I really like piercings. They’re more intriguing to me than tattoos, because you can always change the jewelry or take them out if you get tired of them. I have my ear lobes pierced and got a navel piercing in college, but have been afraid to get more ear piercings because I don’t like not knowing how much pain I might be in. In the fall of 2019, I was considering getting an industrial bar, but I procrastinated. Once the pandemic hit, the shop I wanted to go to closed. They only just reopened a few weeks ago, and I’m thanking my lucky stars they didn’t have to close for good. I booked a piercing appointment the same day I saw the reopening announcement.
Before my appointment, I read the piercer’s website through multiple times and perused the Association of Professional Piercers website. I also went looking for stories of other people’s experiences, which was both a good idea and a bad one. But I like to know what to expect before I do something new. Reading others’ stories made me nervous, and I started noticing how much I touch my ear in daily life ahead of my appointment. Industrial piercings seem to be one where you have either a great experience or a terrible one. I thought about cancelling, but I knew I would be disappointed with myself if I did. Instead I made a backup plan to get a single helix piercing if the idea of an industrial bar freaked me out too much. I was mainly afraid of not being able to handle the pain of two piercings since an industrial is supposed to be one of the more painful ones.
On the piercer’s website, they recommended making sure to eat before the appointment, and also avoiding alcohol and other blood thinners, including pain meds. I got brunch before my appointment with a friend. I also made sure to wear contacts and put my hair up so nothing would be sitting against my ear.
Getting the Piercing
After I signed the paperwork, met the piercer (whose name is Kelly), and picked out jewelry, the actual piercing was quick. She cleaned my ear and marked it up with dots where the piercings would be as well as a dotted line to show where the barbell would go. I looked at the lines in the mirror to make sure I liked the placement, then she had me lay down for easier access.
This particular studio is a “fully disposable” studio, meaning that the tools they use on you are brand-new and disposed of after the piercing. They also have an autoclave they use to sterilize the tools immediately beforehand. Part of the intake process involves initialing a little test strip, which they put into the autoclave and show you the reading to prove that your tools will be sterile.
Once the tools were sterilized, it was piercing time. I really liked how Kelly guided me through the process. She told me would do the top piercing first, and narrated a couple of deep breaths, piercing on an exhale. The top piercing didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would. She gave me a second to catch my breath if I needed, which I really didn’t because I just wanted to get it over with. The process was the same for the second piercing, which was quite a bit more painful than the first one. But it was over in a second. Putting the jewelry in was uncomfortable, but not nearly as bad as the piercing and that was also quick. I didn’t feel queasy or lightheaded or anything, so I hopped up to look at it immediately. It looked fantastic, and that was it!
I wanted to be sure and include a cost breakdown for this, because I’m a fan of being more transparent about money. In total, I paid about $220 for this. The piercing fee was $70, and the jewelry I chose was about $120. I also added an 8 oz. bottle of the sterile saline spray for $10, and tipped 10%. I’m honestly not sure how this pricing compares to other studios, but if this is expensive, it was definitely worth it for the care they take with the piercing process and high-quality jewelry. Plus, this is a local small business who takes EXCELLENT covid precautions and I am always down for paying for both of those things.
As I’m writing this, I’ve only had the piercing for a couple days. I went home with a bottle of sterile saline spray, which I’ll use about 3 times a day. Other than that, caring for the piercing means not touching it for awhile and letting my body heal – no twisting, no pushing the barbell back and forth, no soaking my ear in anything. Kelly also recommended getting a travel neck pillow for sleeping on that side, which I did. I’ve also been braiding my hair back on that side at night to keep it from tangling in my jewelry. And now it’s just a waiting game! Cartilage piercings tend to take 4-6 months to heal, and I’ll go back to the studio in 4 weeks for a check-in.
So far, I’ve hardly had any swelling, which I’m thankful for. My ear was pretty sore for the first couple days, and currently it will throb for a minute or two at times, but it’s mostly pain-free at this point. I’ve noticed it mostly hurts when the weight of my hair sits on it for more than a few minutes. Since I’ve been keeping my hair at least half up and wearing contacts, it hasn’t been bad. I plan to do that for 2-3 weeks and then see about going back to glasses and wearing my hair down after that. For mask wearing, I switched to clipping ear loops together behind my head with a barrette. I also plan to update the healing process here and will link to updates on this post. (I found one other blogger who documented an industrial bar healing over a few months, and it was really helpful to read, even though her experience was kind of terrifying.)
I’m very glad I didn’t chicken out and cancel my appointment. I LOVE how my industrial bar looks. If this heals well, I plan to get 3 helix piercings on the opposite ear that I can wear small hoops in. I also really like small nostril piercings. But that’s a plan for later.