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Female Intimate Piercings

Isn’t this embroidered vulva so beautiful? It was made by the lovely Jenny of Holier Than Thou. If you are in the Manchester region, there is nobody better to perform intimates than HTT.

Here at Rogue, we are one of only a handful of studios in the UK who have the skills to perform intimate piercings. Today we will be talking about female intimates!

As in our previous Male Intimates blog, we will be using the term ‘female intimates’ to describe any person with AFAB parts or a vulva. If you have had gender confirming surgery or are undergoing hormone therapy, we are more than happy to pierce you as well! We are a studio welcoming to everyone from all walks of life.

Female Anatomy

Although these piercings can colloquially be known as ‘vaginal piercings,’ we do not pierce the vagina itself. Female intimate piercings are performed on the inner and outer labia, the clitoral hood and the mons pubis. Below you can see a handy dandy diagram of a few female intimate options!

Most female intimate piercings pass through thin, highly vascular membranes such as the clitoral hood and inner labia. These piercings are therefore incredibly fast to heal and require only very minimal and gentle aftercare. There is an intimate piercing suitable for every walk of life and every lifestyle! Every intimate piercing is anatomy dependent. Every person is different! We require a full consultation before any intimate piercing so that we can check that your anatomy is suitable, and so that we can discuss the piercing and make sure you are happy, educated, and prepared for your piercing. If you have your consultation, there is no pressure to then book for your piercing if you don’t feel ready!

Female Intimate Piercings Options

The VCH

The VCH, or Vertical Clitoral Hood piercing, is one of the most common and popular piercings that we perform here at Rogue. This piercing sits on the top of the clitoral hood, and a curved barbell is worn that touches the clitoris. Although this piercing may be known to enhance sexual pleasure, we cannot make any such claims – We pierce for aesthetic reasons only! All this aside, the VCH is a hugely popular piercing and a great jumping-in point for those looking to experiment with intimate piercings.

These piercings heal fully within 3 months!

The HCH

The HCH, or Horizontal Clitoral Hood piercing is the sideways version of the VCH! This piercing is often performed with a BCR ring as opposed to a curve, and the aim is for the bead to sit close to the clitoris. 

This piercing is suitable if you find that your hood is visible when you stand up – This means there is space for the jewellery during everyday life! 

As with the VCH, the HCH fully heals within 3 months.

Inner and Outer Labia Piercings

Inner and Outer Labia piercings are often paired with other intimate piercings as part of a larger curation, but are also fantastic when working solo. These piercings are not suggested to have any sex-enhancing features, but can look absolutely awesome especially when paired with glamorous jewellery! 

Inner labia piercings are, again, super fast piercings due to the soft membrane. These piercings require a BCR ring to start with, as curves or other unevenly weighted jewellery can pull through the stretchy tissue. Inner labia piercings are quite easy to stretch, so larger gauge jewellery can be easily inserted.

Inner labia piercings take as little as 6 weeks to completely heal!

Outer labia piercings can be trickier to heal, but look great when they do. Outer labia piercings are again purely decorative, and can wear either BCR rings as initial jewellery, and can swap to curved barbells if preferred when fully healed.

The jewellery at Rogue is both suitable for intimate piercings and safe to wear for a lifetime.

Outer labia piercings take between 2 and 6 months to fully heal, depending on your anatomy and lifestyle.

Triangle Piercings

Triangles are female intimate piercings that pass through the clitoral hood, and behind the clitoral shaft itself. These are advanced piercings, which should only be performed by highly experienced piercers. The Triangle was pioneered by Elayne Angel in the 1990s, and has been quietly popular ever since. The correct jewellery for a Triangle is a circular barbell, often a minimum of 12g thick in order to provide adequate stability for this piercing.

We do not offer Triangle piercings here at Rogue, but if you are willing to travel then Helen at Holier Than Thou in Manchester is a master and we place full faith in her ability. 

Aftercare

The piercing itself is incredibly quick- This is to make it more comfortable for you as a client. We do everything on our side to make these safe and sterile piercings, but healing piercings is a team effort between studio and client. These piercings often pass through thin membranes, and so a sterile saline solution is adequate to clean with. You don’t need to soak these piercings at all. For our full aftercare advice, click here.

