded jewellery!

Jewellery Polish

In the timeless words of Paddy, owner of ISUK…

One thing that is often overlooked when purchasing body jewellery is the surface finish of your jewellery. All jewellery should be free of scratches, nicks and dents. It should have an utterly perfect mirror finish – In our jewellery photos you can often see our reflection in the piece! 

Scratches, knicks and dents can irritate your piercing in the same way as external threading does. Not only this, but any imperfections in surface finish gives bacteria a place to grow and multiply which is not good for a fresh or healed piercing. Some studios have been known to save money by purchasing and using totally unpolished jewellery. Our jewellery is either hand-polished or goes through a multi-stage mechanical polishing process in order to produce that incredibly reflective and smooth finish.

Conclusion

In order to be a high-quality piece of jewellery, your item must be at the highest standards of each of these categories- You can find and purchase low-quality, poorly polished internally threaded jewellery. You can also buy Titanium that has been dipped in a plastic or painted coating, rendering it dangerous. The gold standard of body jewellery is an internally threaded or threadless item made from ASTM F-136 certified Titanium or body-safe 14/18k Gold that has been polished to a superb mirror finish. 

Where you purchase jewellery from is also incredibly important. We do not recommend purchasing jewellery from online retailers that do not have a physical piercing studio. Handmade options from websites such as Etsy may look cute and be a unique choice, but they have no safety regulations and sellers often cannot produce documentation to prove their jewellery is safe. Some are even just resellers for companies or brands that are known to produce dangerously low quality jewellery.

The best way to guarantee the safety and quality of your jewellery is to purchase your items from a well-known, high quality brand such as BVLA, Neometal, Industrial Strength, Anatometal or LeRoi through your local premium piercer. If you want to see our range of these brands, click here. Our basic range also meets these high standards, and we are proud to carry safe jewellery that is accessible to all budgets.

This is just an overview of what to look for in quality, safe jewellery that will last a lifetime. The brands we carry offer a lifetime warranty, so you can imagine the pride and care they take in offering only the highest quality jewellery. If you have any questions about jewellery or the quality of what we carry, don’t hesitate to get in touch via kat@roguepiercing.co.uk or via our instagram.

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Why Does a Piercing Apprenticeship Take So Long?

Today we’ll be discussing why apprenticeships take so long and why you shouldn’t pay for online or in-person piercing schools. A full, comprehensive piercing apprenticeship lasts 2-3 years. In this blog we delve into why that’s the case, and why you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

What is an Piercing Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is the best way to learn to pierce. During an apprenticeship, you will be trained by an experienced older piercer in all aspects of safety and technique. Choosing your mentor is a big decision as their experience and reputation will follow you into your professional career. Make sure your mentor is qualified, experienced and a respected member of the industry. For Aiden’s rundown of piercing education, click here.

Aiden has been working in this industry for over 10 years, and was a founding board member of the UKAPP. This is the kind of experienced mentor you should be looking for! (However we might be a little bit biased.)

What do you Learn during a Piercing Apprenticeship?

In short, you learn an awful lot!

You will first learn all the safety aspects of piercing: Bloodborne pathogens training, cross-contamination, how to clean and sterilise jewellery, how to safely reprocess tools, which chemicals to clean your station and clients with, and the correct use of a sterile field including sterilised gloves, needles, tools and jewellery. This first stage prepares you to confidently handle a clean environment and prevent infection of yourself and your clients with harmful pathogens. 

The second stage would be learning to handle your clients, organise your day, organise jewellery orders and keep up to date with the financial side of piercing. You will need to know how to take bookings, organise your finances, handle your clients from the moment they step in the door and how to keep a polite and respectful environment to work in. Most piercers work alone or in small studios, so it is important that you know how to be self-employed and confidently run your business. It’s vital that we take care to teach our apprentices everything there is to know, and how to become a good piercer.  Not only this but it is vital that we teach our apprentices about the history of the industry and where we come from. If we don’t pass on the knowledge of Jim Ward, Fakir Musafar, Mr Sebastian and all the founding greats then we are at risk of losing our history altogether.

Our lovely apprentice Jess is 12 months into her apprenticeship. Only 24 more to go! She is doing amazing.

The third stage of a piercing apprenticeship is the piercing itself. You will be taught how to prep your clients skin, how to open and handle your sterilised gloves, how to approach your client and how to correctly pierce them. You will be taught which jewellery is appropriate for which piercings, how to safely fit them and how to manage your clients when they come in for their checkups and downsizes. Learning to pierce straight, at the correct depth, angle and with your clients anatomy in mind is hugely important for a successful piercing and an uneventful heal for your client. You will be taught to pierce and master a few basic piercings such as conches, helixes and lobes before moving on to more complex piercings. This can take months of work and practice!

