So you want to get Pierced? How do you know it is safe and will heal well?
There is a lot involved with getting a safe, healthy piercing that will heal well and look good for the duration of your life. The act of piercing isn't as simple as just putting a needle through a body part, putting some jewellery in and hoping for the best. Because we are seeing a large rise in the number of irritated, unhealthy and inappropriate piercings coming into Adorn to be fixed we decided to write up this guide.
Not all piercers are created equal. We cannot stress enough how important the skill of your piercer is to the safety and healing results of your piercings.
Unfortunately there is no qualification to be a piercer so it is important you ask about how your piercer learnt. A lot of people just buy some needles and learn on the unsuspecting public. Here at Adorn all of our piercers have been apprentice trained for years. This means that they shadowed their master, learnt what jewellery was appropriate (and not appropriate) for what piercing, what equipment is appropriate (and not appropriate) to use and the importance of hygiene, cleanliness and sterility long before they were allowed to pick up a needle. We put your safety before our profits.
Once they were allowed to pick up a needle our piercers went on to put what they have learnt into practice. They then took this further and attend national and international piercing conferences and seminars to ensure they are always offering the most current and safest possible procedures. One of our piercers has taken this even further and actually teaches seminars to other piercers about the importance of safety for his clients.
Our Piercers also take regular training in First Aid, CPR and Infection control training. This is so we can look after you before and during your time at Adorn. We want to be prepared to look after you no matter what happens during your visit.
Between our piercing staff we have a total of 23 years piercing experience (As of 2015). This means we have seen and pierced a lot of people. We know how to get healthy, predictable results.
If your piercing doesn't enter and exit the body at 90 degrees it isn't going to heal well and will be plagued by the dreaded piercing bump for its lifetime. Piercing at this perfect angle isn't as easy as it looks and requires large amounts of skill and practice to be able to execute every time to get predictable, healthy piercings.
A piercer who loves what they do will always achieve better results. Our piercers love what they do and this shows in their work. They love nothing more than to see a client leave happy with their brand new piercing and knowing they did the best possible job they could for them.
The equipment that your piercer uses is vital to your health. Equipment covers everything from what is used to make the hole to how they sterilise your jewellery. If corners are being cut in this department it can lead to health issues such as Hepatitis and HIV.
Needles Vs Guns:
Why do piercers hate guns so much? There are SO many reasons that guns are bad for the body.
Blunt force trauma – Piercing gun jewellery is not sharp. It is forced through the body and this causes large amounts of damage and swelling. This damage takes a lot longer to heal, causes bruising and can lead to scar tissue build up. A needle makes a clean cut that heals faster and with minimal scarring.
Can't be sterilised – A piercing gun cannot survive the autoclave sterilising process. This means that any Blood Borne Diseases that any client before you has had can be passed onto you. This includes HIV and Hepatitis. Wiping a piercing gun with an alcohol wipe does NOT kill these diseases. Needles can be sterilised in an autoclave to kill 100% of any disease causing microorganisms.
Inappropriate Locking Jewellery – Piercing gun jewellery locks together and has no adjustment options. This means that when the body swells it can envelop the jewellery. If this happens the jewellery will have to be cut out of the body. An experienced piercer will select the correct piece of jewellery for you and will allow for any initial swelling. At Adorn we stock a large variety of jewellery for this exact reason.
Angle Control – A gun cannot be controlled in the same way a needle can. This means that the magic 90 degree entry and exit points cannot be achieved.
Remember that cowboys use guns, not professionals. We use needles for all of our piercings at Adorn. This leads to happy clients and healthy piercings.
A sterilisation facility is key to your health when getting a piercing. The only way to fully sterilise the equipment and jewellery that is used for body piercing is a steam vacuum autoclave. Autoclaves are expensive pieces of equipment that must be maintained. They work by creating high pressure steam and vacuums to kill all micro-organisms (e.g. viruses such as HIV and bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus). Make sure to ask your piercer how they have sterilised their tools and jewellery and ask to see it if you are unsure. Some equipment is available pre-sterilised using Gamma Radiation or EO gas, the packages that these items come from must not be damaged and must only be opened at the point of use.
