Frowny piercing: Everything to know

frowny piercing

There are many different reasons why you might get piercings. They’re a way to decorate your body, show off your personality, and express your own unique style.

With a multitude of piercing types to consider, some people gravitate toward mouth piercings. One option to consider is the frowny piercing.

What is a frowny piercing?

Frowny piercing: Everything to know

A frowny piercing, also called an anti-smiley piercing, goes through your bottom frenulum. Your frenulum is the piece of tissue that connects the bottom of your gums to your bottom lip. This is the opposite of the smiley piercing, which goes through your upper frenulum.

Depending on what jewelry you choose, the frowny piercing can be completely hidden (unless you pull down your bottom lip). This gives you control over when to show it off.

If you want it to be visible, you can select jewelry so that the piercing shows at the top of your bottom lip when you grimace or open your mouth.

Frowny piercing pros and cons


A major pro of the frowny piercing is it’s relatively painless. There aren’t nerve endings in the frenulum, so it’s not as painful as other lip piercing options. It’s also very simple as it goes through a small, thin piece of skin.

  • Not very painful because of the thin layer of tissue punctured.
  • Unique and easy to hide.
  • Doesn’t dominate your face.
  • It only lasts a few years and is a great choice if you are not looking for a permanent piercing.


There are some potential cons to consider when getting an anti-smiley piercing. You should think through all of the potential risks, which are outlined in the next section.

  • Not always visible.
  • It may be uncomfortable due to its placement.
  • Like the smiley piercing, this is not a permanent piercing. Eventually, most people’s bodies will reject a frowny piercing.
  • High likelihood of migration and rejection.
  • Difficult to care for during healing
  • In some cases, it can cause gum recession, teeth erosion, and teeth enamel damage due to its location.
  • Since your mouth is full of bacteria, it’s more prone to infection than some other piercings.
  • You have a limited selection of jewelry for this piercing.

Frenulum piercings face a lot of movement when you eat, talk, etc. It will likely migrate until it comes completely out. Because of that, many people don’t keep this type of piercing for very long.

Frowny piercing pain

Everybody’s pain threshold is different. But if you ask people, many rate it as a 3 out of 10 on the pain scale. It is bearable because of the thin layer of tissue punctured.

How long does a frowny piercing take to heal?

The healing time for this piercing ranges between 4 and 12 weeks. For some people, it may take less (3 weeks) or more time (up to 6 months) to heal all the way depending on an individual’s skin type.

How much is a frowny piercing?

The cost mostly depends on the location and price of the jewelry. Most stores charge between $30-$80. Some websites list their charges, and it would be wise to go through them before visiting the store.

Smiley and frowny piercing

Smiley lip piercing

A frowny piercing goes through your bottom frenulum. It is the opposite of the smiley piercing, which goes through your upper frenulum. Many choose to pierce both the upper and bottom frenulums for a more edgy look.

Frowny piercing risks

Any type of piercing or tattoo comes with some potential risks because you are inserting a needle into your skin. You may face irritation, swelling, pain, and infection. You must keep the piercing clean and carefully follow your piercer’s instructions.

1. Infected frowny piercing

All piercings carry some risk of infection. However, since the frowny piercing is in your mouth and your mouth is full of bacteria, infection is especially likely.

Your piercer will likely tell you to rinse your mouth with a saline solution a few times a day (and often after eating). Make sure you follow aftercare instructions to minimize your risk of infection!

2. Frowny piercing gum recession

One of the other big risks of a frenulum piercing is gum recession. When something is rubbing against your gums, it can wear them down and eventually expose your tooth’s root, which is very dangerous. It’s crucial you maintain really good dental hygiene if you have a frowny piercing.

3. Migrate and rejection

If you get a frowny piercing, rejection is extremely likely. The frenulum constantly regenerates cells, and the smiley piercing will usually be pushed out of place. It often pushes against the tendon at the edge of the frenulum, causing some pain and irritation.

If you notice the piercing starting to move, get in touch with your piercer right away for advice. Otherwise, it can lead to a buildup of scar tissue.

