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What is marking?

What is marking?

Marking is a commonly done and easy to perform fetish. It can either be done by marking the receiver's skin in a non-permanent way, through mechanical actions or body writing, or having them wear something that signifies the ownership of the dom(me) over their body. Usually, the submissive is the one that is on the receiving end of this kink, however, that can be changed if you want to put a spin on it!

Marking done without any materials

Marking done without any materials
  • Hickies

Usually done by sucking on one's skin. A bruise will form on the area where the action was performed. Be careful when doing this on areas where the skin is more sensitive (like the neck), and always respect your partner's limits regarding pain.


  • Nail scratchings

Red lines that can be visible on the skin when it's scratched. Make sure not to have overtly pointy nails so you don't break the skin. Always make sure to have clean hands and don't forget to wash under your nails too (a small brush can help), otherwise you could cause an infection.


  • Bites

Never bite someone with the intention of breaking their skin, because as much as we brush our teeth and take care of our oral hygiene, our mouth is absolutely filled with bacteria and a strong enough bite has the potential of causing a life threatening infection.


  • Slap marks

Very strongly associated with spanking. We recommend reading our section on sadomasochism.

  • Body writing (when done by scratching)



The easiest and safest nonpermanent way to perform body writing is with makeup (either lipstick or tools that can provide more precise strokes, such as eyeliner, eye pencils, thin brushes combined with the use of paint pots, among others). You could do this with pens and markers too, but in that case, it can be harder for the markings to wash off. Also, the ink used might be unsafe for human skin and it will be more likely to cause allergies.

If you want semipermanent marking to be done, the safest way to do it is with henna. Keep in mind that if you start with pure henna pigment, you'll probably have to mix it with some ingredients and let it cure for a few hours before using it so that it can be activated. However, ready-to-use henna is easier to find when it's meant for body writing. Traditional hair dye is not recommended for body writing because it can be very irritating to skin (mostly because of the peroxide used to activate the proper dye), hard to wash off afterwards, and it can provide less precise results in comparison to henna due to its consistency.

If you are doing semipermanent markings, it's better to do it in a section that can easily be covered by clothes, so that the receiver won't be exposed.

We do not recommend permanent markings such as tattoos, scarring with knives, branding the skin, etc. Not only are they irreversible, they can result in life threatening infections and in disfiguring scars.



Keep in mind that regardless of the materials you choose to use, you should do a patch test first (even when choosing henna or makeup). This is done to check if the person receiving the body writing has any allergic reactions to it. A patch test should be performed either on your inner wrists, the back of your hands, your neck or inner elbows (you only have to do it on one side). Make a small circle (2 centimeters or 1 inch in ratius) using the materials you intend to choose on one of the regions mentioned, then wait for 24 hours. If no rash or irritation appears, you can proceed to use the item safely.

If a rash appears, remove the material as soon as you see it and apply an antiallergic cream or take your preferred allergy medication. If you choose topical medications, you can apply a soothing cream afterwards (such as aloe gel or moisturizer, preferably unscented). 

If you experience a rash throughout your body, shortness of breath or any other serious symptom, seek medical help immediately.

It should be noted that allergies to makeup or henna are rare, but the patch test should be always be performed, unless the person being subject to the body writing has used such materials multiple times before and hasn't presented any symptoms. 

Types of markings using materials

Types of markings using materials
  • Lipstick marks

Lots of people have a specific fetish with lipstick marks. This is easy to perform and can add a bonus of erotic sensations, since the lips of the one doing the marking will be used to carry out the action. It can be combined with oral sex, body worship and basically anything you would do with your lips.

  • Proper writing

In gentle BDSM, it's more common to see this kink being perform with positive body writing, like "best sub", "most beautiful eyes", "lovely ass", etc. However, as we have mentioned before, the definition of gentle BDSM has a lot more to do with the way certain actions performed. For example, terms that are usually seen as harsh and derogatory, such as "slut" and "slave", can also be used in body writing, given that they are within the limits of all involved parties.

Body writing can be a great way to solidify bonds and help with low self esteem, which is a problem for many of us. If you have a severe case of low self esteem, consider seeking mental health care to help you deal with this.

Marking with props

Marking with props

Lots of items can be used for this purpose: most commonly, collars, jewelry, or items that leave bruises or markings on the skin, such as paddles, crops and whips. For the latter, we suggest that you read about them on our [sadomasochism] page.


  • Collars

Very commonly used and associated with the mainstream image of BDSM. If you want to get a collar for yourself or someone else, make sure to have the neck's circumference measurement. Also, get a collar for fetish purposes, not one meant for pets. Pet collars are usually too small, and their material can be irritanting to human skin since we don't have fur. If you can't find a collar that fits your preferred aesthetic, some websites have artists that make personalized collars. You might find some of them on websites such as Etsy. If you have the ability, you can also sew your own. 

Make sure the insides of the collar are comfortable and won't cause rashes and skin problems, and avoid the ones that contain materials the wearer is allergic too. Keep in mind that collars with fur inside might get too hot during summer or higher temperatures in general. Also, never wear the collar too tight. There is a ton of important stuff that goes through your neck, and you shouldn't be applying constant pressure to them. If you want more details on this, read about [breathplay] and [choking].

Collars have a few fun add-ons, such as leashes and personalized tags. They are also a big part of, but not exclusive to [pet play].

A home object that can be used as an impromptu collar and leash are neck ties. Just make sure to give it a proper tie knot before using it to avoid issues with choking and damage to neck structures.


> Collaring: it is a celebration of giving a collar to a sub. It can work as a ceremony for cementing the relationship between the dominant and the submissive. For some people, it's pretty emotional, and it can be very sweet.


  • Jewelry

Collars can be a little out there for some to wear in public if they want to demonstrate their loyalship to their partner outside of a scene. A choker is a good alternative since they are similar enough to collars, but as of now, they are more socially acceptable when worn by female presenting people. This is not a rule though, and if you don't care about other people's opinions, go ahead and get yourself one!

If you want a more discreet option, any piece of jewelry can be used to represent the bond you have to your partner, be it rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. You can have some of these engraved too.

Keep in mind that some people are allergic to nickel, and it's a pretty common allergy to have. Gold (14 karat or higher), platinum, silver and tantalum, although a lot more expensive, don't cause allergies and should be prefered in that case.

A few metal alloys where you can find nickel:

- Inexpensive jewelry is usually made with pure nickel

- Stainless steel can contain traces of nickel

- White gold can be an alloy of gold and nickel; ask the manufacturer for more information, as there are other metals used to make white gold


Other metals or alloys that can cause allergic reactions:

- Copper: commonly found mixed with gold to make rose gold jewelry (it gives the accessory its pinkish hue, so any jewelry that presents this color probably features some amount of copper in it)

- Brass: it's an alloy of copper and zinc, so if you have an allergy to copper, you should avoid it 


If you have Wilson's disease, it would be wise to avoid anything with copper in it, since it can be absorbed by skin (although it's not a significant amount, and if you use chelating agents, they should help get rid of it).


Although more common, metal allergies tend to be milder and result only in local skin irritation that goes away soon after the accessory is removed. Still, keep that in mind before buying something that can be potentially expensive.

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