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Vertical Philtrum 101

Last week we talked about philtrum piercings, which you can read about here. So, the natural follow up seems to be talking about it’s sister piercing, the vertical philtrum! Vertical Philtrum piercings, sometimes called jestrum piercings, are a piercing vertically through the center of the cupids bow of the upper lip, and exiting into the vermillion pink border of the lip. These carry a lot of the pros of a philtrum- Centered in the face and flattering for any features, allowing for a huge range of jewelry from tiny delicate gems too big, bold pieces. And, they come without some of the cons as well- much less risk of tooth and gum damage, and jewelry sits centered and perfect. These piercings are less common as they are more anatomy dependent, more advanced to pierce and heal, and often considered a more “modified” look. Today, let’s look closer at one of my personal favorite piercings!

Anatomy, Always

Vertical philtrum piercings are anatomy dependent piercings, and you do need to have correct anatomy for them. There needs to be enough piercable tissue in the upper lip, and scars from previous philtrum piercings can effect that. You also want to be mindful of the way your lower teeth sit and the way you bite, and this should be placed to limit or prevent you from biting it when you eat and talk.

A large factor in traditional philtrum piercings is oral health- the back of the philtrum can cause issues for your teeth and gums. With a vertical philtrum, since the bottom exits on the vermillion or pink part of the lip it doesn’t contact your teeth and gums pretty much ever- meaning it eliminates the risk of tooth and gum damage. A well placed vertical philtrum you also won’t bite on often if ever. It does get a bit more in the way with food, so plan to clean the bottom well when you eat or drink certain drinks.

Feelin’ Swell

If you thought philtrum piercings had a lot of swelling, well, I have bad news. Vertical philtrums often swell twice as much. When you get this pierced you will have an antenna of a barbell, and in the next day or two it will not be long at all. It’s like a trial run of lip injections! These piercings do swell a fair amount so prepare for that during the initial healing. As the swelling goes down you’ll need to downsize these piercings, and vertical philtrums often need a few downsizes. Also be mindful while the bar is long to avoid biting or catching it. These take longer to heal then traditional philtrums and tend to be a harder heal, so be prepared for that when choosing to commit to healing this piercing.

Since this piercing is through the vermillion of the lip, it often also comes with quite chapped lips during the initial healing and swelling. However, it’s not safe to use chapstick or lipstick or creams on your lip. The best way to fight the chapped lips is to drink a ton of water and stay well hydrated. Once this heals the chapped lips will soothe. Know if you live in a climate with cold winters that this piercing may make your chapped lips worse in the cold.

Safe Oral Products

You may think that oral products don’t matter for this piercing since it’s not inside your mouth. Well, you’d be wrong. You still can get toothpaste and mouthwash in this piercing, so you still need to use safe products for healing. This means no products that are for whitening for contain whitening chemicals or abrasives like charcoal. Check ingredient lists too, because many toothpastes and mouthwashes hide whitening chemicals. Just like with a root canal or other major oral work, harsh chemicals like that can irritate and disrupt a healing wound. Yes, that also means you should discontinue actually whitening your teeth while this heals. Once it is healed is fine, but those chemicals are not awesome for your philtrum while its healing. Alcohol free mouthwash is also going to be gentler while it’s healing.

You will also want to avoid lipstick and makeup around this piercing while its healing. Unlike a traditional philtrum where you can often get away with a careful lipstick application, this piercing sits directly in the upper lip, and makeup can get on and in it and cause issues. I suggest no lipstick, gloss, or chapstick for the first 4 months.

For other information about healing, and some of the myths about healing (like spicy foods, alcohol, and other things, check out this blog post about the myths and misinformations surrounding any oral piercings!

Big and Bold, Small and Subtle

Jewelry is perhaps the best thing about about a philtrum piercing, and that goes double for a vertical philtrum. With a vertical you eliminate the spinning issues of a traditional philtrum, meaning pear cuts and kite cuts sit perfect and centered, and fun unique designs can also be oriented exactly the way you want them to sit. This opens many folks up to a whole new world of jewelry choices and styles they can wear. The bottom of this piercing is also visible so you can dress that up with gems, opals, or decorative ends. Many folks however choose to keep the bottom simple to make it easier to clean off any food.

Will this effect kissing/oral sex/etc?

When a vertical philtrum comes up this is a commonly asked question, people see the bottom bead on the lip and can’t help but wonder. The answer is yes- but not nearly as much as you’d think. You and your partner will be aware of the bottom bead, but it doesn’t really get in the way and once its healed you get used to working around it. It’s honestly probably less noticeable or in the way than braces or most orthodontic work.

How can I wear lipstick when it’s healed?

Either apply lipstick carefully around the piercing, avoiding the bottom bead, or just apply it normally and clean the bead off after. I find liquid lipstick much more forgiving with vertical lip piercings than any other formula.

Vertical Philtrum piercings are SUPER cute, super cool, and I’m thrilled they are becoming more popular. These are versatile piercings that flatter any features, and their ability to wear more decorative and directional jewelry perfectly is a huge selling point. As someone who has worn both a traditional and vertical philtrum, and as someone with a penchant for big bold jewelry, I love my vertical philtrum so much!

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