We Hit the Tattoo Parlor for Some Ear Piercing!

posted in: Parenting 24 comments

Yes.  I took my 5 year old Sophia to Krazy Kat’s Tattoos here in Charlotte to get her ears pierced.  I know, I know, I always said we would wait so much longer.  If I had a conversation with you about this, forgive me.  I just totally changed my mind. I started reading all of her Kindergarten information after hearing her beg for 2 years to get those babies pierced.  What do the two have in common?  Well, the school uniform policy is extremely strict and the only places I could find where a child could wear any color other than blue and white anywhere (barring underpants) was their ears and their wrists.  I am all about loving the ease of uniforms, but for some reason this just hit me as too little individuality for my very individual little girl.

Ear Piercing Tattoo Parlor

So, of course we are going to find her some totally creative bedazzled undies but that just isn’t enough.  Because of course, girls just don’t show those.  So, I started wavering and then I asked twitter and then I thought we were all going to head to some mall and then…I Googled for some good ol’ research and started looking for good tattoo parlors within moments.  I read about some first world problems like uneven piercings and then I got to the real problems.

Issues with Piercing Guns

Sterilization & Experience

Because piercing guns like they use at malls are plastic, they cannot be sterilized in an autoclave.  Since mall ear piercing gals or guys usually only have to go through a few weeks of training, they are not well versed in blood borne pathogens (yes, ears can bleed when they are pierced).  While it may be true that the gun never comes in contact with your child’s ears, the hands do, and any blood that gets on them and then on the gun contaminates the gun.  Once the skin is broken and blood is present, contaminants in the air are a danger.  Those dangerous particles can get into places in that gun that can never be cleaned.  Also, this is a gun and they can malfunction!  Yes, girls have had to sit there while pliers were used to get the earrings already in their ears out of the adapter used in the gun!  OH MY AWFUL.

In comparison, a reputable tattoo and body piercing parlor uses an autoclave to fully sterilize all instruments and in the case of piercing uses a one time needle.  Tee (our piercer) opened the sterile package with latex gloves  on in front of us.  It held the piercing needle.  A separate package held the titanium pink opal studs Sophia chose.  Guess what?  professional piercing people go through a year or more of training and where we went, are certified in Blood Borne Pathogen Standards.  There is no piercing of body parts without experience, and I for one was totally on board with that.

Blunt Trauma

Ear piercing guns use a blunt earring that is forced through the child’s ear.  So many people told me that it would be less painful to go to the mall and have 2 people, each with a gun, pierce at the same time.  I just didn’t believe it.  Maybe it is because I pierced my own belly button and nose in high school with a very sharp needle and it was WAY less painful than getting my ears pierced in junior high.  And that was me doing it!  Okay, so the earring goes into the child’s ear and has to push it’s way through.  The skin tissue can get damaged in a way that does not happen with the extremely sharp and hollow piercing needle.  The gun can make the pieces too tight and can literally cause tissue trauma and infection because the wound does not have room to heal around the piercing.

At a tattoo or piercing parlor, the ears are marked and then pierced one at a time with a hollow piercing needle.  It It was extremely fast!  My 5 year old shut her eyes tightly and I saw a brief moment of surprise and then another when Tee put the earring in her ear.  Of course, she was slightly more aware of what was coming with the second ear but it was even faster than the first and then she had her precious ears pierced!  The earrings are a titanium post that inserts into a hollow post and allows room around the ear lobe. When we are ready to take the earring out to change it, we simply pull apart the two pieces. These materials are much safer than those you will find in malls.  If you are curious, these are the posts we have from NeoMetal.


I always thought you were supposed to turn earrings and put your hands all over your ears every day to clean the wound.  Turns out this is is exactly the opposite of what we were told.  I spoke to numerous piercing studious (some who would not pierce children’s ears) and all said that the safest way to care for a piercing is to use a titanium or high grade surgical steel earring in the first place and then not to touch it.  The earring with enough space around the ear can heal without being turned and be treated with a non iodized sea salt and warm water solution to clean off any crusties or bring a little relief.  Of course, you should do this with clean hands. We have not had any crusties yet but  Sophia’s ears were a little sore for a day so we used this on a cotton ball.  Easy peasy.  She has been great about not touching them!  Basically, constantly rotating the earring can slow the healing process as it can re-introduce bacteria to the still open wound.

