Did you know that there are at least 14 different types of lip piercings from which you can choose, if you want to get your lip pierced? Most of the options fall into the category of "bites", but every bite is positioned differently, and there are several other lip piercing types besides bites that you can get. Let's take a look at each of the lip piercing types, what differentiates them from each other, and what kind of body jewelry works best for each lip piercing option.
Bite Lip Piercings
There are 7 different types of lip piercings that are classified as "bites". These sets of piercings get their names from the way they loosely mimic the bite marks certain animals would make if they were to bite your lip(s). For instance, a shark bites piercing (also known as a canine bites piercing) involves placing four holes around the mouth–two on the left and right sides just above the upper lip, and two on the left and right sides just below the lower lip. The fistulas (piercing holes) are all spaced equally apart in a way that makes them look like they were created by a dog or shark biting your mouth and puncturing 4 points above and below your lips with their incisors, which is how they got their name.
All bite lip piercings are comprised of two to four standard lip piercings. Think about cyber bites, which involve piercing the philtrum (center upper lip) and the center lower lip. A piercing of just the philtrum is called a Medusa piercing, and a piercing of the center lower lip is called a labret piercing. When both piercings are done simultaneously, though, they're considered cyber bites.
Take a look at the mock-ups of bite piercing placements below to get a better understanding of what part of your lip would be pierced if you choose to get a set of bite piercings. Then, read on to learn more about the 7 different types of bite lip piercings and the handful of standard lip piercings that are considered bites when combined with other piercings in the ways described below.
Angel Bites Piercings
An angel bites piercing is actually a pair of upper lip piercings placed to the left and right of the philtrum (see the image to the left), which is the ridged part of your lip immediately below your nose. Most commonly, labret studs are used as the starter jewelry for angel bites piercings and other upper lip piercings, since hoops may get in the way of eating, talking, kissing, and other activities that could irritate the piercings and delay the healing process. Labret studs are ideal because they have a flat backing on them on the end that's inside your mouth and resting against your gums, and those flat backings tend to be less irritating than balls would be. To further reduce irritation, you can ask for BioPlast labret studs to be inserted instead of steel or titanium ones, if desired.
BioPlast (a.k.a. BioFlex) labrets are made of soft, flexible PTFE that's less likely to irritate your gums or damage your teeth. If the disc backings on your PTFE labret studs are uncomfortably large for your mouth, you can cut them to a smaller size using a dermal punch to make the discs just the right size for you. We also offer UFO disc backed labret studs, which are curved instead of flat discs that can be gentler on your mouth, if the standard flat discs rub against your gums or teeth too much.
Like angel bites piercings, a snake bites piercing is actually a pair of piercings placed below the left and right sides of your bottom lip. Labret studs or hoops (like captive rings, segment rings or seamless rings) can be inserted when you get a snake bites piercing. If you opt for labret studs, consider asking for soft, flexible PTFE labrets. They'll be less likely to cause your gums to recede if the jewelry is constantly rubbing against your lower gum line. If you accidentally bite down on your snake bites piercing jewelry, you'd be at greater risk for chipping a tooth if your jewelry is made of stainless steel or titanium, which is another good reason to opt for PTFE labret studs, at least during the initial healing process. Once you're fully healed, your piercer can insert more closely-fitting labret studs that are less likely to cause irritation or accidentally get bitten while you're eating.
Shark Bites Piercings/Canine Bites Piercings
If you have an angel bites piercing and later decide to get a snake bites piercing, or vice verse, the end result is called a shark bites piercing, also known as a canine bites piercing. You can get all four piercings done simultaneously, if desired. However, if you would rather only traumatize half of your mouth at a time so that you can still eat, drink, talk, etc., with minimal discomfort during the healing process, it may be better for you to get the four piercings in stages.
As with angel bites piercings and shark bites piercings, you can wear labret studs in both the top and bottom piercings, or you can wear hoops in the bottom piercings, like the woman shown to the left is wearing in her snake bites piercing. You could technically also wear hoops in the top two piercings (i.e. your angel bites piercings), if the holes are placed closely enough to your upper lip. That said, it tends to be more practical and just as attractive to use labret studs in at least your upper two piercings, if not all four piercings that comprise a shark bites piercing.