We recommend bringing a panty liner to your appointment, as you can expect a slight spotting of blood afterwards. You can wear panty liners for the next 7-10 days, changing them twice daily. This is more for your comfort! In terms of clothing, we recommend underwear that is loose and comfortable.

Simply spray a small amount of saline onto the entry and exit points, and use a piece of folded kitchen roll or nonwoven gauze to gently remove any softened crusties. This should be done twice a day in the morning and evening.

Swimming and bathing are strictly forbidden for a minimum of 4 weeks too!

You will feel a bit sore, so we recommend avoiding sex for at least a week. After this rest period, you can slowly reintroduce your sex life. Condoms and dental dams should be used for the first 4-6 weeks, as foreign fluids can cause an immune response and ultimately lots of irritation! As with everything in life, you should be gentle and listen to your body. If it hurts, or you just don’t feel up to it, then stop! Once you are fully healed, 3-6 months, you can go back to your normal lifestyle.

Female Intimate Piercing and the Law

In 2015, newspapers reported that the UK Government updated their Female Genital Mutilation or FGM laws to include body piercings known as female intimate piercings as a crime. This was not the intended purpose of this law, but we were unfortunately caught up in the knee-jerk reactionary stance that the government took. If you want to read more about the concept of FGM and body piercing, I highly recommend reading this article from the APP. Body piercing studios in the UK practically stopped piercing female intimates overnight, as any doctor or nurse who saw these piercings such as during a pap smear, would be compelled to report the incident to the police.

The UKAPP was formed, in part, to fight this legislative oversight. We campaigned to allow adult women to have full control of their bodies in the same way that adult men can. We can confidently say that we have had confirmation that the grey area that female intimate piercings occupied for several years has now been clarified, and consensual body piercing of an adult woman is now recognised as legal in the UK. We still work closely to the law and require a minimum of 24 hours cooling off period before intimate piercings as part of our studio policy. Part of the consultation that we require is also used to discuss the piercing and make sure you are happy and confident to have it pierced and heal it.

This blog only serves as a diving off point for learning about intimate piercings – If you want to learn more about intimate piercings we strongly recommend booking a consultation with us or sending us an email.

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Male Intimate Piercings

Intimate piercings might be one of the most fascinating parts of the piercing industry. They are part of our history, culture and the reason that the modern piercing industry looks the way it does. 

During this post I will be using the term ‘male’ to discuss AMAB, or assigned male at birth anatomy. These are piercings of the penis and surrounding anatomy. This also includes trans folks who have had gender affirming surgery (“bottom surgery”) and now have a penis! If you have undergone HRT, but not had gender affirming surgery, we recommend coming in for a consultation so we can discuss your anatomy and see which piercings can work for you.

Male intimate piercings have tribal roots. They are often used as a rite of passage from boyhood to adulthood. In the modern day, male intimate piercings are more of a subcultural endeavour. The modern piercing industry was founded by 6 gay men, who came together due to a love of intimate piercings. We would not be the industry we are today without these piercers! One of those 6 men was Mr Sebastian. You are welcome to read more on this fascinating man, and I’m sure we will write more about him in the future. Aiden has these piercers in his lineage, and is incredibly proud of that.

Here at Rogue, our head piercer Aiden is an intimate piercings specialist. He has over 11 years of piercing experience, and has performed a huge number of intimate piercings in both the UK and abroad during his life as a travelling piercer. If you choose to come to us for your intimate piercing, know you are in safe hands.

Sadly, intimate piercings are dying out in the UK due to a lack of passing the knowledge on to our apprentices. We want any adult who wants an intimate piercing to be able to come to us and have a safe piercing that is performed by an experienced expert. This is why we are proud that our apprentice Jess wants to follow in Aiden’s footsteps and learn to pierce intimates as well as all the more standard piercings! This means that if you are pierced by us, you have the option to let Jess assist in the piercing procedure to aid her training. 

Male Anatomy

It’s important to know the internal anatomy for any shaft piercings, such as Prince Alberts, Deep Shaft piercings or Reverse Prince Alberts.

It’s important to take into account the internal anatomy of the penis when discussing male intimates, and how different piercings will feel and heal. There are minimum gauges that each piercing must be pierced at to avoid issues- This is often quite large. For Prince Alberts and other similar piercings, we pierce at a minimum of 10g, but will recommend larger depending on anatomy and lifestyle.