Here she is right after Tee pierced her ears!

Sophia Ear Pierce

To Each Her Own

I know most people have no problems going to the mall and come out with perfectly fine piercings.  I am in no way judging anyone’s choices on this.  I just wanted to share what I learned and let you know that I felt 100% safe in my choice and that it was fun!  Sophia loved going to the tattoo parlor and everyone was so nice.  We did look at some pictures of heavily pierced people before we went just in case.  I didn’t want her to be nervous if there were any more dramatic piercings there.  We actually had a ton of fun looking at all the stuff they had and asking Tee questions about things.  Sophia really wanted to know how people get jewels in their cheeks!  It’s called a dermal piercing, I believe, and Tee nicely explained how it worked to us.

If you are thinking of getting your child’s ears pierced, go ahead and google your local tattoo parlor.  Read their ratings and reviews.  Call them.  Talk to them.  Ask them if a young child will be comfortable there.  I am so happy we chose to go this route and hey, if I ever pierce my nose or belly button again, I will so go back!

Also, Sophia wants to do a little video explaining exactly what happened and how she felt in case you or your little girls want to see it.  Would you be interested?

So here she is, my beautiful girl, about to start Kindergarten, with her tiny pink opals that can be any color she wants when they are done healing…as long as they don’t light up.

Ear Piercing Kids Tattoo Parlor

Go ahead, ask me your questions!  Tell me how gorgeous she is!  Let me know your experiences!

I'm Brittany. I believe that simple is best and that smiling can make or break a day. I love being a woman, a wife and a mother. I like to make pretty things and making things with big tools. I am a huge fan of good design. I love to travel. Hugs make me happy. I share my life, experiences, tips and tutorials in the hope that this community can find a whole lot of awesome together.

23 comments… add one

  • August 15, 2012 Amy

    SO helpful, Brittany! We’re not quite there yet with Little O {she’s 3}, but I know it’s right around the corner. This post was incredibly informative, we will now be going the tattoo parlor route when my little girls are ready to take the plunge! Thanks for sharing all of your research & helpful suggestions with us, so appreciated. :)

    I’d love to hear Sophia’s point of view through a video too, great idea! She looks darling with those sweet little pink studs! :)
    Amy recently posted… If these walls could talkMy Profile

  • August 16, 2012 dianthe

    i had my daughter’s ears pierced when she was about 6 months old – we went to a woman who owns a piercing parlor – she’s been piercing ears (with a needle) for over 20 years – i was surprised at all the information she told me – like you, i thought you were supposed to turn the earrings and all that nonsense – i also had no idea how piercing guns work until she explained it – i’ll never send anyone to have their ears pierced with a gun again!!
    dianthe recently posted… it’s either a dream or a nightmareMy Profile

  • August 16, 2012 Camille

    She does look so happy and gorgeous! I love it. I also love the research you did and the fact that you went to a tattoo parlor. Great post.


    • August 16, 2012 Brittany

      Thanks Camille. Kat’s was so great and super professional. I wouldn’t do it any other way now!

  • August 16, 2012 Natalie P

    This is amazing and very true. I want to start advocating for the banning of those guns. While many people get lucky….I have seen horrible things happen via those guns. I have watched professional piercers use real needles. It is very much an easy process and a very sanitary one.

  • August 16, 2012 Lara

    I wish I’d known this with our 13 year old. Glad to know it for our 6 year old. THANKS!
    Lara recently posted… Literary Constipation: 5 Tips For Dealing with Writer’s BlockMy Profile

    • August 16, 2012 Brittany

      I know I had no idea. Google is something isn’t it? I also had a head up from my siblings, who have tattoos and have been talking to the people at these parlors for years. So glad your 13 your old ended up just fine!

  • August 17, 2012 Deb

    Great information. I never even considered a tattoo parlor for ear piercing but it makes complete sense. She looks so happy. Good job!

  • August 17, 2012 RookieMom Whitney

    I freaking LOVE this. Dude, it makes so much sense. I’m going to tell everyone I know! Using the Internet, obviously.
    RookieMom Whitney recently posted… Failures and superpowersMy Profile

  • August 20, 2012 Melissa

    Alot of people don’t realize this, but pediatrician’s offices do ear piercings also. My daughter was about 6 months old when I got hers pierced at the doctor. Extremely sterile. But yes, tattoo places are definately more sterile than mall kiosks.

