Madonna, Medusa, Ashley & More: Which Type of Labret Piercing Is Right for You?

The labret (pronounced la-BRET) piercing is the piercing industry name for lip piercing. This is because labret comes from the Latin word “labrum” or lip. Because there are so many different types to choose from, the term labret piercing came to be associated mainly with a central lower lip piercing. However, there are multiple types of oral piercings that still fall within the labret piercing category. If you’re thinking about getting a lip piercing but can’t decide which one is right for you, read on to learn more about all the different types of labret piercings.

Lower Lip Piercings

You may have heard two paired lower lip piercings referred to as one of the many slang names for them.

Some of the slang names for paired lower lip, or labret, piercings include:

  • Snake bites: This refers to one labret piercing on each side of the lower lip
  • Spider bites: This refers to a pairing of labret piercings on the same side of the lower lip
  • Dolphin bites: This refers to a pairing of labret piercings in the center of the lower lip
  • Shark bites: This refers to two pairings on labret piercings, one on each side of the lower lip

However, regardless of the slang name you choose for them, they all fall under the category of paired labret piercings.

Double Lower Lip Piercing

Healing Time of Lower Lip Piercings

Lip piercings, like any oral piercing, are some of the fastest to heal. This is because the mouth is one of the fastest healing spots on the body due to the mucous membranes, saliva, and more which all work together to heal any wounds. Due to this, these piercings take around 6 to 8 weeks to fully heal.

Recommended Jewelry for Lower Lip Piercings

The recommended jewelry for lower lip piercing depends on the placement you want as well as your anatomy.

The labret stud is a post connected to a flat or domed backing. The backing remains in your mouth and the post sticks out from your mouth where any type of end can be placed upon it. There are both treaded labret posts and threadless labret posts. Some have three parts: a threaded, removable disc and end as well as the post that goes between them. Others have only two parts: a disc-backed post and an end piece. The difference between threaded and threadless jewelry is that threadless jewelry will include an end that doesn’t need to be screwed onto the post but is rather on a small connector with a stopping piece that goes inside the post. Threaded jewelry has one to two ends that screw on and off.

You can also wear a hoop in your lower lip piercing. However, you will have to wait until after your piercing is fully healed before you wear a snug-fitting hoop. This is because there needs to be enough room to account for any swelling.

Vertical Labret Piercing

While a traditional labret piercing goes through the bottom of the lip and into the inside of the mouth, a vertical labret piercing goes vertically through the lower lip. With this piercing, both ends of the jewelry are visible and a curved barbell is worn. These piercings take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to heal, though times may vary. One thing that’s important to know about this piercing is whether you have the anatomy such that your lip can support the piercing.

Lower Lip Vertical Labret Piercing

Ashley Piercing

If you’re looking for a unique lower lip piercing, then the Ashley piercing may be the right one for you. While the above lower lip piercings are all placed towards the bottom of the lower lip, the Ashley piercing goes through the center of the lower lip. This piercing’s placement is a bit different for everyone, as it’s important for the piercer to take your individual anatomy into account, to avoid damaging the gum lining, any important veins, or the teeth.

Because these piercings are located where there is generally more movement, they do take a bit longer to heal. Instead of 6 to 8 weeks, the Ashley piercing takes anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks to heal.

Additionally, unlike a standard labret, or lower lip, piercing, you can only wear a labret stud in this piercing.

Upper Lip Piercings

As with lower lip piercings, upper lip piercings also give you options for placement.

Madonna Piercing

If you’re a Madonna fan, then you know she’s known for the beauty mark she sports on the right side of her upper lip. Named after this famed pop icon, this piercing goes through the right side of the upper lip. Traditionally, it’s worn with a labret stud where the end has some element of sparkle, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. While the piercing is named after a woman, that doesn’t mean this piercing is only for females. Other genders look great with Madonna piercings too.

The healing time for this piercing is anywhere from 2 to 3 months.

Madonna Piercing

Monroe Piercing

Much like the Madonna piercing, the Monroe piercing got its name from another famed icon—Marilyn Monroe, who has a beauty mark on the left side of her lip. The side of the lip is the only thing that differs between the Madonna and Monroe piercings.

Monroe Piercing

Paired Upper Lip Piercings

Much like there are slang names for paired lower lip piercings, there is a nickname for paired upper lip piercings—angel bites. Typically, angel bites involve one Madonna and one Monroe piercing each.

Philtrum/Medusa Piercing

In the center of your upper lip, you have something called the Cupid’s bow, which is the little natural divot you have in your top lip. The scientific name for this part of your upper lip is called the philtrum. While Monroe and Madonna piercings are called by their nicknames, they are professionally known as a different type of lip piercing. However, the philtrum piercing is the only piercing that’s not professionally referred to as its nickname of Medusa piercing.

Like the Madonna and Medusa piercing, the jewelry worn is traditionally a labret stud.

This piercing usually takes around 3 months to fully heal.

Philtrum/Medusa Piercing

Vertical Philtrum Piercing or Jestrum Piercing

Similar to the vertical labret, the vertical philtrum is the same thing except through your upper lip. A curved barbell is also worn in this piercing. Like the vertical labret, the vertical philtrum piercing is also better for your oral health—there is less risk of tooth and gum damage because nothing is inside of the mouth.

This is an anatomy-dependent piercing as well; you want to make sure you have enough tissue to pierce through. You also want to take into consideration how your teeth site and the way you bite to ensure the piercing placement won’t get in the way of those things.


Regardless of the type of labret or lip piercing you do decide on, we have a wide range of jewelry you can select from. From labret studs to rings and more, we have a variety of materials, colors, and ends. Be sure to check out the selection today!

Written by Jackie Rachel

Jackie Rachel

Jackie Rachel is a poet and Content Account Manager. She has been getting pierced for over 16 years, while taking the time to learn proper aftercare techniques from the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) members. Always enamored by the jewelry options that exist for body modifications, she one day hopes to assist clientele with picking out jewelry and styling ears.