So, I’ve seen several tumblr posts from other piercers about buying quality jewelry and getting pierced at a reputable shop and I totally agree with them. I’ll admit my biases are very much the same as those authors: I’m a body piercer looking to pay my bills and, yes, who probably likes things that are shiny a little more than the average person. I work hard to educate the public about safe body jewelry and piercing and I’m passionate about what I do. I’m about to go on my own little rant based on my own personal experiences as well as what I see here in the shop on a day-to-day basis. My perspective though?
I’m a total tight-ass withmoney. I buy food in bulk. I dumpster-dive. I thrift shop. I can’t remember the last time I bought a new article of clothing like… ever. Except running shoes. Let’s talk about running shoes!
Wait… why are we talking about running shoes? Let me explain.
I started running a couple years ago. At first an old pair of basketball shorts and bare feet got me by. As I started increasing mileage, it was obvious that wasn’t working for me. I did what I do with any other clothing and went to the thrift store and bought the first vegan running shoes I could find in my size (okay, that took a few weeks of hunting!) and was psyched. I had real shoes for running instead of running barefoot or in a pair of years-old slip-on Vans. Then my knees hurt. And my feet. So I kept my eye out for another pair of thrifted shoes. Repeat this process about five times. I ended up with blisters, sore knees, and a closet full of everyone-in-the-neighborhood’s old shoes that hurt my knees or gave me blisters. Sure, I’d only spent 5 or 6 bucks on each pair, but I wasted a whole lot of time and money over the span of a few months and spent a lot of time running in discomfort. The closest I got to “success” was a pair of shoes that were pretty comfortable but not perfect, and those were so worn out I only got to run in them for about two weeks before they were totally busted.
I talked to a friend with more experience who set me straight. I went to a running store. They watched me run on a treadmill, helped me pick out shoes based on the way I ran, I tried them on and ran on the treadmill, repeat, etc. until I found the perfect shoes. Like, I could run for days and felt like I was on pillows. Right on.
And they were 150 bucks. Holy shit. I’ve never paid 150 dollars for a pair of shoes in my life. But I sucked it up. And wow. What a difference! I had a comfortable pair of running shoes that didn’t hurt my feet or knees, and they lasted months and months.
Why am I talking about shoes? Because I did the same thing with jewelry when I was younger and I see my clients doing it every day. I’d buy a 10-pack of neon acrylic barbells from the mall. Let’s forget about safety for a second (all the other posts I’ve seen about jewelry were about safety and I applaud them — GO READ THEM) and just talk about quality from a purely vain level. I wanted my piercings to look good, so I thought I’d get a whole bunch of jewelry I could change out and I’d look awesome, right? Well, by the time I messed with stripped threads, jewelry that didn’t quite fit right, balls that would never stay on barbells, captive beads that pinched, etc. my experience was much like my thrift-store shoes. Not all that comfortable, none of it looked as good as I wanted it to, and I’d wasted a lot of time and money on it all. Just like my running shoes, I could have gone to a piercing studio and gotten a nice-looking piece that fit well right from the start rather than wasting my time and money on cheap knock-offs.
Cue me walking into a piercing studio with good quality internally threaded jewelry for the first time (oh, hey, spoiler… I eventually apprenticed there and became a piercer…). Much like the shoe experience… I talked to a piercer who was able to not only able to sell me good quality jewelry, he measured me and got me jewelry that fit right the first time too. I was MUCH happier buying one piece that I loved than having a dozen that fell apart, broke, didn’t fit right, or irritated my piercing. Just like the shoes, I spent a little more than I was used to, but I also walked out with something I liked. I still have some of those original pieces of jewelry I bought when I first discovered well-made body jewelry in me over a decade later, and they still look good. I can’t say that for any piece of mall-kiosk or head-shop jewelry I bought over the years.
I get really bummed for my clients who come in saying things like “You know how the gem falls out after a while and you have to get a new piece?” or “I need a new nostril screw because the gem doesn’t look shiny anymore” because it doesn’t have to be like that. Body jewelry shouldn’t be treated like a disposable that “wears out” — all the money spent on stones that fall out, jewelry that makes your piercing red, and plastic balls that just look terrible could be saved in the first place. For the price of a ten-pack of glow-in-the-dark one-size-fits-probably-not-you mall-shop “belly rings” you could have a sweet titanium gem-set navel curve that’ll last you the rest of your life and look as awesome as the day you bought it.
