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Picking Your Piercer

From the APP 

You have decided to have your body pierced and you are asking yourself, "I want it done now, so where do I go?" In this era of bloodborne diseases you MUST be very careful who you have perform your piercing! This guide is brought to you by the The Association of Professional Piercers to assist you in making a better-informed decision regarding your piercing because: It's your choice! 

These questions will help you pick your piercer and piercing studio. These are meant to be guidelines and can aid you in having a safe piercing experience. 

See their autoclave (sterilizer) and spore tests 

This is the most important thing you need to do when checking out ANY potential piercing studio. If they don't have an autoclave run away! ("Dry Heat" is NOT considered appropriate for sterilization.) Ask to see their spore test results. A spore test is the only way to know the autoclave is working properly. If they don't run regular spore tests, don't let them pierce you! 

Does the shop reuse needles? 

This is one of the most important things you MUST check. Does the studio resterilize used needles? Make sure you see the piercer place the used needle in a sharps container. NEVER let a piercer use a needle on you that was soaked in a liquid. All needles should be in individual packages and should be opened while you are present. 

Does the studio seem clean? 

Check it out! Is the piercing studio immaculate: the walls washed, carpet vacuumed? Is the staff bathed and neat? Is the restroom kept clean and tidy? If you feel they are not, walk out! Every good studio should have 5 separate areas: the counter, waiting room, piercing room(s), bathroom, and a separate sterilization room. 

Ask your friends where they got pierced. 

Here are a few questions you should consider: Does their piercing look like a piercing you would want? Did they have any problems or infection during healing? Was the staff at the piercing studio able to help them if they had any complications? Would they get pierced there again? 

Use your instincts. 

If you don't feel comfortable with the studio or the piercer you should leave. Repeatedly we hear "I should have listened to my gut feeling." So listen to it! If the studio seems more interested in your money than your health that is a sign to leave the studio quickly. 

Are they piercing with ear piercing guns? 

If you are going to have a body piercing and the studio is using an ear gun, run away! Inform your health department! A number of states have made it illegal to use a gun on body piercings. Plastic ear guns can't be sterilized in an autoclave and therefore don't meet the criteria for APP piercers' use of sterile disposable equipment. 

Ask questions of the staff and piercer. 

When responding to questions do they seem knowledgeable? It takes a long time to learn what jewelry is optimal for each piercing. Ask the piercer how long they have been piercing and how they learned. It takes even longer to acquire the ability to correctly place and skillfully perform the piercing. Make sure the piercer is well-informed. Check to see any certificates or plaques the wall. Don't be mislead into believing piercing is easy. Look at his or her piercings and peruse their piercing photo portfolio. Do you like what you see? If not, leave. You can be injured by a poorly performed piercing! 

Check the studio's jewelry selection. 

There are lots of different types of piercings so there should be a variety of different types, styles and sizes of jewelry. The studio should not insist on a certain style because that is the only thing they have in stock! When referring to size of jewelry there are two measurements. One is the width (of a ring) or length (of a bar) called the "diameter" of the jewelry. The other is the thickness of the jewelry, which is the "gauge." As a general rule, jewelry no thinner than 14 gauge should be used below the neck. This is because of a likelihood of migration and cutting. The smaller the gauge number the thicker the jewelry. 

Do they have an aftercare sheet? 

All professional studios should give you an aftercare sheet explaining how to take care of your piercing. Read this sheet BEFORE you have the piercing done! If it tells you to clean your piercing with ointment or hydrogen peroxide, the studio is clearly not keeping up with the industry standards and you should be concerned with the quality of piercing you would receive. 

Does the studio have a license to operate? 

Many cities and states do require that the studio have a license. In most cases the license means that the studio meets minimum requirements and has passed some sort of inspection. To find out if your area has established standards and inspections, call your local Health Department. If the studio is illegally unlicensed do take the time to report them. Chances are they are not performing safe, hygienic piercings and could be endangering the health of piercees in your region. 

Check to see the studio's age requirements. 

Many states have laws regarding the minimum age for piercing minors with parental consent. Even if the law allows it, many piercers feel certain piercings are not appropriate for minors. If the studio is more interested in making money than upholding sound morals and ethics use your judgment. Please understand the studio's right to enforce its own age limitations. 

Inspect the piercing rooms and set up. 

Ask if you can watch them set-up for a piercing. Even better is to ask to observe a piercing being done. (Not all piercing studios will let people watch, but you can ask.) At least make sure you can see them set up for YOUR piercing. During preparation the piercer should first wash and glove their hands. The equipment should be sealed in individual sterilized packages and placed on a tray. The piercer should change gloves if they touch anything in the room other than you and the sterile equipment. If you are not satisfied with the set up, walk away! 

Is the studio recognized by the APP? 

All APP Piercers will have a certificate that should be hanging on the studio's wall. The certificate has an expiration date on it; make sure it is current. For a list of APP Piercers you can check out our members section or call 1-888-515-4APP. If you find a studio that claims to have an APP Piercer and is not on this list please call and let us know.