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Curved Problems

With our changeover of basic range just around the corner we thought we should highlight how much effort and investment goes into producing the high quality body jewellery we stock. It may come as a surprise but the humble curved barbell and circular barbell throw up the biggest problems for jewellery makers. This blog will show some of the solutions to these problems by jewellery design and the processes and machinery used in curved jewellery production.

Disclaimer: These are not the only methods to produce these items. There are many ways to make everything.

Shape

Circles aren't as simple as they seem. Who doesn't love a bit of radial geometry!
Circles aren’t as simple as they seem. Who doesn’t love a bit of radial geometry!

Body jewellery may look like simple pieces of metal but the exact shapes have been refined over decades to create designs that promote a smooth, healthy heal and lifetime. Sadly not all body jewellery is made equal and a lot of the time lower quality pieces come from aiming to create the cheapest item possible rather than creating the best.

Geometry seems simple on paper but making a finished piece of jewellery from a drawing is made much more difficult due to implant grade Titanium being notoriously difficult to work with.

Curves or Bends?

The key word in curved barbell is “curved”. High quality curves are made to be an arc from end to end. Having the same profile and curve the entire length of a wearable is required so jewellery can move through a piercing without stretching and irritating the piercing channel (as shown in fig 1 and fig 2 below). Lower quality curves are bent in the middle which will put more pressure on the centre of the piercing channel as well as stretch the piercing channel as it passes through (as shown in fig 3 and fig 4 below).

Bends

A “bent” barbell is just that; A barbell which has been bent. The bend can be applied manually or by using machinery such as a hydraulic press. In both methods the barbell is held in a vice or jig (fig 5), a lever is placed over the barbell and then force is applied (fig 6). Ideally some form of go no-go gauge for manual or a pressure gauge for hydraulic would be used to create standardised bend. These methods are fast and low cost but require lots of operator time and there is a high chance of variations in the final pieces.

Curves

As a curved barbell is a full arc and it is generally made from a coil, full ring, part ring or straight bar blank. Whichever blank (a piece of material prepared to be made into something (such as a key) by a further operation) is chosen there is going to be material wastage. This material waste goes onto the final price of the piece so it is already going to cost more than the bent barbell. Coils create the most wastage but can also increase the speed (And therefor cost) of the cutting, drilling and threading stages. Full rings are less expensive in material costs but are more manually intense due to not being able to create batches. Part rings are generally made from coils and full rings or machines such as CNC wire benders can be used. CNC wire benders are very specialised and very expensive pieces of machinery. Curves minimise the material wastage but due to the high cost of CNC wire benders and a specialist skilled operator being required they increase the setup cost significantly. Bar blanks will be pressed into a custom jig to form them in a hydraulic press.

A CNC wire bender in action

A part ring would now be ready for drilling and threading. Coils and full rings will need to be cut down to the correct length first and this will require using specialist jigs to hold them and either a power saw/grinder or a milling machine. If a milling machine is used then it can also be used for the threading section too. All of these machines add cost. A saw/grinder setup would be the cheapest setup cost but has an ongoing cost due to the manual nature of this method. A milling machine would add a large setup cost but has a much lower ongoing manual cost as batches can be setup so the milling machine can keep running on its own.

No two body jewellery companies make their curved barbells to the same radius. As piercers this variation can be useful as no two bodies are the same but does mean stocking multiple brands.

Circulars or Horseshoes?

Just like curves, the keyword in circular barbell is circular A circular barbell will move through the piercing channel smoothly and with minimal resistance (fig 7 and fig 8). A common slang name for circular barbells is horseshoes, but a horseshoe shape isn’t ideal for body jewellery. Horseshoes cause similar issues to bent barbells as they also distort and stretch the piercing channel during movement (fig 9 and fig 10). This distortion can lead to irritated piercings. The extended legs on a horseshoe also bring the attachments closer together which gives a different aesthetic and increases installation difficulty.

Horsehoes

A horseshoe is basically an arc with extended legs on each end. The legs are a symptom of the production method and process order. A horseshoe will be drilled and threaded before it is formed. The forming can be completed in a manner of ways but the most common would be to use a custom jig and a hydraulic press. A barbell would be placed into the jig (fig 11) and then the press would apply force to wrap the bar into a U shape (fig 12). A second stage jig and/or press would be needed to push the legs in towards each other (fig 13). The initial setup cost for this method would be much less but the ongoing manual cost would be high.

Circulars

Hydraulic press 10 ton
A hydraulic press with pressure gauge.

A circular barbell would use some of the same machinery and blank shapes (albeit in a different diameter) as curved barbells. Coils and Full Rings would follow the same process as curves and Part Rings could also be produced using the CNC wire bender or by using a hydraulic press and custom jig.

Threading

Threading creates the biggest problem for high end curved and circular barbells. This is because the threading must be added after the shape has been formed otherwise the thread will be distorted and will not work (fig 14). All of the lower quality curves and circulars can have the threading added first as they have straight sections on the end that doesn’t distort during forming (fig 15). The straight end section uses faster processes, less steps and lower skilled operators so is much cheaper.

Adding a thread inside a small curved item adds an extra level of accuracy. Drilling a straight thread inside a curve doesn’t leave much space for error and can cause a weak point in the jewellery (fig 16). The accuracy required to avoid this can be achieved using machinery and skilled operators but this significantly increases the cost.

Some of the machinery that can be used to thread our circular and curved barbells is cutting edge technology. CNC 5 axis milling machines can be used to batch produce items using specialised jigs, CNC lathes can be used for single item manufacture but both of these methods are high manual intensity for highly specialised skill sets. Cutting edge technology comes at a cost though.

We love the amount of effort and perfectionism that goes into the body jewellery that we sell. Having suppliers that care as much about the jewellery that goes in your body as we do at Rogue really makes us happy. The items we use at Rogue are made to last a lifetime without harming your body, all while looking amazing. We hope that this blog has helped you see that simple looking items can be anything but simple to produce.

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The Basics Transition

At Rogue we pride ourselves on using the best jewellery, equipment and techniques that we have access to, to give our clients the best service we possibly can. A lot of our regulars will know that I (Aiden) used to be a Mechanical Engineer for the MoD and specialised in metal standards and that this knowledge lead me to be a driving factor in the creation of the Material Standards for the UKAPP. Keeping up with progression is an important part of any piercing studio and any piercers career and the time has come for us to progress again.

Since the beginning of Rogue our basic range jewellery has been produced by a UK based body jewellery manufacturer who has responded well to demands from piercers to keep improving. It has come to our attention recently that this company hasn’t been as open to progression and their quality has been dropping and this has left us in the tricky position of having to change supplier. There currently isn’t another option in the UK working to the standards we require so we are beginning to import our jewellery all the way from America.

So, What’s Different?

For us to be confident to install new jewellery into a fresh piercing we must know a lot of information but by far the most important is the grade of the material. The grade of the material is connected to a standard which tells us exactly what mixture of metals make up the alloy and the exact process for how the material was made. It is quite common for piercers and clients to get hung up on the chemistry of the material but that only tells us part of the picture.

Chemistry Test

An example of a Chemistry test for body jewellery. This example shows how only a tiny sample batch is tested.

