Daria Fiochetta, piercer at Kyklops Tattoo, Pittsburgh. Image by @darzilla on her Instagram Page

The Struggle is REAL


For most of us, changing body jewelry from our piercings can be a dreaded event. Suddenly, you transform from the calm self that you are and a wave of frustration washes over you as you struggle to loosen the ball from a barbell and once you do, who knows to what parts of abyss the ball will go flying off to?  If it’s an oral piercing, now you have just drooled on yourself, staring in the mirror, trying to grip the ball firmly enough to get the first loosening movement. You are now reduced to thinking “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty” as a bead of sweat forms on your forehead…


If it is a captive ring, you know that dropping the ball equals death and finding that tiny “give” where it will accept the new ball with the right amount of tension is like winning the lotto…aborting mission seems like a better option and once again, you walk away from with, “I’ll leave it in for a few more weeks…”
We’ll share with you Tips & Tricks from the Pro’s so that this process doesn’t have to be such a pain in the [insert your body piercing here].


Image by @serbinho90 on his Instagram Page


Body Jewelry Change Out Prep Basic


First and foremost, regardless of which type of piercing, the location on your body, or which type jewelry you are dealing with, these basics must be applied for best results. Please, don’t skip this step…


  1. Find a well-lit area. Natural sunlight helps but it is not enough; you should also have an alternate light source, preferably with the capacity to focus where you want it to. Swivel lamps with twisty heads that allow you to position and hold the light are best for this.


  1. Have a mirror other than the one on the wall. Bathroom mirrors are not the greatest since the distance between the sink and wall is significant enough not to get you close access. Grab a mirror on a stand or one that you can angle to your liking.


  1. Get Sanitized. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds. It’s tempting to skip this step if your piercing has fully healed, however, infections and germs can still infect your healed piercing. There are products designed specifically for piercing care.


  1. Prep the New Body Jewelry. Do the same with you new body jewelry- wash it with soap and water or piercing aftercare solution of your choice. Lay it on a clean on a paper towel with the balls or parts released and ready to insert.


  1. Prep the Piercing. Clean the piercing and the surrounding areas with soap and water, or piercing care solution after the existing jewelry has been removed. Allow it to air dry.
Image by @lastfeastofthewolves on her Instagram Page

Butter Fingers


With the prep steps above, you have a great base to reduce frustration or even eliminate it. One of the common issues that arise is the inability to remove the existing body jewelry. It may be hard to grasp firmly and to have enough grip to loosen the ball, especially if you are dealing with a hard to reach location or oral piercings. Sometimes, you body piercer may have tightened the ball to ensure that it won’t come loose during the healing period, so creating movement or loosening can be a challenge.
To assist in this part, we recommend purchasing disposable gloves.  Make sure to get the size that most closely fits your hand. If you are allergic, go ahead and get nitrile gloves instead. The world of difference this makes is understated but effective. The friction grip that latex or nitrile provides will help you loosen any body jewelry piece with much greater results that your fingers alone. While this tip will give you a better grip, we recommend closing your sink drain in case the ball gets dropped.


Microscopic Precision

Many piercings are and their respective body jewelry can be hard to see and grab firmly. There are two things you can do to greatly improve your experience during your body jewelry change, especially for the teeny, tiny locations, such as the tragus.


  1. See Better. Purchasing a mirror that can magnify your view is so helpful for self-change body jewelry for hard to see areas. Having greater visual acuity improve how you see and control movement based on visual feedback. There are many varieties out there that are super affordable.


  1. Controlled Grip. For most types of body jewelry, using a light clamping tool such as a hemostat to extend your grip is also very helpful. Large, plier type tools are best left to the professional of if you have a friend or family member that can assist you. For solo missions, these lighter surgical tools offer a firm grip on the bar or curved areas of the body jewelry. Unlike plier type tools, once you clamp the hemostat, you do not need to place steady pressure to keep the tool gripping the jewelry, freeing up your focus on location and steadiness. Unless you are a dexterity pro, this inexpensive little tool is wonderful for tight locations and very easy to use. This slimmer tool is even helpful in keeping you hand out of your line of vision while you are changing your body jewelry, unlike larger, plier type tools.


  1. For Captive Rings. Use gloves for to grip the ball firmly with one hand of your captive ring. Use your other gloved hand to hold the ring steady. Gently pull the ball and see if it gives any slack. If this causes you to pull on the skin, stop immediately. Grab the curved hemostat from step 2 and place the closed tips on inside of the ring. You want to, VERY GENTLY, open the hemostat so that the tips move apart from each other and begin to hit the rings on each side. Be careful not to pinch your skin during this process. Feel the tension of the tips against the ring. Gently open the hemostat as if you are testing the tension, not trying to open the ring any wider. This is often enough pressure from the inside of the captive ring to release the ball. Doing this too forcefully can distort and ruin the ring so take care not to use brute force. To re-insert the ball, find the grooved indents on the ball, line up one end with the ring with one end of the indent, then firmly push the ball back into place with a gloved hand. Viola.



When all else fails, visit a pro like Stephanie Anders Owner of Royal Heritage Tattoo & Piercing and Royal Heritage Jewelry Co. in beautiful Los Angeles, CA. Image by Stephanie Anders @ms_stephanie_xoon her Instagram Page

I Quit…


While there are many tools out there to help you open and close captive rings, be aware that the tools require dexterity and can be quite intimidating to use close to delicate body parts. Using these tools on another person, such as the way your piercer does for you, is different than looking at a mirror image of yourself and using both hands and fingers with a steady grip to do it to yourself.
When all else fails and you’ve given it a good go with no avail, it is time to see your body piercer. Ask them to show you how they do it and for suggestions. If certain types of jewelry are particularly harder for you to maneuver, you can use an alternative body jewelry style, such an internally threaded jewelry or a one-piece piercing rings. Check out our Idea Book below for everything you need change your BodyJewelry like a pro.


Idea Book