Last update on: 2:39 pm January 4, 2024 by fashionabc

What Is The Difference Between A Labret And An Ashley Piercing?

Body piercings have become increasingly popular over the years as a form of self-expression and body art. Two piercings that are commonly confused are the Labret and Ashley piercings. Though both involve the area around the lower lip, there are distinct differences between a labret and an Ashley piercing that impact pain, healing time, jewelry worn, and overall look. 

Definition of a Labret Piercing

A labret piercing is positioned in the area above the chin and below the lower lip. It passes through the fleshy area known as the labrum, which inspired its name. A labret can be placed centrally under the lip, known as a vertical labret, or offset to the left or right side as a lowbret. 

Labret piercings are typically done with a labret stud, which has a flat disc or jewel on one end that sits outside the lip. The other end has an internally threaded post that secures inside the fistula. Barbells and hoops can also be worn in healed labret piercings.

Definition of an Ashley Piercing 

An Ashley piercing passes vertically through the center of the lower lip, emerging on both sides. It is placed directly in the midline of the lip, while a labret is positioned below the lip. The Ashley piercing was named after Ashley Martin, who popularized this facial piercing in the 1990s.

For an Ashley piercing, jewelry choice includes a barbell with balls on both ends or a curved barbell that sits flush against the lip’s inner anatomy. Circular barbells are also an option. The key is having ends that comfortably sit on both sides of the lip.

Differences Between a Labret and Ashley

Now that we understand the definitions, let’s compare the key differences between a labret and an Ashley piercing:

Placement – A labret is centered under the lip, while an Ashley piercing goes through the center of the lip.

Jewelry – Labrets primarily use labret studs, while Ashleys require barbells or curved jewelry with ends on each side.

Healing – Labrets typically take 6-8 weeks to heal. Ashleys may take up to 3 months due to the longer piercing canal through thicker tissue.

Pain – Labrets are less painful since they pass through thinner skin. Ashleys involve more pressure and pain as the needle passes fully through the lip.

Visibility – Labrets are more subtle. Ashleys are a very visible facial piercing due to the centered jewelry exiting both sides of the lip.

Eating/Drinking – Labrets rarely interfere with eating or drinking. Ashleys can make this more difficult during the long healing period. Lengthy jewelry can require adjustment.

Initial Jewelry – Labrets should begin with a post or stud. Ashleys must have a barbell to allow for swelling.

Scarring – Labrets usually heal with minimal scarring if done properly. Ashleys often leave more noticeable exit scars on the lip’s vermilion border.

With an Ashley piercing, the needle enters the lip at one side and exits vertically out the other side. This long passage through the lip’s thick muscle tissue makes it one of the more complex and painful lip piercings. Healing also takes longer due to the extended piercing canal. Great care must be taken during the healing process to avoid complications.

In contrast, a labret only passes through the thinner tissue of the labrum area under the lip. This makes it a less complex piercing in most cases. The labret’s positioning below the lip also makes it relatively subtle compared to the visible barbells worn in an Ashley piercing.

These major differences set Labret and Ashley piercings apart in terms of procedure, healing needs, pain levels, and appearance. Now let’s look closer at each one.

The Labret Piercing

What Is The Difference Between A Labret And An Ashley Piercing?

A labret is a classic lower lip piercing that highlights the mouth area with a stud, hoop, or other decorative end sitting below the lip line. It allows you to emphasize your lips subtly without the more pronounced statement of a lip ring.


As described above, a labret piercing passes vertically through the fleshy labrum area above the chin and under the center of the lower lip. Typical placement options include:

– Center Labret – Stud centered directly under the middle of the lower lip. This is the most common placement. 

– Lowbret – Placed off-center, either to the left or right side under the lip. 

– Vertical Labret – Exits at the lip’s vermilion border with the back disk inside the mouth, giving the look of a lip ring.

The piercer will mark the exact entry and exit points with a sterile, single-use piercing needle. Labret placement should avoid touching the gums or teeth.


A labret stud with a flat back is the best initial jewelry choice during healing. This allows the external disc to sit flush against the inside of the lip. Internally threaded titanium, steel, or gold posts are ideal as starter jewelry. 

Once healed after 6-8 weeks, you can replace the stud with different ends, a simple circular barbell, or a labret hoop. Avoid oral contact with jewelry until fully healed.


Getting a labret piercing involves these steps:

– Piercer marks the precise desired placement on the labrum.

– The skin is clamped to stabilize the area for a smooth, quick needle piercing. 

– A sterilized hollow piercing needle is inserted through the labret mark, entering and exiting precisely. 

– The initial labret stud is inserted into the needle’s opening and fitted into place as the needle is removed.

– The piercer will clean the area and check that the jewelry is secure and positioned properly within the fistula.

Healing and Aftercare:

If done professionally, a labret piercing will heal in 6-8 weeks with proper aftercare, which includes:

– Washing hands before touching the piercing.

