Importance of black outlines on tattoos?

Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 5:15 PM

Filed under: Tattoos

i was wondering how important it is to have a black outline on your tattoo? If there is a black outline will it age better then one without a black outline? im getting a tattoo soon of a flower and i wasnt sure if it was important to get an outline in black. thanks so much!

This will depend upon the artist who does your tattoo.

There are artists who absolutely insist on a black outline for every tattoo. There are artists who will happily do tattoos without black outlines. There are also artists who prefer to put black outlines on tattoos, but if you don’t want one, they won’t make you get one.

I’ve worked in a few shops over the years, and most of the artists I’ve worked with have been of the “a black outline is a must” philosophy. The theory/belief is that black will tend to soften/blur less than man other colors. As a result, your tattoo will look “crisper” for longer with a black outline.

In my experience, most of the tattoos I’ve seen without black outlines do tend to look a little “fuzzy” at the edges if they don’t have a black outline. I’m talking about tattoos done by experienced, talented artists…not some hack. At the same time, if you’re aware of that ahead of time, and it’s a “risk” you’re willing to take, not having a black outline certainly isn’t the end of the world.

If you feel that a black outline is going to really not jive with the aesthetic of your design, you definitely need to fine an artists who isn’t insistent upon putting a black outline on it. Those artists are out there..they may just be a little harder to find.

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Posted by Derek Lowe | Permalink | 3 Comments


Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 4:58 PM

Filed under: Ear, Lip/Cheek

I have been gauging my ears for about 4 years now. I recently reached the size 7/8. I have always taken very good care of my years and try to take my time gauging so that I do not mess up my ears or get any blow outs. When I was at size 8 in my right year I got hit at work and became infected. I immediately removed it, cleaned it, kept any jewelry out of it and let it heal completely. I had to re-pierce it and re-gauge it. Knowing that my ear now had scar-tissue I was very careful when gauging that ear. Instead of tapering them I would get gauges that were double flared and simply wrap a layer of tape around them every so often allowing me to stretch it slowly and without much pain.

When I reached 3/4 I did the same thing. I rapped tape around them until they were about the size of 7/8. Here was my first mistake. The 7/8 I put in was silicon. The measurements of the taped gauge to 7/8 was larger then I had expected. After putting in the 7/8 my ear got very swollen and red. After a little less than a week the swelling went down so I decided to keep them in. My ear then started getting very dry and flaky and started to puss. The back of my ear was also so swollen that it was going over the back lip of the gauge. My ear constantly was pussing and had a very small amount of blood coming out whenever I touched the back. I had to actually cut the gauge out of my ear because it was so tight. Once I got the gauge out I discovered I had a pretty bad rip and my ear was a little blown out. I took out my jewelry, washed all the shit out, washed it with saline solution and put some neuo-sporn on it. I’m not sure what I should do next. I definitely want to re-gauge them when I am able to, but until I would like to know the best way to take care of them and get them back into a better condition.

I realize this is a “losing battle”, and most of the time I just let it go…just can’t do it this time. And please…don’t take it personally…because you’re far from the only person doing this.

1) It isn’t called gauging. It is called stretching. You stretch your piercings, you don’t gauge them. While “gauging” can be a verb, there is no definition that refers to making something bigger by “gauging it”. Much to my dismay, there probably will be one day because the word is mis-used with such regularity now.

2) They aren’t called gauges. They are called plugs or eyelets or hell…even spacers if you must. But not “gauges”. Gauges, in this context, refer to a unit of measurement. 8 gauge. 6 gauge. 00 gauge. Not, “Hey, I really dig your gauges.”

Now…on to the question at hand. First of all, I’m sorry you are having trouble with your ears, especially if you’ve taken so much care with them over the years. Unfortunately, this stuff happens from time-to-time.

The best thing you can do for your lobes right now is to leave them be. Don’t wear any jewelry in them…even if it’s significantly smaller than what you were wearing. Your ears need absolutely no trauma right now. They need to be treated with care and gentleness. You shouldn’t try to do a bunch of stuff to them or put a bunch of stuff on them. Your body knows exactly what it needs to do to heal them…so let it do its thing.

