How to Change Your Body Jewelry: Tips, Tricks, and What to Avoid January 24, 2023 – Posted in: Informative, Piercing Advice – Tags: , ,

When you get your first body piercing, you’re probably not thinking about the mechanics behind changing your jewelry. Things like keeping your piercing clean, avoiding complications, and piercing aesthetics are probably at the forefront of your mind. But, many piercees find that their body piercing jewelry is more difficult to change than they first thought.

Your ability to change your piercing jewelry will depend on a number of factors: the location of your piercing and its accessibility, the length of your piercing tunnel, and the type of jewelry that you choose, among others. It’s not uncommon to need a little help the first few times you change out your body jewelry. Some people never learn how to change their jewelry on their own, and that’s okay, too.

However, there are some tricks and tools that you can use to make changing your jewelry easier. There are also a few safety considerations that you need to be aware of while changing your jewelry. Digging around your piercing with your jewelry can cause trauma to the piercing site even if your piercing is fully healed. You don’t want to damage your piercing just because you’re struggling to change your jewelry.

Here’s a quick guide to changing your body jewelry and some tips to make it a little bit easier.

Don’t change your jewelry until your piercing is fully healed

We get it; when you’ve just gotten a new piercing, you’re already dreaming about all of the different jewelry styles that you can wear with it. After all, piercings are all about self-expression, and diverse jewelry choices are a part of it. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait until your piercing has fully healed before changing your jewelry.

Person with nostril piercing

Photo by cottonbro

During the healing process, you need to keep your jewelry as still as possible. Moving the jewelry around or twisting it within the piercing can cause trauma to the delicate healing tissue which could lead to problems like piercing bumps or jewelry rejection. Changing jewelry, especially if you don’t really know how, can cause lots of trauma to your healing piercing. The last thing you want is to cause damage that could prolong healing.

When you’re initially pierced, you’ll probably get fit with a larger jewelry piece to accommodate swelling. Once swelling has gone down, you can (and in some cases should) visit your piercer to switch to a smaller piece. Your piercer has the skills and expertise to change your jewelry safely and without damaging your healing piercing.

Some piercings, like cartilage piercings, can take a significant time to heal. It’s understandable that after three or four months, you’ll be ready for a jewelry change. When this happens, you can talk to your piercer to see if they’ll change your jewelry for you. Although it’s not advisable to change your jewelry too often as your piercing heals, it is okay for a professional to switch out your jewelry if they feel it is safe to do so.

How to open different body jewelry types

Before you change your body piercing jewelry (once your piercing has fully healed), you need to make sure that you know how to open the type of body jewelry that you choose. Most of them are pretty simple, but they’re not always intuitive.

Captive bead rings have an opening beneath their bead. Simply pop the bead out of place to access its entry point. To close it, pop the bead securely back into place. Keep in mind that you should feel a snap when it goes in. It’s easy to think that the bead has been secured when it hasn’t. It’s also important to note that the entry point is often too small to fit into the piercing. In these cases, simply pull one end toward you and push the other one away so that the jewelry forms a sort of spiral, and twist the jewelry into the piercing.

Barbells (straight, curved, circular, and navel jewelry) have a threaded ball end that you unscrew so that you can slip the barbell into the piercing. After you have slipped the barbell into the piercing, simply screw the ball end back on. Make sure that you screw the ball end securely, but not too firmly. Tightening it too much could strip the threading.

Clicker and segment hoops have either a hinged section that opens or a segment that completely comes out of the hoop. Both of these will snap back into place, similarly to a captive bead ring.

Seamless hoops need to be bent in order to open. Never pull the ends straight out. Instead, twist the ring, pulling one end toward you and pushing the other end away, then pinch the ends back closed when your hoop is in place. Pulling the ends straight out will cause strain on the metal which causes it to weaken. Seamless hoops, in particular, can be difficult to change on your own. If you find yourself struggling, head to your piercer to have it changed. They have the tools and expertise to do so easily.

There are other body jewelry types, but these are the most common. Before you change your jewelry, make sure that you’re familiar with how the new jewelry works.

Tips for easy body jewelry changes

Depending on the location of the piercing, you might have a hard time slipping your jewelry through the piercing hole. Piercings with longer piercing tunnels, like surface piercings, can be particularly difficult to change. But, there are a few things that you can do to make the process easier.

Man with septum piercing

Photo by Alex Green

Wash your hands and jewelry first. Even though your piercing is fully healed, you still want to keep it clean and fresh. Simply use soap and warm water.

Double-check your jewelry size. Often, people struggle to change their piercings simply because the jewelry is the wrong size. If it’s even one gauge too big, you might not be able to push it through the piercing hole. 

Use a water-based lube to help your jewelry slip more easily through the piercing tunnel. You can also use soap and water, but stay away from petroleum jelly or other oily products.

Use a taper to help change difficult piercings, especially surface piercings. Tapers are hollow, cone-shaped tools that you can use to guide your jewelry through the piercing tunnel. Because the taper has a pointed end, it’s often easier to maneuver into a piercing, and it makes changing your jewelry faster and easier.

When in doubt, visit your piercer. Even if your piercing is fully healed, messing with it too much while trying to change your jewelry can cause problems. If you find that you’re struggling to change your jewelry, talk to your piercer. They’ll be able to do it for you, and they may even be able to give you some individual tips to make the process easier next time. Keep in mind that piercings can close fast, so if you have taken jewelry out and can’t put it back in, be sure to visit your piercer as soon as you can.


Changing your body jewelry the first time can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay calm, take your time, and remember that there is a learning curve. You may struggle the first couple of times that you try to change your jewelry, but you’ll eventually learn what works for you, and in no time, you’ll be changing your jewelry quickly and easily.

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