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Body Piercing Beginner's Guide

Piercing Safety Musts

If you've already read the Beginner's Guide to Tattoos, then you're probably familiar with the issues of safety that are, or should be, used in every tattoo or piercing studio. It is certainly worth repeating here. This information is probably the most important, so please take the time to read & remember it.

  • The studio should have a working autoclave for sterilizing all reusable equipment. Autoclaves should be clean and in good working order. They must be regularly maintained and tested often for accurate spore termination. Read here for more information on autoclaves.
  • Your piercing artist should wear medical gloves at all times. Their ungloved hands should not come in contact with your skin or any of the piercing equipment or jewelry. Period.
  • Under no circumstances should you be pierced anywhere on your body with a piercing gun, squeeze piercer or any other object other than a clean, sterile body piercing approved needle. Also, the jewelry placed in your new piercing should be a captive bead ring or barbell, not regular stud jewelry intended for piercing gun use.
  • The forceps, needle, jewelry and any other metal equipment should be removed from an autoclave bag, with gloved hands, in your presence. You have no way of knowing if that equipment is clean if you don't watch them pull it out from the bag. An autoclave bag is a long, skinny pouch used to hold the equipment during sterilization. It remains in the pouch until it is time to use it on a client.
  • Many piercers will use some kind of pen to mark your skin before inserting the needle. This is to ensure proper placement and even matching. If any kind of pen or marker is used, it should be brand new and then thrown in the trash after they are finished. It may seem like a minor thing, but do you really want something touching you that has also touched unknown others?
The down side to most of the above advice is timing. You might not know you've encountered a bad or unclean piercer until you are already sitting in the chair and feeling a bit vulnerable. You're already somewhat psyched and nervous, and at this point ready to get it over with. But if you discover that the person who is about to stick a needle in your skin is not practicing safe and sterile methods, leave! You have every right to hop out of that chair and tell them no way!

I'm telling you this because I wished someone had told me years ago. I allowed my nose to be pierced with a gun (yes, in a piercing studio!) even though I had heard this was not a safe or professional method. But I wanted my nose pierced really bad, and at that point I had already paid for it, was sitting in the chair, and the lady was standing over me with the gun. What was I to do? Well, several years later and a lot wiser, if anything like that ever happened again, not only would I get out of that chair in a flash, but they would also get an earful from me. Don't let a lack of proper knowledge cause you to allow something so blatantly wrong to happen, and don't let them intimidate you into going through with something you don't feel 100% safe about.

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