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5 Tips to Help Take Out Tricky Body Jewellery

So, it’s time to change your body jewellery, only one problem – It won’t come out. You’re not alone. The number one reason people leave in body jewellery well after they can change, is that they have trouble taking it out.  

However, this shouldn’t be an excuse not to change your body jewellery. Here’s 5 great tips to help change your body jewellery easily and painlessly

  1. Be Informed – Information is Power
  2. Remember the Golden Rule - Tightie Rightie, Lefty Loosey
  3. Get Traction - Body Jewellery is Super Slippery
  4. Call Your Wingman as Backup - Sometimes it isn’t a One-Person Job
  5. Bring in the Professionals - Not Giving Up, Just Giving In

Now let’s dive into these with some more detail and find out exactly how to get those pesky pieces out.

Be Informed – Information is Power

Before you start there’s a couple of things you need to know about body jewellery and why it is so tricky to remove. To start with many piercers will intentionally tighten the balls to prevent them loosening before they are properly healed. This is for good reason too! When you get a fresh piercing, you don’t want your body jewellery to come out before it has properly healed. This can lead to the hole closing quickly and you needing to get the piercing done all over again – What a waste of time. But this does mean you will need to be prepared to try that bit harder.

Next, what type of jewellery are you changing? The most common body jewellery used for initial piercings is a barbell. These come in several easy to handle sizes but also in a more frustrating smaller size, the micro-barbell. Curved barbells are also used initially where a ring will eventually replace the barbell after healing. Finallly semi-circular barbells called Horseshoes are offen used as secondary body jewellery barbells as they are more comfortable in piercings.

Barbell Types

  • Barbells
  • Micro - Barbells
  • Curved
  • Horseshoe


Barbells can be any length.
Standard ones are usually between
10mm & 38mm
BUT are also available up to 50mm

Industrial, Bridge, Nipple



Micro-Barbells are usually shorten than 10mm
Standard ones are usually between
6mm & 9mm

Helix, Forward Helix, Tragus, Lobes

Curved Barbells

Curved Barbells can be both standard and micro in size
Anywhere between 6mm & 25 mm

Rook, Eyebrow, Daith, Belly

Horseshoe Barbells

Horseshoe Barbells can be both standard and micro in size
Anywhere between 8mm & 16 mm

Rook, Daith, Belly, Septum, Lobes, Nipple

While there are a couple of different types, they all have the same structure. A bar threaded at either one or both ends and a ball or decorative charm that has a hollow treaded centre where the bar screws in. So why to piercers use these Instruments of Mass Frustration?

Really, they have our best interest at heart.

  • Barbells stay in securely to allow the piercing to heal completely without the risk of it accidently coming out too soon.
  • A Basic Barbell has a lower chance of catching on items, reducing the risk of injury if the jewellery gets snag on clothing or yourhair.
  • Using a simple design like a barbell makes it is easier to clean around the area of the piercing to prevent infection.

A Piercer’s main objective is to ensure you have a comfortable piercing you love that heals without incident.

On Your Marks - Get Ready .....

Great! Now you understand what you’re up against.
First things first though. Make sure your hands are clean and disinfected. Hand sanitiser gel is the quickest and easier way to make sure your hands are ready. Washing your hands with handwash and water, works too.

Also make sure you have cleaned the jewellery and the area around your piercing too. Saltwater works well or it you have Protat's Sea Salt + Tea Tree Piercing Aftercare ($9.95) available from out store, it's our favourite and is a MUST for not only aftercare but ALWAYS care too.

Missing these important steps can increase the chances of painful and visually unpleasant infections after changing jewellery. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So now we’re fully prepared let’s do this….

Remember the Golden Rule - Tightie Rightie, Lefty Loosey

So here it is, the piece of life changing information ……

Balls are screwed tight to the right and to loosen you need to screw to the left.

Seems easier enough to remember, right? But trust me, under the pressure-cooker conditions that can quickly escalate when your jewellery doesn’t undo in the first couple of times, this can be the last thing on your mind.

Add to this that you’ll probably be using a mirror, and everything becomes reversed completely sends the degree of difficulty off the scale. Now, let’s just take a moment to breathe and repeat after me - Tightie Rightie, Lefty Loosey…… Tightie Rightie, Lefty Loosey…… Tightie Rightie, Lefty Loosey.

Let's Get Started ...

If you have room on the bar, squeeze the bar between your index finger and thumb.
If only the balls are visible hold one ball firmly

Loosen to Open

To open with the other hand grip the ball in the same way and apply pressure slightly to get a better grip before slowly turning the ball to the left (Anti-clockwise ) towards yourself.

Tighten to Close

To close a Barbell, do the opposite. Line up the hole with the threaded bar carefully to prevent cross-threading and slowing twist the ball to the right (Clockwise) away from yourself.


