Since the original boom of piercing in the late 1990’s, there has been a second huge explosion of piercing popularity. This popularity has been fostered by the internet and the online presences of studios. There seem to be a new high quality piercing studio popping up in every town and city across the UK. Some of them may even stock high-end and luxury brands! This must be a great thing… Right?
Unfortunately, sometimes the online presence of a studio and it’s actual quality do not match up. They may post photos of ears adorned with luxurious jewellery, but never follow up and post photos of the angles, or photos of the piercing healed. They might have a sleek studio that looks good on first impression, but don’t have hand-washing facilities or the ability to safely process piercing equipment. So, when you go to a studio, what should you actually be looking for?
Hygiene should be the number one thing on your list of boxes to tick. No matter how pretty a studio, if it is not hygienic and clean it is not safe.
First thing to do is check all the surfaces. Are they non-porous and easily disinfected? A red flag at this point would be carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings that cannot be cleaned in the clinical areas. Over time these items can become intrinsically contaminated with blood, cleaning supplies and other contaminants. The studio itself should be uncluttered and clean above all else.
The next thing would be to check the piercing room itself. Does it have a hand-washing sink with a hands-free tap? Is the bed nonporous and easily disinfected? Does it look clean, tidy and organised? A good studio is neat and meticulously cleaned multiple times a day. You should not see loose jewellery floating around, or piles of items on any work surfaces. Personal items such as bags and phones should not be allowed on any clinical surfaces!
During the piercing process, do they use sterile gloves? Sterile gloves are an important part of keeping you safe. If they are touching your piercing or jewellery, then they risk contamination if they don’t use sterile gloves.
If there is a sterilising machine such as a Statim autoclave in the room, can you ask to see its’ annual service certificate and sterilisation log? A good studio will include an indicator in each cycle to prove that the items have been correctly sterilised, which are then logged individually and stored in a logbook for easy access. If they can’t prove that your jewellery has been sterilised, then you can only assume it hasn’t been! We are more than happy to show you our sterilising process and the behind-the-scenes parts that most people don’t see!
This one is a basic rule of thumb – Do you see studio employees cleaning? If you can’t see or hear things being cleaned during your appointment, then it’s a potential red flag. Of course, a huge amount of the cleaning and sterilising we do is behind the scenes! However if you have ever paid a visit to Rogue, you’ll know the cleaning never stops. All surfaces are disinfected with hospital-grade disinfectants between every client, and you’ll often hear me saying that I’m just popping out to sterilise your jewellery before your aftercare speech!
Design and Ethics
The studio should have a few things – These things are green flags that your piercer is reputable and you can begin to place trust in them.
When you walk in, you should be able to see your piercers license and insurance certificates displayed on the wall. In Rogue, ours are displayed behind the front desk! If you can’t see a license or insurance displayed, this is a big red flag. Piercing without a license is illegal in the UK, and Public Liability Insurance is a part of your licensing agreement!
Your piercing should always be performed in a private area. Your piercing is not a show for strangers to watch – It is a personal experience. This private piercing room should either be a fully walled room, or have sturdy walls a minimum of 8ft high. Curtains and room dividers do not count! The walls are there for privacy, and to prevent contamination of the area with dust, bacteria and other nasties that can be aerosolised.
If you are looking for a good piercer, you should ask them how they were trained. You can read about apprenticeships here, which are the absolute gold standard for piercing education. Red flags at this point would be if your piercer has attended a piercing school, or has less than 3 years of education and experience. Apprenticeships last three years for a reason, so anyone piercing unsupervised with less than 2-3 years of education may not give you a piercing to the standard that a paying client deserves. Piercing schools are not valid forms of education! We would be rehashing old articles if I delved too deep into that topic here, which is why it has it’s own dedicated article.
Piercing safety organisations such as the APP and UKAPP require all piercers and every other staff member (like me!) to be fully trained in Blood-borne Pathogen control. This is vital education for everyone involved in this industry as we are exposed to potential hazards every day. Ask your piercer if they can produce an in-date BBP certification from a reputable source. If they cannot provide this, then they may not have the education to safely work in a piercing environment without risking cross-contamination and potentially spread pathogens between clients and themselves. Another level of training which is ideal for piercers is first aid training. Here at Rogue, and many other high quality studios across the country, we are all fully trained in First aid and CPR. This training is refreshed every single year. This is not required as a piercer, but is a requirement for joining organisations such as the APP and UKAPP. This is valuable education which allows your piercer to be more confident and means they are prepared for any situation that may arise. It is our hope that we never need to use this training!
Continuous education is a vital part of piercing. Piercing, especially in the UK, is a constantly evolving industry with new information arriving all the time. If your piercer has been piercing for 10-15 years, that sounds great! However, if they have not kept up with continuous learning and moved with the newest information, then the chances are that they are not the best piercer and could be using outdated, uncomfortable techniques and low-quality jewellery. The best piercers are the ones who have led the way with new techniques, safer materials and high-quality jewellery! The best way for piercers in the UK to keep up with education is by being members of the APP or UKAPP. Annual conferences, meet-ups and seminars are available for members to learn from. Look and see if your piercer has certificates of attendance for any classes or seminars!
As much as we are enjoying the popularity of piercing at the moment, it’s really important not to get sucked into the glamour of branding. Yes, the studio you are looking at may stock BVLA, Anatometal and other more affordable Gold brands. But if they don’t have the basics of hygiene and the experience to perform a good piercing? Well… You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. We would rather you get a good piercing with basic Titanium jewellery than be sucked into having a poorly placed, unhygienic piercing with a Diamond in it.