Finally, once you have shown you are adept at all piercings and can work cleanly and safely, you will fledge and become a junior piercer. It may take upwards of two years to get to this point. Yes, upwards of two years! There is so much more to piercing than simply pushing a needle through a client and taking their money.

In addition to piercing ears and noses, to be a solid piercer you do have to consider piercings other areas. Intimate piercings are an important part of what we do and if we don’t pass on the knowledge of how they should be pierced, then we risk letting intimate piercing die out in the UK. Being taught to be an ‘ear piercer’ only is a dissatisfying apprenticeship.

Why You Should Never Attend a Piercing School

At Rogue we have seen many piercing schools come and go, but we are yet to see a single school provide a course that gives its learners an acceptable skill level to begin piercing. There are far too many piercing schools or other people who feel that they can teach piercing but they simply do not grasp the scope and depth of knowledge that must be learnt.

Piercing Schools are not the way to go. Don’t fall into the trap!

The average piercing school course in the UK lasts 6 days. 6 days! 6 days is not enough time to learn the basics of hygiene, nevermind become a fully fledged and skilled piercer! There is no way that you will become a confident, adept and knowledgeable piercer with only 40 hours of training. Often these schools are teaching outdated techniques and training you to use low-quality jewellery. As a learner, you may not even realise you are being taught dangerous techniques until it is too late.

Apprenticeships are usually unpaid and usually free of charge. You should not be attending a piercing school that costs thousands of pounds to end up with a ‘qualification’ that actually devalues you in the eyes of the piercing industry. Most high-end piercing studios will reject applications for work or apprenticeships from someone who has taken a piercing course. Some piercing schools claim that a short 2 day course is enough to prepare you for an apprenticeship, but this simply isn’t true. A good studio will think twice about taking you on as an apprentice as they will have to sink time into retraining you out of bad and potentially dangerous habits. It’s simply not worth it.

So How Do I Get An Apprenticeship?

We understand that apprenticeships are rare and incredibly competitive to get. It’s like applying to a university that doesn’t tell you what A levels or grades you need! However, you should not get discouraged from trying to enter the piercing industry. 

In order to secure an piercing apprenticeship, you must first find a piercing studio that is qualified to give you the valuable education that you need. The best way to do this is to find your local APP or UKAPP member studio. This proves that they are working to a high standard of safety and do not compromise their clients safety in order to increase their profits. Some studios are not members and yet exceed the standards set by the UKAPP, so do your own research if you cannot find an APP studio. An piercing apprenticeship from a low quality studio that is not willing to teach you to be a high quality piercer is no apprenticeship at all. Be careful of studios that simply want unpaid labour!

A huge amount of an apprentice’s work is behind the scenes. It’s neither glamorous nor flashy!

Once you have found a studio, it is important that you attend the studio and get pierced by them regularly. Studios are often overwhelmed by apprenticeship requests, often from total strangers, so it is important that you become a recognised and valuable client first. If you have the funds, purchasing high-end jewellery and showing you appreciate high-quality items is a very good way to set yourself above the competition. Becoming a known client is good in that even if that particular studio doesn’t take you on as an apprentice, they can often recommend you as an apprentice to a studio who is looking to take someone on. At this stage you should also be familiarising yourself with high-quality jewellery. Read up on internal threading or threadless jewellery and why external thread is dangerous. Learn about ASTM regulations and why ASTM F-136 Titanium is the safest metal! Find out why sterling silver is not a safe material, and why jewellery must be a certain gauge or thickness in order to be safe. If you really want to impress, memorise the conversions between gauges and inches and metric millimeters!

From becoming a valued client, the next step is to offer your services. This is not a guarantee of an apprenticeship! You can simply ask the piercer if you can help clean up at the end of the day, answer the phone and generally make yourself useful. Quite often as piercers work solo, they will appreciate your offer!

From here, you can ask about an apprenticeship. Taking on an apprentice is a huge financial burden to a studio as you often cost them more money than you make. It’s a big decision to make and your studio may have to think about it. If they offer you an apprenticeship- Congratulations! You are taking the first step to becoming a piercer. If they refuse your offer, don’t panic. They may not be in a position to offer one to you now, but they may reconsider in the future. If not, you can always ask them if they would recommend you to another studio who can take you on. 

