Barbells are among the most popular body jewelry pieces. They are probably the most popular piercing jewelry type after Captive Bead Rings. Barbells come in many different shapes and varieties, so they can be used for almost any piercing type.
The basic design of a barbell is a bar with a bead on each end. One or both beads are removable so you can insert your jewelry easily. The other bead is typically fixed, so only one bead is removable.
Barbells are a type of threaded jewelry. It means that the removable ball attaches to the shaft by screwing. Barbells can be Internally Threaded or Externally Threaded. Internally Threaded barbells have smooth ends and the ball is the one with a threaded post. The shaft has a threaded receiving tube. This type of jewelry tends to be more comfortable and safer to use, because there are no sharp edges on the shaft alone. It means you won’t hurt any tissue when you insert your shaft through the piercing.
Externally Threaded barbells are the opposite: they have a threaded shaft and a ball with a receiving tube. In this type of jewelry, you need to pass the shaft with a threaded post through the tissue. It may lead to tearing and other problems, so generally speaking, Internally Threaded jewelry is recommended. The only exception is jewelry of a very small gauge (such as gauge 20 or gauge 18). Such jewelry is too thin to be Internally Threaded.
Types of Barbells
There are many different barbell types to choose from. While all barbells share the basic design of a shaft with a ball on each end, the shaft itself can be shaped in several different ways. It makes for several unique barbell types. These different barbell styles are suitable for different piercing types.
The most popular barbell types include:
- Straight Barbells
- Curved Barbells
- Circular Barbells
- Surface Bars
Straight Barbells are the basic types of barbells, and they can be used for many different piercings. A straight barbell has a straight shaft, with a bead on each end. The beads can be plain and simple, or they may have gems or other ornamentations.
A special type of a straight barbell is Industrial Barbell. This is a very long barbell, with the shaft significantly longer than regular. Such a long shaft is made to accommodate Industrial Piercings. Since this piercing type combines two piercing holes and goes from one side of the ear to the other, the bar should be long enough to reach both ends of the piercing.
Curved barbells are sometimes known as “navel curves”, because they are most commonly used for navel piercings. Curved barbells have a curved shaft, which gives them a really unique look. This curvature makes jewelry sit better in certain piercing types (such as belly button piercing), so curved barbells are widely used for these piercings.
The curvature on the shaft can be made in many different ways. It can range to almost straight to almost circular. A popular variation of this design is a so-called “J-bar” or “banana barbell”. This is a slightly curved barbell with a 90 degree bend near one end. It is specially designed to be used in several types of navel piercings. It makes the decoration sit better against the skin.
Circular Barbells are also known as “horseshoe barbells”, because of their shape. These barbells have a shaft that is circular. The shaft usually makes the perfect circle, although some circular barbells have a more elliptical shaft.
The shaft of a circular barbell is never fully closed the way it is with Captive Bead Rings. Instead, there is a gap on top and each end of the barbell has a bead.
Technically speaking, Spirals are almost never referred to as “barbells”, but they are a form of barbells. With this jewelry type, the shaft is made into a spiral. Sometimes, the Spiral is shaped in such a way that the ends overlap but they can be easily separated to make insertion of jewelry possible.
Spirals come in many different sizes and while some of them are ornamented with different types of decorations, it’s the shape itself that’s unique and made to attract attention. Therefore, most spirals are made to be simple yet elegant and they don’t have heavy ornamentation.
Surface Bars are used for surface piercings. This is a special type of barbell, where a shaft has two 90 degree bends. It makes this barbell resemble a staple. The ends of the barbell have beads. This shape is specially designed to make surface piercings more secure and less prone to migration and rejection.