From the APP’s Choosing a Piercer brochure
This is meant to be a guideline and to aid you in having a safe piercing experience.
- See their autoclave (sterilizer)
An autoclave is a device that sterilizes the jewelry, tools and equipment necessary to perform your piercing/s by eliminating bacteria and its spores. The most effective units available to studios use a combination of steam and pressure. (”Dry Heat” is NOT considered appropriate for sterilization.) Absolutely no studio should be in operation without this vital piece of equipment!
- Spore test Results
A spore test (biological indicator) is the only way to know that an autoclave is working properly. Biological indicators actually test the autoclave’s ability to kill even the most dangerous & resistant organisms such as HIV, Hepatitis, etc. The studio should keep recent results on file and be willing to show them to you.
- Piercing Set-up
Ask if you can watch them set-up for a piercing and be in the room when they set up for yours. 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. All needles should be in individual sterile packages and should be opened while you are present. NEVER let a piercer use a needle on you that was soaked in a liquid. All needles should be disposed of in a sharps container (usually a small red box marked “biohazard”) after they have been used on a single client.
- Do they provide aftercare guidelines?
The aftercare for your piercing should be explained to you and provided in writing. Read this sheet BEFORE you have the piercing done! If it tells you to treat your piercing with harsh soap, ointment, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, the studio is not keeping up with industry standards.
Don’t be misled into believing piercing is easy. It takes time and dedication to acquire the ability to correctly place and skillfully perform piercings. Piercers either serve an apprenticeship or are self-taught. Apprenticeships will generally last from 6 months to two years. Those who are self-taught will ideally have sought guidance from others in the field. Continued education is the hallmark of any conscientious piercer. It is perfectly acceptable and advisable to inquire about how long your piercer has been piercing, how they learned to pierce, and what they have done to keep their knowledge base current, i.e., courses on Anatomy, Aftercare, Aseptic Technique, etc.
Is the studio well-kept and clean?
Are the walls washed and the carpet vacuumed? Is the staff bathed and neat? Is the restroom kept clean and tidy? Ideally, studios should have 5 separate areas: the counter, waiting room, piercing room(s), bathroom, and a separate sterilization room.
Does the studio have a license to operate?
In most cases a license to operate 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 a studio is operating unlicensed in an area where licenses are required, report them to your local health department or city business license division.
Look at their piercing photo portfolio. Are piercings placed to accent the anatomy or do they look awkward and poorly matched to the individual? If the portfolio features unusual looking placements, are there pictures of healed piercings, showing the actual viability of the placement?
Regardless of any local legislation being more lenient, the following is an appropriate minimum standards policy on piercing minors: For any piercing of a minor, a parent or legal guardian must be present to sign a consent form. Proof positive, state issued photo identification is required from the legal guardian, and a bona fide form of identification from the minor. In the event the parent has a different last name and/or address from the child, court documentation is needed to prove the relationship, i.e., divorce papers, or a remarriage certificate. Under no circumstances is it acceptable or appropriate for a piercer to perform piercing on the nipples or genitals of an individual under 18 years of age.
Are they piercing with ear piercing guns?
A number of states have made it illegal to use a gun on body piercings and with good reason. Most ear guns can’t be sterilized in an autoclave and therefore don’t meet the criteria for APP piercers’ use of sterile disposable equipment.
Use your instincts
If you don’t feel comfortable with the studio or the piercer you should leave. “I should have listened to my gut feeling” is something you should never have to say.
Use your head
Don’t act impulsively or be swayed by a low price. You generally get what you pay for (but some unskilled piercers charge plenty). Get referrals on a piercing shop/piercer from knowledgeable friends and/or the local health department.
All APP Members 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 Members you can check out our Members’ Section or call 1-888-888-1APP. If you find a studio that claims to have an APP Piercer and is not on this list please call or email to let us know.
Although individual studio requirements vary, most will expect you to:
Bring valid photo identification
Be completely sober
Be bathed with hair trimmed or tied back (where applicable)
Have eaten within 4 hours
If you are getting a genital or nipple piercing wear suitable, clean underwear/garments/bras
If possible, avoid Aspirin or other blood thinners
Have considered any potential health issues i.e. individual who require antibiotics prior to dental work should see their doctor prior to being pierced.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT THE ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL PIERCERS WEBSITE AT WWW.SAFEPIERCING.ORG