Hafada and Lorum

These are truly the easiest intimate piercings. They are piercings on the scrotum! There are pierced with BCR rings. The scrotum is the easiest part of the male anatomy to pierce and heal. The scrotum is soft, stretchy and does not contain any major blood vessels, so the piercing itself and the healing process is very simple. These are a good piercing to start with if you want to explore the world of intimate piercing!

Prince Albert and the Reverse Prince Albert.

These piercings work with some of the bar or ring sitting inside the urethra, which you can see sits low in the underside of the penis. The most important part of any male intimate piercing is to be aware of the blood vessels that run through the shaft and to be confident that you aren’t hitting any of them when piercing. The main blood vessels are the Deep Dorsal Vein and the Pudendal Artery. These are major blood vessels! This is why a piercer must be incredibly experienced and confident in their ability before performing these types of piercing.

Any piercings that pass through the lower part are less complex and are good beginner intimates. A Prince Albert is quite a good beginner male intimate as it passes out of the bottom of the penis, and so you can see doesn’t actually pass through as much tissue! The Reverse Prince Albert, however, passes through the top of the penis and passes through quite a bit of tissue, including the corporal tissue. This makes the RPA a much more advanced piercing – You really need to put your trust into an expert!

If you want to read more about the Prince Albert and it’s surrounding mythos, then click here.

Ampallangs and Apadravyas

Ampallangs and Apadravyas are piercings that pass through the head of the penis. Ampallang piercings cross the head horizontally, whereas Apadravya piercings cross vertically. These, along with most male shaft piercings, have the intended purpose of increasing pleasure during sex. This is often the reason for getting these piercings alongside the aesthetic effect. However, we cannot guarantee any improvement to sexual experiences- We pierce for aesthetics only.

Consultations

We require a consultation before any intimate piercing so we can check your anatomy and fully discuss the procedure, aftercare and the full experience. Once you have had your consultation and are happy to proceed, you are more than welcome to book for your appointment!

There are so many options when it comes to male intimate piercings, and that means that there is a piercing for every person and every lifestyle. If you know you want an intimate piercing, but aren’t sure which one, you are more than welcome to book a piercing consultation with Aiden where we can discuss what will work for you. We would love to pierce more intimate curations, where we pierce a project of many piercings over time.

Intimate Piercing Aftercare

Aftercare for these piercings varies greatly, depending on location. If they are more surface-level piercings such as lorum, hafada, frenum or pubic piercings, we recommend a standard aftercare approach of twice-daily cleaning with sterile saline solution. If the piercing passes through the shaft such as with a PA, RPA, or Deep shaft piercing, then we recommend saline soaks. The reason we recommend soaks with these piercings is because they pass through a significant amount of internal tissue and cleaning the outside only doesn’t quite cut it! You can’t clean the inside very much, so a good soak allows the saline to reach the inside and reduce your discomfort during the healing period.

Intimate piercings are quite straightforward to heal. The tissue is soft and has an excellent blood-flow, which means they heal very fast! You are looking at three months for a complete heal, inside and out. We ask you pop back for a checkup after 2 weeks as we may need to alter the jewellery once your swelling diminishes. After this downsize, you are set and do not need to do anything if you don’t want to!

Stretching

Male intimate piercings can be stretched to larger gauges, and this is quite a common practice. Commonly stretched piercings include the Prince Albert, Reverse Prince Albert, and trans-scrotal piercings – Although any piercing can be stretched!

We recommend waiting at least 6 months after piercing before stretching, just to make sure that the piercing is fully healed and settled. Stretching can be done at home, but we recommend letting us stretch these piercings for you if you are at all unsure! Stretching involves using a lubricated tapered insertion tool to gently introduce the new jewellery. This allows your body to more easily accept the new jewellery!

So there you have it. A good overview of penis piercings! We understand that this is a huge topic to tackle and we can’t do it justice in a single post, but we hope we have enlightened you to a bit of the topic. If you would like to have an intimate piercing, get in touch via email or instagram and we can begin the process for you!

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Piercing Guns.

The piercing gun. They are unanimously reviled within the professional piercing industry, and are an area of hot debate. It is quite an emotional subject for a lot of us. But why are piercing guns so bad, and why are there petitions by piercers to get them banned in the UK?