    • August 22, 2012 Brittany

      Yes, this is true! Many won’t do older children though. and I can’t imagine how long I would have to wait for that appointment :)

  • August 28, 2012 Lanez Jones

    OHH….I never knew that…never thought it could be…She looks really happy after that…GREAT..!!
    Lanez Jones recently posted… Say Hello To The Smart Tattoo GenerationMy Profile

  • August 30, 2012 psychsarah

    Great info! Thanks for doing that leg work for all of us. I had a terrible experience with those guns at the mall when I was 8 years old. The one earring was put in waaaaay too tight and got infected. I will never forget the feeling of the woman using her extremely long fingernails to pry the earring out of my ear-much much much more painful than the original piercing. I currently have a son, but who knows, he might want his ear(s) pierced one day, so I’m filing this in my memory bank for future reference.

  • August 30, 2012 Emily

    Wish I had known this when I got my ears pierced years ago. My ears go SO infected. And I have a lump in one of my earlobes where the gun displaced the tissue. Good for getting the word out!

  • October 2, 2012 Rin

    Thank you SO much for this! The nightmare that was my daughter’s first pair of earrings made me think tattoo parlor! I’m wondering now if the terrible experience had less to do with the stainless steel than the process & treatment…we though she might need 14k gold, but maybe the titanium would work….she can’t wait to try again=-)

  • June 19, 2013 Sarah

    Thanks for this helpful info. My little girl is 3 and is starting to pay more attention when mommy wears earrings. I had all of my ear piercings done with the good old gun and had to have my bottom two holes redone twice. I have 3 in my right ear and 4 in my left, when I did my cartilage on my left ear the gun got stuck on there for close to 20 minutes and I swore never again.
    When it is time for my daughter to have her ears pierced we are definitely going to go the tattoo parlor/body piercing shop route. I would so much rather her have a good experience than what I had at 18 with the gun stuck on my ear.

  • July 2, 2013 Traci

    Deb (who commented above) sent me the link to this post when I went on Facebook asking for recommendations on where to get my 6-year old’s ears pierced. I didn’t even realize there was an option to the mall and those horrible guns which I still remember from when I was eight!
    I took your advice, and we had a similarly positive experience today! So, thanks!
    Traci recently posted… World’s Largest Crocodile and Crab, Myrtle Beach, SCMy Profile

  • September 4, 2013 Heather

    Thank you so much for this post! As I was googling for information I stumbled across it, thankfully we live in the same area so we visited Tee yesterday! Had a great experience as well! Thanks again!

  • September 27, 2013 Body Jewellery

    Those ear piercings are looking really very pretty on her. She has got really a cute smile and thanks for sharing your experience with us mate!

  • December 14, 2013 Cait

    I always got my ears pierced at the mall- 3 lobe piercings and 2 cartilage piercings! When I turned 22, I got my nose pierced at the tattoo parlour and it didn’t even hurt! I had gotten a few tattoos before I got my nose pierced, but I vowed that if I ever got another piercing it would be at a tattoo parlour! I’m glad your little girl had a good experience!

  • February 10, 2014 Michelle

    I am 39 and want to try piercing again. I have tried 3 times since I was about 8 years old, each time at a mall kiosk, and have never had them heal right. I always let them close because they were not right. Infections, improper healing…now I know why. I am going to do this again, but at a tattoo parlor. I have a tattoo and know what to expect hygiene-wise at these places. No 16 year old who was briefly trained is getting their hands on my ears. I want someone who knows the ins and outs of piercings of all types. Thanks for sharing this. Great job finding a way to give your daughter what she dreamed of in a way that was best for her. She looks so proud of her ears!

    • February 21, 2014 Brittany

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes for sure!

  • February 21, 2014 Bonnie

    We have an appointment tomorrow at our local tattoo parlor to have our 4-year-old little girls ears pierced. We went by this evening and got some information and talked to them about what she wanted. They made her, and us, feel very comfortable about it all and she is so excited. Also, a video of Sophia would be great I think, for other little girls to refer to.


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