If the tools and jewellery isn't correctly sterilised you run the risk of serious health complications, some of which are incurable. Flames, normal steam and Ultraviolet light DO NOT sterilise items.
At Adorn we have a specially designed sterilisation suite for the sole purpose of preparing our tools and equipment and are happy to show you around and explain to you what everything does.
Not all jewellery is created equal. Body piercers are currently seeing large amounts of cheap unsafe jewellery enter the market. This doesn't just apply to fancy jewellery but to the basic designs too. If you are unsure of what your piercer is using for your jewellery then ask to see a Mill Certificate, this will tell you the grade of your jewellery.
At Adorn our piercers are trained in what is safe for the body. We even have a trained metallurgist who checks the mill certificates from all of our jewellery suppliers to ensure it is safe for you.
Internal and Thread less Vs. External Threading:
So what does this even mean and why do piercers talk about it so much? Internal threading means that the screw thread runs down the inside of the post, threadless means that there is no screw thread (jewellery is held together with spring tension) and external threading means that the screw thread runs down the outside of the post.
At Adorn we use internal and threadless jewellery for initial and healing piercings.
So why is this important?
It is important to wear body jewellery that is internally threaded or threadless. This is because an external screw thread will snag and tear the piercing channel every time the jewellery is changed and this leads to scar tissue and unsightly piercings. Also when a piercing is fresh, blood and other body fluids can get trapped in the screw threads, these will then rot and can cause infections and other health issues. An internally threaded or threadless piece of jewellery will slide straight through a piercing with no issues and has nowhere for blood or other fluids to build up leading to a healthy happy piercing for its lifetime.
Metal is metal right? Glass is glass right? Wood is wood right? Wrong. The type and grade of material that your jewellery is made from has huge implications on the health of your piercing and your body as a whole. If the material isn't safe for the body it can cause problems ranging from irritations all the way through to poisoning. Here is a quick go to guide of what to look for:
There is only one grade of Titanium that is safe for long term wear in the body and that is ASTM F136. This is an implant grade designed by the medical community.
Niobium is very similar to Titanium in its properties as it is from the same family of metals in the periodic table. Pure Niobium is safe for long term wear in the body and as a bonus it can be heat treated black.
There is only one grade of Steel that is safe for long term wear in the body and this is ASTM F138. We are seeing a lot of 'Surgical Steel' enter the market and unfortunately this is not the correct grade. Surgical steel is for making needles and surgical tools out of NOT body jewellery. Incorrect grades of steel contain high amounts of Nickel and this is known to cause irritations and health issues in the human body.
In body piercing we never use pure gold (24 Carat) as it is too soft and will lose its shape. Because of this we use an alloy (a mixture) of gold and other metals. It is important to wear 18 Carat in new piercings and no less than 14 Carat in healed piercings. These Carats ensure that the jewellery will keep its shape and that the body won't have any adverse reactions. Gold below 14 Carat gold contains high amounts of Nickel and can cause irritations and health issues.
Glass can be used to great effect in piercing but there are a lot of different types of glass that contain materials dangerous for the body such as Lead. Fused quartz glass, lead-free borosilicate or lead-free soda-lime glass are the only glasses suitable for long term wear in the body. Glasses containing lead can lead to lead poisoning in later life as the body has no mechanism for removing lead.
There are hundreds of types of wood all of which have different pH balances and contain different chemicals. Some of these chemicals can cause irritations, poisoning or even cancers! Make sure to talk to your piercer about what wood your jewellery is made of.
Plastics come in thousands of grades and very few of these are safe for long term wear in the human body. Very few reputable body jewellery companies make jewellery using these grades. At Adorn we do NOT recommend the wearing of plastic in any piercings. Some grades of plastics have even been linked to causing cancers and other health issues.
