Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tattoo Parlor vs. Mall Gun - How Will You Pierce Your Kids?

I recently read an article about a mother who took her 7 year old daughter to get her ears pierced at a tattoo parlor instead of her local mall. In her article, Bonnie Rochman writes, "Contrary to what you might think, tattoo parlors — at least the one I went to — are actually bastions of cleanliness. Some states regulate them, and reputable ones use disposable needles and sterilize all their equipment in an autoclave. In contrast, mall piercers and many jewelry stores use piercing guns that have been associated with complications and can't be completely sterilized. Armed with that knowledge, which would you choose?"

When I was about 14, I got my own ears pierced with a gun at the local mall. Those ended up getting infected and having to be taken out. I got them re-pierced, and then pierced a second time, both with guns. However, when I was 18, I went to the local tattoo parlor to get an industrial piercing.

The piercings didn't hurt like I thought they would, based off the pain I felt when I got my lobes pierced a few years before. I later learned that it probably hurt less than expected because professional piercers use hollow needles that remove a small chuck on skin instead of the gun that's typically used in malls that forces a blunt earring through the ear. 

Keegan and I have talked about this topic before, and have decided that our daughter (or son) can get her ears pierced when she is old enough to take care of them with little help from us, and we will be taking her to a reputable tattoo parlor. We want to leave the choice up to her (instead of piercing her when she's a baby,) and we want to use this opportunity as a learning experience, especially if she's going to follow in our footsteps and get more body modifications like tattoos. 

Personally, I want to applaud this mother for doing the research and taking the time to learn about a safer way to get her daughter's ears pierced. I'm not condemning mothers who take their kids to the mall; Obviously I went to a mall, as did all of my friends, and no one lost an ear. I can also understand how scary it must be to allow your child to shove metal through their bodies, and most tattoo parlors come off as unwelcoming. However, I would urge parents to look past the scary face of tattoo parlors and do their research to find a clean, reputable piercer in their area as well as researching other cleaning products. With my industrial, I used warm sea salt soaks which felt amazing, unlike the cleaning solution from the mall which burned.   

Have you thought about this topic, one way or another? Has anyone else had a bad experience with a mall piercing gun? Are you going to pierce your baby's ears during infancy instead of as a preteen or teenager? I would love to hear your thoughts about this! 


  1. My ear piercing story is similar to yours, except I think my main issue was my metal allergy. Once my mom figured that out and had me use nickel-free earrings, they finally healed. I haven't thought about my own kids, except that I would wait until he or she expressed a desire. I think I would take them to a tattoo/piercing parlor, rather than the mall, based on my experience, and considering that the people doing it at the mall are untrained and make minimum wage.

  2. I have very strong feelings about body modification of a minor. My husband and I have already discussed it, and we won't be circumcising or piercing. If our kids want to modify their bodies when they're older, we will support them and absolutely go the tattoo parlor route. I had my ears pierced in one at 18, after letting them close up when I was a kid. (I actually had them first pierced by my doctor, but I've never heard of anyone else doing that so I don't know how available an option it is.) Anyway. My tattoo parlor experience was really good. My boyfriend at the time had several tattoos from the parlor so I had a solid recommendation, and the guy was super nice :)

  3. Totally thought about it. I will be piercing my daughter's (eek!!!) ears when shes an infant. My mom had all of our ears (me and 4 sisters) pierced when we were infants. If she doesn't like them when shes older she can take them out. When they are babies they dont play with the piercing or touch it so it is much less likely to get infected. Its also way easier to clean it when they are little and not fighting you. I was planning on trying to find a piercer at a tattoo shop to do it but if all else fails I will probably resort to the mall. I just think baby girls with their ears pierced are adorable!

  4. I waited until my first daughter was 10 months to get hers pierced, and it was a nightmare because she was old enough to know what was going on. It was scary for her and she wouldn't leave them alone, and it took way longer than it should for them to heal. With my second daughter I did it when she was 2 months and she did wonderful. She only let out one little cry, and was not old enough to play with them. Another benifit of getting them done super early is that they are still nursing and have a better chance of fighting infection. So my advice would be to do it super young or wait until they can care for it themselves. There were no tattoo parlors here that would have done it when my kids were younger, but I am undecided where I would have taken them given the choice.

  5. As someone who used to do the ear piercing in malls, I'd absolutely get my a potential future daughter's ears pierced in a mall. However, the time frame is the question for me. I absolutely dreaded piercing the poor innocent baby's ears. I would let a future daughter choose when she is ready. That's only my personal opinion and would not judge if anyone did it differently.

  6. i got my ears pierced at 3 months. i used to have a lot of piercings but never a good experience from a mall! tattoo parlor ALL the way !