Getting Pierced: How to Find a Good Piercer January 30, 2020 – Posted in: Default, Piercing Advice – Tags: , ,

While a true, symptomatic piercing infection is actually quite rare, they can be contracted in a variety of ways, including in the piercing studio. Even though most infections arise because of poor aftercare practices, it’s important that you do your research to find a clean, professional, reputable piercer who will take care of you from the moment you step into the studio and throughout your entire healing process.

Additionally, you want to make sure that your piercer uses proper methods, will pierce you correctly, will provide proper guidance for healing, and remain an excellent resource for you.

Luckily, piercing studio mishaps are easily avoided if you simply do your research. While it’s fun to get a piercing on a whim, you don’t want to deal with complications during healing. Even if you get a sudden urge for a new piercing, you should follow these steps to make sure that you choose an excellent piercer.

Look them up on social media

A quick Instagram search can give you a good idea of how the piercing studio operates. You should see plenty of examples of their piercings, and ideally, they’ll include examples of fully healed piercings, too. If the piercing studio has tons of pictures of their tattoo work but only one or two piercing pictures, it’s a good sign that piercing is an afterthought for them. It’s always best to go to a piercing studio that specializes in piercings because, well, that’s what you’re going to them for.

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A quick search on social media can tell you a lot about a piercing studio.

You should also check out what their customers say about them. They’ll usually have a few tagged posts from their customers outlining their experience. You need to have a little common sense when reading reviews—there are always one or two customers who’ll be displeased no matter what—but if there are quite a few negative stories, then it could be a red flag.

Visit the piercing studio and talk to its employees

After you’ve vetted a potential studio online, talk to them in person. This gives you a chance to take a look at the studio to make sure that it looks clean, and it will give you an idea of the service you’ll receive. 

Getting a piercing can be an intimate experience, and you want to vibe well with your piercer. They should be more than willing to answer any of your questions, and they should be able to kindly and patiently help you through any anxiety. If they act as if your presence or questions are an inconvenience, this is not only a sign that you’re going to have a negative time; it’s a sign that they might not know how to answer your questions and don’t have the proper expertise.

Beyond making sure that the piercers will treat you well, you can also gauge how clean the studio is and ask to see some photos of past work. Even newer piercers should have some piercings under their belt during their piercing apprenticeship. All piercers should understand that before they get hired, they need to prove to you that they can do the job they’re hired to do.

Some questions to ask

If you’ve never been pierced before, it can be difficult to know which questions to ask and what the correct answers are. Here are some good questions for your piercer to make sure that they’re the real deal.

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How are your tools sterilized?

The Association of Piercing Professionals says that the best (and, really, only) way to sterilize piercing tools is with an autoclave sterilizer. It should also be tested weekly to make sure that it’s working properly. If they don’t sterilize their tools in this manner, you should probably keep shopping for a piercer who does.

What certifications do you have?

To become a piercer, they must first spend time training as a piercer at a reputable studio. If they haven’t, then they’re not qualified.

They should also get a yearly bloodborne pathogen training class with certification. This is really the minimum certification they should have, and it’s always a plus if they have more.

If they’re a part of the Association of Piercing Professionals, this is always an excellent sign. To be a part of the Association of Piercing Professionals, a piercer has to have had proper training, and their studio must be reviewed by their peers, so you know that the piercer is not only qualified but held up to peer-reviewed standards.

What experience do you have with [your desired piercing]?

Not all piercings are the same, and not everyone’s anatomy is the same. If they have done the piercing that you’re looking for many times, then it’s a good sign that they know what they’re doing.

Some piercings are rarer than others, so if your piercer doesn’t have a lot of experience with the piercing you want, it doesn’t mean that you have to find another piercer. However, they should be able to give you related experience to prove that they’ll be able to conduct the piercing properly. Think of it as a job interview; they need to show you that they can do the job confidently and correctly.

There are some types of piercings that require specific expertise, and you should find a piercer who has a lot of experience in these piercings. 

Cheek piercings are located next to an important saliva-producing gland, and if this gland is damaged, it cannot be repaired. Therefore, you need to find a piercer who is confident in conducting cheek piercings (and many piercers might refuse to do this piercing altogether).

