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How to Open and Remove a CBR (Captive Bead Ring)

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If you want to remove or change your CBR (captive bead ring) body jewelry, it's not quite as simple as it sounds. In fact, if you ask someone how to remove it, chances are they'll tell you to go see your piercer. Including me. I know, I know - you don't want a lecture, you just want to change your jewelry. But do me a favor and oblige me for just a minute and I'll explain the reason for the lecture.

[Lecture] To any professional, your safety is the most important thing. People have gotten infections and ripped their skin open trying to do these things themselves. And the simple fact of the matter is - your piercer will do it for you for free. A quick trip to the studio and you're in and out at no charge, so what's the big deal? [End Lecture]

All right, now let's be real. There comes a time that almost all of us have to change our own jewelry and a trip to the piercing studio is just not realistic. The key is to know what you're doing so you don't end up hurting yourself.

How to Remove a CBR

If you have a lot of piercings and plan on changing your jewelry often, I strongly suggest that you invest in a pair of ring opening pliers and a pair of ring closing pliers. They are exactly as they sound - special tools designed for the removal and closing of CBRs.

If you don't have a pair of ring opening pliers, a pair of needle-nosed pliers will do the trick. Note: This is where people end up hurting themselves or ruining their jewelry. Needle-nosed pliers are not made for body jewelry. They can make scratches in the metal, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. It is absolutely essential that the surface of the ring is not scratched! Therefore, what you need to do is wrap the needle-nose with some kind of soft tape such as electrical or masking. Make sure the tape is clean, but keep in mind that this is far from the sterile treatment your piercing would get at a studio.

Now, place the wrapped needle-nosed end into the center of the CBR and slowly pry the ring open. Be prepared for the bead/ball to fall out by holding your other hand under the ring to catch it. After the bead has fallen out, there will be a space in the CBR. If the space does not look large enough, you can pry it open a little more with your pliers, being careful not to warp the ring shape.

Once you have a large enough space, you can remove the CBR. Slowly turn the ring - don't pull it. As you rotate the CBR, the space will reach a point where it can be carefully pulled away from the skin. If the space still isn't big enough, turn it back and open it more and try again. You don't want to force it out.

Additional Notes:

  • Going to a professional is still the best policy. Don't attempt this unless you are very knowledgeable about piercings or have no other choice but to do it yourself.
  • Do not attempt to remove or change your jewelry if the piercing is not healed, which usually takes at least 6-8 weeks with most piercings. If you do, you could end up having to start the healing process all over again.
  • Don't remove your jewelry if you believe your piercing is infected. Removing the jewelry only causes more problems if a piercing is infected. See your piercer or doctor for advice.

    Next Page Part 2: How to Insert and Close a CBR

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