My Daughter Went to a Tattoo Parlor

My daughter Virginia turns 16 today.  For her birthday, she wanted to get her ears pierced.  No, this isn’t her first time getting her ears pierced.  She had them done when she was five years old, a story that I have always loved to tell.  She has always been so strong-willed, or even defiant of me if you will, that she is always trying to prove me wrong.  Even at five, when I took her to the mall to get her ears pierced, I wanted to give her fair warning that it would hurt.  I told her that when they did the first ear she may feel like crying and she wouldn’t want to continue (as is the reaction for many children), but they would still have to do one more ear.  In typical Virginia fashion, when her first ear was pierced she didn’t even blink.  The second ear was completed and she just took one look at me and said, “That didn’t hurt.”  Of course, this is not the typical responses for many little ones receiving their first ear piercings.

Fast forward many years later and several  infections later, and Virginia had a second hole pierced in each of her ears, again with the traditional ear-piercing gun. Unfortunately one did not quite line up correctly, and I found myself annoyed about it.  Maybe I was annoyed because I had my ears pierced a second time when I was in high school as well, and one ear was pierced to close to the edge of the lobe, so I never did wear earrings in that ear and let it close up.  And just as before, her new piercings got infected.  So she took the earrings out and let the holes close up.

When she told me she wanted to get her ears pieced yet again, I figured there had to be a better solution to keeping her from getting her ears infected and to ensure that they were pierced with the correct positioning on her ear lobe.  After all, I knew it would cost about $50 (or more) and I did not wish to waste my money again.  The more I thought about it, the more I did not like the idea of taking her to a mall jewelry store to have her ears pierced.  I worked at one when I was 16.  As part of my duties, even I pierced little ears.  I received a brief tutorial and there was not much to it.  Knowing this, I didn’t like the fact that any kid off the street could be handed an ear piercing gun and they suddenly were an “ear piercing specialist”.  So I started googling other options. Of course, the first one to come up was that traditional mall store.  But then the tattoo parlors popped up.  Now here was an interesting concept.  I googled more, and I stumbled upon an article by a mother who had taken her 7 year old to a tattoo parlor to have her ears pierced after she too had done her own research on them. You can check out her article here.  This woman made an excellent point: tattoo parlors are regulated by the state and have to follow stringent health codes.  I am not familiar with any jewelry store having to do so. So I decided this was the way we were going to go.  I must say we couldn’t have been happier with the results.  Let me outline the differences we experienced for you:

Mall Store

Tattoo Parlor

Any unskilled kid can (and will) do it, even in the midst of still learning how. A trained professional, who has pierced many various body parts would be taking on this task.
The salesperson doing the piercing does not take sanitary precautions (i.e. wear gloves). The piercing specialist takes sanitary precautions that include wearing surgical gloves.
While the earrings come in sanitary packages, the ear piercing guns cannot be truly sanitized. Every item used in the process is sterile and used only once, including the needle.
This method uses a “gun” that pushes the earring through the ear, essentially tearing the skin.  The back of the earring is then affixed (by that unprotected hand…allowing bacteria to enter the new wound) in such a way that it can be on too loose and come off, or be on too tight and cause an infection. In this method, a clamp is put on the ear that provides as a stabilizer for the area to be pierced.  Then a hollow needle is pushed through the skin in the center of the clamp, removing a small core of the ear tissue.  The earring is then inserted through the back of the ear, and the front is screwed on.  The earring cannot become too tight.
Clients are told to “spin” their earrings often.  But more than likely, this is done throughout the day, at various places and with dirty fingers.  Welcome infections. My daughter was told NOT to “spin” her earrings as it was not necessary.  Doing so would cause an infection.
A cleaning solution is provided.  This solution will heal the outside of the ear quickly, but cannot get to the inside as effectively, thereby trapping bacteria inside, once again causing infections. We were told NOT to use any sort of cleaning solution (and why – see left). Instead, simply cleaning the area with saline solution was best.
The piercing gun noise….can be startling, adding to apprehension of the experience and making one jump.  I can only imagine how this adds to the new tear.  It may also contribute to misaligned earrings. My daughter informed me that the process was much calmer and less “startling” because a needle was simply (and quietly) pushed through and it was not met with the loud “click” sound that the piercing gun makes.  She also added that the atmosphere was also much more pleasant (no people wandering around, shopping, causing a commotion or staring).  Not to mention that the specialist did not have anything to distract her.
Most of us are familiar with the stinging pain that follows ear piercings with the gun. According to my daughter, there did not seem to be as much pain as when the piercing gun was used.  Perhaps this was because her ear was clamped?  And when she had a second earring in the same ear, she said she even felt it less.
Cost – We were told piercing was free with the purchase of earrings….that start at $50 (so much for free). My daughter had three piercings done (two in her left ear and one in her right), and the total for all three (with all three earrings) was $50.


Please keep in mind, that you should be sure to use a reputable tattoo parlor.  As with any business, there is always that one who may not be on the up and up.  You will also need to take your child’s birth certificate with you if they are under the age of 18.  As always, please do your own research.  Your experience may be slightly different than ours.

For more information on the type of needles used:


2 comments on “My Daughter Went to a Tattoo Parlor

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