So, yes, I’m a professional piercer. And I care about quality jewelry from a safety perspective. Like, A LOT. Like, I’ll quit my job before I’ll use anything less than internally threaded, implant-grade, mirror-polished jewelry. I probably care about the quality of your body jewelry more than you do. But as a cheap-ass-dumpster-diving-thrift-store-DIY kind of dude… I’d just like to point out how awesome it is to buy a piece of jewelry that ten years later I still get compliments on, and is just as comfortable and awesome as the day I got it. I’ve learned over the years as a tight-ass that there are some things that I’ll buy cheap knock-offs of and other things where I’d rather spend the money on something awesome that will last me a long time. Sure, I’ll keep buying socks by the pound, but I’ll never buy a generic tube for a bike tire again after way too many walks home and I’ll never buy a crappy acrylic barbell either.
Update, because I fix a lot of busted piercings:
I just fixed a set of lip piercings. The end result? A lot of heartache. It’s a problem I see way too often. A client is lured in by a good price and against their better judgement gets a piercing or piercings that just don’t look good. They come in to one of us reputable piercers, and we try to clean the mess up by replacing crummy jewelry with good quality and often changing the size/style of the jewelry to something more appropriate. Occasionally it ends well, but more often the end result is good quality jewelry that fits well finally, but the placement still isn’t ideal so even with the best jewelry in the world the piercing just look “off”. And even in the best case scenarios, usually the price is the same to get pierced at a low-end shop and have it fixed as to just get pierced safely with good quality jewelry from the start.
Let’s use the walk-in I just took as an example:
A young woman walked in with a pair of side lip piercings (I believe the kids these days call the placement “spider bites”). The jewelry was WAY too long even for initial piercings and had huge steel balls. She had lucked out in that the piercings were nicely perpendicular to the lip, and the disks were placed so that they weren’t going to damage her teeth or gums. The outer of the two piercings was slightly lower than the inner one though, so the piercings didn’t “flow” well with the shape of her mouth and both were a lot lower than she wanted — no way she was ever going to be able to wear rings in them comfortably, which was an option she had hoped to have. I was able to put shorter jewelry in them with some prong-set gems. She was much happier with them, but still bummed that she’d never be able to wear rings in the piercings and that they just looked “off” with the shape of her lip compared to other sets she had seen.
Let’s do the math:
Lip piercings with jewelry at the “cheap” shop: $60.00 Titanium prong-set jewelry to fix/downsize them: $36.00 x 2 (plus tax) Jewelry change fee*: $10 Total: $137.04 + tip
Lip piercing procedure fee by me: $60 Titanium prong-set jewelry: $36.00 x 2 (plus tax) Posts to downsize jewelry in a week: $10 x 2 (plus tax) Total: $153.40 + tip
End result: My client saved $16.36 and now has lip piercings that look “okay” instead of lip piercings that look awesome (update, as I type this, she emailed me and wants to repierce the outside one that’s super low). She walked around for two weeks with jewelry that was inappropriately long and unattractive, and was pierced in an environment that was less than ideal with jewelry that doesn’t meet minimum safety standards. For less than 20 bucks, she could have had a great experience from the start, started with a comfortable procedure and safe jewelry initially, and walked out happy instead of having a mess for a couple weeks that needed fixed eventually. Worth 20 bucks? I would say so.
*Not all shops charge a fee to change out/remove jewelry. If they’re NOT charging you for their time and supplies, you should be tipping them AT LEAST ten bucks.
I heard some stuff about not stretching with tapers why is this and what are the different types of stretcher? Sorry I'm not very experienced :s
Tapers are not meant to stretch a piercing open. They’re a tool that we piercers use to help insert a piece of jewelry. That’s it. People just started looking at this cone shaped tool and said “Hey, I can totally ram this thing through my piercing and make it bigger!” And all this generally does is cause tearing and scarring and possibly blowouts. If you’re new to the wonderful world of stretching piercings, check out this ear stretching guide I’ve written along with Sarah Wooten for the Ask A Professional Piercer group on Facebook.