I want to preface this by saying that there will be no mention of piercing gun brands, or shops that use them in this post. This is not a callout post, or an emotionally-driven piece of slander. I will be talking specifically about the gun itself and the mechanism by which it pierces, and about the general standard of hygiene and training that surrounds the piercing gun. This is an educational article above all else. 

Pros of Piercing Guns

If piercing guns are so unanimously hated, there must be a good reason why they are still used in a lot of places. 

The obvious pro of a piercing gun is the speed at which the piercing is performed. The piercing gun forces the jewellery through, and the butterfly backing is pushed on in the same motion. The whole thing may take less than a second. For some people, this might be seen as a major bonus.

The other obvious pro for any business owner is that the piercing gun can be used with minimal training. You don’t need to train your staff on how to reprocess tools or how to use clamps, cannulas or blade needles, or anything surrounding bevel theory. This means that the worker using the piercing gun is a much more affordable option than hiring a fully trained piercer and either installing a sterilisation room or going fully disposable with blade needle piercings. Piercing guns and their associated cartridges are incredibly cheap, and so the profit margin of that business can be substantially increased.

Cons of Piercing Guns

Training

The piercings highlighted in red were pierced with guns. The accuracy of a gun is nonexistent, which leaves room for wonky piercings that are hard to correct. This photo was kindly offered to us by Esther, who can be found in Irvine!

Piercing guns do often come with instructions, so the piercing itself can be performed using the gun. These instructions are just for how to discharge the gun cartridge though, and nothing else. Aside from this, there seems to be huge discrepancies between stores of the same company in regards to training. Some employees describe a week’s worth of training and lots of practice, and others say that the piercing gun was thrust into their hands on their first shift. Either way, there are simply not enough hours in the day to learn everything there is to know about piercing safety and hygiene within one week. This training often excludes bloodborne pathogen training completely, which should be cause for concern for anyone. As piercers, we are exposed to bloodborne contamination on a daily basis, and the amount of training we do in order to safely work in that environment is extreme. We recertify this training every single year. Bloodborne pathogens have been known to have been spread by untrained staff using piercing guns, (W.E Keene, 2004). In this incident, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was spread between at least 18 clients. This is down to a lack of training in regards to simple cross-contamination – Something you learn on your first day at any quality studio. It was lucky that this incident involved only a bacterial strain. If one of those clients had HIV or another bloodborne illness, then the story could have been much more tragic. This is one of many reasons we work using ‘Universal Precautions,’ where we assume every single client has a bloodborne pathogen.

Aside from the healthcare side of training, the physical skill of piercing cannot be taught with a piercing gun. Rule number one of piercing is to get that piercing straight, and perpendicular to the tissue. With a piercing gun you may as well close your eyes while piercing – The angle at which the piercing comes out is down to luck more than anything. A badly angled piercing has little chance of ever healing. Why leave that to chance? 

Hygiene

An alcohol wipe does not provide any protection from bloodborne pathogens, including MRSA.

The piercing gun is often made from a hard plastic casing, with the spring-loaded system tucked inside. This plastic case is not autoclave safe, which means that if an attempt was made to sterilise it, the gun would melt. This shows that the piercing gun is not being sterilised or cleaned between clients. The fact that any item is reused between clients without proper reprocessing is a cause for intense concern. The guns are normally wiped down with an alcohol-based disinfectant which is ineffective at killing pathogens such as Pseudomonas spp. and Staphylococcus spp. This contamination is easily spread from person to person, and this is especially concerning given the increasing resistance of these bacterial species to antibiotics, (Begeurie & Petersen, 2017.) This recent paper discusses a case in which a scaffold piercing was performed using a piercing gun, and a Pseudomona aeruginosa infection was confirmed by the hospital after 48 hours. This infection was strongly resistant to frontline antibiotics. Not only this, but the transmission of bloodborne infections such as Hepatitis have been noted as a risk when reusing piercing guns, (Tweeten et al, 1998.) 

Trauma

Piercing guns use blunt force to tear a hole in the tissue with the end of the jewellery. This causes excessive swelling which the jewellery cannot allow for, vastly increasing the risk of embedding.