A chemistry test is used to prove what the alloy is of a specified piece of metal. A chemistry test isn’t suitable for implanted materials because it only proves the chemistry of the single piece tested rather than the entire batch. We need a higher level of guarantee that body jewellery is safe to go in the body. In the industrial world a chemistry test is fine but as every single piece of body jewellery must be safe for use in the body we need a more detailed form of guarantee.

As the item has to be ground and damaged in order to be tested, it would be unusable after the test is complete.

In the image to the left, note the sentence at the bottom “Samples submitted by customer, results relate only to items tested.”. This means that even the testing laboratory agree that this test is only suitable for the exact test piece rather than the entire batch.

Mill Certificate

Mill certificates tell us the exact process that was used to produce the metal and guarantees that all metal produced in the process will be homogeneous (Definition: Of uniform structure or composition). This is vitally important when installing jewellery into the human body.

The UK piercing industry has been specifically requesting Mill Certificates (not Chemistry tests) from all of our suppliers since the formation of the UKAPP. The reason for these requests is that in the past Titanium sourced from certain mills around the world has been found to have falsified their paperwork for Titanium used in surgical implants. This non-compliant metal only revealed itself to be unsafe when people that had medical implants started to have reactions to the metals and in a few extreme cases the implants were rejected by the body. Legislation for Body jewellery is not nearly as stringent as legislation written for medical implants, but the body can have just as serious reactions to non-safe body jewellery as it would to a non-safe medical implant. As Piercers we want every piercing to be happy and healthy so having a guaranteed safe material is of the utmost importance to us.

Important points to note on a mill certificate are:

  • Material Country of Origin – For DFARS approval
  • Material Grade – To show the designated grade of the material from this melt
  • Melting Process – To show the process the mill followed to produce the material
  • Heat/Melt Number – For batch control and material traceability
  • Material Dimensions – To show which supplied raw material came from the batch
  • Total Material – Shown in either weight or length – To show how much raw material was sourced

DFARS

Multiple Launch Rocket System (M270) | Lockheed Martin
An M270 MLRS (Multi launch Rocket System) produced as a product between the US, UK and French defence industries. The materials used to manufacture this vehicle are all controlled y the DFARS agreement.

DFARS – Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement

Due to some Titanium Mills falsifying their paperwork and producing material not of the grade stated the Body Piercing Industry started to search for a form of guarantee that material sourced is of the grade advertised. There were very few options available for this and the final choice was the DFARS agreement.

DFARS is a system used by the US Defence sector. It was originally laid out to allow the American Defence Industry to source material from outside of the US and still guarantee that the material is of the correct grade. I used to work within a similar framework when sourcing Armour for the British military. As the American Defence sector is incredibly specific about the metals used in their products this was the perfect system for the body jewellery industry. This system may seem like it doesn’t apply to body jewellery but as there aren’t any systems for material guarantees outside for the defence world, the DFARS agreement is currently the best system we have.

Rather than have individual companies or metal mills be compliant with DFARS, different countries will claim compliance. This means that any material sources from these countries will have a guarantee it was produced using a process specified in the material grade. Current countries in the DFARS agreement are:

AustraliaGreecePortugal
BelgiumIsraelSlovenia
CanadaItalySpain
Czech RepublicJapanSweden
DenmarkLatviaSwitzerland
EgyptLuxembourgTurkey
EstoniaNetherlandsUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
FranceNorway
GermanyPoland
Notable nations missing from the DFARS agreement are China, India and Thailand.

The UK is a DFARS compliant nation, but as we have no Titanium Mills here we must source our Titanium from elsewhere. Currently the vast majority of titanium is produced in China but as China isn’t a DFARS compliant country we CANNOT accept this as safe for use in body jewellery. Currently most verifiable implant grade Titanium is sourced from US or Italian mills.

Polish

SHOP TIPS #293 Surface Roughness Finish 1 of 2 tubalcain - YouTube
A Roughness Scale used in industrial applications to compare surface finishes

At Rogue we are constantly shouting about surface finish. This is because there is a direct link between the quality of the surface finish, the ease of healing and the long term health of a piercing. The suppliers we are switching to achieve a much better polish so this will be a big improvement on our current basic range. A better (more shiny) surface finish improves your healing process. We discuss this in lots of details in our dedicated Surface Finish blog!

A super-shiny mirror finish on an Anatometal 18k Dome is a perfect example.

Thread Quality

Screw Thread Terminology Explained | Assembly Fasteners, Inc.
A Diagram of the dimensions required for a screw thread to be produced

The new suppliers we are moving too also have a much tighter Quality Control system. this means that there will be less issues with jewellery coming unscrewed, being lost or being damaged. We would love to live in a world where products are 100% perfect all the time but sadly this isn’t realistic. The companies we are switching to also want to live in a world where products are perfect 100% of the time and we are excited to be working with companies that have such pride in their products.

Cost

With higher quality Titanium, better quality control, international shipping, import tax, inflation and the damage to the supply chain that COVID has caused we will be seeing a price rise on our basic options. We never like having to put our prices up but during this time we are going to have to. We will give all of our clients plenty of notice so we can all prepare for the change.

We are not in the business of changing prices without giving you plenty of notice! We are aiming to change our basic range jewellery to new, higher-quality basic jewellery in January. Any appointments after this day will have a different cost for basic jewellery – Our high-end prices are staying the same!

As always we will be striving to be the best piercers we can be and will continue to do the best we can for our clients. That’s it for this week. We’ll be back next week with a blog all about circular barbells. Have a good week everyone!

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, you can contact us via email or instagram.

Aiden

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Precare for Piercing

As Piercers we talk a lot about aftercare and rarely mention precare. Precare is just as important to your health and the short and long term health of your piercing.

What is Precare?

Precare is all about making sure you are healthy, rested, hydrated, well fed, free from intoxicants and certain medication. We will discuss each of these different aspects in this weeks blog.

Healthy

It might seem an obvious point to make but being healthy is imperative to your piercing healing well. At any given moment your bodies immune system is fighting to keep you healthy. In everyday life we are exposed to bacteria, fungus, viruses and debris that can be harmful to you. The vast majority of these foreign bodies are dealt with before they even have a chance to harm your body. When healing a new piercing you are putting stress on your immune system; if your immune system is already under stress from something else then this will extend your piercings healing time and increase the risk of rejection and migration. It is best to give your body a chance to heal before adding new piercings.

Illness

Precare - Illness
Nobody likes being ill so lets try to minimise spread

If you are ill then getting a piercing is going to a very unpleasant experience for you as your body is under stress and your senses will be heightened. We don’t want to put you through undue pain or trauma so strongly advise you wait until any illness has passed. As well as protecting you we also need to protect ourselves; We really don’t enjoy being ill so much prefer it if you are able to give us enough notice to move your appointment.