Frowny piercing with braces

You can technically get a frowny piercing with braces, but it’s really not a good idea. Your piercing can easily snag on your braces. That can be very painful, especially when the piercing is fresh. In severe cases, it can even tear.

If you want a frowny piercing, the best course of action is to wait until your braces are removed.

Eating with a frowny piercing

The unique location of the frowny piercing makes eating a challenge for some.

The jewelry can sometimes get caught as you chew, which can lead to chipped or broken teeth. Eating can also irritate the piercing as it heals, making it more likely for your body to reject it or develop an infection.

What to do then? Eat slowly, and think about chewing. Avoid hot and spicy food and hot drinks which will scald and/or increase swelling.

Frowny piercing DIY

Doing a frowny piercing at home is possible, but it’s not recommended. A piercer is the safest solution. Your frenulum is very small (sometimes even too small for this piercing), so it has to be done very carefully and accurately. If done improperly, you can tear your frenulum.

Before getting pierced, you will swish a rinse (usually a saltwater mix) to clean your mouth. Then, your piercer will likely place a small clamp on your frenulum before piercing it with a hollow needle and replacing it with your choice of jewelry.

What gauge is a frowny piercing?

A gauge in the context of lip piercing refers to the barbell thickness passing through the lip piercing. This piercing range from 18G (1 mm) to 16G (1.2 mm) in thickness. If you are unsure what size gauge to use for your lip piercing, consult with your piercer.

Frowny piercing jewelry

If you’re thinking about getting a frowny piercing, you may be wondering what type of jewelry you’ll need.

The most common piece of anti-smiley jewelry is a curved barbell. They won’t move too much, which helps with healing. You may later try out circular barbells, captive bead rings, hoops, and other designs.

Think about how visible your jewelry will be and try out different options to see what’s the most comfortable for you. Piercings are a way to express yourself, so it’s important to find something that makes sense for your personality and lifestyle.

1. Curved barbell

Curved barbells are the most popular choice among all types of frowny piercing jewelry. They have a curve that takes the shape of an arch with two balls on either end. You can go with a traditional round bead or opt for other shapes and accents.


  • Barbell jewelry can be a great statement piece and can stand out
  • The curved shape can make frowny piercings more comfortable
  • They are available in a very wide variety of designs


  • They tend to be prone to migration or rejection

2. The circular barbell

The circular barbell is also called a horseshoe barbell. With this jewelry, the bar bends into a horseshoe shape, and there is a ball at each end.


  • They’re much easier to put in and take out than captive bead rings.
  • You can decorate them with a number of interesting stones.
  • They offer a tougher look than some other types of belly button piercings.


  • They can easily become crooked.

3. Captive bead rings

With a captive bead ring, a stone, bead, or other decoration is held “captive” on the ring. It can also be called a ball closure ring. Thanks to its placement, the bead makes it look like the ring has no seams or openings.


  • Since it’s less common than barbells, it’s a good way to stand out.
  • The captive bead can be a precious or semi-precious stone.
  • Its seamless look makes it especially interesting.


  • Captive beads can be very hard to put on and take off.
  • This jewelry type often ends up leaning to one side or otherwise looking asymmetrical.

4. Seamless hoops

When shopping for piercing jewelry, you may come across classic rings. When they are inserted properly, they create a complete, closed shape. They may be a complete circle, or they may take other fun shapes like a heart, moon, or oval.

They are typically just metal hoops, which is ideal if you’re looking for something simple.


  • They are classic and timeless
  • They offer a clean look.
  • They’re also less likely to get caught on things because of their closed design.
  • They usually remain securely in place
  • They are comfortable.


  • Thin hoops can be bent very easily
  • They can be hard to insert at first
  • You may need to be careful to avoid distorting the shape as you open and close the jewelry.

