Like many folks out there, I dye and process my hair. I lighten it, I style it, I do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to it. And like many, I also have plenty of ear piercings. And if you have piercings and colored or processed hair, you may have already had experiences with these two things not getting along. Dye or product irritating a piercing, hair catching or tangling, or a hair stylist snagging a piercing. So today, I’m laying out all my tips and tricks for keeping your hair healthy and cute and your piercings happy.
Washing your Hair
When it comes to hair and piercings I get asked the most about washing your hair! And the good news is this is also the easiest for many. You can wash, shampoo, and condition as normal, just try to keep the hair kinda on top of your head rather then scrubbing low at the sides of your head where hair can snag. If a little shampoo or conditioner gets onto your ears it’s not a big deal, just don’t slather soapy hair all over them. After your hair is throughly rinsed you can take some extra seconds to let the warm shower water run over your ears, rinsing away and excess that got on them. And that will also help loosen up or clean away and crusts as well.
After the shower its important to dry your piercings. A blow blow dryer on a low setting works wonders, and you can also take tis opportunity to clean your piercings well as the shower often helps soften any debris making it easy to clean away with some folded gauze or a makeup q-tip.
If you are the type who lets your hair air dry, make sure its away from the back of your piercings. Leaving wet hair sitting behind your ears can cause moisture irritations to form, and this is a very common issue with younger clients lobe piercings. If you don’t dry your hair, pull it back with a headband or clips to keep it from sitting against your ear.
Getting a haircut
To all my clients who are hair stylists and have a ton of tattoos and piercings- I adore all of y’all. But, there are also a ton of hairstylists who have none and never remember to be careful around them! I see a few clients every month with irritated piercings because a hair stylists caught it on a comb or brush. As someone with a ton of piercings I usually seek out modified hair stylists, or stylists who work with modified coworkers because they often understand what getting a piercing caught is like, and I do find they tend to be more cautious around my ears. Don’t hesitate to ask a stylist if they are comfortable working around your piercings- and if they aren’t that’s ok! Seek out someone who is. Even if it seems obvious I always take the time to warn my stylist each time that I have piercings and to be careful around them. If you have repeat issues with a stylist catching or hurting your piercings, you may want to consider finding a new one who can be more careful. I have seen clients have a stylist catch or rip their piercings multiple sessions in a row, even to the point of having to retire the piercing because it was too irritated.
Dying your Hair
Dyes and lighters and other chemicals used in the process like toners can all cause irritation to healing piercings. As such it’s really important to avoid getting any on your piercings. But no matter how carefully you or your stylist works, it’s easy to accidentally hit or bump the area or have product transfer. I’ve found an actual covering for your ear like a baby shower cap or a glove, placed over the ear, is the best way to prevent product from getting on your piercings. This trick can also be used if you are styling your hair with a lot of product that could irritate- ex gels and balms used during braids or glues used for sew ins or different wigs. Cover us your ear and even if you do hit or bump it, it won’t let product get on your piercings. Dying your hair at home? Use a mirror for the back, either prop one up or ask a friend to hold it, so you can watch and carefully avoid your ears while applying product. And I personally rinse mine kneeling at the tub with a shower head, so I’m rinsing the product away from my ears and my hair is away from my ears as well. Rinsing this standing in the shower is not only messy, but you risk a lot to product getting on your ears and piercings. Detachable shower heads are a must if you’ll be dying your hair at home.
Lightener, relaxers, and perms especially are very irritating to healing and even healed piercings. If you know you are getting a service that includes these more harsh chemicals, make sure to warn your stylist that your piercings are fragile and ask them to take extra care in the area!
Styling your Hair
If you are styling your hair at home you can usually work carefully around your own piercings, often holding hair away from your ear or just adjusting your grip. For using product I will keep a business card handy and hold it over my ear, front or back, when I spray hair spray or such to prevent it from getting on my ear. You can also just use your hand but then you get hair spray all over it and….I prefer not to. With gels or pomades, I just tilt my head and apply away from the ear, and then take a towel or gauze and do a quick wipe back there to make sure its clean.
If someone else is styling your hair you can mention the same tricks and tips, but also don’t be afraid to remind them your piercings are there and can they please be careful! After having someone else do my hair I usually ask if they can check the backs of my ears an make sure no product is built up there, and help clean away whatever is so it doesn’t sit and irritate my piercings. For clients who get very in-depth stylings, sometimes they visit me after to have me clean their piercings and ears! I have one regular I see every time she gets new box braids to throughly clean down her piercings and remove any product from around her ears. Don’t hesitate to ask if your piercer can help with some extra cleaning and care! Braids in particular be aware of product that gets on or around piercings, particularly behind your ears. Ask your braider if they can be more cautious about product around your ears.
Wigs, Weaves, and Sew Ins
Wigs and weaves can be such an amazing way to change and enjoy your hair without the commitment of changing your own hair. For many hair types, this works much better then other styles. That being said, the application and wear of these pieces can effect piercings. Often wigs and weaves are worn very close to the ear, sometimes putting pressure on the ear and bending the ear down or pushing it forward. This pressure can be very irritating to healing piercings. If you have piercings that are still healing, please wear any of these in a way that doesn't distort your ear or put pressure on it. And for healed piercings, if they become sore or tender from wearing hair pieces, give them a few days break or adjust how you wear them! Wig glue also needs to be avoided around piercings, healed or healing. The chemicals in the glue can be damaging to jewelry and irritate piercings. Apply glues carefully!
Hair is such a fun form of self expression, much like piercings and tattoos. And having fun hair and lots of ear piercings is totally possible, with a few extra steps taken to keep both things happy and healthy. So go forth, enjoy super cool hair, and your awesome healthy piercings.