Rested, Hydrated and Well Fed

Again these might seem like obvious points but a rested, hydrated and well fed body will both handle the piercing better and heal better. Our immune systems are constantly working hard and they are fuelled and kept in working order by the rest we get and what we put into our body. When you have rested, hydrated and eaten there is a much lower risk of feeling faint; this is because when you get pierced your body will release adrenaline and start using up the sugar in your blood. Our blood sugar is the fuel that keeps our bodies going, as it gets used up the body will divert blood flow and sugars to prioritise different systems. The upset tummy feeling that can occur after a piercing is because the body is focussing resources towards your muscles and healing. Hydration is just as important as food because the liquids that we drink eventually end up in our blood stream and help us to move nutrients and white blood cells around our body. When you are dehydrated you can feel light headed and lethargic, neither of these are good for going into a piercing session.

As Piercers we will look after you and guide you through your piercing but making sure you have a good energy resource is super important.

Intoxicants and Medication

Precare - No Alcohol before piercing
No Alcohol before piercing

There are several reasons why being intoxicated before a piercing is inappropriate. Intoxicants include alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and many other legal and illegal drugs that effect your mental state. Aside from health issues, in the UK you cannot consent to a piercing when intoxicated and this means we cannot legally pierce you.

Intoxicants can cause a lot of changes to your body such as:

Raised Blood Pressure – This will cause you to bleed more and will extend your appointment time. Here at Rogue we wont send you home until we have stopped bleeding as we want to make sure you are fine and healthy. Intoxicants that cause raised blood pressure include stimulants such as cocaine.

Lower Blood Pressure – This will cause you to feel faint and potentially pass out. Rogue is staffed by a full team of first aiders so we can care for you in the case of an emergency but it is a much more pleasant experience all around if our skills aren’t required. Depressants such as Diazepam can cause these effects.

Thin Blood – Much like raised blood pressure, blood thinning will cause bleeds and extended healing times. Blood thinning medication such as Warfarin can make a piercing become a serious issue as the bleed will not stop due to not clotting. This can lead to hospitalisation and causes undue stress to you, your piercer and the hospital staff who will care for you. A very common blood thinner is Aspirin. It is VERY important to tell your piercer if you are taking blood thinning medication.

Heightened Sensitivity – All piercings carry an element f pain. Your piercer will do everything they can to make the piercing experience as smooth and comfortable as possible and minimise any pain. Intoxicants such as Cannabis can increase the sensitivity and therefor a more painful piercing experience. Surprisingly to a lot of people, most piercers don’t enjoy inflicting pain and see it as the worst part of our job.

Increased Heart Rate – Much like blood thinning and raised blood pressure an increased heart rate will cause an extended bleed and a longer appointment. A common causes of increased heart rate is caffeine. We are all caffeine junkies here at Rogue but its important not to over caffeinate before getting pierced.

Even one glass of beer or wine is enough for us to refuse service. We promise you don’t need Dutch courage to get through your piercing, we will be here to help you. If you are unsure if your medication will have an effect on your piercing then it is worth speaking to your piercer and medical practitioner before booking a piercing.

As always we are happy to help you with any stage of your piercing and if you would like more help with precare then you can get in touch with us in the comment box below through Instagram or email hello@roguepiercing.co.uk

Have a good week everyone!

Aiden

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Tongue Piercings 101

Tongue piercings are very popular piercings – One of our most popular oral piercings aside from philtrum piercings! In today’s blog I will give an overview of the tongue piercing, the anatomy of the tongue, the anatomical limitations of this piercing and some of the red flag tongue piercing options which should absolutely be avoided.

Tongue Anatomy

The tongue is an incredibly mobile and active collection of muscles. There are a few major parts to note that are important to piercing. 

  1. The Two Major Muscle Groupings

All the muscles of the tongue are paired structures, split in the middle by the lingual septum. The intrinsic muscles are responsible for changing the shape of the tongue and controlling its movement. Working together, the longitudinal, transverse and vertical intrinsic muscles control the movement of your tongue. They can do this by working in isolation, or by working together depending on the motion required. These muscles should not be impeded by a piercing, or there can be serious consequences for the mobility of your tongue and your ability to eat and speak. We will get to that later…

  1. The Median Lingual Septum

The Lingual Septum is the thin, fibrous membrane that separates the paired muscles either side. Although this is an internal structure, you can locate it by looking out for the longitudinal midline groove that runs down the middle of your tongue. A traditional tongue piercing sits somewhere along this midline groove, and passes through the lingual septum. Like with a nasal septum, piercing through the thinnest section of membrane makes your tongue piercing much easier to heal and reduces your risk of problems. The existence of this lingual septum is what makes traditional center-line tongue piercings so safe. 

  1. Major Blood Vessels

The major blood vessel feeding the tongue is called the Lingual Artery. Because the tongue is such a thirsty and active muscle grouping, the lingual artery is large and branches out into lots of smaller vessels which make sure the tongue is always well fed with oxygen. The most important branch of the lingual artery is the Deep Lingual Branch. This is the largest branch of the lingual artery, and passes through the base of the body of the tongue. If you lift your tongue, you may be able to see it sitting just behind your lingual frenulum (where a tongue web piercing would go). Sometimes you will have one central branch, however some people have two either side. Some people have two that cross over in the middle. This is all really important information that a piercer should be looking for before they pierce your tongue. If we cannot see it, or it crosses over itself base of the tongue, we will normally discourage you from getting this piercing. The Lingual Artery feeds directly from the Carotid Artery – That’s a direct bloodflow from your heart. This is a serious business! 

The Healing Process

Tongue piercings are incredibly low-maintenance and heal very quickly. Here you can find an overview of their aftercare.

You want to clean your tongue piercing a maximum of 5 times a day with an alcohol-free mouthwash for the first 4 weeks. These 5 times are generally after brushing your teeth in the morning and evening, and after your three main meals. If you need to snack, smoke, or have sexual contact using your mouth (including kissing!) try and group those in with these 5 mouthwashes, however if you need to do them at other times of the day we recommend simply rinsing your mouth out with water afterwards. 

Aside from this cleaning, we recommend leaving your new piercing alone entirely! No touching or fiddling, or fidgeting with your jewellery. Don’t get in the habit of playing with it! It’s best to avoid super spicy or hot foods for the first 4 weeks, but aside from this you are welcome to eat whatever you find appetising and is most comfortable for you.

Downsizing is the most important part of maintaining your oral health. After your swelling goes down, you need a shorter bar installing to avoid harming your mouth. This is usually after the first 7-10 days. After this downsize, you may need another at the 3 month mark so do keep in touch with your piercer. If you do nothing else with your tongue piercing, get it downsized!

Types of Tongue Piercing

  1. The Traditional Tongue Piercing 
You can’t miss this one! You can stretch most piercings, including the tongue. This is a great example of a central, midline tongue piercing though, even if it a bit more nontraditional!

The traditional tongue piercing is the classic tongue piercing everybody thinks about when the words ‘tongue piercing’ are mentioned. It’s placed along the midline of the tongue, behind the apex or ‘tip’ of the tongue. The most important part of this placement is that it should not be so close to the tip of the tongue that it risks coming in contact with your teeth, or the gum-line on the back of your teeth. On the other hand, it should not be so far back that it irritates the lingual frenulum or digs into the bottom of the tongue. You can have one midline tongue piercing, or multiple one behind the other depending on your anatomy.

These tongue piercings are relatively simple to have and heal – You are fully healed within 8 weeks! 

