Here’s what you have to consider
There are lot’s of great reasons to wear a piercing. You won’t have to explain yourself to too many people why you have them. But there are still times when you have to hide a piercing. Unfortunately this isn’t usually easy or practical and often just not possible.
You probably hear us sometimes say in our Long Beach piercing studio that the only guarantee of keeping a piercing open is keeping the jewelry in place. When the jewelry comes out, the piercing channel will start to shrink, sometimes very quickly, and of course a piercing without jewelry may close up completely if jewelry isn’t reinstalled soon enough.
The good news is that piercing clients often underestimate the chances of getting jewelry in with a little help from a professional piercer. If the piercing channel is still open, even if it’s smaller, we may get the jewelry in and a fresh new piercing isn’t necessary. You’ll need a piercer to help figure this out.
But what can you do if you need to keep the jewelry out for a long period of time? Or if you need to frequently remove it, like for work or school? This gets pretty tricky, and it’s easy to be disappointed. So what are your options?
Is it possible to hide a piercing?
First, if you expect to hide your piercing, understand that no jewelry or retainer is invisible. This is important us to make clear because people sometimes ask for this. But a clear glass on a table isn’t invisible so a clear retainer in your nose won’t be either. Nostrils are the most common piercing clients need to hide and it’s usually for work. In this scenario the client needs to wear something regularly, let’s say 5 days a week, and for 8 hours at a time. Plastic isn’t a good option because it’s not intended for (or likely suitable for) long term wear. In time plastic may become irritating. For two decades piercers have believed that body temperature contributes to plastic body jewelry degrading, although we’re unaware of any evidence supporting this.
How about glass? Glass is certainly a safe material to wear in the body, but something so thin is fragile. It wouldn’t take much of an accidental bump to the nose for it to break. Broken glass particles inside the nose or any other piercing would be an emergency room nightmare.
Once upon a time nostril screws with little plastic tops were sold as nostril hiders but they didn’t really do the trick. The plastic ends were glued on and fell off pretty easy exposing a metal base. Also, there wasn’t much variation in color so it was a “one shade fits all” scenario. They were also large and bulky, so not very discreet at all. Today, the best option for concealing a nostril, and many ear piercings, is jewelry from the popular brand Neometal. Neometal created the popular “threadless” style of body jewelry, sometimes called press-fit or pressure fit, which features small studs with often times small decorative ends.
Jewelry in nostril piercings is sometimes 20g, which is thinner than these 18g Neometal pieces so clients may have to be committed to stretching a piercing and wearing thicker jewelry. These small ends fit on to Neometal’s (and other compatible studs) 18g threadless posts and come in 4 colors intended to blend in to most skin tones. Of course they’ll never perfectly match, but on many people they look passable. They’re also textured so the surface isn’t shiny and as reflective as a smooth high polished surface or faceted gem.
Do you really have to hide a piercing?
For temporary situations, like surgery, MRI’s, and x-rays there are different considerations. The bottom line is you’ll have to do whatever your doctor tells you. But, your body jewelry isn’t magnetic and won’t likely be dangerous in an MRI (if it’s high quality and not a large piece of metal such as a 0g circular barbell) or affect the image unless the piercing is in a close proximity of the area being imaged.
It’s the same for an x-ray. Your jewelry will be in the image if they’re taking pictures of your body part that’s pierced, but there will be no distortion. In both these scenarios a retainer wouldn’t likely be any better or worse than the jewelry. We don’t suggest trying to hide a piercing if your doctor tells you to remove it for a procedure. Healthcare facilities have policies that are out of the control of staff. Please follow their rules.
For a one time situation like a doctors visit or something similar you may have no real options for hiding a piercing. So we would suggest removing your jewelry at the last possible minute and having it inserted as soon as possible. Since the body can be unpredictable it’s important to not wait, especially if the piercing is important to you.
Make a smart decision when it comes to work.
The most common time clients visit us for solutions to hiding a piercing is when they have a new job or job interview and don’t want to wear it there. Sometimes people have had their job for a while and decided to get pierced even though it’s against the company’s policy. We remind them they’re asking to spend money on a piercing they may take out as soon as they go back to work and waste money or compromise their job. With the exception of septum piercings and other piercings that can reliably covered by hair, there’s really no way to completely hide a piercing. This is especially true if it’s in the face like a nostril or lip piercing. Remember, a retainer isn’t invisible anymore than a clear glass. Clear retainers, plastic or glass, can still be seen, they just don’t look like a nice piece of jewelry. Also, our staff suggests their clients avoid plastic in a piercing that’s under three months old and consider it’s not viable for repetitious wear over a long period of time.
You may not actually need to hide a piercing. If you absolutely do, you may just need to take your jewelry out for a short period, but you may need help getting it back in. We said a few months ago that we’re now offering insertion tapers to help you reinstall jewelry on your own at home. They’ve turned out to be quite popular.
If you need to remove your jewelry frequently you can test the piercing over a longer period of time. Start by removing it for a few minutes. Once you’ve got it back in place, you know you can go at least that long. Try again later for a longer stretch of time and keep repeating until it becomes challenging to insert. You obviously don’t want to wait so long that you can’t get it in place at all, but with some patience and effort you might be surprised how long you can realistically go without jewelry.