In many young people’s lives, having pierced ears is like a right of passage. Whether it’s a young child who wants to wear fun, fashionable, and stylish earrings with all of their looks, a teenager looking to add an edge to their style, or parents who decide that they want to pierce an infant or young child’s ears as part of a cultural or religious tradition (via romper), there are tons of places that offer piercing services, some even for free.
One place that’s popular is the retail store Claire’s, where they offer free ear piercings daily with the purchase of a starter kit. While Claire’s seems like a safe and reasonable place to get ear piercings, it’s actually not the best option. Sure, free piercings from an longstanding retail establishment seems enticing and trustworthy, the truth behind the ear piercing process at Claire’s will leave many looking for alternate choices.
Ear piecing requires proper tools
While many parents opt to go to Claire’s to pierce their children’s ears, the store’s piercing protocol doesn’t offer the safest process. When it comes to piercing, cleanliness and safety come first (via Mayo Clinic). Claire’s happens to use a piercing gun for piercing ears, which according to experts is way less safe than using a needle. Not only can piercing guns hurt far worse than a needle, but they cannot be properly sterilized and carry a high risk of infection.
Piercing guns, unlike needles, are made of a plastic material that cannot stand up to the sanitation practices that are required for safe sterilization. John Joyce, a professional piercer with 18 years of experience explained to Good Housekeeping,”The plastic would melt in an autoclave, which is what we used to sterilize instruments like needles, jewelry, and any tools we might use during the piercing.”
The potential for infection when using a plastic gun is high. One former client even recalled, in an online forum, that their nightmare experience resulted in 3 infections and a hospital visit where the infection had become so severe the piercing had to be cut out.
Claire's piercing policy is problematic
Getting a piercing is a body modification, so you want to make sure that the piercer you are using has experience in the field. Many times, the people who pierce at Claire’s are staff workers who are trained just to use the piercing gun they have there, and have no formal training in hygiene or as Infinite Body Piercing notes, “bloodborne pathogens.”
Some piercers also disagree with the shop’s policies on ear piercing, as well. In 2019, a former Claire’s employee went viral after sharing on social media that she was “horrified” when a 7-year-old girl came in with her mother to get her ears pierced, but then changed her mind before the process began. Her mom, however, insisted that the Claire’s employee continue the process and pierce her daughter’s ears, even though her daughter was anxious, crying, and asking to stop (via Inside Edition).
According to the employee, her supervisor stated that if the mom had insisted on her daughter’s ears getting pierced, it was the employee’s job to do it. The employee promptly resigned.
How to find the right piercer for you
Making sure that you find the right person to pierce your ears is essential. Doing any sort of modification to your body requires not only a professional who is trained and experienced, but also someone who can put your anxiety at ease. The shop should be clean, and comfortable and the tools should all be properly sanitized (via NeilMed). The best way to find a good, experienced, and trust-worthy piercer is to look up local tattoo and piercing shops in your area online, on websites such as Yelp.
Do your research and feel free to not only read reviews from clients and customers, but stop in the shop and look around. Many times, people will be open and honest about how they felt during the process and who in the shop is the best to go to for specific types of piercings. You can also use websites like SafePiercer.org that is a database of reputable shops that are guaranteed to use sterile, new needles for piercings, with trusted, trained, and experienced technicians.
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