  1. Paired Vertical Tongue Piercings

The second most popular type of tongue piercing are the paired vertical tongue piercings. Otherwise known as ‘venom’ piercings, these are sets of two tongue piercings that sit either side of the midline of the tongue. These are super anatomy dependent and are much more complex piercings to get than the standard, so pick your piercer very carefully. Paired tongue piercings take slightly longer to fully heal as they do pass through the actual muscles of the tongue as opposed to just the lingual septum. You are fully healed within 12 weeks, which is still relatively quick for the human body! Paired tongue piercings are the best way to get the look of the piercings mentioned below in a safe way.

Paired Vertical tongue piercings are both adorable and very safe. They are anatomy dependent though, so do have your anatomy checked by a skilled piercer. This set was done by the wonderful Kitty of Holier Than Thou – We cannot recommend their studio enough if you are in the Manchester region.
  1. Unsafe Tongue Piercings

For some reason, tongues seem to be the current place to get unsafe piercings. There are two major styles of tongue piercing to avoid, and they will be discussed below. Please bear in mind that some of the photos below may be graphic, but it is important to know how seriously dangerous these piercings can be and appreciate the immense damage they can cause to your body. 

As discussed above, tongue piercings are no joke. The tongue is highly innervated and has large blood supplies to it which means any issue can soon become medically critical. So why are some piercers still offering these two styles of piercing?

Snake Eye Piercings

You can already see the pressure this snake-eyes piercing is putting on the tongue. Rejection is unfortunately a matter of time.

Snake eye piercings are piercings that pass horizontally through the apex, or tip of the tongue. They either use a straight or curved barbell. Neither style of jewellery makes this a safe, sane or sensible piercing. As previously discussed, the tongue is made of paired symmetrical muscles that need to be able to work independently in order for you to have full movement of your tongue. 

A piercing passing through both sides of your tongue horizontally binds these two muscle groupings together and can cause serious damage. Every time you eat, move your tongue or speak, these two muscle groups are fighting against and pulling on your jewellery. This means it is only a matter of time before the jewellery is rejected, causing permanent splitting and scarring of the tissue. 

The other major issue with Snake Eye piercings is that the tip of your tongue is constantly touching your teeth or gums. Pay attention to wear your tongue is sat at rest – it is tucked up behind your front teeth. Try talking for a second – the tip of your tongue flicks against the back of your teeth to form the ‘dental’ and ‘interdental’ phonetic sounds. Imagine having a piece of jewellery in that part of your tongue! It spells disaster for the health of your teeth and gums. Gum recession and tooth loss are irreparable so keep this in mind before choosing to have this unsafe piercing.

Surface Tongue Piercings

It’s ridiculous to choose such a dangerous piercing, when paired vertical tongue piercings look identical.

Surface tongue piercings, or tongue ‘scoop’ piercings, are just as bad as they sound. These are piercings that pass horizontally through the surface of the tongue in the same way as a surface tragus or other surface piercing. The main issues with tongue scoop piercings are the same as with snake-eyes. Rejection, splitting, and scarring. 

Surface piercings can be successful in areas of low movement if you understand that the definition of a ‘successful’ surface piercing is 6-12 months. The tongue is not a low moment area. It is one of the most motile parts of your body. This, along with the binding of two muscle groups together, means that rejection is guaranteed in as little as a week. 

The body of the tongue is full of nerves – that is what allows you to control your tongue alongside tasting food. Surface tongue piercings risk severing these nerves, leaving you with loss of sensation at best, and paralysis at worst. It is simply not worth the risk.

It is not often we take such a strong stance on ‘good vs bad’ piercers. We would like to believe that all piercers are working for the common good of their clients, however in this case we take a very black-and-white stance. There is no such thing as a good piercer who offers these two types of tongue piercing. If your piercer offers these piercings, they are neither good piercers, nor safe piercers, nor do they have your safety and quality of life in mind. 

So there you have it! A good overview of tongue piercings. We love them here at Rogue, and are proud to offer them in a safe and skilled way. 

If you have any questions, then you are welcome to contact us via our instagram, or email us!

See you next week for another piercings 101!

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Piercing Retainer 101

Now that school is back in session and everyone is back in work, we are being asked ‘what is the best way to hide my piercing?’ We also frequently get asked what to wear when undertaking medical procedures such as MRIs and surgery. There are a few different options to consider in terms of piercing retainer, and we will discuss them today.

The MRI Machine was invented in Nottingham. One of our little claims to fame!

Do I Even Need a Retainer?

The biggest thing to consider is, do I actually need a retainer in the first place? There are a few things to consider in this case. Firstly, how old is your piercing? A well-healed piercing can usually sustain itself without jewellery for a short while, such as for the duration of an MRI which usually lasts between 15 and 90 minutes. For MRIs and other short procedures, it is recommended to remove your jewellery just before the procedure, and reinsert it as promptly as possible afterwards. You may need an insertion tool or taper to help you do this, which we recommend buying in advance. If you are not confident in changing or reinserting your jewellery yourself and have a medical procedure coming up then please get in touch! We are more than happy to help you remove and reinsert your jewellery absolutely free of charge in the case of medical procedures. You do need to book this, so give us a phone call to avoid paying the checkup fee.

If your piercing is still relatively young, or is in a placement that closes more quickly such as an oral piercing, it is best to choose a retainer in advance of when you need it.

The Gold Standard Retainer

Even though our jewellery is ASTM F-136 Titanium or solid 14k and 18k Gold which are all totally MRI safe, a lot of medical practitioners will ask you to remove your jewellery before procedures regardless. If you feel confident in doing so, you can self-advocate to your MRI technician and medical team. We are happy to provide you with the paperwork required to prove your jewellery is MRI safe if you need it. However if you do need to remove your jewellery, for example if your procedure is on your head or face, then do consider a retainer. If your procedure is longer than an hour, we’d recommend purchasing glass jewellery as a retainer. Glass is the perfect retainer piece, being inert and transparent so as not to leave an afterimage on any x-rays or imaging work you have done. Lead-free Borosilicate Glass is also totally nonporous and body safe – It is truly the gold standard. If you have a procedure coming up, we highly recommend contacting us to organise ordering glass retainers for any piercings that you are worried may close. 

Glass is one of the best materials for body piercing and is usually the material of choice for stretching amongst professional piercers, although you do not need to stretch your piercings to wear it. Glass jewellery is available in every size and thickness! One of the biggest advantages of glass for piercing jewellery is its non-porous, extremely smooth surface. This allows for easy and frictionless insertion and removal of the jewellery. It also means that the jewellery can be easily cleaned and will not collect bacteria as with a porous structure such as acrylic, plastic or wood.

Aside from being great for medical reasons, glass is also a handy way of concealing piercings for work or school. Glass is shiny though, so do consider Neometal ‘Freckle’ Discs if you want something extremely subtle. 

Glass jewellery is not only beautiful, but a perfect material to wear as a retainer.

The Unsafe Piercing Retainer

Retainers, although intended for short term wear, should still be implant-grade and body safe. Anything that is inserted into the body needs to be safe to wear. So where does plastic jewellery stand? Plastic jewellery is pervasive in the piercing industry. Whether that be under specific brand names, in the form of flexible a plastic ‘retainer’ or classic acrylic jewellery, plastic jewellery is everywhere. So why do we not stock it here at Rogue? What is the issue with flexible plastic jewellery?

