what you need to know before getting your next ear piercing

From placement to aftercare, the jeweller and piercing expert shares her seven pro tips.

If you thought that any excitement around getting your ears pierced peaked when you took a trip to Claire’s Accessories, as a pre-pubescent child, you obviously haven’t yet heard of Maria Tash. Hailing from New York, she doesn’t just know absolutely everything there is to know about piercing, she has also made it into a fine art. If you’ve ever seen a #Curatedear on Instagram – one of those pictures of someone’s ear decorated in pretty studs and hoop earrings – chances are you’re looking at the handiwork of Maria Tash. There’s been a Maria Tash studio in Liberty for a while, and she’s just opened another in Harrods, where you can get a piercing and peruse the lovely jewellery on offer, too. As the woman herself was in London to celebrate the opening of her Harrods space, The Pool grilled her for everything you’ll ever need to know before you get your next piercing.


“There’s a lot of unregulated piercing going on, so if you’re shopping around for a piercer, there’s some things to look out for. One is that the professional piercing world shuns piercing guns – almost everyone now pierces with sterile disposable needles. It sounds scary, but it’s the best, most hygienic way to do it. If they’re using a gun, it’s a very old-school way of doing it that involves thicker jewellery and results in a harsher piercing. Your piercer should also be using multiple pairs of gloves and the area around you should look very clean. You should ask to see their method of sterilisation if you’re unsure or worried. If anyone makes you feel bad for asking questions about sterility, you shouldn’t be seeing them.”


Many people do not think this at the time or they’re not offered enough of a choice by their piercer but it’s really important to carefully consider the colour of the jewellery you get when getting pierced. Whether that’s silver, white gold, rose gold or plain gold, it’s jewellery you’ll be wearing consistently and indefinitely – at least, especially while it heals and you can’t take it out for a few weeks. So, choose something that’s compatible with your own personal aesthetic – are you a minimalist, for example? Or is your style more bohemian? Also, think about your skin tone and what you feel will work best for you.”


“When you get pierced, you keep that piece of jewellery in for a long time. You therefore don’t want it to be too loose or too tight. People often don’t realise that, when you get pierced with a stud, you can actually choose how long the stud is. A longer stud makes cleaning easier and minimises the risk of swelling. If you’re opting for a hoop, you don’t want the ring diameter to be too big because then it’s difficult to sleep in, it flops around and that can stall your healing period.”


“At Maria Tash, we have a very specific way of piercing to do with placement. We care not just about the dot on your ear to indicate where it will be but also the direction of the tunnel. This is basically the angle at which it goes through your ear. You want jewellery to be flattering, so we design it that every piercing is forward facing. That way, it’s most flattering to the most important person, which is you. So, when you get pierced, make sure you talk about placement and that you’re happy with the angle of your jewellery. This should be discussed before you sign up for your piercing so you know exactly what you’re going to get.”


“Some parts of healing seem really basic and common sense but can make a big difference. For example, don’t touch a piercing with dirty hands – this sounds obvious but if you’re using your phone or a laptop, they can be breeding grounds for bacteria. You don’t want to then touch your fresh, healing piercing and transfer bacteria. Use hand sanitiser and just be aware. Another good tip is that you want to have clean bedding, sheets and towels. Basically, all the things that can touch your piercing and can affect how it heals.”


“Cleaning a piercing is very simple – just make it part of your normal routine and try to do it twice a day. Use sterile saline solution to flush out any dirt that’s on your piercing. You don’t need to turn or shift the piercing – that’s old mythology that had to do with piercing guns. So, just clean twice a day and avoid touching it with your hands. When you’re cleaning the piercing, you can use dense sterile gauze or a cotton ball or cotton bud soaked in the sterile solution. You can even find sterile saline wipes in some chemists. Just avoid using anything that is clean but not sterile, like tissues or cloths.”


“It’s very rare to get an infection but if you’re ever concerned, you should never feel afraid to meet with your piercer and ask. Redness is common, with the most common cause being irritation from products. This is why saline solution is ideal for cleaning. Anything with alcohol or things like witch hazel can be too strong, and irritate the piercing. If something is red and swollen, though, you should get it checked out. Feel free to ask your piercer if something looks normal and if there’s any sort of puss or it’s very sore to touch, maybe make an appointment to see your GP.”


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