Here is a little guide to help you along while stretching your piercings. The majority of these tips will especially help while stretching earlobes in particular, and the advice or time frames may be different for different piercings. This guide is a collection of suggestions from reputable body piercers, this should not be construed as, or used as a substitution for, medical advice. Things may be different in your circumstance because everyone’s body is different!
First things first is jewelry quality. Stick with implant grade materials such as ASTM F138 steel or ASTM F136 titanium, glass, and also certain stones have proven to be safe to stretch with. Avoid lower quality metals (especially ones sold in common mall chain stores), avoid stretching or even wearing acrylic jewelry, avoid stretching with organics such as woods, and avoid stretching with silicone! All jewelry for initial stretches should be single flared or no flared. DON’T STRETCH WITH DOUBLE FLARED JEWELRY!!
Second thing would be time frame in between stretches because so many people get this part wrong. We generally recommend waiting a minimum of 6-8 weeks in between each stretch although you might find yourself having to wait 3 months or longer. The big thing here is to listen to your body. If you’re noticing pain or any sort of bleeding, you’re stretching too quickly. If this happens, stop, downsize to your previous size and just wait longer.
A common mistake when stretching is the use of tapers. You shouldn’t need tapers to stretch your earlobes so avoid stretching kits, chances are they’re coming with low quality jewelry anyway. Tapers are a tool used by professional body piercers to assist with jewelry insertions. Stretching piercings at home with tapers can often lead to stretching too quickly which will likely cause tearing, excess scar tissue and/or blowouts. Also, keep in mind that tapers are not jewelry. Wearing a taper as a piece of jewelry will cause a lot of pressure on the back and bottom of your lobe and can cause it to thin out.
Another method for stretching would be the “taping” method. This method involves wrapping a thin layer of PTFE or bondage tape around the jewelry every so often to help slowly increase the size of the jewelry and thus, your piercing. In most cases, this can be completely unnecessary and should be avoided. There is no known documentation that states that any type of tape is safe to be worn inside of the body. It should also be noted that using any sort of tape as a method of stretching is going against manufacturer’s instructions.
Some tips along the way include frequent massaging. When your piercing has healed enough after your most recent stretch to the point where you can comfortably remove your jewelry for at least a few minutes at a time, it is greatly beneficial to gently massage the tissue. Holey Butt’r is a great product to use for massaging. Other alternatives would be jojoba oil, coconut oil, etc. Be sure to avoid oils which you may have an allergy to. If you are unsure, consult with your doctor or dermatologist before using any of these products. Massaging works so well because it helps increase blood flow to the area and helps promote new cell growth. Another great tip is to not be afraid to purposely downsize. Although you’re probably eager to get to your goal size, downsizing can be a great option to keep your lobes thick and healthy. Once the piercing is healed, wearing heavier jewelry such as stone or glass plugs can also help the stretching process. However, it should also be noted that wearing heavier hanging jewelry can lead to uneven stretching or thinning of the tissue at the bottom of the lobe.
Overall, the best method for stretching we’ve found is time. The longer you wait in between stretches, the easier it should be and the healthier your piercings will be in the long run. Stretching should be a long and slow process. Enjoy the ride, no need to rush. Each size has its benefits and different types of jewelry selections. If you should have any questions regarding stretching your piercing, feel free to ask in this group or of course you could ask your local reputable body piercer.
I wrote this originally a few years ago now, but I thought it was worth posting again:
These days, body jewelry is available literally EVERYWHERE. You can even buy it in a gas station. I'm sure most people have heard that there are large differences in quality, as far as material, design, and construction. While I personally don't like the idea of people spending the time and money to get a piercing, then wearing junky, poor fitting, or even dangerous jewelry in it, I do understand that it is YOUR RIGHT to wear whatever jewelry you want, even if it can cause serious consequences.
I have a different idea to present to you about body jewelry. This one is regarding economics. Piercing studios are not an endlessly profitable business. They are not like some, where they can grow almost indefinitely. A piercing studio will always be limited by the fact that people will only get so many piercings, and only so many people can actually have piercings, because of work or school. Part of what keeps a studio going, is being able to sell jewelry. Obviously, there is the added bonus that your piercer has the knowledge to help you select jewelry that will be the best for your piercing- they are also generally the only place that will specialize in body jewelry. This means, more variety. While the store in the mall have the lip ring you want in only one size, a piercing studio will typical have, or be able to order, hundreds of size and color combinations for you. This way you can actually get what you want, instead of settling for what is there. That is all in addition to the ever present issue of quality.