Here you can see a plastic retainer under an SEM electron microscope. Bacteria will live and grow very quickly in this cozy matrix of holes. Your body will be permanently irritated by the rough texture, too.

The main issue with plastic jewellery is that plastic is porous and rough in texture, and made from unregulated mystery polymers. When something is porous, it means that it is covered in small holes that allow liquids to pass through. This means that bacteria and other nasties have crevices in which to grow. This biofilm can cause severe irritation to a piercing, alongside causing nasty odours and excessive crusting. The roughness of the texture of plastic also means that it is constantly rubbing the inside of your piercing like sandpaper. This can cause irritation bumps, scar tissue formation, and can significantly damage the inside of your piercing. There is little research into plastics that act as an implant such as in piercings, however a study performed in 2016 showed that plastic or teflon jewellery was found to carry up to ten times more bacteria and biofilm than the same type of jewellery made from highly-polished Titanium, (Borges et al, 2016). This study also viewed the different jewellery under a microscope to visualise the difference in surface finish and bacterial buildup (yummy!).

There is so much more biofilm present on the plastic jewellery – This porous surface allows buildup and irritation.

All this aside, the number one reason why Rogue does not stock plastic jewellery is because we simply do not know what it is made from. There are seven main categories of plastic, however there are thousands of different plastic polymers with their own composition and characteristics. No plastic jewellery manufacturer is willing to divulge the exact plastics they use. With every single piece of jewellery we stock, we receive certification that it is A) What it says it is, and B) Made from a material proven to be implant-grade and safe to wear. We simply do not have this information for plastic jewellery. Some plastics have been shown to release carcinogenic or toxic compounds at body temperature, such as when ingested. All plastic jewellery degrades over time, and can cause issues at any point. It’s our prerogative to provide our clients with safe jewellery that can last a lifetime, which is why plastic is not offered at Rogue. If you do have plastic jewellery as a piercing retainer, do use it as a last resort and remember that it is only recommended to wear for a maximum of 8 hours before being discarded. Plastic is not at all made for long-term wear.

The main takeaways from this are that we are here to help! If you cannot get jewellery back in after a procedure, we can help you. If you need a piercing retainer for long-term wear then we can order items in for you too. We just want to see happy and healthy piercings out there! 

Contact Us

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hello@roguepiercing.co.uk (General Enquiries)

kat@roguepiercing.co.uk (Custom orders, Jewellery Enquiries.)

References

Borges, L.P., Ferreira-Filho, J.C.C., Martins, J.M., Alves, C.V., Santiago, B.M. and Valença, A.M.G. (2016). In VitroAdherence of Oral Bacteria to Different Types of Tongue Piercings. The Scientific World Journal, [online] 2016, pp.1–6. Available at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2016/7349371/ [Accessed 23 Sep. 2021].

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An Introduction To: Nose Piercings

Nose piercings are incredibly popular amongst all ages, all genders, all walks of life. They can be part of self expression, cultural tradition, or self-discovery. We absolutely adore a nose piercing. Here you’ll find an overview of nose piercings, their aftercare, and what to expect in terms of healing and jewellery options!

Placement

There are many places on the nose that can be pierced. Not all are easy, not all are to everyone’s taste, but we love how much of a blank canvas the nose is.

Traditional nose piercings are exactly what most people imagine when thinking about a nose piercing. They sit about 8mm from the edge of the nose, below the nasal crease. Some people will want their nose piercings directly on the nasal crease, but we do not recommend this as it is the thickest part of the cartilage, where two cartilage plates meet. This means that ‘nasal crease’ piercings can be very tricky to heal. Traditional nose piercings are the most common type, and have the largest range of jewellery choices once healed.

Here are my nostrils! All BVLA, all the time.

High Nostril piercings are their own subset of nose piercings, and are easily the most tricky to heal. High nostril piercings are defined as any nose piercing placed above the nasal crease. Some piercers will split them into two secondary categories depending on their height. For example, we would define my (Kat) nostrils as ‘mid-nostrils’ even though technically by our own definition they are high nostrils. High nostrils, when done correctly by a skilled piercer, can be practically against the bone of the nose bridge. High nostrils are not to be taken on lightly and can take upwards of 9-12 months to fully heal. Aiden is incredibly experienced with high nostrils, and has done many sets for other piercers too!

This set of high nostrils was done on the lovely Gemma of Pierce of Art! You can see them in comparison to a set of traditional nostrils below with the black jewellery.

Mantis piercings are a relatively new trend in nose piercings. Otherwise known as ‘forward facing nostrils,’ these are nose piercings that pass through the front or tip of the nose. Mantis piercings can be a trickier heal and are complex to mark and pierce. It is so easy for a tiny discrepancy in angle or placement to throw the whole thing. We would love to do more forward facing nostril piercings if the right client chose them!

Jewellery Choices

Nose piercings have a few options in terms of jewellery. Some are good for fresh piercings, some are good for healed piercings, and some are not great for piercings in general!

Studs

Studs, or flat-back labrets, are the perfect style of jewellery to start nose piercings with. The straight bar means than any excess length for swelling is neatly tucked away, and the healing piercing can drain easily and without issue. Flat-back labrets are very comfortable to wear and look unobtrusive even with extra room for swelling!

Labrets are incredibly secure, and do not carry the same risk of loss that a nostril screw or nose bone do. We will talk about those guys in a minute! Labrets are comfortable, and do not give you that big ‘metal bogey’ sensation. You also can’t see them sticking out of your nose. Winner!

All of our threadless ends are compatible with these labrets, which means you have a huge amount of jewellery to choose from for your initial piercing. You can see our full range of jewellery in-studio, or on our webstore.

You can read more about labrets, the different styles of connection, and the argument of rings vs studs here.

Rings

Rings are a really classic look for nose piercings. It’s usually the end-goal style, and are incredibly popular! However, they are only really suitable for healed piercings. Healed nose piercings do not need extra room for swelling and drainage, and do not need a stopper ‘design’ to avoid irritating your fresh piercing with a seam or hinge. We highly recommend waiting a minimum of three months before swapping to a ring, so your piercing has a chance to heal and settle before changing to this slightly more irritating style of jewellery.

If you chose to start with a ring, it would usually not be the style of ring you imagine! This ring would have to be much thicker in gauge, and larger in diameter, to allow for your initial swelling and drainage of fluids (yummy!). This ring would also mean you are much more likely to snag your piercing, knock it, or rotate and twist it to introduce bacteria. All of these can irritate your piercing and extend your healing time. If you are set on a ring, it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into!

Left: Dainty ring for healed piercings. Right: The style of ring suitable for a fresh nose piercing!

Nostril Screws and Nose Bones

Nostril screws, nose bones and other styles of jewellery are easily lost and made of poor quality materials.

The other options for nostril piercings are nostril screws and nose bones. Nostril screws are those classic ‘corkscrew’ type pieces which you spiral into the piercing and are held in place via the curvature of the post. Nose bones are straight posts with a sharp point or small ball on the inside, so when inserted the ball is pushed through and holds the jewellery in place. We do not recommend either style of jewellery for long term wear, especially nose bones as they can damage your piercing! The main reason these types of jewellery are used is because they are incredibly cheap to manufacture in comparison to high quality threaded or threadless jewellery. There is no real benefit to you as the final customer.

