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How to Insert/Remove a Captive Bead Ring

The Captive Bead Ring (CBR) is perhaps the most common piece of body jewelry worn in body piercings. There are many variations on the design, but they all have the common feature of using a ball of some kind to close the ring, making it a full circle. (Fig A) 

Fig. A
Everyone with piercings should know how their body jewelry works. It is a good idea to practice snapping the ball in and out several times to make sure you get the hang of it before attempting to insert the body jewelry. Very thin and very thick body jewelry is more difficult to do by yourself and might even require special tools. If you cannot get the hang of it, just pay a piercing professional do this for you. 

Stretching a hole to fit a thicker piece of body jewelry is a completely different matter; see the Stretching Guide for more information regarding stretching. 

Fig. 1
If you purchase body jewelry which has been sterilized and is still in it's sterile pouch, it is important that the body jewelry remain in its sterile condition until you insert it. Do not allow the paper or plastic to rip, become wet, etc. Keep it in a cool, dry, protected place until you are ready to insert it. (Fig 1) 

When the time comes, setting up a clean area on which to work is important. Read the following step by step procedure once or twice before you get started. 

  1. Wash your hands. (This is by far the most important and simplest thing you can do to prevent accidental contamination).
  2. Clean an area on a flat, hard surface such as a bathroom counter. Use simple soap and water with clean paper towels to thoroughly wash and dry an area that is at least twice as large a one paper towel. HINT: Clean and dry from the center of your area outward, never crossing back over the center areas with the same paper towel.
  3. Again, wash your hands.
  4. Lay out one clean paper towel on your cleaned surface; this is your CLEAN WORK AREA.
  5. Carefully open your package containing your new body jewelry. (FIG 2) If the jewelry is in a sterile package, allow the jewelry to drop onto your clean work area (be careful that the bead doesn't bounce away). If your body jewelry is not sterile, wash it with soap and water. Be sure you don't loose the jewelry down the drain. Dry the jewelry with a clean paper towel and set it on your clean work area.

Fig. 2
  1. Clean your piercing with liquid soap and water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel and remove the current jewelry. If you need a lubricant to make the body jewelry slide out easier, use a TINY amount of liquid soap. Satin is probably the best choice for liquid soap as it is anti-microbial and won't over dry your skin.

Fig. 3
  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Get your new CBR ready. If the ball is still in place, remove it by holding the ring in one hand and pulling the bead out with the other. Now, twist the ring open slightly. (Fig 3) If your jewelry is larger than 12g, you'll probably be better off having your local piercing professional insert your body jewelry for you.

Fig. 4
  1. Place a TINY amount of Satin soap on one end of the jewelry. (Fig 4) Too much soap will make holding onto the body jewelry very difficult.
  2. Gently slide the jewelry into your piercing. Support the skin around the jewelry while the jewelry is sliding into place.
  3. Once the body jewelry is in, wipe off any excess soap. Be sure the jewelry is dry. Now twist the ring closed again.

Fig. 5
  1. Snap the ball into place. (Fig 5) The ball should spin, but it should also have some resistance. If the ball spins freely it's probably too loose and you risk losing the ball. In this case, pull the ball out and gently squeeze the ring so the gap becomes slightly smaller. Re-insert the ball.

If you are doing this in front of a mirror and over a sink, be sure you lay a clean towel across the sink to catch the ball when you drop it, which you will most likely do several times. 

It's probably a good idea to perform a saltwater soak before and after changing your body jewelry as this can soften the skin, remove debris and generally clean the piercing.