There is some confusion about labret and lip piercings. These two words are often considered to be synonyms describing any piercing through the lip. However, there is a difference.
The Labret is, simply put, just one of the many possible lip piercings. There are many other lip piercing placements that are not considered “labret” placement.
The confusion comes from the name itself. “Labret” comes from the Latin name for the lip (labrum). However, not all lip piercings are considered to be Labrets, since many of them have their unique names.
To make the confusion even further, “labret” is often a word used to describe a particular type of a jewelry, a labret stud. This type of jewelry is often used for lip piercings (not just for the Labret piercing), and it can also be used for some other piercing types.
What is the Labret?
The Labret, as a piercing name and placement, describes one particular type of a lip piercing. Namely, this is a piercing done through the lower lip, typically placed at the center and not to the side.
It’s important to note that with this placement, the piercing is not actually attached to the lip and do not go through the lip itself. It’s actually done just above the chin, under the lip and when your lower lip meets the chin. This is the most common placement for the Labret. Some people consider only this placement to be the “true” Labret piercing. Other lip piercings may be known under other names but they are not considered Labret in the true sense of the word.
Of course, some opinions differ. Some people consider several different types of lip piercings to be labrets. For example, a lip piercing that is not done centrally on the lower lip but to the sides. Another popular variation is a vertical labret, the one that goes from the lip itself to the chin and has both holes on the outside.
What is important to know, however, is that “labret” is not a synonym for a lip piercing: while all labret piercings are lip piercings, not all lip piercings are labrets.
The Labret piercing has a long history among Native Americans and in some parts of Africa. It is a very ancient type of body modification. It gained more prominence on the West in late 20th century. Some of the newer forms of lip piercings are a product of contemporary interest in body modifications but the Labret itself is very old in origin.
Interesting fact: “Labret” can be pronounced in two different ways, as “lay-bret”, not “luh-bray”. There is no clear consensus about which one is the correct way to pronounce it, though some experts are more favorable of the “luh-bray” pronunciation. That being said, “lay-bret” pronunciation tends to be more common among general population.
What is a Lip Piercing?
A lip piercing is any piercing done on the lip (upper or lower lip), regardless of the placement. Some lip piercings are Labrets, but others have different names. Since there are so many possible placements for a lip piercing, there are many different types of lip piercings performed today. Many of these piercings have their unique names and Labret is just one of them.
In this sense, the Labret is a lip piercing done centrally on the bottom lip. Another type of a lip piercing (as defined by a different placement) will have its unique name. The most popular forms of lip piercings other than the Labret are: Monroe, Madonna, Medusa, Philtrum, Jestrum and various types of the so-called “Bites” piercings.
What is a Labret Stud?
A labret stud (also known as simply “labret”, to confuse matters even more) is a jewelry type usually used for lip piercings. It’s a stud with a bead or another decoration on one end and a flat base on the other. These studs resemble nostril studs (also known as “nose bones”) a lot.
The decorated part of the jewelry is placed outside of the mouth while the flat base is located inside the mouth. Labret studs are often lightweight and discreet, though they can be very pretty and nicely ornamented.
It’s also important to note that most types of lip piercings use labret studs – they are not reserved for the Labret piercing only! Also, it’s possible to use labret studs for other types of piercings (not just lip piercings). It all depends on comfort and the person’s individual preferences.