These styles of jewellery lack security, and are the most common cause of lost piercings! They are often made from mystery metals and are cheaply manufactured. We only recommend nostrils screws for well-healed piercings, and only for temporary wear. If your nose piercing is irritated, it is best to swap to a high-quality flat-back labret as a first port of call.

The Piercing Process

Nose piercings are incredibly easy to get, and are not that uncomfortable to get! They do make your eyes water, but this is simply because your eyes don’t need an excuse to water.

The most uncomfortable part of the piercing is usually any clamps and tools that are used. Luckily, we do not use any clamps or tools for nose piercings so they are much more comfortable process for you. For each piercing, we use a single sterile tri-bevel needle, our hands, and your jewellery. Nothing else! This freehand technique is both easier for you, and produces less waste to go to landfill or be incinerated.

Once your nose has been cleaned, marked, disinfected and you are happy with the position, we ask you to lie down. We find that being pierced lying down is much less intimidating for you! Once you are ready, you are asked to take a nice calm breath in. On your exhale is when we pierce you. Once you have been pierced, we pause to insert the jewellery and then you are done! The whole process takes about 5-10 seconds.

Nose Piercing Aftercare

For our full aftercare instructions, click here.

For nose piercings, you want to clean the outside only. The inside of your nose is a self-cleaning location, so you really don’t need to do too much to it at all! The outside of your nose needs to be cleaned just twice a day in the morning and evening, using a sterile saline spray. You want to spritz a little bit onto your piercing, let it soak into any crusties for about thirty seconds, then gently remove any buildup using a piece of folded kitchen roll or nonwoven gauze. Then just pat dry to wick away any excess moisture.

All piercings should be kept dry, which means no bathtubs, hot tubs or swimming for 4-6 weeks. Showers are totally fine though – Just ensure you have some kitchen roll or nonwoven gauze to hand to dry with afterwards!

The final and most important rule is to leave your new piercing alone! You should not be twisting or turning your jewellery, touching your piercing, fiddling with the jewellery or any other action that can disturb your piercing or introduce bacteria.

The Healing Process

Noses are relatively straightforward to heal! We strongly recommend booking a check-up after roughly 4-6 weeks in order for us to downsize the length of your jewellery and check your healing is going well!

You can change the jewellery yourself at home after about 12 weeks if you have been healing well, and you can expect a full heal in about 6 months!

The main cause of issues on nose piercings is overcleaning your piercing and snagging your jewellery, so do just be careful with it and let your body do it’s thing! Getting your downsize at 4-6 weeks is super important to the health of your piercing.

So there you go, an easy overview of nose piercings! There are so many ways to wear them so you can really make them your own. If you have any issues with your nose piercings, please do book a checkup or get in contact so we can help you troubleshoot.

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kat@roguepiercing.co.uk

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Septum Stretching 101

It’s pretty common to stretch your lobes – It’s difficult to walk into a tattoo or piercing studio without seeing at least a few people with stretched lobes! However did you know it’s possible to stretch most piercings? Today we will talk about another piercing that can be stretched. Septums.

Firstly, we should talk about the anatomy involved in a septum piercing. Septum piercings are through the ‘sweet spot.’ This sweet spot is a thin, membranous section of the nasal vestibule which is often high and tight to the tip of the nose. This means that a correctly performed septum piercing does not pass through any thick cartilage. However, this thin section of tissue is still not soft and elastic like lobe tissue is! The septum is quite a robust area of anatomy, which makes stretching a unique challenge.

A 3.2mm or 8g septum suits this gentleman perfectly. Sometimes larger jewellery is just the better choice, especially if it is complimenting stronger or more masculine facial features.

How to Stretch

We highly recommend finding a reputable piercer to help you stretch your septum. It can be a sore process, so it’s best to let a professional make the experience as smooth as possible. Find your nearest UKAPP or APP member studio and enquire as to wether this is a service they offer! Septum stretching is difficult, and not something that is ideally done at home.

Septums should be stretched using a taper and plenty of water-based lubricant. Ideally, your insertion taper should be exactly the same thickness as your jewellery to avoid discomfort during the jewellery installation process. Your piercer will be able to order and install implant-grade or body safe jewellery in the correct size and design for you, using safe and sterile tools to do so. Please no

Your piercer may ask you to lie down or sit up for the stretch itself. As with a piercing, you will be asked to take a slow breath in, and a long breath out while the taper and jewellery are inserted.The stretch itself takes mere seconds, and then jewellery is installed immediately.

Here is a standard Anatometal 16g ring in comparison to a 6g ring! It would take roughly 18 months to stretch between the two sizes. Patience is a virtue when it comes to stretching!

How Often Can You Stretch?

As mentioned above, this is not like stretching an elastic lobe piercing. Septum piercings are more similar to cartilage piercings, and as such cannot be safely stretched relatively quickly. We recommend waiting at least 6-8 months between stretches and only stretching by 0.5mm at a time to avoid seriously damaging your piercing. Stretching septum piercings can take a lifetime if you want it to!

If you know you want to go large, you want to jump-start the process and save yourself a bit of time, then it is definitely worth getting a large-gauge initial septum piercing. We can comfortably pierce septums up to 4mm or 6g if your anatomy is suitable. To stretch from 16g to 6g, leaving the recommended 6-8 months in between, can take roughly two and a half to three years. To have a fully healed initial 6g septum, it can take just 6 months from your initial piercing!

Stretching vs Stacking

Stacked Septum

There are two main ways of stretching – Traditional stretching and stacking! Traditional stretching means inserting a single, larger piece of jewellery. Stacking is the process of inserting more and more small rings into your piercing. This does make a difference! The main difference between the two is that the end shape of your piercing will be dramatically different. When stretching with a single piece of jewellery, you are stretching in every direction with equal pressure so you end up with a perfectly round hole. When stacking with rings, each ring will want to sit behind the one in front and so the pressure will only extend to one direction. This means you end up with a shape more akin to a slot than a circle. You can see some excellent, highly artistic diagrams that I have drawn to illustrate this point.

Traditional Septum

Stretching a septum with a single piece means that you have a perfectly circular hole, whereas a stack gives you in effect a septum coinslot. There is no real benefit to either style, but it does make it trickier to switch between styles. If you try and stack lots of rings into a circular hole then it is tricky to fit as many rings in as you would in a stack as they will all jumble together. If you try and wear a single large piece in a septum stretched using the stacking method, then you can experience discomfort as you distort the inevitable scar tissue caused by the uneven pressure of this method.

Jewellery

The jewellery options for stretched septums is pretty much the same as a standard septum piercing, with some fun additional extras! We love wearing glass in large-gauge piercings. Kat has quite the collection of Gorilla Glass septum pincers, which are the perfect everyday items as they are smooth, comfortable and not super obtrusive.

How Big Can You Go?

There really isn’t a hard and fast upper limit for septum piercings. It really depends on your anatomy, the placement of your existing piercing, and how much time and effort you are willing to invest! Some septums can be stretched to 15-20mm, some are happier around 5mm. If your piercing is poorly placed or your anatomy is not ideal, then a smaller stretch is probably a better idea. This is something that can be assessed by your piercer as you start or continue your stretching journey.

