Gauges, Studs, and Needles – Oh My! Why I Took My 6 Year Old Daughter to a Piercing Studio

Mall Piercing Gun vs Piercing Studio - Our Ear Piercing Experience

Like most people I know, I got my ears pierced with a piercing gun at the mall, so when my daughter said she wanted her ears pierced I planned to take her to the mall as well. Then I talked to my cousin, a successful tattoo artist who employs several piercers in his studios, and he encouraged me to think twice about those plans. He cited health and safety reasons that I had never heard or considered before. I did a bit of Internet research which confirmed everything my cousin had told me and I decided to have my daughters ears pierced at a piercing studio instead of at the mall. I was a little nervous because I have never stepped foot in a tattoo studio in my life.

Most piercers are housed within a tattoo studio but here in the Valley we have several locations that just do piercings. After scouring reviews and commentaries I ended up selecting HTC Piercing because they were so favorably reviewed, highly recommended, fully licensed, and when I called them they answered all of my ear piercing questions thoroughly and patiently.

I felt a little awkward walking in the door at HTC’s Tempe location. I am pretty sure my kids and I were the only ungauged and untattooed people there. But after learning the difference between traditional mall piercings and the work professional piercing artists do, I knew I was making the right decision. Here is what I learned:

  • Training: Mall piercers often only have an hour or training while piercing artists have undergone extensive training and sometimes even have completed internships and apprenticeships. Also, piercing artists have training in blood-borne pathogens and cross contamination. They are licensed and regulated by the health department.
  • Method: Mall piercers use a piercing gun that literally shoots a blunt earring into your child’s ear. This is painful and it tears the skin. Piercing artists use an extremely sharp piercing needle that does not hurt very much when used on an ear lobe.
  • Cleanliness and safety: Piercing guns are not sanitary in general use. The only way they could be sterile would be if if they were placed into an autoclave after every use. That is gross if you think about it. Piercing needles are single use and come sealed up like medical supplies.
  • Keep reading for what I found once I walked into the studio.

The experience at HTC was very much like a medical appointment. The piercing artist, Ricky, wore medical gloves and used one-time-use sealed equipment. He sat down with my daughter and asked her a few questions to make sure that she really wanted to go through with the ear piercing. He told her what to expect and reassured her that she would be okay.

Mall Piercing Gun vs Piercing Studio - Our Ear Piercing Experience

 The studio was meticulously clean and I felt like the staff took their jobs very seriously. The piercing room was well organized, clean, and clinical.

Mall Piercing Gun vs Piercing Studio - Our Ear Piercing Experience

When they were ready to get started, Ricky had my daughter lay down comfortably as he pierced her first ear. She felt some discomfort and he told her she could come back to finish the second ear the next day, or take a 10 minute break and continue. She took a deep breath and we continued. She did not even feel it when he pierced the second ear.

Mall Piercing Gun vs Piercing Studio - Our Ear Piercing Experience

I am so glad that we went this route and avoided the mall. The piercing fee was a little higher than the mall but we got great quality earrings made of surgical quality steel. We got a long appointment, individual attention that was not rushed, and even follow-up appointments to make sure the ears healed well and that the earrings worked out for my daughter. Also, the aftercare for this type of piercing does not involve twisting earrings and rubbing alcohol. The aftercare was simply salt water soaks which, while time consuming, were easy and relaxing  for my daughter.

Every family makes its own choices, but for ours, this was the right choice. Look at that happy girl.

Mall Piercing Gun vs Piercing Studio - Our Ear Piercing Experience

 

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About Janice

Janice is an Arizona native, a soldier's girl, daughter of the King, and mother to two. She shares family activity ideas, recipes, crafts, and product reviews at Celebrating Family. Read more about Janice here!

Comments

  1. Mommy Pamela says

    I didn’t know there are such awesome places to take your girls to when it’s time together their ears pierced. Is the cost about the same? Thanks for the great idea.

  2. Debra givens- Wagner says

    I think that was a great idea, taking your daughter to a piercer to get her ears pierced. I never thought of that, but I will now. Looks like she had fun and wasn’t scared. Good job! 🙂

    • The piercing fee was a little higher than the mall but we got great quality earrings made of surgical quality steel, a long appointment, individual attention that was not rushed, and even follow-up appointments to make sure the ears healed well and that the earrings worked out for my daughter.

  3. Wow…so much I had never thought of before! Thanks for the info.

  4. So glad to see this. We are doing this for my son for his 9th birthday this year.

  5. Hi, Janice. I was wondering if you know of a place to take younger children. My daughter is 14 months, and we are wanting to get her ears pierced, but are having a hard time finding a place that does children under 8 without a gun. Thanks!

    PLEASE NO JUDGEMENT! IT’S CULTURAL

    • No piercing studio around here will pierce anyone under 6, except under piercer discretion. But 6 is on the low end.

      No judgement!

  6. curious if anyone has a recommendation in the East Valley for a 6-year-old to get her ears pierced. HTC stated policy is now 8 and older, other studios I have found are 12 or 13+. My 6 yo really wants to get her ears pierced and we want to go this route, but I don’t know how to find a piercing studio.

    • When I took my daughter to HTC they had a lower limit on age, but said it was piercer discretion. Maybe call and talk to a piercer and see if they make exceptions?

  7. Kalyn B. says

    I got my ears pierced when I was 2-3 years old…I don’t remember where at….that was 17-19 years ago for me. I’ll be 21 in September, and interested in getting my ears gauged….to a 4 gauge. The bigger the number the smaller in size wise. (My bf has his ears gauged on size 4 gauge).

  8. My daughter’s ears are long since pierced. I was looking for something better than the common places at the malls to get a second set of holes in my ears. I originally had my ears pierced using self-piercers. They turned out fine except the angle of the left ear was wrong and the hole has stretched out. I am looking forward to using a piercing studio this time! I will let you know my experiences.

  9. Jessicia says

    Hi I got my daughters ears pierced at the mall and she’s fine so why go overboard to get her ears pierced I mean it’s your opinion but personally that’s a bit overboard Janice.

    • I don’t think going to a piercing studio for a piercing is going overboard. I guess that’s why it’s great to live in a free country. To each their own.

  10. Tabitha S says

    Going to a piercing studio rather than Claire’s is definitely not going overboard. For the reasons the original poster listed, and so many others.

    There are nerves in your ears that can be nicked if the piercer doesn’t know what they’re doing.
    Piercing guns force a blunt earring post into the cartilage, which can not only be extremely painful, but can also shatter the cartilage and cause sever infections.

    I had my first and second lobes done at Claire’s when I was younger and I remember having so many problems with healing and infections. I almost was tempted to just let them close up.
    I had my cartilage done in a tattoo parlor and you would not believe the difference. I barely felt it, no infections, extremely quick and easy healing.

  11. The difference between a studio and a mall is not only the method, but the sanitary conditions. In a piercing studio everything is single use and they can only use surgical grade equipment leading to a less likely chance of infection. Piercing guns are a form of trauma to the place as it pops a dull piece of jewelry through skin quite literally shooting it out of place, hollow piercer needles on the other hand will separate the skin and allow the jewelers to comfortably slide in without locking on the back (like a gun would). I have had both needle and gun piercings- my gun piercings are always the ones to get infected so now I am strictly needle done. But yes, to each their own, but it’s certainly not overboard to go to a more professional environment to get any body modification done, it brings down the risk factor.

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