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Published Friday, March 3, 2023

So You Want A Labret Piercing

... but you're not sure where to start? You came to the right place! Here's our guide to everything labret.

What is a labret piercing?

Get ready for some info, because we need to get a little technical with this one. There's a piercing named the labret, and also the jewelry typically worn in the piercing, is also called a labret. The reason this can be confusing for some, is that labret jewelry is very popular and versatile. In other words, you could wear a labret (jewelry) in your helix piercing. So if there's one takeaway to remember, it's that there's labret jewelry, and a specific piercing called a labret.

Now that that's out of the way...

The labret piercing is generally said to be located below the bottom lip, in the center. The labret is an ancient piercing, and in many cultures materials like bone, horn or stone were used. Fun fact: we actually carry stone and glass options for stretched labrets, if you want to go old school.

But for the most part, people wear 14g or 16 gauge jewelry in their labret, just like most piercings. There are variations like the side labret, where the piercing is left or right of center, and there's the philtrum piercing, which is basically a labret that's above the lip, rather than below. There's also the vertical labret, which is pierced upward, through the lip. Vertical labrets are a bit more painful, and take longer to heal, than regular labrets. And they don't use labret jewelry. They're named for their position (where the labret piercing is located) but the jewelry used is a curved barbell.

If you want a piercing that draws attention to your lips, you can't beat labrets. They're elegant and beautiful, and there's a wide variety of gorgeous jewelry you can wear in them.


How do you pronounce labret?

Technically, it's Lay-Brett, but that's not how most people say it. It comes from the latin word for lip, labium. You might recognize labium as the origin of the word for another body part — the labia.


So anyways, in the modern world, we usually say Lah-Brett, rather than Lay-Brett. In other words, most folks would say Lah-brett is the correct pronunciation, and it's how we say it around the office too.

And it's not Lah-Bray, like a French pronunciation. But, maybe if you're in Paris, or French kissing...? Just kidding! It's Lah-Brett even in Paris.

How do I care for my labret piercing?

Like most piercings, you'll want to avoid touching it as much as possible. No harsh soaps or cleansers. After eating or drinking, you'll want to rinse your mouth with clean water to keep bacteria from building up. Get a new toothbrush with soft bristles and be gentle brushing around the area. The reason you don't want to use your old toothbrush is because it probably has a lot of bacteria on it.

Hey, you're probably due for a new one anyways!

To help with discomfort, you can also use a saline rinse in your mouth, or a saline spray on the outside. You can gently clean crusties with some of our aftercare products too.


What if my labret is going inside my lip?

This usually means you're swelling too big for the post of your labret. You'll want to go see your piercer, or do a quick order for a new, slightly longer post to allow room for the swelling. But your piercer will be your best bet here. Getting a post that's too long can increase the risk of infection because there's more chance for food and other items to get pulled into the piercing.

Can I wear labrets as earrings?

Yes! Regular jewelry stores now sell labrets under the name "flat back earrings" because the flat back of the labret isn't as pokey as a regular earring post. That makes them super convenient for people who have a lot of ear piercings and don't want to remove and put them all in each day so they can sleep. Labrets are often comfortable enough to simply be worn all the time in the ears.

If you have a lot of ear piercings and your ears are still too sensitive to sleep with labrets in, they do make pillows with an ear hole for people with sensitive ears.

How painful is a labret piercing?

For many people, it's about five out of 10. As piercings go, it's not too bad, but the area around the lips is generally pretty sensitive, so there will be some discomfort. Piercings that penetrate the lip like a  vertical labret are more painful. It's worth noting that vertical labrets are named for their position, but they don't use labret jewelry. Vertical labrets actually use curved barbells.

How long does it take a labret piercing to heal?

Anywhere from two to six months. You'll see shorter healing times listed in some places, but that's for the lucky few. Piercings around the lips often take longer to heal due to the constant movement of the lips. You're eating, drinking, talking, whistling while you's a lot of squishing and moving around for that jewelry. You should go into the piercing knowing that it may take longer than you expect it to heal.

And you'll want to keep taking good care of it for even longer, maybe even nine months to a year. Having jewelry that's the right fit, and not changing it out until you're fully healed is key. We know it’s tempting to pop in that hot new jewelry you bought, but stay the course, and your patience will be rewarded with faster healing times.

How do I pair chains with a labret?

Short chains, which we carry on our site, can be worn with healed labrets. They can be worn either outside the lip, connecting two labrets together, or around the lip, connecting the front and back of the labret. Like most piercings that interact with the lips and mouth, you'll want to be careful when doing this to avoid damage to the teeth when chewing, or getting something caught on the fragile chains and breaking them.

This is an amazing look, but it's typically for a night out rather than an all the time thing. That's not to say that you can't, but you'll need to be extra careful around it if you do try to wear it 24/7.

How do labrets work?

We're glad you asked! The post is inserted from the back of the piercing until it pokes out the front. Then the end is screwed in. Threadless labrets work very similar to threaded, but with a minor change (see below). When wearing a threaded labret, it's common for the end to unscrew over time, so you'll want to check it periodically to make sure that it's screwed in or it might come off completely. Threadlesss labrets solve this problem neatly, and a lot of folks opt for those. But if you do go threaded, take our advice and get a spare end.

It's great advice for most piercings, really. But for the labrets it's a great idea because the ends can come unscrewed, and you don't want to be left with just a post! We've got tons of great options for affordable ends. You can typically add them to your order for just a couple bucks. And then you'll always sleep easy!

Because sometimes the ends do unscrew in your sleep. Usually folks find them in the morning after a big search, but sometimes they vanish for good.

How do threadless labrets work?

Insert the pin about 1/3 to halfway into the post and gently bend it downward.Push the end all the way into the post to test the fit.
More bend = tighter fit

So incredibly well! Check out the video below for our guide to using threadless ends themselves. But for the basics, know that a threadless labret will not unscrew, making losing the end or tooth damage (see below) a real rarity. They use a post that creates its own internal tension to hold together, instead of a screw.

They're really easy to put in and take out, too. And they reduce the 'fidget' habit that most threaded labret wearers develop, where they keep checking their labrets to make sure they're screwed in tight.

They don't reduce the other fidget habit, where you spin the labret with your tongue and move it side to side. That's more of a feature than a bug. It's part of what makes labrets fun!

How do I wear a labret in my nostril?

You'll want to get a labret with the same wearable as the nose bone or stud that you'd normally wear. When in doubt, go a bit bigger to leave room. You don't want it to fit too tight.

Why would you wear a labret in your nostril? They're a little hard to get in, since you have to put the post inside your nose. So you definitely need a small finger to do it. If you're working over the sink, don't forget to put down a towel so nothing goes down the drain if you drop it!

But once they're in, a labret can reduce tickle or make a little extra breathing room. They also stay in place really well. You'll want to adjust the bend in your labret (If you're doing threadless - see above) to make it easy to remove. What you don't want is to be tugging on it or trying to get your fingers up there to hang on to the post.

And having some longer nails can really make this change a breeze!

How do I wear labrets in my helix and other ear piercings?

Labrets work incredibly well around the ear as flat-back earrings, with no pokey post, or in the helix, flat or even conch. It's a great way to display a beautiful end. They also make for a great, and awesome looking helix accessory.

Just insert the post from below, and put the end on top and you're good! And these piercings are also a great place to add a short chain!

Are labrets the same as 'flat-back earrings'?

Yes! Many 'regular jewelry' retailers sell them as flat-back earrings. It's because labrets have a smooth, flat back (hey, sometimes the name just works lol) that's way less pokey than a standard earring post. That means they can be worn with much less irritation, which is great for people who don't want to change them out all the time, and need to sleep with their piercings in.

And if your ear is still sensitive, you can grab a pillow with an ear hole to take the pressure off.

How do I measure my labret? What are the most common labret sizes?

The two big measurements are gauge and wearable. The gauge is the thickness of the labret (and since they're stretchable, they can get pretty thick) and the wearable is the length where your piercing is worn. The wearable is like the amount of space you have between the back of the labret and the end. Kind of like the tree trunk, between the roots and the branches.

See the image above for a quick reference to the wearable!

Do labrets damage your teeth?

Any piercing worn inside the mouth can potentially cause tooth damage. Labrets that are misaligned with the teeth behind them can cause issues over time. It's important to discuss these issues with your piercer beforehand.

Are labrets leaky? Will my drinks drip from my labret? How long should I wait before drinking alcohol? Or coffee?

Worry not! Unless you have a stretched labret with no jewelry in it, you won't have to worry about leakage. A normal labret won't leak when you drink liquids, although you may be a little drooly until you get used to drinking with it, but that's mostly due to swelling at first. It is common for people with healed labrets to take the jewelry out and squirt a stream of liquid through it like a squirt gun. Everyone does it. You can't help it.

But don't try it until the piercing is fully healed! Once it is, we know you'll do it.

As for drinking, stick to cold liquids first. Once things have healed up you can reintroduce other liquids. Avoid citrus, like lemonade, as this can burn. Avoid alcohol for the same reason. And coffee is probably fine if you need the caffeine, but stick to cold brew to avoid irritation and swelling.

How do you kiss with a labret? How long should you wait to have oral sex after a labret piercing?

Lots of people wonder how you kiss with a labret piercing! The answer is basically just like normal, except way hotter lol. Just a little joke. But really, it doesn't take too much getting used to. Be a little careful when first going in for a kiss, but once you've tried it you'll find that it comes easily.

Having said that, you'll want to be fully healed (About 4-6 weeks, but it may take longer) before going tongue to tongue in a serious way. For one, your partner's mouth germs can be different from your own, so their love slobber might cause irritation or infection. And all that smooching is likely to irritate the piercing itself, just like touching it would. Little pecks are okay, but save that make out session for a little ways down the road.

And the same goes for oral sex for basically the same reasons.

Hopefully this guide will get you into the world of labrets with all the knowledge you need.

Did this answer all your labret questions? If you've got a question we didn't cover, please email us at and we'll answer your question directly!