It's really pretty simple:If people don't support their local piercing studio, there is no way they can stay in business. So while you may run in to see your piercer for jewelry changes, advice, help stretching, and number of other services, (Some they don't even charge for!), that professional can only be there to help you if they have a studio to work in. Everyday, more and more retail stores and websites begin selling bargain basement body jewelry. Everyday, one less person buys their jewelry from the local piercing studio. What I'm getting at, is that if you value the service your local piercer provides to you, buy jewelry at their shop. It seems like such a little thing, to pick up some cheap jewelry at the mall, but trust me, it adds up. Smaller, independently owned businesses cannot stay open if you refuse to support them. So the next time you are bargain hunting on the internet, please remember, if your piercer is good to you, the best thing you can do to repay them is buy jewelry at their studio.
Thank you for reading. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL PIERCING STUDIO !!!
Could you do a post on shop etiquette? I think I've got all my bases covered, but a friend tagged along with me once and she was taking pictures of the jewelry (I know she didn't mean any harm by it) and I'm pretty sure you guys don't like that.
I personally don’t care if people take photos of the studio and/or my jewelry. My biggest things as far as shop etiquette is STOP TOUCHING YOUR DAMN PIERCINGS! Haha seriously. Every. Single. Time. Somebody comes in and has a question about their piercing or wants new jewelry for their piercing, they HAVE to touch it the whole time they’re talking about it. My “Please do not touch your piercings” sign right on top of the case right in front of them might as well not be there. Also, when buying new plugs, contrary to popular belief, you actually DON’T have to take your current plugs out and put them on my counter lol.
Lol aside from that(which literally every single piercer can relate to), just be polite and be receptive to the information being given to you. I try my best to educate anybody and everybody that walks in the door. I’m not giving you a sales pitch, I promise. I stand by everything I say.
Also, don’t be “that guy” in the studio. When your friend is getting pierced, you don’t need to be like “Ohhhh look at that needle, it’s so big. It’s going to hurt sooooo bad!” Because in every piercer’s head we’re telling you to stfu lol. We try our best to calm our customers down because we understand it can be nerve wracking to get a new piercing. They don’t need added stress from their so called friends.
Ummm, aside from all that? Bring your ID with you, be enthusiastic about getting a QUALITY piercing, if you enjoyed your experience, tipping is very much appreciated and be sure to tell all your friends and get them all to get pierced at the studio!
Before I hit publish, I totally remembered that there is a little section about studio etiquette in the APP’s Picking Your Piercer brochure so I’ll just copy and paste that really quickly too for you.
At the counter: Don’t handle your piercings (even if they are healed) as you may spread bacteria to the studio’s common areas thereby endangering both staff and fellow patrons. Bring worn jewelry in a baggie or other sealed container. Never place worn jewelry on the counter or display.
In the restroom: Don’t handle your piercings (see above). It is never appropriate to change your jewelry in the restroom or other locations in the studio. If you want your jewelry changed at the studio, it should be done by one of the piercers, in the piercing room.
In the piercing room: Allow your piercer to direct you to an area where personal belongings may be placed BEFORE setting anything down. Camera flashes can be very distracting during the performance of a piercing. Check with your piercer before taking pictures. Turn off your cell phone.”
“The jewelry they tested came from 14 different stores, including Target, Claire’s, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, and Hot Topic, and included products intended for both children and adults. Most of the jewelry the group tested cost less than $10.”
Hey lovely people! so I'm wondering why people seem to be so worried about cheek piercings, like why do they seem to have the most "complications?" I feel like they're the most misunderstood piercing and I'm curious to what your thoughts are :)
The reason cheeks can be so problematic is because of how thick they are, and how much internal structure you have going on in there. Check out this diagram of the muscles and blood vessels of the face.
Now keep in mind that this diagram doesn’t even show the nerves or glands of the face. There is a TON of stuff going on in there. There is no flashlight powerful enough to see through that thick a section of tissue. There is no piercer skilled enough to guarantee that they will miss these structures when piercing through the cheek.
I’m not saying every pierced cheek will develop a significant problem, most won’t. What I am saying is that there is an increased risk of significant problems with this piercing.