Safety is a priority
Safety is important in body piercing. We comply with OSHA standards to protect our staff and local environmental health regulations to protect you. Many piercing studios and piercers work differently so your experiences will vary as you get pierced at other places. However, there are some common precautions all studios should implement. Below is a universal checklist you can print out and use when visiting any studio. Download here.
Piercing safety basics
1. Does the studio have an autoclave?
This is a necessary machine used to sterilize jewelry and reusable tools. Items used for your new piercing must be sterilized properly. Anything soaked in a solution has not been sterilized.
2. Does the studio have Class 5 Integrators?
These are small single-use indicators that use a small chemical pouch to measure time, pressure, and temperature of a sterilization cycle. These integrators are used to validate a successful sterilization cycle. In California, AB1168 requires this type of integrator for every sterilization cycle. Ask to see the one used for your piercing. It’s likely to be attached to your consent form or the studio’s sterilization log.
3. Ask to see the studio’s most recent spore test results.
A spore test is a biological indicator and the only way to know the studio’s autoclave is truly sterilizing. Every studio should have their lab results available for review. The Association of Professional Piercers requires its members to have their autoclaves spore tested at least monthly.
4. Does the piercer dispose of their used needles in a sharps container?
Any piercing room should have a plastic sharps container labeled with a bio hazard symbol. This is an indicator that needles are not being reused.
5. Are piercings performed in a private room?
Your privacy should always be protected, even for simple piercings.
6. Will you be given aftercare suggestions
This important information should be given both verbally and in writing. You should also be given the opportunity to ask questions.
7. Is your potential piercer a member of the Association of Professional Piercers?
Membership in the APP is prestigious and most piercers strive for this status in the industry. However, membership doesn’t come easy and many piercers work in studios that don’t meet the APP’s minimum standards for environmental criteria. Low quality jewelry is the most common factor that prevents piercers from being members. Find a list of current members at SafePiercing.org. This is an international safety organization.
8. Does the potential studio have a business license and permit from the environmental health department?
Standard business licenses and health permits should be visible in the studio. If they’re being inspected by the health department they should be willing to let you see their reports. Your safety is the responsibility of the studio, which is also responsible for compliance with local safety regulations.
9. Does your next piercer have a portfolio?
Portfolio pictures are used to showcase a piercer’s talent and experience. Piercings should be healthy and healed if they’re in a portfolio. Be cautious if you mostly see pictures of piercings that appear to be fresh.
10. Does your next piercer attend the annual conference of the APP each summer in Las Vegas?
This is the biggest opportunity piercers have for continued education in their industry. Regular attendance offers piercers a chance to add new information and techniques to their skill set and get refreshed on many other topics.
11. Piercers are required to have a current Bloodborne training certificate.
This certificate requires annual re-certification. Ask to see one.
12. Does your new piercing studio use implant standard jewelry for piercings?
California requires all initial piercings to be performed with implant grade stainless steel (F-138), implant grade titanium (F-136), glass, niobium, and 14k or better gold. Be on the lookout for studios that use “surgical steel.” The low quality jewelry industry has coined this term even though there is actually no metal certification for “surgical steel.” Many piercers will offer jewelry called “316LVM.” This is a classification of steel, but not the implant standard.
13. Is your piercer using barbells that are internally threaded?
This means that barbell shafts are smooth at the end, without threads. Threads should be on the bead only, not the shaft. There are also great “pressure fit” barbells without any threads at all. Barbells with threads on the shaft will cause more discomfort and tissue damage, and are never implant standard, even if they’re 316LVM and called “surgical steel.”
14. Does the studio have a separate room for reprocessing and sterilizing contaminated tools?
This is a set of chores that require special safety considerations and should never be done in the piercing room or other areas accessible to the public.
16. California’s AB1168 requires the piercer to have access to a hand-washing sink.
Do you see one? Hand Hygiene is important in preventing disease transmission. The state of California requires hand hygiene before performing a piercing service. OSHA requires hand hygiene after.
17. Are studio employees happy and willing to give you a tour of their facility?
If they’re proud of their environment there should be no problem with a review if you ask.
The “Piercee’s Bill of Rights” was first created by Gauntlet Piercing. The following is the APP’s adaptation.
EVERY PERSON BEING PIERCED HAS THE RIGHT:
1. To be pierced in a hygienic environment by a clean, conscientious, sober piercer wearing a fresh pair of disposable medical examination gloves.
2. To be pierced with a brand new, completely sterilized single-use needle that is immediately disposed of in a medical Sharps container after use on one piercing.
3. To be touched only with freshly sterilized and appropriate implements, properly used and disposed of or re-sterilized (where appropriate) in an autoclave prior to use on anyone else.
4. To know that piercing guns are NEVER appropriate, and are often dangerous when used on anything — including earlobes.
5. To the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their piercer knows and practices the very highest standards of sterilization and hygiene.
6. To a have a knowledgeable piercer evaluate and discuss appropriate piercings and jewelry for her/his individual anatomy and lifestyle.
7. To be fully informed of all risks and possible complications involved in his/her piercing choice before making any decisions.
8. To seek and receive a second opinion either from another piercer within the studio or from another studio.
9. To have initial piercings fitted with jewelry of appropriate size, material, design, and construction to best promote healing. Gold-plated, gold-filled or sterling silver jewelry is never appropriate for any new or unhealed piercing.
10. To see pictures, be given a tour of the piercing studio, and to have all questions fully and politely answered before making or following through on any decision.
11. To be fully informed about proper aftercare, both verbally and in writing, and to have continuing access to the piercer for assistance throughout the healing process.
12. To be treated with respect, sensitivity and knowledge regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, health status or piercing choice.
13. To change her/his mind, halt the procedure and leave at any point if the situation seems uncomfortable or improper.