Ear Piercing : Mall vs Tattoo Studio

Ear piercings. A topic that can have mom groups screaming why they are right in mere minutes. You know me, I don’t care. Sometimes the boat just needs to be rocked, and every single human on this planet is entitled to their opinion. What you are not entitled to, is pushing and forcing it upon others.

So, here is my rhyme and reason to why I did not and will not ever take Stella to the mall to get her ears pierced. I’m not telling those who do you’re wrong, I’m simply saying this is why we chose a tattoo studio, which may also ruffle some feathers.

Stella has been begging to get her ears pierced since she started noticing her friends having pretty earrings. This wasn’t a task we could complete until the adoption was final, so while she patiently waited, I did research. As someone with tattoos, I know the sterilizing process and cleanliness guidelines tattoo studios have to meet in order to operate. Not even considering the amount of training they have to complete before they can begin piercing.

When I was a kid, no one in their right mind would have taken a child into a tattoo studio to get pierced, so obviously I was taken to the mall….about 10 ten times before I finally did it. The sound of that piercing gun was terrifying to a kid. When I finally summoned up enough courage to do it, it hurt like a MOTHER! I was about to be the kid walking around with one earring, but we finished. I can remember how sore they were for days. I’m also pretty sure the lady wasn’t wearing gloves.

Fast forward many years later, and I find myself wanting to get my tragus pierced to see if it would help with headaches. I already had experience in tattoo studios so that’s where I went. There was no question how sterile and clean the whole process was, and their involvement in making sure you knew how to keep it clean and healing properly was fantastic. But the best part, I barely felt it.

Just based on my own experience, I was already leaning towards a tattoo studio, but I still love facts, so here are a few of them I found.

  • Being pierced with a piercing gun can damage the tissue in your ear.
  • The earrings are sharp but nowhere near as sharp as a needle.
  • The piercing gun just jams the earring into the ear.
  • Gun piercings can cause excess scar tissue. The reason lies in the method of creating the hole. Unlike in a needle piercing, guns puncture your skin by blunt force.

“From a medical standpoint, any object that is purposefully introduced through the skin should be sterile to decrease the probability of infection,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, dermatologist and founder of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City.

And while some mall stores state that they disinfect their tools beforehand, you can’t actually sterilize a piercing gun. And this is important because sterilization kills all “viable microorganisms,” while disinfection simply “reduces the number of viable microorganisms,” according to the Duke University and Medical Center.

  • The only way to truly sterilize the piercing gun is with an autoclave, which is used in tattoo studios. The problem with that for the guns, is that they are plastic and will melt.
  • Even though the cartridge is discarded, there could still micro blood spatter onto the gun, which cannot be sterilized, only cleaned.
  • Keep in mind most people getting these piercings in the mall setting are kids, and babies who don’t have strong immune systems yet.
  • Most mall piercists only require 2 weeks of training, by watching others, and are given no training in blood borne pathogens.
  • The Association of Professional Piercers doesn’t even condone the use of a piercing gun. That’s a biggie.

So off we went to the studio by our house, Tattoo Jungle. Stella was beyond excited, and everyone in there was so kind and excited for her. They helped her pick out her earrings, spent time talking to her, she was loving it. I had already explained the process to her, and she was ready. This kid didn’t even flinch. Her ears look beautiful, no swelling, no redness, no tenderness. She loved the entire experience and getting to see a guy getting his arm drawn on. They make sure you understand the home care, and see you back in a week to make sure everything looks great. You don’t get that at the mall.


I could brag on these guys all day for what a great experience they gave us, but it was also the right decision for us. It may not be for you, and that’s totally OK, as long as I did my part putting all of the facts out there.

12 thoughts on “Ear Piercing : Mall vs Tattoo Studio

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  1. For my 16th birthday my mom let me get a second ear piercing, and she took me to the mall to get it done. I didn’t have earrings in my first hole that day, which in retrospect, I probably should have at least brought some, even they needed me to take them out before piercing the second hole. Anyway, because of the angel the person used the gun the back of the second hole on my left ear is SO close the back of my first hole that I couldn’t wear two pairs of earrings comfortably. And now, 11 years later, I left the second holes close, except the back on my left ear. Because every now and then I accidentally put my earring through the back hole from the second piercing and it’s horrible.

    1. Yikes! That’s the kind of thing I’ve always heard about mall piercings. Mine are slightly uneven, but luckily you can only tell when I’m wearing certain kinds of earrings. I avoid those of course.

  2. Congrats! I feel like getting your ears pierced is such a “big girl” thing to do and kind of a rite of passage. My daughter is a year old and I’ve talked with my husband and we’re going to wait. I have my ear lobes triple pierced. All done with a gun. Mine are pretty even and look almost perfect, I think so, anyway. I guess I was fortunate. My sister’s and my friend have theirs uneven.

    1. Oh she thinks she is a super big girl now! Mine are slightly uneven, luckily I can just avoid the types of earrings that make it obvious. I’m glad we waited until she was asking for them and is old enough to enjoy and remember the whole experience. She is still talking about her “new friends”.

  3. That sounds like a great idea to me! I have never been to a tattoo place, but logical that they would have more training and licensing than folks working at the mall. So happy for your sweet girl. I remember what a big deal that was for me when I got mine at 11 years old.

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