A Medusa piercing is a piercing of the philtrum, or center upper lip, in between the ridges that are immediately below the central underside of your nose. If you look at the image to the left of the "Cyber Bites Piercings" heading below, you'll see the man pictured has both his center upper lip and center lower lip pierced; the one on his upper lip is a Medusa piercing. Labret studs are the ideal type of body jewelry for Medusa piercings.
Standard (Horizontal) Labret Piercings
A standard labret piercing is placed immediately below your central lower lip. The hole is placed horizontally to the ground roughly 1/4"-1/2" below the bottom of your lower lip, as shown in the photo of the man next to the "Cyber Bites Piercings " heading below.
Many people like to wear labret studs in their labret piercings, but there are other cool kinds of body jewelry you can wear in a standard labret piercing. You can wear a closely-fitting hoop, like a segment or seamless ring, or you can wear a labret lip loop, like the one shown to the left. Circular barbells are also a popular option to wear as labret piercing jewelry.
If you decide to stretch your labret piercing at some point, we offer a large selection of plugs that you can use instead of labret studs or lip loops. Our colorful glass plugs are an especially attractive option to wear in stretched labret piercings. Most of our glass jewelry options are custom made, so you can get the perfect-fitting labret plug in your favorite style, made to order just for you. (Read our Stretching the Size of Your Ears blog post for tips on when and how to stretch without damaging your piercing. Even though the article focuses on stretching your earlobes, the same rules can be applied to any soft tissue piercing, including labret piercings.)
Cyber Bites Piercings
Cyber bites piercings are actually a combination of a Medusa piercing and a standard labret piercing. Typically, piercers will place labret studs in both piercings. Once your labret piercing is healed, you can switch to a lip loop, a circular barbell or a captive ring of some variety, if desired. It's best to stick with a labret stud for your Medusa piercing, though, even after it's fully healed.
Dolphin Bites Piercings
A dolphin bites piercing is actually a pair of piercings placed immediately below the lower lip, fairly closely together to the right and left of the central area where a labret piercing would be placed. Technically, a short surface barbell could be used for this piercing, but if you go that route, you may want to ask your piercer to use a surface barbell with a flat bar in between the two end posts. It will be less likely to irritate your gums than a surface bar that has a rounded bar connecting the end posts. Two labret studs placed closely together may also be used as dolphin bites starter jewelry. Hoops, circular barbells and even labret lip loops can be good alternatives for dolphin bites jewelry, too, but only in cases where the piercings are placed immediately below the lip rather than closer to the chin, as the dolphin bite piercings shown to the right are placed. That man's dolphin bite piercings are placed too low to accommodate anything but labret studs or a short surface barbell.
A spider bites piercing is a pair of piercings placed very closely together immediately below the left or right side of the lower lip. The photo to the left shows a woman with a pair of labret studs in her spider bites piercing. When spider bites are placed that closely to the lip, you can wear hoops (as in the image to the right), circular barbells, lip loops, or even a short surface barbell instead of labret studs, if desired.
Dahlia Piercings/Joker Bites Piercings
Dahlia piercings get their name from the Black Dahlia murder, during which the corners of the victim's mouth were cut to give her a grisly extended smile. Dahlia piercings can somewhat elongate a person's grin, giving them a smile that's reminiscent of the Joker's from the Batman comics. That's why Dahlia piercings are also called joker bites piercings. (See how the Dahlia piercings shown below extend the woman's smile.)
Dahlia piercings are typically done with either long-posted labret studs or short straight barbells. It's not advisable to wear captive bead rings or other hoops in Dahlia piercings, because they can make it more difficult to eat and even talk. You have to be careful even with labrets or straight barbells during the early stages of the healing process, because the barbells will be extra long to account for swelling, which means you could accidentally chomp down on them when eating and damage your teeth. Once your joker bite piercings are fully healed, you can ask your piercer to swap out your starter jewelry for more closely-fitting labret studs or straight barbells that are less likely to get in the way when you eat.
Other Lip Piercings
In addition to the bite lip piercings and the standard Medusa and labret piercings described above, there are several other lip piercing types you may be interested in considering. Each one is explained in more detail below.
