How to Research a Piercing or Piercer
We say it all the time. Over and Over again- do your research before getting a piercing! Make sure you know what you are signing up for, make sure you know your piercer is good! And that’s great advice. It’s is super important to research and know what you are looking for and getting done before you get pierced. Particularly as some piercings carry year or longer heal times, and can be a boatload of work to heal correctly. And not all piercers are created equal- its important to see a good one. But folks rarely say anything more than “do your research”. And that leaves people kind of in a void…what research? For someone who doesn’t know anything about piercings or the piercing industry they are left scratching their heads. Do I just look for a place with good google reviews? What about a lot of followers on social media? How do I research before getting a piercing? Well, today let’s break down what to look at before getting pierced.
Step One- What piercings do you like?
The first step is also the most fun- what might you want to get pierced?!? Pull up Instagram and Pinterest and google and start looking! Save photos of piercings you like the look of, ear curations that inspire you, and jewelry you are in love with. Take your time and really feel out what pieces and styles call to you. You might find yourself surprised the more you look the different placements, piercings, and types of jewelry call to you! And then you have lots of reference photos and set ideas to come to a piercer with. Remember many piercings are anatomy dependent and not everyone is suited for every piercing. Have realistic expectations and for every piercing you are in love with, make sure you have a backup in mind or are ok if that once just doesn’t work for you! It's very common not to have correct anatomy for a piercing, so be aware of that before you go in.
Step Two- How do these piercings heal? And what makes a good piercing?
So you’ve made a list and narrowed it down- there’s a few piercings you know you -really- want to get done! For examples sake let’s say some lobe piercings, a tragus, and an industrial. Next, do some research about the piercings you want to get. safepiercing.org, infinite body piercing, and my blog all have lots of good information about a range of piercings- how long they take to heal, what healing them can be like, etc. For example, lobes heal in about 3-5 months, but an industrial can take a year or longer to heal and be a difficult heal. So, it would be best to get perhaps the lobes and the tragus done first, let those heal, then get your industrial done once you have some experience healing cartilage.
Beyond that, what does healing entail? The Association of Professional piercers site safepiercing.org has some great information about aftercare basics- for example did you know you can’t sleep on healing cartilage piercings for the full duration of their healing? That’s a long time for some people! A lot goes into healing a piercing, so it’s important to research and understand what you are signing up for before you get pierced. Piercing aftercare is different from the care of other wound types (as it should be, different wounds need different treatment! We don’t handle a burn the same way we handle a pimple, and piercings are no exception.)
While you are on the APP’s site, you can also find great information about jewelry quality and minimum safety. These are good things to know because not only will it better help you understand what a safe piercing looks like, it also helps you identify a safe piercer. The last thing you want to do is all this research and work, and get pierced with something low quality that causes issues for you during healing. Or find a piercer who isn’t properly sterilizing their tools or equipment and risk and infection. Piercings can have serious consequences when done wrong, which is why researching piercings first is so important. Heres some further links on those topics too:
Internal threading vs external threading
Surgical Steel vs Implant Grade
The Anatomy of Safe Body Jewelry
Step Three- Find a Good Piercer
Step three can often be the hardest- you need to find someone to do the piercing and you want to make sure it’s done right! You’ve already learned about good jewelry, good aftercare, and how a piercing heals. Which makes it easy to spot shops with bad jewelry or questionable aftercare- we know we don’t want to go there. But how do you find a truly great piercer you trust to do your work safely?
Well the member locator on safepiercing.org is a great starting bet, but beyond that you want to review portfolios, check information about the studio, and do some digging online. If there’s no APP members near you, a starting point would be to message whoever the closest member is, and ask for some referrals! Also remember the APP only deals with health and safety, and does not certify skill. There are good and bad app members. You should do the same research and checks for a member that you would for a non member. The ask a professional piercer group on FB is also great for locating piercers if you live in different countries or areas with no APP members near by. You may have to travel for quality piercing however- when I was young I drove about 2 hours to see my piercer! I have some articles here that help you know how to look for a great piercer-
When you’ve found a studio you like don’t hesitate to message them or the piercer on social media. Ask good questions about their sterilization, safety, and training. What quality and brands of jewelry do they use- and do they have mill certs to back that up? Many quality companies like Anatometal and Bvla have reseller maps on their websites so you can check to see if the company is listed as a verified place to purchase those brands. Remember, some people lie. Are they familiar with the piercings you want? Ask to see specific examples of the work you want to get done- fresh and healed. Feel the piercer out- are they helpful, kind, and understanding? Do they make you feel safe and respected? These are all important factors. A good piercer loves questions, love clients who research, and are happy to help you with anything you might need!
Step Four- Find out your Studio Policy
Once you have some ideas in mind, a good understanding of what you are getting into with healing, and you’ve found a piercer you like, it’s time for the last bits of research- what you’ll need to actually be pierced! Find out from the studio what policies they have, for example what Identification you need to bring to be pierced (particularly if you are a minor). What their policies are on guests or cameras. How much you can expect to spend on the piercing you want or the jewelry you love- and ask if there’s any downsizing or other costs needed (some piercings need a few downsizes and there’s extra expenses to consider when getting pierced!) Ask the studio if they have any specific care suggestions for their climate (for example healing certain piercings in winter is a totally different experience than healing in spring and summer). In general find out anything you might need to know about your appointment and piercing before just coming in! That way you don’t forget your ID, or find out you shouldn’t go swimming with this piercing days before a beach trip.
Step 5- Get Pierced!
The day has finally come! Armed with plenty of saline wound wash, your travel pillow, and lots of awesome knowledge you are ready to get pierced! You’ve successfully done a ton of research, learned not just about the piercings you want but what makes a piercing safe, what jewelry to look for, and how to find a good piercer. But remember getting the piercing is just the end of the first step- you still need to heal it! But since you did all your research and found an awesome piercer- they will be there to help you through every step of the healing process and make sure your piercing heals well and happily! And once you have an awesome piercer they can help you with researching and learning about future piercings and goals you might have.