As an aside, piercing is a very hard job both physically and mentally. Yes, you can look however you want and be the person you want to be but only to a point. Even within piercings there are limits to how extreme you can look and still maintain a strong client base. Piercing is a fairly unstable job, and the pandemic has only made this more obvious. You don’t become a piercer if you want to be rich! Piercing is also a hugely demanding full time job and a lifestyle. Burnout is very real and mental health issues are a topic of constant conversation within piercing. Make sure you are certain that you want this life before delving into an apprenticeship.

So there you have it! A pretty comprehensive review of what a piercing apprenticeship looks like, and why you should not fall into the trap of piercing schools and courses. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and we will see you again next Friday for a new blog!

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Keloids – An Overview

Hello, and welcome to another deep-dive scientific review into one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed issues that the piercing industry faces: the Keloid. 

Some piercings will experience some kind of lump or bump in their healing process- It’s the body’s natural first response to any snag, knock or mistreatment. Irritation to the piercing can come from many sources such as incorrect or low quality jewellery, pressure, snags, or incorrect aftercare. If you want to read about lumps, bumps and how to solve them click here. However a keloid is a medical issue and won’t go away on it’s own. This review simply goes into specifically what a keloid is, and how they can be treated and managed by a medical practitioner such as your GP or a dermatologist. Your piercer is not the person to ask for true keloid treatment.

An irritation bump, normally caused by poor quality jewellery and incorrect aftercare. These bumps are more common, and easily sorted out by a high-quality piercer. They do go away!

The Keloid- A Clinical Diagnosis.

Keloids are large, firm, asymmetrical round lumps that will grow outside of the initial wound boundary. They are often slightly tender to the touch and will not go away on their own! Keloids do not stop growing, and do not shrink in size without medical treatment. Keloids, unfortunately, will often recur once surgically removed. 

A genuine Keloid diagnosed by a dermatologist. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Harris of Pictures of Lily, Biggleswade.

Keloid Epidemiology

Keloids occur in all races, sexes and ages, but are most common in people between the ages of 20 and 30. Studies have shown that dark-skinned people usually of African descent are the most likely to get a keloid- 6-16% of these populations will experience a keloid in comparison to only 0.9% of White British people. This is not to say that you are guaranteed to get a keloid or are protected from them by your race!

Keloids are strongly linked to genetics- If you have a strong family history of keloid formation, you are much more likely to get keloids of your own. 

Keloids – Why do they form?

Keloids don’t just appear, they grow as an overly powerful response to trauma to the skin.

If you look back to my previous review on the wound healing process, you will remember that the Maturation or Remodelling phase is the third and final phase of healing. Collagen is grown and the skin slowly softens and returns to its normal state. In keloid formation, collagen is synthesised at up to 20x the normal rate. This overproduction of collagen can be a cause of the fast-growing nature of a keloid. In addition to this, fibroblasts that produce the scaffolding on which new skin is developed are upregulated- Fibronectin (the scaffolding protein) is produced at a rate of up to 4x greater than in normal scar healing. 

Growth factors are chemicals produced by immune cells within the healing tissue to promote wound repair. One in particular, TGF-beta, is really important for this process. In normal wound healing, this factor is carefully controlled and is turned off completely once the wound is healed. In keloid formation, TGF-beta is uncontrolled and is not turned off once the wound is healed and so is allowed to run riot within the tissue. In addition to this, the fibroblast cells found in keloids have many more receptors for TGF-beta and are therefore much more sensitive to it’s effects! 

Keloids- Treatment

Keloids will not go away on their own- If your ‘keloid’ went away with better aftercare, then it wasn’t a keloid! Unfortunately keloids often require surgical intervention. If you remember, keloids are caused by overreaction to a wound, so surgery alone will often result in recurrence of the keloid. Surgical removal is often part of a multi-angle response including steroid injections, pressure plates upon the area, and sometimes even laser or radiotherapy. If you think you have a keloid, we highly recommend getting it checked out by a doctor or dermatologist.

One interesting treatment which has very recently emerged is the use of Interferon injections. Interferons (IFNs) are chemicals naturally secreted by cells within the human body in response to viral infections. One happy side effect they have is that certain IFNs such as IFN-α2b decrease the surrounding tissues ability to produce collagen, and directly block the binding of TGF-beta to the fibroblast receptors in order to prevent them from producing excess scarring! This treatment type could be used more commonly in the future.