One thing to keep in mind is that the ‘sweet spot’ is only so large. This means that as you stretch, you will eventually run out of space within the sweet spot and begin stretching in to true cartilage. Cartilage doesn’t stretch, so septum stretching does become a war of attrition. This stage of stretching can be very uncomfortable and extends the time needed between stretches! I have now personally reaching that point at 4mm, but everyone is different. The best thing to do is stay in contact with your piercer! This stage of stretching is definitely best left to the professionals.

Septum stretching is a long but rewarding process. It’s cool to see the jewellery you used to wear in comparison to what you wear now.

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For any inquiries about jewellery, contact Kat at kat@roguepiercing.co.uk

For piercing inquiries or general questions, contact hello@roguepiercing.co.uk

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What is an Infection?

When performed correctly, a primary infection is incredibly rare. But what is an infection, and when should you see your doctor? Piercings should be performed in a clean environment by an experienced and hygienic practitioner.

To a layperson, it is very easy to see totally normal parts of a healing piercing as signs of an infection. Let’s start by describing what a normal, healing piercing might look like!

We know we use this photo all the time, but it is a perfect example of a piercing that is only a few days old. This is totally normal!

What is Normal

It is totally normal for a healing piercing to drain a clear, yellow or pale green fluid. This liquid can dry into a crust. The liquid itself is lymph – a mixture of plasma, immune cells, serous fluid, platelets and red blood cells. This lymph is a positive part of the healing process, and is often seen in the first few weeks of a new piercing as the initial swelling floods the piercing site with fluids and immune cells. You can read more on that here!

A healing piercing is also expected to be red, and swollen. We have just made a new hole in you, after all! This swelling can be uncomfortable, but will go down in time. This swelling can be exacerbated by your lifestyle. You might be increasing your swelling by playing with the piercing, eating a low-nutrient or high salt diet, or by taking certain medications. Swelling can also be a little more intense during very hot weather! 

Pain, although not fun, is part of a healing piercing. You may expect a throbbing sensation for a few days afterwards, and depending on the piercing you may experience pain or discomfort for a few weeks. This pain is totally normal! 

Here is a great example of what a fresh or healing piercing can look like. Swelling is totally normal, along with discharge and warmth.

We cannot stress how rare it is for an infection to be caused by a competent piercer using an aseptic technique. Here at Rogue we specialise in infection control and aseptic techniques. Each stage of the sterilisation process is carefully controlled, verified, and logged to prove your jewellery has been handled safely and sterilised correctly. Each piece of jewellery undergoes a three-step sterilisation process, and we wear sterile gloves when piercing. The piercing itself is performed using entirely sterilised needles and tools. You can ask to see our sterilisation logs, where each sterilisation cycle is timed, dated, logged and stored alongside the chemical integrator that proves the cycle was successful in sterilising. Each Statim or other autoclave undergoes rigorous daily testing to make sure it is working perfectly! All of our equipment undergoes annual third-party testing, and the certification of this can be seen in each room. We are confident in these protocols and in our ability to perform an aseptic piercing.

Infections can be caused by a number of things, including submerging the piercing in stagnant water, touching your piercing with unwashed hands, working in a dirty or contaminated environment, wearing dirty clothing or using unclean headphones or stethoscopes. Secondary infections like this are the most common form – An infection introduced after the piercing has been performed, not by the piercing process itself. What does an actual infection look like, and what should you do about it?

What Can a Piercing Infection Look Like?

Infections can look different depending on the causative bacterium or fungus. An infection commonly looks like:

  • Intense swelling and spreading redness across the ear, neck and face (or relevant body area).
  • A thick, cottage-cheese textured liquid that may be white, yellow or brown, oozing from the piercing. This discharge is often foul-smelling.
  • Flu-like symptoms including sweating, shivering, clamminess, and feeling unwell.
  • A fever of 38 degrees or above.
  • Swollen glands in your neck, armpits and groin.
  • An infection will be obvious – You will know what it looks like as an infection is a serious medical issue. 
Infections are dramatic – You will be acutely aware of it. Irritations are much more common, and easily solved with the help of your piercer!

What to do about a potential infection?

  1. Go to your doctor. A genuine infection can be solved with a round of antibiotics. However, it must be noted that doctors are not piercers, and will often prescribe antibiotics for any redness and swelling that a fresh piercing can commonly have. Doctors may not be educated on what a healing or irritated piercing looks like, and will jump to ‘infection’ as a knee-jerk response. They will often diagnose you with an infection whether it is an infection or not! It is vital that you ask your doctor to take a swab sample to send off to the lab. Only this lab testing can prove an infection exists, and gives your doctor the information they need to accurately prescribe suitable medication. You may need to argue this with your doctor, but it is vital you make sure they do their job properly. The overprescription of antibiotics is a major global problem, so do ensure your doctor actually confirms it is an infection first! Once the infection is confirmed, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics in order to solve the issue. We recommend not removing jewellery during this time, as this can trap the infection inside the body and the piercing channel will quickly seal at both ends. Head to your piercer and they can fit longer jewellery as required to allow for your swelling.
  1. Contact your piercer. Regardless of if it is an infection or not, it is important to contact your piercer with any issues you may have. If it is a genuine infection, your piercer should be informed so that they can check their sterilisation and aseptic protocols. If it isn’t an infection, they can help troubleshoot the cause of your irritation and make sure your piercing is happy and healthy.
  1. Do not try at-home remedies. It is very important that you follow safe aftercare advice – DIY cures can only make things worse.

Infections are rare, but with speedy diagnosis and treatment they can be solved and you can keep your piercing. We are always working at the highest levels of cleanliness and are always willing to help you, whether you were pierced by us or not.

-Kat Henness

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Piercing Troubleshooting FAQ

Healing a piercing is a delicate balance, and due to the general stresses of life sometimes this balance is disrupted and an issue arises. We receive dozens of messages a week from distance clients who cannot troubleshoot their piercings in person, so here you can find a general troubleshooting piercing FAQ!

When an issue arises with a piercing, there are generally 4 reasons. We will cover each here, and link to other blogs we have written which can go into more detail. To troubleshoot, start with the first point and move through. If anything jumps out at you that it could be the issue causing your irritation, start there with your solution. 

What is Normal

Piercings can take upwards of 6 months to fully heal, depending on placement. You may have times in this healing period where they feel totally fine. Sometimes they will be more irritated through your lifestyle and have minor flare-ups. Troubleshoot them using this piercing FAQ.

Within the first 4-8 weeks it is totally normal to have swelling, redness, and clear or slightly yellowed discharge. This is lymph fluid, which is an essential part of the healing process. You will experience some discomfort if the jewellery is touched or moved, and during the cleaning process. 

Within the first 3 months, it is totally normal to have redness around the piercing and discomfort when pressure is applied. You will still have minor crusting around the piercing which will need to be cleaned away as and when it appears. At this point, your cleaning routine can be reduced to once daily, or once every other day depending on your lifestyle and judgement. Small bumps can appear at this time if you experience a snag or knock, or through prolonged pressure overnight. These small bumps can go away in time!