Horizontal Lip Piercings
A horizontal lip piercing is any piercing that goes straight through the skin immediately below the lower lip or right above the upper lip and into the mouth. Typically horizontal lip piercings are placed off to one side of the mouth and done as a single piercing, although some people like to have 2 or more horizontal piercings placed side-by-side. Labret studs, captive bead rings, circular barbells, and twisters are the best styles of body jewelry to wear in a horizontal side lip piercing of the lower lip. Labret studs are better suited for horizontal lip piercings placed above the upper lip.
Technically, any piercing that goes through the lip horizontally to the ground is considered a horizontal lip piercing. That includes labret piercings, Medusa piercings, Monroe piercings, and most other lip piercings. Those lip piercings that don't fall into a category like labret piercings, like a single side lip piercing, are simply called horizontal lip piercings.
There's another type of horizontal lip piercing that goes through the lip from side-to-side rather than straight through into the mouth. This type of horizontal lip piercing is actually a surface piercing, and surface piercings are highly prone to migration and rejection. If you decide to get one of these piercings, you have to baby it to prevent it from migrating out. Drinking, eating, kissing, and other oral activities must all be done with care, particularly during the early days of the healing process. Keep in mind that, if your horizontal lip piercing migrates out eventually, it could leave you with a nasty scar.
This type of horizontal lip piercing is typically done with a short surface barbell or a short straight barbell. If you want to achieve the same look while minimizing chances of migration or rejection, you could ask your piercing to use two labret studs placed closely together straight through your lip, from the outside in, instead. A pair of labret studs that go straight through the lip will mimic the look of a horizontal lip piercing without putting you at risk for the scarring that tends to occur when a surface barbell migrates out.
A lowbret piercing is exactly what it sounds like: a labret piercing that's been placed as far down within the lower lip as possible. You can see what lowbret piercings look like by checking out the image to the left. The woman pictured has two lowbret piercings on either side of her labret piercing.
Lowbret piercings are more likely to irritate your gums than other lip piercings, and they can even cause your gums to recede over time, particularly if you wear metal labret studs. Ideally, you should ask your piercer for BioPlast labret studs if you get a lowbret piercing. If the backs are too big for your mouth and rub against your gums in an uncomfortable way, you can use a dermal punch to cut the disc on your PTFE labret stud to a more comfortable size.
Monroe piercings are named for Marilyn Monroe because they mimic the mole she had on one side of her upper lip. Since Madonna and Cindy Crawford have the same type of mole, this piercing is also sometimes called a Madonna piercing or a Crawford piercing. It can be placed on either side of your upper lip, but the right side tends to be the more popular side to place Monroe piercings.
If you like the idea of having a sexy fake mole, then you can use our BioPlastic Black Flat Discs with a BioPlast labret stud to get this star-studded look (like the black labret tops shown to the right). Alternatively, you can pair any of our internally-threaded 12g or 14g steel or titanium labret studs with our beautiful dermal tops to add a shimmering jewel or other unique dermal top to your Monroe piercing. The white opal top shown to the left makes a stunning addition to Monroe piercings, and that's just one of several hundred beautiful dermal top options we offer.
Vertical Labret Piercings
Unlike labret piercings, that go straight through the skin below the lower lip, vertical labret piercings go up through the lip from bottom to top, so that the top ball of the jewelry sits atop your bottom lip (see the image on the right for an example). Vertical labret piercings are typically done with short straight barbells. It's important for your starter barbell to be extra long to accommodate any swelling that occurs during the early days of the healing process. If your barbell presses into your swollen lip too long, it can cause bruising, like in the image to the left, or even necrosis (tissue death), which can lead to infection. If your barbell is too tight, have your piercer swap it out for a longer one ASAP. Once the swelling subsides and your vertical labret piercing is well healed, you can ask your piercer to replace your extra-long starter barbell with one that fits more closely.
Additional Lip Piercing Information
If you'd like to learn more about lip piercings, lip piercing aftercare, the best lip piercing jewelry, and other lip piercing information, check out the helpful articles below, which are from our Information Center: You can also view lip piercing pictures that our online community members have shared in the Lip Piercings section of our photo gallery. If you have questions about lip piercings that we haven't answered here or in our other informative lip piercing articles, visit our forum. There's a ton of great information there that other community members have shared about their own lip piercing piercing experiences, plus you can post questions of your own and get responses from our knowledgeable moderators and community members.
Lip Piercing Articles: