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Some of the best, most exhilarating beauty decisions are made spur-of-the-moment. Bangs? Go for it. A new hair color? Sure, why not. But one beauty move that shouldn't be made lightly is the choice to get a facial piercing. As fun as it might sound to pop into a salon and walk out with a new eyebrow ring, it's a major commitment that deserves proper thought and consideration beforehand.
"It will permanently scar the face, and it’s very difficult [and expensive] to remove scars like that, so I would really put some thought into it before you pierce your face," says Brian Keith Thompson, owner of Body Electric Tattoo and Piercing. (He has personally pierced the likes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone, so you know his advice is worth following.) Take a minute to read his ultimate guide to eyebrow piercings below so the next time you get the sudden urge to get yours pierced, you'll be fully prepared for what to expect.
The Proper Placement of a Brow Piercing
As far as the way the jewelry is situated along your eyebrow (for instance, horizontally or vertically), that’s a creative decision to be made between you and your piercer. But eyebrow piercings are unique in the fact that they are surface piercings and they have a tendency to migrate or be rejected by your body if they're not pierced deeply enough or if the jewelry is too thin or heavy, which makes this type of piercing a little more complex.
“It really depends on the jewelry that’s being used, how you’re pierced, and their proficiency,” Thompson says. “Anytime you put a foreign object into your body, you have the chance and likelihood of an infection and rejection. Those both can happen for no rhyme or reason. Sometimes you just have an active immune system, and it starts to migrate. What happens is the body just slowly starts pushing the jewelry forward until it finally breaks the skin. It's similar to if you had a splinter. Your body would just do its thing and focus on pushing it out. It’ll mainly happen if you pick the wrong jewelry and if you’re just not careful with it.”
Best Jewelry for a Brow Piercing
As Thompson mentioned, the type of jewelry you choose can make or break your eyebrow piercing, so don’t rush through the process when picking yours out or go straight for the most aesthetically pleasing option just yet. Instead, consider a few factors: the shape, the type of metal, and the size.
Although you have dozens of styles to choose from for your eyebrow piercing (straight barbell, circular barbell, hoop, or spiral, to name a few) Thompson recommends starting with a curved barbell first. “When people start with a hoop instead of a curved barbell, it makes it a lot more difficult for that piercing to heal."
As far as the metal goes, Thompson recommends splurging on one of two metals that, from his experience, tend to heal better: titanium and gold.
If everything is healing well after about six weeks, you can switch out the jewelry with a smaller piece or one that better suits your style. Many shops include smaller replacement jewelry in the price of the initial piercing, so you can exchange it at no additional charge—but don't attempt to change out your jewelry for the first time yourself. "Go to a professional first and have them help you and instruct you," Thompson says. If you make a failed attempt, Thompson says, "It could possibly close up, or it could suffer trauma from you trying to put the jewelry in improperly and actually cause more damage."
The Process and the Pain
"[An eyebrow piercing] is very easy, one of the easiest to perform, in my opinion," Thompson says. "It’s just a single needle—I don’t even use a tool, I just use my fingers. Not a very painful piercing. There are not a lot of nerves there on your brow." As long as you avoid getting a sunburn beforehand (ouch), Thompson says your experience will be a relatively comfortable one.
How to Heal Your Eyebrow Piercing
It’s no secret that successfully healing a piercing is a difficult feat, but it can be done. The first step is choosing the right jewelry, but the real test is how you treat it in the months that follow.
According to Thompson, it takes about three to four months to fully heal, but sometimes you're looking at closer to five or six months, depending on a few factors. First, take a look at your lifestyle. "Every time you hit it or bump it or injure it, you’re setting it backwards," he says. "Let’s say you just got a motorcycle. Then it’s not the piercing for you because any type of movement or trauma—it’s going to be pretty catastrophic to that piercing."
Another major factor that plays a part in how quickly your piercing will heal? Your body. "Everyone is unique and different, so what works for me, may not necessarily work for you," he says. "You may have to figure out your own regimen as well. It’s not really one size fits all."
The first three months with any piercing is the most crucial stage, according to Thompson. "That’s where everything is written and how your healing process will go. If you can’t make it through the first three months without suffering problem after problem, you may want to take it out because you may not make it any further and it may just keep having the same problems over and over again."
In addition to avoiding trauma to the area, Thompson says getting enough sleep, eating well, and drinking enough water will all contribute to a faster healing process. Bottom line, if you’re careful with your new piercing, you can successfully heal it.
How to Prevent an Infected Piercing
To clean the area, Thompson says to keep it simple: soap and water. His favorites are Dr. Bronner's 18-In-1 Hemp Baby Unscented Pure Castile Soap ($8) and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($14) for those with very sensitive skin, but he notes that soaps aren't necessarily going to make your piercing heal any faster. "Your body is doing all the work, so no matter what you’re cleaning it with, remember that you’re not helping your body heal faster," he says. "You’re just helping prevent an infection."
Though they're a rare occurrence, infections do happen. Thompson lays out the warning signs: "You’ll see green or brown puss; the area will be very red and warm to the touch; you will feel your lymph nodes under your jaw swollen; you will feel like you’re getting sick, and you could possibly even be having a fever if the infection is serious." If you see any of those sign or any type of streaking protruding from the wound, seek medical attention immediately.