Recommended materials for frowny piercing

1. Implant-Grade Titanium

Titanium is an element that is completely hypoallergenic, so it’s probably the best material for piercings, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Implant-grade titanium is the purest form and will not change or corrode if it’s exposed to skin or bodily fluids. Implant-grade titanium jewelry is durable, hypoallergic, lead-free, nickel free, and non-corrosive.

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Implant-grade titanium is often marketed as ASTM F-136 titanium. Compared to ASTM F-136 titanium, G23 titanium is not an implant grade of titanium.

Price Range: About $10-$20.


  • Approved by the Association of Professional Piercers
  • Won’t cause allergic reactions
  • Is scratch-resistant and won’t fade


  • Not as valuable as gold, silver, or platinum
  • Doesn’t sparkle quite as much as other metals

2. 14K or 18K Gold

If you’re looking for a glittering, valuable metal for your piercing, either 14K or 18K gold may be your answer.

It is also one of the best metals for piercings that are highly recommended not only by piercing experts but also doctors. Its excellent quality of being inert makes it suitable for first piercings.

However, gold is a fairly soft metal, so it doesn’t stand up to scratches and excessive wear. Compared to 14K gold, 18K gold is more prone to being affected by everyday use as it is softer and is closer to being pure 24K gold.

Both of these metals include other metal types in order to make them stronger. In order to avoid skin reactions, look for nickel-free metals.

Price Range: About $30-$200.


  • One of the most valuable materials
  • Will not easily tarnish
  • Offers plenty of sparkles
  • Is easy to engrave or use to set stones


  • May contain non-hypoallergenic metals
  • 18K gold in particular is not very scratch resistant

3. Platinum

Platinum is a precious metal, so it’s one of the pricier options on the list. It’s completely hypoallergenic, so it’s safe for even very sensitive skin. Its brilliant luster makes it a good choice for those seeking a sparkly, high-end look.

Price Range: About $40-$200.


  • Hypoallergenic and non-reactive
  • Has a brilliant shine
  • Is a very valuable material


  • Is a lot heavier than other metals
  • It’s uncommon, so your jewelry choices might be limited

4. Surgical Stainless Steel

Lots of new piercings are done in stainless steel. This material is affordable and typically doesn’t cause reactions. However, it contains a small amount of nickel, so if you have a nickel allergy, it might be best to choose something else.

It is incredibly resistant to corrosion and will keep its shine for years.

If you’re considering steel, 316L or 316 LVM steel is probably your best choice. Both names stand for the same surgical steel material, but the “VM” stands for”vacuum melt,” or the way the steel is produced.

Price Range: About $10-$40.


  • Very affordable
  • Common enough that you’ll have plenty of jewelry choices
  • Extremely durable and resistant to damage and corrosion


  • May cause reactions in those with nickel allergies
  • Not considered as valuable as some other materials

5. Niobium

Niobium is also one of the best metals for piercings. It is a highly pure, hypoallergenic metal that’s a lot like titanium. However, it is heavier than titanium and more expensive to produce, so it tends to be harder to find in the world of body jewelry.

Price Range: About $20-$60.


  • Won’t react when exposed to bodily fluids
  • Completely hypoallergenic
  • Has a brilliant shine


  • Rare enough that your jewelry choices might be limited
  • Heavier than titanium

Frowny piercing aftercare

With all types of piercings, aftercare is important. It will help speed up the healing process, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of infection.

Usually, piercers will recommend you rinse with mouthwash every time you eat. Then, you’ll rinse with a saline solution every night and every morning as the piercing heals. They may have you make your own rinse with water and salt, or, they may give you a special rinse.

You should also avoid twisting, spinning, or playing with the piercing, chewing gum, smoking, eating spicy foods, putting objects in your mouth, or taking the jewelry out before it’s finished healing.

How to clean a frowny piercing?

  1. Make a salt solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with one cup of water. Stir the solution until it dissolves. As an alternative, you can buy a ready-to-use saline solution.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and dab it around the piercing site. Don’t remove the jewelry!
  3. Take clean gauze or tissue and pat the area dry.

Your piercer should give you detailed instructions on keeping your piercing clean once the piercing has been placed.

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