Surface anchor piercings are made by inserting an anchor beneath the skin that will stay there for the duration of the piercing. If it’s not placed deeply enough, it could get rejected. If you’re going for one of these piercings, it’s a good idea to find a piercer who has done them a time or two.

Surface piercings have a higher risk of rejection since they are placed parallel to the skin, rather than perpendicular (like ear piercings). You need to make sure that your piercer pierces you deeply enough and chooses the correct jewelry to avoid rejection. Try to find a piercer who can show you a few successful surface piercings that they’ve produced.

What materials is your jewelry made with?

Irritation from certain metals—like nickel—is a leading cause of piercing complications. You need to make sure that your piercer uses the proper metals in their starter jewelry to avoid skin irritation. While implant-grade titanium is the most popular choice since it’s inexpensive and contains very few mixed metals (and no nickel), the Association of Piercing Professionals lists these materials as suitable for starter jewelry as well:

  • Implant-grade steel
  • 14k or 18k gold
  • Niobium
  • Platinum

It should also be internally threaded (the threading appears on the inside of the post) or non-threaded. If their jewelry doesn’t achieve these standards, you might consider bringing your own, but be wary; it’s a sign that they don’t adhere to basic safety standards, and there may be other shortcomings that you aren’t aware of.

Things to look for during piercing

After you’ve vetted your piercer and sat in the piercing chair, your due diligence isn’t over. Keep an eye on your piercer to make sure that they are maintaining proper practices throughout the piercing process, and don’t be afraid to stop if you see something fishy.

Before you even sit in the piercing chair, you should have signed a waiver and provided ID. This is the law, and if the studio fails to adhere to this law, it’s a sign that they’re willing to overlook other legal requirements as well. They’ll also likely have many questions for you, including but not limited to any allergies, whether you’ve been drinking or taking recreational drugs, and what you’ve eaten that day. If you’re under 18, they’ll ask for your parent or guardian’s identification, as well, to prove your relation. If you have different last names, they might ask to provide a birth certificate or proof of guardianship.

Have a checklist of proper piercing practices, and make sure your piercer adheres to them.

The piercer should have clean, disposable gloves on at all times. If they drop something on the floor and pick it up with their gloved hand, they should change gloves before starting the piercing. Sterile gloves, donned aseptically, are a good sign.

The piercing room should feel scrupulously hygienic. If you walked into a dentist’s office and there were dust bunnies everywhere, you’d probably walk right out. The same goes for your piercing studio.

The piercer should talk you through the piercing, mark the piercing before they start the procedure, and have you take a look and confirm that it’s the piercing and location that you want. You should never feel any doubt or confusion over what’s coming next. Feel free to let your piercer know whether you want more or less information about what’s going on during the procedure.

If you have to remove clothing for the procedure, your piercer should be respectful and shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable. Some piercing studios require their piercers to remain with their piercees at all times, so you might need to undress while the piercer is in the room. However, you should never feel violated or that your piercer is overstepping their bounds.

After the piercing is complete, you shouldn’t feel rushed out of the door. Your piercer might offer some water, and you should be allowed to sit down, especially if you’re feeling a little dizzy after the procedure.

To any properly trained piercer, these practices should be second nature, and if you’ve done your research, you likely won’t have anything to worry about. However, it’s best to be safe and keep an eye out for these proper practices.

Aftercare

Once you’ve been pierced, the studio should give you a sheet with proper aftercare practices and recommended products. A good studio will also provide free consultation while your piercing is healing. As your piercing heals, you might want to change to a smaller jewelry piece after the swelling has gone down. Most piercing studios will offer this for free, not including the cost of the new jewelry. 

The piercing studio should also be willing (and want to) confirm that the piercing is fully healed. (Remember when we talked about how the piercing studios should have fully healed versions of their work on their social media pages? This is how they get them.) Often, piercings appear healed before they’ve fully completed healing internally, but your piercer will be able to take a look and give you the thumbs-up before you change your jewelry on your own or stop aftercare practices.

The recipe for a perfect piercing is choosing a proper piercer and conducting proper aftercare. Make sure that the piercing studio that you choose follows the above guidelines, and as long as you stick to a daily cleansing regimen, there’s no reason why you won’t have the piercing you’ve always dreamed about.

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