Signs You’re Not Dealing With A Professional Piercer
by K. A. Kristmanson
Finding a new piercer can be incredibly stressful, especially if you have no idea what you should be leery of. In this post, I’ll go over a few quick tips to help you feel calm and confident about your decision.
No Portfolio (Especially Online)
In this day and age, people take the time to Instagram their cereal. Anyone who is proud of the work they are doing is going to take a picture. I’d worry that no portfolio means a person has no experience whatsoever, or they aren’t happy with the results of their previous work. There may be exceptions to this rule, of course—some old school piercers who have been doing it for decades might not bother with an Instagram account—but just keep it in mind as you look for other red flags.
“Free Piercings with Purchase of Jewelry”
Saving a few bucks on the piercing service is not a corner worth cutting. I’ve only seen this sign outside mall stores that pierce with guns. That makes this a major red flag for me. These stores do not have proper sterilization protocols in place, nor do they understand BBPs and cross-contamination. They also tend to sell junk jewelry.
Uses A Piercing Gun
Guns harbor a much higher risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bloodborne pathogens. Those who use them are unaware of the potential danger of infecting clients with HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
They hurt more because the blunt end of a labret is forced through the tissue, causing unnecessary damage and trauma. This can increase the healing period for your new piercing. Guns are no faster than a needle in the hands of a skilled professional. The hypodermic needle is safer because it is sharp, sterile, and surgical.
For more information, check out next week’s post, where I talk about the needle vs. gun debate.
Selling Junk Jewelry
The only kinds of jewelry you should be pierced with are as follows:
- 316LVM Surgical Steel
- Titanium (a non-magnetic material for micro-dermals and surface piercings)
- PTFE (Teflon)
If your piercer is trying to sell you on anything else, take your business elsewhere. The only exception to this rule would be for stretchers, which can use a wide assortment of jewelry, such as bone, wood, and stone.
No Sterilization Station
At the very least, this should include an autoclave and sink, with small brushes for scrubbing. It should be separated from other areas in the shop, and only store materials used in the sterilization process. An ultrasonic is another great addition to the process, but is not mandatory.
It is possible to do piercings with an entire set up of disposable tools. If you’re unsure, ask! Any industry professional will be happy to answer your questions about sterilization. If they aren’t, you know what I’m about to say: Walk. Out.
Works Out of Their Home
A professional in this industry knows that your home is no place to be doing piercings. Who wants to have potentially dangerous pathogens all over their living room, basement, or kitchen? No matter how cheap their services are, it’s not worth potentially contracting HIV, Hep B or C.
Uses Improper Jewelry for Surface Piercings
This one is less obvious, and something I learned the hard way. If a piercer comes at you with a straight barbell for your surface piercing instead of a U-shaped surface bar, get out of that chair before they scar you for life (literally). The photos of my hip piercings rejecting are too gruesome to post, so let me paint you a picture.
I could see the grey of the metal underneath the thin skin that covered them, and I knew there was something wrong. The beads were pressed so tightly up to my skin, within a matter of days they dug their way into it.
When the thin amount of skin holding the bars in eventually died and fell away, I still couldn’t get the jewelry out because it had become fused to my skin underneath. This left huge gashes behind, and over half a decade later, the scars are still raised and visible.
I’ll say again, make sure they are using a surface bar not a straight barbell.
Thanks for Reading!
Did I miss anything you can think of? Have you had a bad experience with a piercer? Want to know how to avoid it happening again?
Share your story in the comments section, so that others might avoid the same unfortunate circumstances in the future!