After 6-8 months, you should have a nicely healed piercing. At this point, discomfort should only arise during a snag or knock.

What May Need Attention

It is important to keep in mind that if you have gone to an accredited and high-quality studio, your piercer has done everything in their power to produce a high-quality, safe piercing using a completely aseptic technique. 

Unusual signs would be spreading heat and redness around the piercing, thick and creamy discharge, and prolonged burning discomfort. Infections in piercings are incredibly rare, but this is something to keep an eye out for. If you think you may have an infection, then head to your GP or pharmacy. Your piercer is not a doctor, but can often tell the difference between a simple irritation and a genuine infection. 

Common causes of irritation include snags and knocks. If you have had an incident where you have caught your jewellery and caused a touch of damage, you may experience redness and swelling, and have the potential for your body to produce small bumps in response. This is totally normal, and is just your body’s way of protecting you! With gentle care and cleaning, this issue will resolve by itself. It is always important to check in with your piercer though, as we can guide you through the healing process. 

We have discussed keloids and irritation bumps in their own dedicated post which can be read here! Keloids are a very rare medical condition, and will not go down on their own. Irritation bumps can change in size and shape, and can shrink or grow. Keloids will only ever increase in size.

Troubleshooting Issues

  1. Angle

In order to heal correctly, a piercing must enter and exit the tissue at a perpendicular angle. It must be straight. This is the foundation of a good heal, and without the piercing starting as straight then it will have issues no matter the quality of the jewellery or your aftercare.

There are two ways that angle issues can arise. 

The first would be a poor angle from the start. Your piercer should be competent and skilled in producing a straight piercing before they pierce you. If your piercing is poorly angled from the get-go, then this is not a good sign that you will have an uneventful and easy heal. 

The second way of a poor angle arising is through prolonged pressure. If you are sleeping on your piercing overnight, then this can distort the angle of your piercing. This is an unfortunate side-effect, and not something that can be easily corrected. To avoid this, we recommend a travel pillow at night and seeing your piercer after 2-4 weeks for a downsize once your swelling has diminished. Long bars are the most common cause of your piercing angle becoming distorted. 

Below you can see examples of straight piercings.

Straight Piercing
Here you can see a straight piercing. It sits perpendicular to the tissue and is not too close to the edge of the ear!

If yours looks more like the poorly angled piercing then unfortunately there is little that can be done for that piercing. The best option would be to remove the piercing and let it heal for 6 months before getting re-pierced by a more experienced and skilled piercer and carefully following the recommended aftercare routine and downsizing protocol.

If your piercing is straight, then you can move to the next point!

  1. Aftercare

How you take care of your piercing is very important. This is the part that trips up most clients as there is such a huge amount of misinformation and well-meaning but incorrect advice floating around. 

Make sure you are following APP aftercare guidelines, which can be found on our website here.

Keep it clean – Clean twice daily with a sterile saline solution. Spray the solution onto the piercing and let it soak in for 30 seconds. Gently clean away any crusties or skin buildup with a clean piece of nonwoven gauze or kitchen roll. Pat dry to ensure the piercing does not have any excess moisture surrounding it. 

Ensure you are not overcleaning, as this can be a source of irritation. Cleaning more than twice a day is not recommended, unless you have introduced significant and visible dirt.

Keep it dry – This means you must not submerge or soak your piercing in any bodies of water including bathtubs, swimming pools, oceans, or homemade saltwater. This soaking action can introduce bacteria from dirty water, and prevent your piercing from draining correctly. This soaking can produce circular ‘donut’ bumps around your piercing fistula. 

Do not move your jewellery – High quality jewellery does not need to be twisted, turned or played with. This constant movement can very easily irritate your piercing and slow down your healing process. 

The most important thing to avoid with any piercing is prolonged pressure. This could be you sleeping directly on your piercing, or wearing tight clothing over the piercing. To avoid this, wear loose comfortable clothing for the first 12 weeks or use a donut-shaped travel pillow at night. Prolonged pressure can change the angle of your piercing, and a poorly angled piercing will produce bumps on both the front and back to return the entrance and exit points to a perpendicular angle. 

You should avoid harsh or outdated aftercare advice such as DIY hot salt water soaks, antiseptics, oils and pastes which can cause contact dermatitis and damage your piercing. Sterile saline solution is the only aftercare product that we recommend. Avoid saline with added ingredients – 0.9% NaCl and distilled water should be the only ingredients. These products often cause more problems than they solve, and don’t have a place in the modern piercing industry! 

If you’re using gentle aftercare as described, you can move to the next section of the piercing FAQ.

  1. Jewellery Quality

Jewellery quality is incredibly important, as poor jewellery will cause irritation and bumps and prevent you from healing properly. You can read more on how to spot quality jewellery here.

The main points of your jewellery will be:

Safe metals – Your jewellery should be verified implant-grade ASTM F-136 Titanium, or solid 14k or 18k God, lead-free borosilicate Glass or 99.99% solid Niobium. Your jewellery should not be plated, coated or coloured with unsafe paints or platings. 

Sizing – Your jewellery should be of the correct length and gauge for your piercing. We will discuss length and downsizing below! The gauge or thickness of your jewellery is very important. If it is too thin, then it will be causing irritation through adding pressure over a small surface area. 

For lobe piercings, nose piercings and forward helix piercings, the thinnest acceptable gauge is 18g or 1mm. For cartilage piercings including conches, helixes, daiths and other piercings, the thinnest acceptable gauge is 16g or 1.2mm. 14g or 1.6mm is also totally acceptable and often preferred in certain placements.

For most piercings, we recommend ASTM F-136 Titanium labrets. These flat-back pieces are smooth, comfortable and easy to clean. For daiths, we recommend 16g or 14g BCRs. Curved barbells are not appropriate for this placement! Butterfly back costume jewellery should not be worn in any piercing.

If you are unsure if your jewellery is appropriate, then send us an email or DM us on instagram with some clear photographs. The best way to guarantee quality jewellery is to buy from trusted studios who stock recognised brands such as BVLA, Neometal, Industrial Strength and Anatometal.

  1. Downsizing

High-quality studios will give you excess room on the labret or barbell to allow for your initial swelling. This length should not be extreme – 2mm of extra space is often more than enough. Your piercer should advise you to return in 2-4 weeks for a checkup, where they can downsize the length of your jewellery to be snug front and back. Excessive length on your jewellery can cause added irritation by acting as a lever. This length also increases your risk of snagging or pulling on your jewellery!

If you see excess length may be your issue, then head back to your nearest quality studio to have snug jewellery installed. 

Irritation is a part of life – We are all only human after all! Your piercer has the knowledge to spot the problem and work through solutions with you. This post covers the basics of what we would ask you, so is a great place to start when looking for what might be the source of your issue. If you have worked through all of the above points and cannot see any obvious points which may be the cause of your irritation, then you are always more than welcome to book an in-person checkup with us and discuss your piercings. For distance clients, we require multiple clear photos of your piercing and a description of it’s history. We are always more than happy to help!

Often once the source of irritation is gone, the irritation quickly goes away and you can enjoy a beautiful piercing again!

-Kat Henness

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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.