So there you have it, a good overview of what a keloid is, why we get them, and what can be done about it. Again if you think you have a keloid, it’s important to get it checked out by both your trusted piercer and a doctor or dermatologist. We see a genuine keloid perhaps once a year, but the vast majority of lumps are not keloids at all! Most bumps we see are simply due to irritation of some kind and can be treated simply and easily with quality jewellery and gentle aftercare.

References:

Berman B, Duncan MR. (1989) Short-term keloid treatment in vivo with human interferon alfa-2b results in a selective and persistent normalization of keloidal fibroblast collagen, glycosaminoglycan, and collagenase production in vitro. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 21:694–702

Gauglitz, G.G., Korting, H.C., Pavicic, T., Ruzicka, T. and Jeschke, M.G., 2011. Hypertrophic scarring and keloids: pathomechanisms and current and emerging treatment strategies. Molecular medicine, 17(1), pp.113-125.

Murray CJ, Pinnel SR. (1992) Keloids and excessive dermal scarring. In: Woundhealing, Biochemical and Clinical Aspects. Cohen IK, Diegelmann RF, Lindblad WJ (eds.). Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, pp. 500–9

Niessen FB, Spauwen PH, Schalkwijk J, Kon M. (1999) On the nature of hypertrophic scars and keloids: a review. Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 104:1435–58

Wolfram, D., Tzankov, A., Pülzl, P. and PIZA‐KATZER, H.I.L.D.E.G.U.N.D.E., 2009. Hypertrophic scars and keloids—a review of their pathophysiology, risk factors, and therapeutic management. Dermatologic surgery, 35(2), pp.171-181.

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Nick Martin – BVLA -Interview

Nick Martin - BVLA Marquise Fan
The Marquise Fan is one of our favourite pieces by BVLA due to its versatility.

This week we had the privilege to interview Nick Martin, the founder and owner of Body Vision Los Angeles.

BVLA are one of our favourite jewellery makers here at Rogue as they produce some of the highest quality body jewellery in the world from precious metals and a huge range of gemstones. We discuss the beginnings of BVLA, the modern business, their Future Stars Apprenticeship Scheme and their huge range of jewellery and gemstones.

Many thanks to Nick Martin for taking the time out of his busy schedule for this interview.

If there is someone you would like us to interview or a subject you would like a video about then drop a comment below.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you don’t miss out on future videos. To browse our collection of BVLA for sale click here.

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The Healing Piercing – The Cellular Level

Caring for a healing piercing is straightforward, but requires patience. I think one of the most common questions we get as a studio is, “Wait, it takes how long to heal??” There is a huge amount of misinformation around piercings that says you can heal and change piercings in as little as 3 weeks. As much as we all wish that was the case, it’s simply not true! I think the easiest way to dispel this myth is to educate our clients on the full healing process from a scientific point of view. We will be discussing fresh piercings, so be aware there will be photos of fresh piercings that contain small amounts of blood.

The skin is a complex net of cells all working together to provide protection, structure and nutrients to the surrounding tissue. When damaged by a procedure such as a piercing, it undergoes three sequential and gently overlapping stages of healing. Our bodies are fantastic healers, and when these stages are allowed to happen as normal we can be healing piercings with little to no problem.

Phase 1- The Inflammatory Phase.

Inflammation is the first phase of healing. It is technically made up of two seperate things that work side by side to help you heal quickly! The inflammatory phase begins almost immediately after your piercing and can last between 3-6 days.

The first thing that happens is ‘Platelet Hemostasis.’ This simply means that the fresh wound will begin to clot almost immediately! Platelets are the second most common cell type found in your blood. When activated by an injury, they stick together to form a plaster over your new piercing which stops contaminants from outside the body getting in, and your blood getting out. 

The other thing that happens is inflammation, hence the name! The first responder to a piercing is your peripheral nervous system, which gives you the sensation of pain and more importantly begins the process of inflammation! Stimulation of the peripheral nerves allows them to release specific neuropeptides (proteins specific to the nervous system) into the tissue surrounding your new piercing. These neuropeptides have three main targets of action. First, they act on your blood vessels to dilate them and stimulate better blood flow. Second, they target the cells in your blood capillary walls to make them more permeable- this lets important things like water and immune cells enter the area around the tissue more easily. Thirdly, they stimulate your Mast Cells to degranulate. Mast cells are immune cells that live in your connective tissue and are full of important chemicals like histamines and enzymes. When they are stimulated to ‘degranulate,’ they release all of these chemicals into their surrounding area to facilitate swelling and to attract other immune cells to the area from your bloodstream.