You should be able to re-gauge re-stretch them at a later time. However, you need to give them lots of time before you start this process again. Without seeing exactly what is going on with your ears, I can’t say for sure…but I would imagine you need at least a month before you put something back in. From there, you will need to take the process VERY slowly.

Silicone can be a wonderful material for many people. I personally wear it without any problems. However, it also has the potential to do some serious damage when used for stretching.

Best of luck.

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Posted by Derek Lowe | Permalink | 14 Comments

Stretching a dermal-punched helix: yay or nay?

Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 4:50 PM

Filed under: Piercing

I have a 2 ga. helix punch, it’s all healed from being pierced this past november. There are some beautiful dichoric plugs on, but they start at 0 ga. and I’m wondering how traumatized my ear would be if I got the 0’s. Is stretching a dermal punch a bad idea (will it cause damage, excessive scarring, or blow outs?) Would my ear still freak out if I just wore it for a short period of time, like a day or vs. for a couple months? If you don’t recommend this plan, could you guide me towards other websites or stores in D.C./NYC areas that have as many foil style options for smaller gauges?

It is quite possible to stretch cartilage piercings. I’ve met people over the years that have stretched various cartilage piercings from standard earring size to 0ga, or even bigger. So, in theory, you should be able to stretch your piercing without much issue.

The stretching shouldn’t cause “damage, excessive scarring, or blow outs”, assume that you take some care when doing it. If the jewelry is very resistant to going in, don’t force it too much. If you force it too much, you will tear the piercing, and potential crush the cartilage, making it very likely all of your aforementioned concerns will come true.

If you are considering ordering jewelry anyway, you may want to contact the company and see if they can make you a 1ga plug/eyelet. Glass companies are typically very good about doing in-between-sized jewelry. When it comes to cartilage, the in-between sizes can make stretching much easier.

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Posted by Derek Lowe | Permalink | Comments

Genital Piercings for a horse-rider

Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 4:43 PM

Filed under: Female Genital

Which, if any, female genital piercings would be suitable for me as a horse-rider? I’m considering getting a Christina (if it’s a viable option), but would like to know if I could consider any other piercings too. Also, would the piercing require any special care because of my riding?

If you are an avid/consistent horse rider, you may want to consider something that heals fairly quickly (2-6 weeks typically)…such as a vertical/horizontal hood or inner labia piercings. Piercings such as outer labia and Christinas tend to have a longer healing time (3-4 months). If the healing time is short, if you find the piercing does interfere with your riding, or perhaps the other way around, it shouldn’t be an issue for very long.

It’s possible that a Christina might not be affected by riding too much, given it’s more “upward” placement. Having never ridden a horse, I don’t have personal experience to draw from…not to mention the lack of the other vital parts in question. :) Obviously, your particular “build” is going to play a part as well.

You aren’t going to know how things are going to work out until you actually try it, unfortunately. If you find that there is an issue, at that point you can try different things (such as use of padding, adjusting riding position etc) to alleviate the issue you are having.

Best of luck.

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Posted by Derek Lowe | Permalink | 6 Comments


Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 3:13 AM

Filed under: Navel

I had my navel pierced about a month ago and today it fell out–The top of it came loose and I dont know if this was because of things brushing against it or water?). Anyways, the whole piercing came out and I was told not to put it back in (risks infection) and to just let it heal. I was wondering if I would be able to get it done again if I wait until it fully heals? Also, should I put anything on the area while it heals? Will there be any bumps or scars after its healed? And do you know approx. how long it will take to heal? Thanx.

Who told you to leave the jewelry out and not put it back in, for fear of increased chance of infection?

The reality is if you actually walked into a studio, with the jewelry in a bag, they could have processed and autoclaved (Sterilized) the jewelry for you and then proceeded to re-insert the jewelry using a taper.

This is why you should NEVER listen to any friends, family or misc. person as they all have their own piece of information to get. If a studio actually told you not to put it in, then I say who was spaced out and forgot they had an autoclave to sterilize said jewelry in question.

If it’s been out now for more than a couple days your best bet is to let it heal up now. As for treating it you should still be doing sea salt soaks at least once a day. Personally I’d suggest waiting roughly 2 months or even a bit longer before attempting to consider re-piercing it again. And when you think its ok to re-pierce visit a studio and get their opinion on if its suitable to re-pierce yet or not.

