Written by Lynn Loheide and Edited by Margo Dellaquila
We understand that choosing the right piercer can be tricky. How can you be sure that the piercer near you is reputable? Well in an ideal world, we’d love to assume that every state has laws and regulations to ensure only someone who is highly experienced and well trained can pierce you. Unfortunately though, that isn’t the case. There are very few states that have strict laws in regards to body piercing; and even if a state does have body piercing laws, they typically only dictate age limits and basic studio cleanliness. This means there are no laws that regulate a piercers skill level. With this in mind, we decided to make a simple guide that goes over what to look for in order to help you choose the best piercer for you!
A Clean Studio Its important to find a studio you feel comfortable in and one of the main things that gives clients peace of mind is a clean environment. When searching for a place to get pierced, pay attention to the studios overall cleanliness. The front area along with the piercing room(s) should be clean, well lit, and organized. If the studio has a separate room for processing equipment, that too should be well kept. Its always nice when your piercer is excited to show you how clean everything is! Remember to check your piercing set ups. Make sure everything thats being used on you comes out of new, single use sealed packages and that your jewelry is sterilized prior to piercing. It isn’t uncommon to see the sterilizer itself at some point during your visit. We have an entire article on autoclaves, that review what to look for to ensure you are getting properly sterilized jewelry/equipment for your piercing. Also, all surfaces should be cleaned before and after client contact, and your piercer should never touch you with bare hands. Clean or sterile gloves should be worn at all times.
A Welcoming Environment Your piercer should make you feel safe, welcome, and comfortable. They should be someone you can feel okay asking any questions to; good, bad, silly, or awkward! You should be able to have open communication with your piercer. You want to feel safe and respected in all aspects. From doing paperwork, going over care, and during the piercing itself, you want to feel like you’re in good hands. It’s normal to be nervous, but a good piercer should help soothe your nerves and should never make you feel bad or stressed in any way. Even if a studio meets all the above requirements, if you don’t feel comfortable there, you should consider checking out other studios until you find the right fit. On the other hand, if you like the studio but are put off by one of its staff members, never be embarrassed about asking to work with a different piercer. We understand different people get along differently, and we know some clients will work better with some piercers than others! Having a preference is totally okay and you should never feel judged in that. Above all you should feel safe and relaxed when getting pierced.
Quality Jewelry When looking for a piercer, you want to look for someone who uses high quality jewelry. Check if they stock implant grade metals such as ASTMF136 grade titanium.Your piercer should have mill certificates for the jewelry they carry that guarantees the quality of the metal. As well as any gemstones in the jewelry being hardware set; so no glues, adhesives, or other mystery chemicals holding your jewelry together. Jewelry should also be either internally threaded or threadless. Internally threaded means the screw/thread should never be on the wearable of the jewelry. The wearable should always be smooth and free of imperfections. This is because external threads can damage/harm your piercing during insertion and removal. Threadless means the barbell backing and decorative front lock together without any screws. Your piercer should be educated about the jewelry they carry and willing to provide any documentation or information about exactly what its made of, where its made, and why they choose to carry said brand.
A Solid Portfolio Since state laws do not regulate experience, it’s up to you as the client to evaluate a piercer’s portfolio. Your piercer should have a solid portfolio of work with a wide range of piercings. Good portfolios include clear, high resolution, full color images of both fresh and healed piercings. Anyone can take photos of fresh piercings that look great, but to have piercings heal consistently and successfully is more important. A good portfolio should be an even mix of both. Portfolios should also show angles; we have an article here about what to look for when it comes to angle shots. There’s no excuse for a crooked piercing so be on the lookout for those when researching. If you’re interested in more advanced piercings such as genitals or large gauge work, you should look for a piercer who has an extensive amount of healed portfolio images of such. Don’t be afraid to ask a piercer what their experience level is, how long they have been offering this piercing, and what training they have. A piercer should be excited and open about their experience and a good piercer knows when to say no; be it based on client anatomy, or their piercer skill level. It’s respectable when a piercer can admit to not having the training/skill level to preform certain piercings and those who do so can usually recommend you to a piercer who can help you instead!
The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) The Association of Professional Piercers is a voluntary organization that regulates health and safety in the piercing industry. In order to apply, piercers must prove they and their studio meet/exceed APP standards before being given membership; so searching for APP members is a fantastic start to finding a good piercer! If your piercer is an APP member then that means they’re clean and that they carry quality jewelry from brands you can trust. However, the APP does not regulate skill level. Which means, do not allow the APP member certificate lull you into a false sense of security. It’s still important to check portfolios and ask questions. If you’re interested in finding an APP member near you, you can check out safepiercing.org !