This triple helix project perfectly displays the inflammatory phase. This photo was taken about 30 minutes after piercing, and you can see mild redness and swelling beginning to form. Jewellery includes a BVLA Slasher, available to purchase here.

All of these things work together to bring about inflammation! “Inflammation” is thrown around as a scary word, but it is really important to the healing process! Without it, your immune cells wouldn’t be able to access the piercing site as quickly and the whole healing process would be slowed down. This is why we pierce with slightly longer labrets- To allow for this important inflammation.

Phase 2- The Proliferative Phase

The proliferative phase is the second thing that happens to a new healing piercing. This phase starts after about two days and lasts about 4-6 weeks. Proliferation is the phase in which the piercing truly begins to ‘heal.’ It has three parts. 

First, Fibroplasia begins. This simply means that Fibroblast cells found living in your connective tissue begin to work on the piercing site to produce a secure structure on which new cells can grow. Fibroblasts produce collagen, which is woven into a new matrix that supports the healing wound.

While this is happening, re-epithelialisation occurs and new skin cells begin to grow on the collagen matrix to surround and protect the fistula (internal hole) of your piercing. 

 As well as this, angiogenesis begins- This means that new blood vessels are grown to feed the cells working on healing your piercing! This is triggered by cells sensing the lack of oxygen surrounding them due to the minor damage to blood capillaries, which then release specific angiogenic growth factors to stimulate new blood vessel growth. Neat, right? Without this process, your piercing would be starved of oxygen and nutrients and would not heal very well.

This photo was taken immediately after piercing, and you can see we have given this client plenty of space to swell and heal properly without complications. You can’t easily heal a piercing with such a long labret though, which is why downsizing is so important!
Here you can see the same piercing downsized after 4 weeks. A snug fit reduces snags and knocks, and can be more comfortable slept on to avoid bumps. This is the best thing for a healing piercing!

This phase takes 4-6 weeks, and at the end of it your piercing has a fragile seal running through it. At this time, swelling has gone down and your jewellery may need a downsize. Experienced piercers can gently exchange your jewellery for shorter ones, but you’re definitely not healed enough to start changing the jewellery yourself! This is why any studio which claims to be able to produce healed piercings in 3 weeks is not telling the truth- Biologically speaking, they’re promising the impossible! We haven’t even gotten to the third and final stage of healing yet!

Phase 3- The Remodelling Phase

The third and final phase of healing is the remodelling phase, in which your fresh and fragile piercing gradually is remodelled into a sturdy piercing with functionally ‘normal’ tissue surrounding it. This phase starts at 4-6 weeks post-piercing and can last up to 2 years! 

In this phase, your tissue is slowly changed from fragile collagen matrices to fully functioning normal tissue, with its own blood supply, nerves, epithelial tissue and dermal layer. During this time your piercing will slowly settle down into a comfortable, boring piercing which feels like you’ve had it forever! 

At Rogue we state it takes between 6 and 12 months for a full heal on any piercing, and this is why- You’ve given it time to settle and become more robust. However if you think of your healing piercing at age 6 months, and then compare it to a piercing you’ve had for over 2 years you can still notice a difference! Your 6 month old piercing may still have some redness and some discomfort when you manipulate it and it may be more prone to irritation than a really mature piercing. Your 2+ year old piercing is mature and durable, and so should have no redness, swelling, discomfort- It will just feel like normal skin! This is what we all aim for with our piercings and this is what can be achieved with proper aftercare following a good piercing.

This conch piercing is a perfect example of a well-healed and mature piercing! You can see no redness, puffiness or swelling. It just looks like skin.

I hope this clears up any misinformation about healing piercings. This is why we preach patience when it comes to your piercings- These things do take time! Interrupting this process by twisting your jewellery, changing jewellery too soon, using strong chemicals, or following improper aftercare will only extend your healing time. If you follow our aftercare well, you will have a well-healed piercing for life! If you have questions, DM us on instagram.

References:

Cañedo-Dorantes, L. and Cañedo-Ayala, M. (2019). Skin Acute Wound Healing: A Comprehensive Review. International Journal of Inflammation, [online] 2019, pp.1–15. Available at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/iji/2019/3706315/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2021].

Enoch, S. and Leaper, D.J., 2005. Basic science of wound healing. Surgery (Oxford), 23(2), pp.37-42.

WoundSource. (2016). Phases of Wound Healing: The Breakdown. [online] Available at: https://www.woundsource.com/blog/phases-wound-healing-breakdown#:~:text=Remodeling%20or%20also%20known%20as,and%20fibers%20are%20being%20reorganized. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2021].