As Rogue is a science-led studio, we need to use scientific papers in order to form opinions. Everyone has seen those videos of needles vs piercing gun studs, but unless there is data to compare the two then the exercise is meaningless. There is only one paper to read when discussing piercing gun trauma, which is that written by van Wijk et all in 2008. In the past this paper has been used to prove that gun piercings and needle piercings are equally as traumatic. However, on in-depth reading, this becomes hard to believe. The study actually proves the opposite.

This paper is the only one to perform actual, real-world experiments testing the hypothesis that ear piercing guns cause excessive trauma. The summary is interesting, to say the least. There is a lot to unpick.

Firstly, it’s important to know that the gauge of a piercing gun earring is 24g or 0.8mm. The average cannula needle is 16g or 1.2mm. It is interesting that even with this size difference, the trauma caused was the same. To quote the original paper, “A comparison between the different piercing methods did not show any significant difference in perichondrial damage, total chondral tears or chondral shattering, despite the fact that the design and diameter of the tip of the piercing instrument varied greatly, as well as the force applied to pierce the ear.” This means that the cannula needle was FAR LESS traumatic than a piercing gun earring. In other words, if the cannula needle was the same gauge as the earring, it would be vastly less traumatic when compared to the earring. This brings me on to the kicker of this argument…

The paper goes on to note that a much better method of piercing might involve a highly sharp needle that was the same diameter as the jewellery that is inserted thereafter. “…The fact that the needle, having a much larger diameter than the other studs, showed the same amount of damage suggests that the best results can be expected from a sharp piercing instrument with a relatively small diameter. Maybe results of the needle piercings can be improved by removing the (relatively blunt) i.v. catheter, to introduce the stud in the needle instead.” The blade needle fits this exact description! This paper was written in 2008, and the scientists involved had no concept or knowledge of blade needles, tapers, needle blanks, or unaided transfer. Although this paper compared guns and cannula needles, it still proves that blade needles are the best in terms of reducing trauma to the tissue.

In addition to all of this, there is one more important thing to note. These experiments were performed on cadavers. This was noted in the discussion section of the original paper, and means that a lot of the arguments both for and against piercing guns cannot use this paper as evidence. The study is unable to follow through with any wound healing, jewellery sensitivities, or infections caused by each method. 

To conclude this section, piercing guns do cause excessive trauma which causes excessive swelling. Blade needles are the least traumatic piercing method, and I hope you can all appreciate that extra smoothness when being pierced at Rogue!

Jewellery

The jewellery used in piercing guns is low quality. There is no way around this. The design itself is poor. These items are designed to be manufactured as cheaply as possible, with little regard for the safety of the person who has to wear them.

The standard piercing gun earring is 24g or 0.8mm thick, which is way too thin to produce a stable fistula. If you have issues with gun piercings constantly trying to close up, then this may be the reason why. 

I feel like this needs no caption. This was worn in a fresh gun piercing for only two weeks. The body has attacked the jewellery and corroded it almost to the point of snapping.

Aside from those guidelines setup by the UKAPP, there are almost no laws covering the metals used in piercing gun earrings. Often these are some alloy of ‘stainless steel’ or ‘Gold plated.’ These metals are not safe to wear in piercings and, when exposed to fluids such as blood and lymph and the heat of the human body, will quickly degrade. The butterfly-back clasp at the back of the earring is a magnet for filth. These clasps quickly get encrusted with dried blood, lymphatic fluid, sweat, and shed skin cells. This will quickly begin to decay at body temperature and is a hub for infection. 

The surface finish of gun jewellery is incredibly poor. This rough texture allows debris and bacteria to build up quickly and increases risks of infection, (Tweeten et al, 1998.) The roughness also means that the healing fistula can grow into the jewellery, meaning that the jewellery is physically stuck to your skin. This is why you are advised to twist gun jewellery- To tear the fistula off the jewellery itself. This is obviously extremely traumatic to a fragile piercing and significantly extends your healing time. The body jewellery used at Rogue and other high-end studios is verified implant-grade and is designed to be easily cleaned, with a mirror-finish. This is jewellery that can last a lifetime of wear.

