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Vertical Labret 101

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Vertical labrets! The logical follow up to labret piercings which you can read more about here. These are piercings vertically through the lower lip, that enter along there vermilion border of the lip and exit. just under the lip. These are unique piercings that allow you to wear two adorable beads on the front of your lip. They carry an added bonus of not touching your teeth or gums and therefore minimizing and risk of oral damage. That being said there ae considerations for these piercings like any, so lets talk about them!

Anatomy, always.

Like most piercings vertical labrets are anatomy dependent. You do need to have enough tissue for us to pierce through for these to be stable. Fuller lips do allow for more choices with these, but somewhat thin lips can still sometimes support a vertical labret if a piercer with experience in these and that anatomy is doing it. That said there are some lips that are too thin to be pierced, so make sure you are seeing a piercer with experience in this area who can assess your anatomy correctly.

Since these dont go inside the mouth, there is less concern for the anatomy of your teeth and gums. That said if your have a pronounced overbite you ay find it easier to snag this on your teeth, and may prefer wearing lower profile jewelry on that top. Bite anatomy does sometimes play a role with how these sit and wear which is why it’s so important to see a piercer with experience in thee piercings to place things in such a way to keep your teeth and gums safe! Braces still don’t play well with vertical lip piercings as the tops can snag in wires and brackets, so I wouldn’t not get this piercing if you currently have or will be getting braces.

Don’t get chapped about it

All piercings virtually have some swelling when they are first done. Oral piercings in particular are known for having quite a bit of swelling. Vertical oral piercings which pass through the lip, are known for even more swelling. Thanks to that, a longer bar will be used for initial piercing to have room for that swelling and healing. While the jewelry is long in a vertical labret it can make eating and drinking awkward, and you have to be careful how you eat and bite to avoid biting down on the jewelry. But, once things are less swollen you can downsize that bar, usually in the first few weeks. After downsizing, healing tends to be smooth sailing.

Beyond that, oral piercings that go through the vermillion border of the lip usually cause some quite chapped lips while they are healing. Despite that, its not safe to use any chapstick, oils, or balms on your lips as they will get into the piercing and cause irritation. So what do you do about the chapped lips? Hydrate! Staying well hydrated and drinking plenty of water will hydrate your lips from the inside and help the chapping subside. Once things are fully healed you can wear chopsticks, lipstick, and all the things again, but during healing this often causes more irritation then anything else. Likewise, avoid picking and biting the dead skin which will only irritate it further. Like chapped lips in winter picking just make them worse. Try to hydrate, and leave the chapped skin alone to heal!

A note on sizing

With vertical labret jewelry sizing becomes very important. Jewelry that is too long can snag and damage your teeth and make eating difficult. Jewelry that is too short can sink in and stretch out the piercing and cause irritation along the lip. This is a piercing that needs to be a really comfy fit! Due to the movement in this area many clients find 14g jewelry to be more stable long term and hold up better against the movement. I’ve seen lots of clients struggle with 16g and 18g jewelry feeling uncomfortable or pinching while eating, and causing irritation. That said some clients wear these sizes comfortably, but it’s worth keeping in mind!

Jewelry Considerations

Vertical labrets wear curved barbells, as this is what’s perpendicular to the tissue! Straight barbells will put pressure on the tissue and can often cause migration and irritation. Like wise hoops will sit very far from the lip and can be caught or snagged, and if the fit snug can cause migration and irritation. If a hoop is your goal, a traditional labret is a better fit.

That said, curves still afford a bunch of cool jewelry choices from small delicate ends, classic beads and discs, to larger more decorative pieces. But keep in mind weaver you wear will come in contact with everything you eat and drink. The fancier and more decorative an end the more there will be to clean off after meals and snacks. Some folks don’t mind the extra work, and others stick with simple jewelry for ease. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Fancy pieces can be fun for trips and events and simple ends may work well for day to day wear.


With the popularity of lip filler its often to run across clients who both want vertical lip piercings and have filler. I’ll be doing a full blog post about that soon, but in short- its ideal to have this piercing and have it be very well healed before ever getting any filler. Then you can find an injector experienced working around piercings and get your filler. Not allot al injectors understand how to work around piercings, and I have seen clients end up with piercings becoming crooked or migrating due to filler.

That said if you already have filler and want this piercing you will need to wait till past the end of your filler cycle. Contact your injector and find out the lifecycle of your filler, and I suggest waiting till a few months past that. You should be seeing a piercer with experience in filler, and if they suspect and filler remains they might have you get that dissolved before piercing. You’ll then need to wait for the piercing to be very very well healed before getting more filler.

It can defiantly be a unique challenge to balance filler with having vertical lip piercings, but it is possible!

Vertical labrets are such cute piercings, and while they are more limited in jewelry then a traditional labret they also avoid all the risks to your teeth and gums. That makes these a popular choice for many folks who want a lip piercing but doesn’t want to risk their teeth and gums! I personally adore these piercings and if you’ve been thinking of getting one, go for it!

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Liz Wood
Liz Wood
Jan 19, 2023

I still have the curved barbell they used to pierce or but it's too long and I can't figure out what size for a shorter bar to change it. Also do you need to go to a shop to change it

Nov 16, 2023
Replying to

Me too! I think it’s 16g and 5/16 is what I’m looking for


I’ve just taken out my vertical labret because the top bead looked like it was sinking into my lip but the bar was still long was that normal or did I do the right thing taking it out?


Have you ever dealt with irritation bumps on the top part of this kind of piercing and what would be best for it?

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