– Using a saltwater spray or soap recommended by your piercer to clean 2-3 times per day.

– Rinsing the mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash after eating/drinking.

– Avoiding submerging piercing in water during healing.

– Not touching, turning or moving the jewelry during healing.

– Watching for signs of infection like persistent swelling, heat, redness or pus.

– Returning to your piercer for a checkup and potential downsizing of the starter jewelry. 

With appropriate aftercare and high-quality jewelry, a labret piercing should heal smoothly and become a beautiful, subtle facial accent.

The Ashley Piercing

What Is The Difference Between A Labret And An Ashley Piercing?

The Ashley piercing is named after Ashley Martin, who helped popularize this vertical lip piercing in the 1990s. It remains a sought-after, fashionable piercing option for those seeking a bold lip statement.  


Unlike a labret, the Ashley piercing passes fully through the center of the lower lip rather than underneath it. Entry and exit points are marked on the lip’s pink vermilion border on either side of the vertical midline. 

After marking, the sterile hollow piercing needle pushes through the marked entry point and out the exit on the opposite side. This creates a fistula passing through the lip’s thicker muscle tissue and fibers. 


For initial jewelry, the Ashley piercing requires a barbell with balls on both ends to accommodate the longer piercing. This allows for swelling and possible discharge during healing. 

Once healed, options can include barbells, curved barbells, or circular jewelry. Decorative ends like gems or shapes can update the look. But quality materials like titanium or gold are ideal for biocompatibility.


The Ashley piercing procedure is more complex since the needle must pass fully through the lip tissue:

– The desired entry and exit points are marked on each side of the lip’s vermilion border. 

– The lip area is clamped for stabilization before needle insertion.

– With a smooth motion, the piercing needle passes through the entry mark, the lip’s inner muscle tissue, and out the exit mark on the opposite side.

– While the needle remains in place, the initial barbell jewelry is inserted through the hollow end and into position within the fistula.

– The needle is removed, leaving the barbell jewel ends protruding evenly from each side of the lip.

– The piercer will clean the area and confirm even placement of the starter jewelry.

Healing and Aftercare:

An Ashley piercing often takes longer to heal than other lip piercings, around 12-16 weeks. Proper aftercare includes:

– Cleaning carefully using saline spray or other approved cleanser 2-3 times daily.

– Rinsing mouth after eating and drinking to flush out debris and bacteria. 

– Leaving jewelry in place without touching or moving it.

– Avoid submerging the piercing in water during the initial healing period.

– Checking for signs of infection around the exit holes.

– Returning to the studio to downsize barbell length within 4-6 weeks after initial swelling goes down.

– Applying lip balm around the piercing if dryness or cracking occurs.

With attentive aftercare, the Ashley piercing will fully heal into a striking vertical lip accent. Pain tolerance and a commitment to careful cleaning are musts for a successful outcome.

Comparing Procedure, Pain, and Healing

Now that we’ve covered both piercings, let’s directly compare the procedures, pain levels, and healing needs:

– Procedure: The Ashley procedure is more complex due to the needle passing fully through the lip rather than just the labrum area. 

– Pain: The Ashley typically involves greater pain during piercing because the needle passes through thicker lip tissue.

– Healing: Ashleys require extended healing of 12-16 weeks vs. 6-8 weeks for labrets due to the longer fistula tunnel.

– Initial Jewelry: Labrets only require a single-ended stud, while Ashleys need an initial barbell to accommodate swelling.

– Aftercare: Both piercings need consistent cleaning and care. But Ashley’s extended healing time makes diligent aftercare especially crucial.

– Scarring: Ashleys are more prone to pronounced exit scarring since the piercing exits two sides of the lip vermilion.

– Impact on Speech/Eating: Labrets rarely cause issues. Ashleys may impact speech and require food/drink adjustments during initial healing.

In summary, the Ashley is a more advanced piercing requiring greater skill by the piercer, extended healing by the wearer, and care to avoid speaking or eating complications after getting pierced. But its dramatic centered placement provides a standout look.

Choosing Between A Labret & Ashley Piercing

When deciding between a labret vs Ashley piercing, consider these factors:

– Desired Look – Labrets accent subtly. Ashleys are a bold style statement.

– Placement – Centered under lip vs midline through the lip.

– Commitment – Ashleys need diligent aftercare over 3+ months.

– Pain Tolerance – Ashleys generally hurt more during initial piercing.

– Jewelry – Labrets use simple studs. Ashleys require specific ends-on jewelry.

– Impact – Labrets only slightly impact lip function. Ashleys may affect speech and eating initially.

– Scarring – Labrets usually heal with minimal scarring. Ashley’s exit points often scar noticeably.

– Experience Level – Get an Ashley done by a very experienced, reputable piercer only.

Both piercings allow creative expression through the lower lip area. But Ashley’s dramatic look comes with more pain, healing demands, and risk of visible scarring. Weigh the differences before choosing which option best suits your style, tolerance, and lifestyle.