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Posted by Warren Hiller | Permalink | Comments

Tragus VS Dental Pain

Monday July 21st, 2008 @ 3:02 AM

Filed under: Ear

Hi There,

I had my tragus pierced a week ago at a professional piercing place with a bar. It has healed really well, no puss etc etc and I have been cleaning it twice a day with ‘protat’ (the Australian version of ear solution) and salt water bath.

I have noticed however that I have excruciating dental pain on the right side of my face (same side as piercing) in the upper two back teeth in my jaw. I saw the dentist three days later who confirmed I have an impacted wisdom tooth however it is on the BOTTOM jaw and not the TOP. I havent been to see the specialist yet however I find it hard to believe that an impacted wisdom tooth on my bottom teeth could be causing pain in the top two back teeth - so close to my piercing.

To touch the piercing itself (which i do not do often) is not too bad. It is not red and i have no problems with using a cue tip to massage the solution or salt in. I can sleep on it (probably shouldnt) and do not feel pain, though sometimes a dull ache. I have also had my belly button and tongue pierced (took tongue out) and two piercings in each of my lobes. I also have two tattoos.

On a pain scale - getting it done didn’t hurt that much at all (supposed to be the worst - though..i did fall asleep getting my tattoo done! hehe) - it is the dental pain that is KILLING me! Can’t get in to see the specialist for another two weeks. In the meantime I am drinking heaps of water, keeping the piercing clean, and taking a crap load of pain killers for my teeth. My dentist also put me on antibiotics for the wisdom tooth and said it wouldnt hurt my piercing either (i mentioned the pain to her - and she didn’t think that it would be from my piercing - though she was a dentist and not a dental surgeon).

Thoughts/suggestions/ideas? Have you ever heard of a Tragus piercing causing severe dental pain? I have heard of headaches for the first two to three weeks - but agonising dental pain? I don’t want to have my wisdom teeth ripped out for nothing! Hehe. I would appreciate if you could email

First thing first: throw out the Protat

Protat contains a harsh chemical additive that’s very dehydrating and damaging to newly forming skin cells. It should not be used at all, or even the amount of times most Australian piercers are suggesting.

The only thing you should be doing is the salt water soaks and even then, that requires a precise measurement of water and salt. Or visit a chemist and obtain 0.9% Wound Irrigation Sterile Saline.

As for the pain you’re feeling, welcome to the world of impacted Wisdom Teeth. The pain will vary from individual to individual, but personally, my wisdom teeth made me feel like my head was going to explode. I had shooting pains and serious migraines and I do not recommend anyone go through what I had to go through, I was side-lined for almost 4 weeks after my wisdom teeth removal.

If you need your wisdom teeth removed, they have to be removed…And its very unlikely that getting your tragus pierced is what’s causing the dental pain, if you’ve had an actual dentist,etc confirm your wisdom teeth need removing.

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Posted by Warren Hiller | Permalink | 6 Comments

Lip plug!

Sunday July 20th, 2008 @ 1:51 AM

Filed under: Uncategorized

How permanent is lip stretching, and what size does it become irreversible without surgery?

There is no stock answer for this given the amount of data available.

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Posted by Shawn Porter | Permalink | 1 Comment

Cartilage Dermal Punching

Sunday July 20th, 2008 @ 1:04 AM

Filed under: Ear

A friend of mine went to a studio about a month ago and had the her outer conch dermal punched at a 0 gauge. It was punch at a 0 and 0 jewelry inserted, with no stretching. It’s been a month so far and there seems to be very little healing, and in fact the jewelry, though it is flared, has been sinking into the hole. (I know a picture would help right about now, sorry) I’m just wondering if not stretching the hole after punching it is causing these problems, or if it’s normal for a large gauge cartilage punch to take this long before showing signs of healing.

Stretching a punched hole after punching is a good way to reduce bleeding. However, if anything it would be the source of more problems, not prevent them. From what you describe it sounds like the piercer used too small a piece of jewelry. It could be caused by something else altogether, but I assure you it is not a result of NOT stretching after the punch.

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Posted by Sean Philips | Permalink | 1 Comment

Fussy, fussy, fussy, fussy lobes!

