Like tattoos, ear and body piercings are not as controversial as they were anymore. You can see regular people in public with jewelry sticking out of their eyebrows, or your favorite K-pop idols with several studs and hoops on the upper parts of their ears.
Thinking of getting new ear or body piercings yourself? We asked professional ear piercers for their advice, and here’s what you should consider before getting pierced:
Choosing the right piercer
You can easily find professional piercers at most tattoo shops since both piercers and tattoo artists undergo similar sanitation processes and paperwork.
However, there are still businesses that focus mainly on piercing, which you can usually find on Instagram.
But there’s one place you should avoid: kiosks.
Most likely, these kiosks don’t have the right tools to properly pierce ears. They usually just have a piercing gun that was probably used on several people throughout the day with little sanitation in between uses.
So what makes for a good piercer?
For Jarelle Cu of The Pierce Place, the best piercers are the ones who prioritize your health and healing process over profit. She explained that some pierce their clients without even considering the healing process and aftercare.
“Choose piercers who take time to build good relationships with clients because clients should be the first place not only in aesthetics (ear curation) but also aftercare,” she said.
Guns vs. needles
If you see a gun, you better run!
Jan Charlemagne from Pisces Piercing said that establishments should stop offering gun piercings. She further explained, “Guns use the earring itself to pierce the ear, and that earring is blunt. Therefore, they use blunt force trauma to pierce the ear, which is not the right way to pierce.”
Jarelle has had to handle many piercing emergencies because of clients who initially got pierced with a gun. She said that most of the cases involved excessive swelling and shattered cartilage.
Peyt Pierce PH’s Christmar Faith Vicencio added that guns can result in scarring, bruises, piercing rejection, keloids, and bumps.
Faith noted that gun piercings can also transmit bacteria from one person to another because they are not as sanitary as one-use hollow needles.
Which jewelry to use
Since piercing guns are a big no-no, the butterfly-back earrings that come with them should be crossed out of the list as well.
The three piercers shared the same criticism about butterfly-back earrings: they are locked too tight, thus restricting the new piercing’s space for swelling.
At the same time, you should avoid using hoops for fresh piercings, too. According to Faith, hoops are heavy enough to cause irritation and bumps.
You can only change the jewelry to a hoop once it is fully healed, she said.
The jewelry that should be used on fresh piercings is either a labret, a flat back, or a barbell. All of them are ideally a few centimeters longer to give room for swelling.
But there’s one more important thing to remember in choosing the right piercing jewelry — the material of the jewelry.
Jarelle said surgical steel and titanium are ideal for fresh piercings. She warned against using silver, zinc alloys, or any metal that oxidizes through time because it could cause irritation, infection, and allergies.
So, what kind of piercing should you get?
According to Jarelle, body anatomy, sleeping habits, and the client’s work should be associated with what kind of piercing to get.
Since most of us are still working from home and primarily using headphones or earphones, Jarelle advised against getting a tragus, conch, or daith piercing. Putting earphones on and off may irritate it and could expose it to numerous pathogens, she explained.
The piercer also decides if the kind of piercing is the right one for the client. Jarelle said, “Not all kinds of piercings are for everyone, and so we assess ears and navels before piercing to ensure that it is optimal for the client.”
Faith also advised against getting cartilage piercings on each ear in the same session. She said that it might cause you trouble sleeping and might slow down the healing process.
Overall, choose the kind of piercing that won’t interfere with your lifestyle. Carefully decide on the placement to spare you the hassle of repeatedly going back to your piercer.
You got pierced; so what now?
The piercing experience does not end with the needle passing through your skin (and cartilage). The real challenge in getting a piercing is the aftercare that comes with it.
Typically, you want to keep your piercing sanitized and free from bacteria, so you might initially think of alcohol as the best solution.
However, Jan advised to never use alcohol on cleaning fresh piercings, because it’s too harsh.
Jan suggests the 0.9% saline solution from the drugstore or Neilmed spray, which she believes could last months. But if the budget is tight, you can also make your own homemade saline solution.
“For the homemade saline solution, you should use organic salt (non-iodized) and distilled water. Boil it for 20 minutes,” Jan said. “This should be the last option to use because it is still not 100% sterile.”
Will it hurt?
Getting your ears and body pierced will hurt, one way or another. The level of pain, however, most likely depends on your own pain tolerance.
However, you shouldn’t be discouraged from getting a new piercing because of pain. We’re meant to live a life with inevitable pain, so the pain from getting piercings should be the least of your worries.
In the end, it will all be worth it once you see yourself in the mirror and find how lovely those new piercings are on you.
There won’t be any regrets, and unlike tattoos, if you grow tired of it, you can just take off the jewelry and put it back once you feel like wearing it again. You could also play with various jewelry (once it’s healed)! – Rappler.com
Patrick Miguel is a Rappler intern.