Finally, and most importantly, gun jewellery is ‘One size fits none.’ What we mean by this is that the jewellery has no room for swelling, which means that the chances of the tissue swelling over the jewellery and embedding within it is all too high, (Muntz et al, 1990. Wang et al, 2017. Macgregor, 2001.) Here at Rogue we have lost count of the number of butterfly backs we have had to remove from inside people’s ears. I have had personal experience of this with my first ever lobe piercings which were done many years ago with a gun – It is not fun. At all. 

Aftercare

More important than all of the above is the aftercare advice often distributed by shops that use piercing guns. You may be familiar with this. Twist the jewellery twice a day, clean with aggressive chemicals such as surgical spirits, TCP, and/or tea tree oil. The aftercare advice is incredibly harsh and outdated. It causes more harm than good. Good aftercare should be gentle and not disturb the natural healing process. This can be read up on here, and a more in depth discussion is found here.

A piercing performed here at Rogue. Note the jewellery is of the correct gauge and length to allow for swelling. The jewellery itself is of the highest quality and is easy to clean and maintain. This piercing will heal perfectly and last a lifetime.

So there you have it. All the pros and cons of piercing guns. You will note that the single pro of a piercing gun to the client, its speed, can be matched by a skilled piercer. You’ll know this if you have ever been pierced by Aiden! The other benefits of a piercing gun are only felt by the owner of the establishment, who can increase their profit margins by using untrained staff and cheap guns to make money. The cons, well. They speak for themselves. 

If you have more questions, message us on instagram or contact us via email.

Citations:

Beguerie, J.R. and Petersen, A., 2017. Pseudomona Chondritis and Ear Piercing Pseudomona and Piercing.

Keene, W.E. (2004). Outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infections Caused by Commercial Piercing of Upper Ear Cartilage. JAMA, [online] 291(8), p.981. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/198238 [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Macgregor, D.M., 2001. The risks of ear piercing in children. Scottish medical journal, 46(1), pp.9-10.

Muntz, H.R., Cui PA-C, D.J. and Asher, B.F. (1990). Embedded earrings: a complication of the ear-piercing gun. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, [online] 19(1), pp.73–76. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/016558769090197Y [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Tweeten, S.S.M. and Rickman, L.S., 1998. Infectious complications of body piercing. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 26(3), pp.735-740.

**van Wijk, M.P., Kummer, J.A. and Kon, M. (2008). Ear piercing techniques and their effect on cartilage, a histologic study. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, [online] 61, pp.S104–S109. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1748681507003348 [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Wang, T.C. and Chan, K.C., 2017. An embedded earring backing in the tragus. Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, 96(7), pp.236-239.

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The Truth about Cheek Piercings

Here you can see Aiden’s cheek piercings, wearing a pair of Industrial Strength claw-set Amethysts. These are over 10 years old now and fully settled.

Cheek piercings are one of those things that you rarely see in person, but are one of the most eye-catching sets of piercings a person can own. Cheeks are often considered a “piercer’s piercing” due to their complexity and difficult nature. Here at Rogue we love cheek piercings, with two sets already living in the studio and more on the way! However, they are not a beginner piercing. Heck, they aren’t even a tricky piercing. They are one of the most difficult piercings to have, heal and maintain. Here’s a deep dive into what makes them so tantalising, beautiful, and laborious.

Placement

The first thing to consider with cheek piercings is their placement. There is a lot going on within the cheeks themselves, not to mention taking into account the dental deliberation on top of that. There are four main things to think about when choosing the placement of cheek piercings.

The Vascular System

All the blood vessels that feed the lower part of the face originate from the External Carotid Artery (ECA), which sweeps up from the neck across the point where the jawbone meets the skull just underneath and forwards of the ear. The ECA then splits into the Maxillary artery, and also into the Transverse Facial artery and the Buccal artery. These are the main blood vessels that pass through the cheeks. Clearly, we cannot pierce through these! Your piercer will use a strong torch and inspect your cheeks to find where these arteries lie and work around them.

The Muscular Map

In terms of muscles, there is a lot going on in the cheeks! Cheeks contain a number of different muscles, but the main ones to consider are the Buccinator (Fantastic name!) and the Risorious. These are major muscles, and placement has to be very precise in order to work well with them. Muscles are made of long fibres, and when you pierce through a muscle, the whole fibre that you pass through will atrophy. This may change the shape of your face slightly after you have your cheeks pierced. Most cheek piercees will experience some thinning of the face and a slight ‘sunken’ effect, even once the piercings are removed.

