Eyebrow piercings are relatively new and purely aesthetic piercings with no recognized symbolic tradition or cultural origin; they simply look good. Their location draws attention to one’s eyes and upper face, either opening the gaze or intensifying it. Placement can vary, but is usually towards the outer end of the eyebrow, just past the arch, as this location tends to be aesthetically pleasing on almost all faces. The angle of the piercing can vary from nearly vertical to a dramatic diagonal.
Eyebrow piercings tend to be easy to sit through and quite simple to heal, taking just six to eight weeks. They generally heal up with few complications provided you keep them clean and keep dirty hands, makeup, and hair away. Much like other facial piercings, when infected, eyebrow piercings can swell and/or develop a fluid-filled bump or pimple at the hole. If irritated, warm salt water soaks several times a day tend to help fairly quickly.
We usually do an eyebrow piercing with a 16 gauge curved barbell. While a ring can also be worn, it’s usually better to go with a curved bar for healing. These piercings often swell slightly and some people can get bruising—and an unlucky few can even get a black eye. Treat the swelling as you would any other area; use cold packs and elevation. Anti-inflammatories can help, and try to avoid things that thin your blood further (including alcohol and/or stimulants, aspirin, and Tylenol). Generally swelling is gone in a day or two, though bruising may take a couple days more.
It is important to note that while some individuals have an eyebrow piercing last several years, the majority tend to migrate, or “grow out,” in the long term. This means they gradually get closer and closer to the surface as your body grows new layers of skin behind the jewelry. This process can take several months or even several years, but ultimately leads to rejection, which is simply the way your body deals with any jewelry placed along the surface of flat skin. Once the jewelry starts to migrate it’s usually better to remove jewelry earlier than later, as this minimizes scarring. If you really like the piercing it can always be redone later.
We can pierce any sort of eyebrow: from big, arched, “drag queen” eyebrows to bushy, “Groucho Marx” style, so no extra cutting or shaving is required. If you already shave off your eyebrows and draw them on, just be aware that the piercing will be where the brow normally is, and not necessarily where you draw it.
Any piercing that goes through flat skin—such as an eyebrow piercing—will usually migrate towards the surface of the skin over time. In short, eyebrow piercings don’t tend to be permanent. They can, however, last anywhere from a few months to several years, depending upon both you and your anatomy.
If the piercing is being “rejected,” or “growing out,” old layers of skin fall off and new skin cells grow beneath the surface to accommodate for those that are flaking away. When the jewelry seems to have very little skin left in it, or the skin around it gets shiny, red, peels, or the hair stops growing, take it out. (If you leave the jewelry in until it grows all the way out you may be left with a more severe scar.) If you still want an eyebrow piercing, hang onto your jewelry and get it done again once the original piercing is closed and the brow looks and feels back to normal.
While you shouldn’t be too hard on the area right around hole during the healing process, you can still wax, pluck, or shave your eyebrows, provided you are both cautious and careful and work around the piercing. Once your eyebrow piercing has fully healed, you can temporarily remove the jewelry, wax or pluck the area, and then put it right back. (Just be careful to leave it out as short a time as possible; if you can leave it in, do.) During this process, you should also be sure to wash your hands and keep the jewelry clean.
Anytime you cut, scrap, or puncture your skin there is a chance of scarring. If you care for your piercing, scarring should be minimal (if at all), and would usually be concealed beneath the hair of your eyebrow. The more the piercing is abused, however, the more your chances of noticeable scarring increases. If your piercing begins to migrate or grow out, take care to remove it before it gets to the surface, as that will result in further scarring. If you are left with a lump of tougher tissue or other marks, massaging the area with cocoa butter or emu oil a few times a day can help to minimize the scar.
Bruising and swelling are the body’s natural reaction to trauma. While swelling is minimal in most people and usually goes away within just a few hours, occasionally a new eyebrow piercing will get bruising, swelling, or even a little bleeding. Bruising can be a little more severe if clamps were used during the procedure, if the piercee is prone to bruising and/or bleeding, or the blood is already thin due to chemicals (like alcohol from the night before). In very rare cases, unlucky clients have received a “black eye” from the piercing.
Treat this as you would any other swelling: cold packs and elevation (extra pillows) are called for. Advil, Motrin, or other anti-inflammatories can help too. (Use as directed.) Avoid any blood thinners such as alcohol, stimulants (such as caffeine), aspirin, and Tylenol. Additionally, if you do notice some bleeding, place cold packs and direct pressure on the area, but be careful not to jar, bump, or jam the jewelry, as it will only make things worse. Remember, the more you mess with your piercing, the worse it will get. Be gentle with it.
Very often, irritations are mistaken for infections (check out the “Infections and Irritations” section of our website for more information). In the case of eyebrow piercings, infections are often noted by inflammation to the area and soreness in, on, or around the piercing site. They can swell up days, weeks, or even months after getting it done. The entire area may get shiny, itchy, and red, and there may be a yellow, green, or bloody discharge. (But some infections have no discharge at all.) If you suspect an infection, continue with sea-salt soaks and consult a physician.
As always, you should avoid touching your new eyebrow piercing with dirty hands and getting cosmetics or hair products on the piercing. Facial piercings can also be more difficult to heal for anyone around a lot of dust, dirt, or cigarette smoke.
During the healing period, initial jewelry needs to remain in the piercing. (Trying to cheat by covering a healing piercing with makeup, band-aids, or long bangs can irritate your piercing.) Once the piercing has fully healed you can conceal it by wearing a clear glass retainer; this will keep your piercing open but make the piercing itself difficult to see. (It also works for surgeries or doctor’s visits where metal jewelry is not allowed.) If you are considering getting an eyebrow piercing, make sure you won’t need to hide it during the healing—at least for the first two months.
Your face—and body for that matter—is riddled with blood vessels and nerve endings, some of which are isolated in the area of the piercing itself. However, if an experienced, informed piercing professional pierces you, these areas can be easily avoided. One of the most common ways piercers ensure your safety is to pinch your skin prior to the procedure. This is done, quite simply, by having the piercer grab the area with two fingers and then roll the skin between his/her fingers. By doing so, the piercer is able to get a better feel of the thickness and texture of your skin and check for anything (such as large blood vessels) that need to be avoided. So no, we won’t screw up your face.
You should adhere to standard aftercare practices while letting your eyebrow piercing heal. The fragility of the skin around the eyebrow means that you need to be extra careful as it heals. Eyebrow jewelry is susceptible to migration and rejection. If you mess with your jewelry too much, jewelry rejection will be a certainty.