Friday July 18th, 2008 @ 9:48 PM

Filed under: Ear

I have been stretching my ears for almost 2 years now, and this just past march accomplished the measurment of 1 1/4, and of course I was ecstatic! Unfortunately, in my first year of stretching my lobes, I had blown out my ears, and are left with some hefty scar tissue. The scar tissue appeared as I hit 7/8’s, which was a year ago June, so I have had it for a while.


This scar tissue has obviously had a negative effect on the overall look of my earlobes, but much more that other people with blowouts I have seen. If I keep my plugs in for any time over maybe 3 hours, the blowouts get extremely red, and begin to have drastic swelling if left in for more than a couple days. This was the worst when I had stretched to 1 1/4. I had the plugs in (one pair was made out of raintree wood, and after thinking it might have been the wood I made a pair of walnut plugs wrapped with tape)for 2 or 3 months, when I finally took them out for a couple weeks and went down to 1 inch. I had previously taken my plugs out totally for about a month and a half at an attempt to rid myself of the scar tissue but due to not keeping them out long enough this did nothing for them. Unfortunately this downtime has not helped the looks of them at all. What can I do to get rid of the redness and swelling?

Two years to get at an Inch and a Quarter? What were you pierced at originally? In fact don’t answer that, I don’t want to know or even think about it. Just know that the time frame you’ve listed, is too fast…What’s done is done. Now lets correct this issue.

Step 1: Take your jewelry out and leave them out for quite a long period of time. Massaging your lobes daily with: high quality extra virgin olive oil, neem oil, Holy Butt’r, Shea Butter, jojoba oil, emu oil, any of these products or anything that seems to work nicely on your lobes.

You’re going to have to downsize, and NOT wear ANY jewelry, until the blow outs re-absorb into your body. This could take a month it could take two years, its subjective to how your body wants to react to the situation.

Step 2: Put whatever slides in comfortably into your lobes and leave your ears at that size for roughly 2 years before you even consider the option of stretching to a larger size.

This may not be what you wanted to hear, but if you have the type of blow outs you’re describing, this is your first mode of attack. If they do not go away after doing steps 1 and 2 the other option is to visit a medical practitioner who is capable of removing the blow outs.

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Posted by Warren Hiller | Permalink | 2 Comments

Conch punching

Friday July 18th, 2008 @ 9:35 PM

Filed under: Ear

How permanent would a conch punch/stretch be, and do you know anyone in particular I should travel to to get this procedure done in southern Ontario, Canada?

Permanent as in how? Permanent in the way that you’re coring out tissue and cartilage, thus completely removing a circular hole out from your ear? From the sounds of that, provided you heal it, it’s going to be pretty darn permanent. Sure if you take it out after it’s healed it’ll shrink up a tad, but if you take it out early in the healing stage it will quite often seal up (the cartilage gone but the tissue grows and seals the hole up).

Expect punching to be a permanent change in your body and is something to full comprehend before you go around asking for it, or having a piercer try to talk you into it.

Also know whether piercers will try and set punches are legal for them to use, the reality is its also ILLEGAL for them to use…Welcome to the very grey area of trying to define what is a medical tool and what isn’t. Sure the area’s health department might say: “Sure yo can use it” the Health Department doesn’t govern over such legal matters, the inspectors only care about current guidelines/protocols. As all it will take is for one client to get their ear/nose/whatever punched and messed up and a lawsuit to be filed. And presto you’re slapped with a practicing medicine without a license lawsuit.

Much like in Canada its legal for someone to buy a syringe and xylocaine. They can even put the xylocaine into the syringe. However you are legally not allowed to inject the xylocaine into anyone. You can squirt it onto them, but not inject it into them.

Just out of curiosity though where in Southern Ontario are you, as that’s a rather broad range with plenty of cities within its region. Toronto? Hamilton? St.Catharines? Niagara Falls? Mississauga? Guelph? Southern Ontario is a very vague generalization and if you could provide us with an exact location it’d make pointing in the right direction easier.

Also remember there’s LOTS of piercers “playing doctor” and wanting to play with this type of equipment. However there’s only a small number of artists I’d trust, in Southern Ontario, to use a Biopsy/Dermal Punch and use it properly and effectively.

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Posted by Warren Hiller | Permalink | Comments

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