Ensuring that your jewellery is free from damage (dents, chips etc.), is polished to a mirror finish and doesn't have any sharp edges is vital to the healing and lifetime of your piercing. If your jewellery isn't smooth it will rub on the inside of your piercing and cause the body to either reject your piercing or to constantly try to heal it and cause the dreaded piercing bump.
At Adorn we inspect all of our jewellery before it goes through our sterilisation process to ensure that every piece of jewellery is safe for you.
The shape of your jewellery is directly linked to the lifetime of your piercing. We are seeing a lot of incorrect jewellery use for piercings by other piercers which is causing scarring and rejections for people.
A prime example of this is a curved bar being used for a surface piercing. Because jewellery should enter and exit the body at 90 degrees the body will reject a curved bar and leave a nasty scar that will be with you for the rest of your life.
At Adorn our piercers have a vast knowledge of what jewellery works where on the body. This comes from years in the piercing industry and first hand experience. We will advise you about the options of jewellery for a specific piercing and warn you of what will not work. We want to see happy healthy piercings.
The gems that are used in your jewellery and how they are held in are important to your health. A lot of low grade body jewellery has plastic gems glued into place.
Plastic gems can cause all of the same issues associated with plastic jewellery as well as discolouring over time. That nice clear gem you chose for a tragus piercing can go green very quickly just from the shampoo you use. A crystal, synthetic or genuine gemstone will not discolour over its life and will be safe for long term wear in the body.
The glues used to hold low grade jewellery together are dangerous for the body. These glues are designed for industrial use NOT for the human body. These glues are also prone to discolouring and have also been linked to illnesses and cancer.
Titanium jewellery has the amazing ability to be anodised (change its colour) but unfortunately it is not possible to create black, white or red Titanium. Because of this some unscrupulous jewellery manufacturers have started coating low grade jewellery with plastic films or PVD (physical vapour deposition) coatings. These coatings break down and expose the body to the dangerous metals underneath as well as causing a rough surface. These low grades and rough finishes can lead to irritated piercings, piercing bumps and rejections.
At Adorn we don't use any coated jewellery. We can anodise Titanium in house to give you different colour options and we can also order heat treated Niobium to give you black jewellery options.
Obviously everyone loves a bargain but to achieve the minimum standards required for a safe piercing a certain cost must apply. It is best to choose you piercer by the quality and safety they can provide not by the lowest price. If a piercing looks unnervingly cheap it is because corners are being cut somewhere and your health will be being put at risk. Cheap piercings aren't good and good piercings aren't cheap is a great mantra to go by.
All piercings require looking after in the initial healing phase and throughout their entire lifetime. At Adorn we have an aftercare program that we know has proven results. We will advise you on how to look after your piercing both verbally and in written form straight after we have pierced you. We are also available to talk to for the rest of the lifetime of your piercing. We love looking after people even if they didn't get their piercing at Adorn.
If a piercer can't talk you through the healing process, the aftercare process or any other part of the procedure you should be dubious of letting them pierce you.
Here is a list of things that if you see in a piercer store should ring alarm bells to you:
No healed piercing pictures/portfolios
Use of piercing guns
No mill certificates available
No First Aid and CPR training
No Infection Control/Blood Borne Pathogen training
Use of black, red or white jewellery
Use of plastic jewellery
Scarily low price
No written AND verbal aftercare
Always remember that getting a piercing is up to you. NEVER BE PUSHED INTO A PIERCING. If you are unhappy with anything that your piercer is providing you can always walk away and seek out a piercing. No-one needs a piercing, we want them but you need to be safe when you want a piercing.
If you would like anymore information about anything mentioned in this document please get in touch with our piercing staff by dropping into the shop, giving us a call on 01743 343330 or messaging us on Facebook. We love piercing and want to give you the best possible.
Love from the Adorn piercing team!