The scene in The Parent Trap in which Hallie uses an ice cube, a piece of fruit, and a needle to pierce Annie's ears will forever be burnt into my mind. Not just because it traumatized me when I first saw it in the early 2000s, but because years later in high school, many of my friends would go on to use the same DIY method at sleepovers. I remember sitting there thinking, This cannot be safe or sanitary — and spoiler: it isn't.
There are more than a few beauty treatments that can be safely performed at home, like manicures, pedicures, self-tanning, and even the occasional hair trim and root touch-up. Piercings, on the other hand, are number one on the list of things you should not do yourself. But with different states and countries moving in and out of stay-at-home orders for a majority of 2020 and now 2021, searches for things like "is it safe to pierce your own ears?" and "how to pierce ears at home" have spiked 400 percent in the last 12 months in the United States and 500 percent in the United Kingdom.
"Trying to pierce yourself at home, without proper equipment and health and safety measures, is extremely dangerous," said Daena Borrowman from Jewellerybox in the UK. "I understand that many people are opting for DIY beauty methods, but many would consider DIY piercings as one step too far."
"I understand that many people are opting for DIY beauty methods, but many would consider DIY piercings as one step too far."
There are a few risks that you can expose yourself to if you attempt to pierce your ears at home, with infection being the worst-case scenario. "If you're not careful you can shatter cartilage on impact, which could leave you with irreversible lumps and increased chance of jewelry rejection," Borrowman said. That bump is called a keloid, which is made of fibrous tissue and is hard to get rid of. "Not only this, but your piercing can end up uneven," she added.
No matter if it's your ears, belly button, or septum, you should always see a professional piercer to avoid infection, injury, and mistakes. After all, it's not like you're experimenting with makeup that can be taken off at the end of the day or hair that will grow back soon — a piercing is a semipermanent hole in your body.
"It is always better to go to an experienced and qualified piercer to get the safest and best experience overall," Borrowman said. If you're going to do it anyway, make sure at the very least you have the right tools. "To be safe, you would at least need sterilizing equipment and liquids, the professional needles, the right type of jewelry, and gloves." And leave the fruit slices in the kitchen.