These muscles are constantly flexing and moving when you talk and eat, which is why cheek dermals or anchors are not a suitable alternative to proper cheek piercings. Surface piercings must be placed in an area of low movement if they are to have any chance of healing, and cheeks are simply not that place. Cheek dermals may seem like an attractive option especially if you are concerned about dental damage, but the chances of them lasting more than 2-4 months are slim.

The Nervous System

The nerves involved with cheek piercings start at the Trigeminal Nerve which sits at the temple, and split out into the Opthalmic, Maxillary and Mandibular nerves. The ophthalmic and maxillary are not super relevant and are sensory nerves only. However the V3 Mandibular nerve runs directly through the cheeks and is both a sensory and motor nerve so your piercer must be very careful when selecting placement. The Mandibular nerve is the one that controls the muscles that allow you to chew food. We always recommend heading to a highly experienced piercer for cheek piercings.

The Good

Cheek piercings are only suited for experienced folks who are prepared for the demanding healing process.

Cheek piercings have an irreplaceable look. There is simply nothing like them. They are almost universally flattering on both men and women, and the jewellery choices for them are almost endless as you can go as big and bold as you like! There is no such thing as a ‘dainty’ cheek piercing because they are so naturally bold. Cheek piercings are the perfect statement piercing and they send an instant message to the people who meet you that you aren’t the standard. Cheeks can also host some of the most gorgeous Gold ends and look incredible with large gemstones. Cheeks will also always have that punk side to them, no matter how fancy their jewellery. We love them so much!

The Bad

Cheek piercings are a lifestyle piercing, meaning you will probably have to change aspects of your life in order to manage them properly. This means no makeup for up to a year amongst other things. Because they are such a commitment, we require a full consultation beforehand and an at least 24-48 hour cooling off period. 

Cheek piercings are a huge financial investment. We charge what we charge in order to filter out those who are getting cheek piercings on a whim, and on top of that you have to consider the cost of multiple downsizes and upsizes over the lifetime of your piercing. When we say multiple downsizes, we mean between 3 and 6 pairs of shortening bars to allow you to heal properly without causing dental damage. When each pair is £20-40 for our basic minimum, you are looking at a cost of between £60 and £240 minimum on basic jewellery alone! We often will take payment for these downsizes in advance to make sure the client is willing to outlay the cost of proper care. 

The Ugly

Cheek piercings are not something that we will perform on everyone that enquires about them. They are notoriously hard to heal, can get stuck in seemingly endless cycles of swelling, and leave large scars directly on the face. Cheeks are problematic because they do sit in the middle of a large muscle group and are a wet-dry piercing that has one side in a moist mucous membrane and another faces out from normal skin. 

Swelling is very extensive, and takes many months to fully dissipate. You will look like a chipmunk for a good month at least! Cheeks are what we would consider a piercing for only the most experienced people and this usually means almost exclusively other piercers and intense piercing enthusiasts. You need to be incredibly confident in your ability to care for and heal these piercings, and need to be able to be adept at diagnosing issues and correcting them at any time of day or night. If your cheeks suddenly swell at 2am and risk embedding, you need to be able to get in there and sort them out yourself. This swelling and irritation can come back at any time, for seemingly no reason! Great care and attention must be taken in order to heal cheek piercings properly. They can take upwards of 18 months to settle somewhat.

Conclusion

The piercing industry would not be the same without cheek piercings. They are a status symbol, a sign of dedication, and a statement that you aren’t part of the crowd. We love them very much and would hate to see them slowly die out. Our head piercer Aiden has over 10 years of high level experience, and has pierced many sets of cheeks over the years. We can’t think of anyone better to place your trust in. These are definitely piercings worth travelling for! If you aren’t within travelling radius, we can also direct you to your nearest studio that we know and trust. 

If you are a piercer who has no experience with piercing cheeks, we strongly recommend finding an experienced piercer, who has pierced multiple sets of cheeks, to shadow so you can learn to perform them safely. These are not something you can learn without a lot of education and practice first! This post is merely scratching the surface, and is not aimed to be training material of any kind.

We hope this hasn’t discouraged anyone from getting cheek piercings, but education is incredibly important and we need to be both honest and realistic. We love them and hope to pierce many more in the future!

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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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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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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.