This will stop any of the parts of body jewellery falling into the plug hole

That’s great if you can look directly at the barbell, but if it’s in your ear and your using a mirror, you’ll have to think a bit differently. Try thinking that you are standing beside yourself looking at the piercing and twist the ball towards the left. Sometimes this will mess with your mind, as your eyes will want to go one way and you will have to force yourself to go the other.

Another way to do it is to line up your fingers on the ball and bar and then close your eyes. Take away the confusion of what you see in the mirror and turn it the correct way. Hey, use THE FORCE if you must but its one way to not get in an argument between your eyes and your brain.

Still not working maybe try this next…

Get Traction - Body Jewellery is Super Slippery

One more thing about Barbells… The bars and balls are very smooth, and the metal tends to buff and become extremely slippery. Add to this that even the smallest amount of moisture (or micro-sweat from you stressing under the pressure) will leave your fingers unable to hold onto the balls. Sometimes the problem is not that the balls are screwed on too tight, but that you just can get a good enough grip on them.

If you find your fingers are slipping and just spinning around the ball, some suggest to try putting on a pair of rubber gloves. Kitchen ones are fine as long as they’re new. Seriously, don’t use the cleaning ones, especially if you have boys using your bathroom. The grip will help increase the friction and you will be able to increase the pressure to unscrew the ball. If you are trying to remove a smaller micro-barbell or the idea of kitchen gloves, ecks you out like me, try Latex gloves. They are a much better fit plus putting them on will make you feel very official and help your CAN-DO mentality.

If you don’t have any gloves, a tissue or piece of textured material can be used as a buffer between your finger and metal ball and bar as long as it can provide additional grip.

Ok…still won’t budge, time to call in the reinforcements.

Call Your Wingman as Backup - Sometimes it isn’t a One-Person Job

Some piercings are always going to be tricky by their very nature. Cartilage ear piercings are notorious for being hard to remove. They are usually very small, in tight positions and are difficult to see. You end up looking like a dog chasing its tail as you keep turning, trying to get a better look at your own ear. It seriously would be easier to put your elbow in your ear.

Time to call in a favour and enlist your trusted wingman to help. We all know someone that knows the pain for trying to remove a stubborn barbell. Join forces and don’t be afraid to ask for some help. You know that you’ll always be able to repay the favour. It’s always so much easier when it’s not your own. Just get your friend to follow the previous tips and most times – the situation will be defused and you are ready to put in your new fancy body jewellery.

If your friend has no luck, what next….

Bring in the Professionals - Not Giving Up, Just Giving In

If none of these suggestions work, there’s point when you need to see a professional. Don’t be so hard on your self - sometimes it’s not YOU it’s actually them! On a few occasions there can be problems with the Barbell such as faults or cross-threading, this can leave the barbell impossible to open at home

It’s not worth the risk of damaging your piercing from a vigorous or prolonged effort. Increased inflammation in the area can also lead to infection which will increase the healing time as well.   Your local piercer has specialised tools and experience and can remove a barbell quicker than it takes you to sit down.

They will usually charge a small amount to cover consumables. But is fully worth it, especially if you have a tricky one. Remember, your preferred piercer understands what you are going through and more likely than not been in exactly the same situation.

Please Don't Make Me Do That AGAIN - What else is there?  

If the thought of going through the experience of changing another barbell makes you want to rock back and forth, there is a solution. There are alternative fittings to barbells that are suitable for healed piercings, especially cartilage placements. Introducing, Bioflex Studs, let me explain.

Traditionally having cartilage piercings meant dealing with the painful problem of the backs digging into your head or the nuisance of trying to tighten tiny balls onto fiddly treads. But with Bioflex backings, no more. It simply uses a hollow backing with comfort disc end in the ear and a stud head with lock in grooves on the thread. These cartilage studs easily push in, lock into position and then the Bioflex backing uses your own body heat to mould around the stud head for an extra secure fit.

Developed in the UK in the early 2010's by a professional body piercer for piercings with the people’s needs in mind. They are medical grade plastic that is used in several healthcare devices because of its outstanding qualities. It is hypo-allergenic, minimises irritation and is super flexible to move with the body for maximum comfort. It is the same backing that has been used for years with Labret piercings

To sum up, they are hypo-allergic, extremely comfortable to wear especially if you have any higher cartilage and most importantly they are quick and easy to put in and take out. Check out our full range here.

Where to NOW?

Now your tricky piece of body jewellery is out, its time to experiment and express your style the way you always intended. Ivy Dayelle, has a huge range of body jewellery from classic to daring. Remember your body jewellery tells the story of you without speaking. What does your body jewellery say about you?

Please let me know in the comments below if these hints have been helpful or if you have a tip of your own. I would love to hear them. Remember if there's anything about piercing or body jewellery you would like to know more about, just let me know in the comments or head over to our Contact Us page - we love a chat ❤

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1 comment

  • Hi you just saved me, was literally freaking out and found this post. Leftie loosie. Who knew??

    Dharshini Subbiah

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