Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Child’s Ears Pierced at the Mall

There's almost too much information out there about piercing your child's ears. If you can avoid one thing, though, avoid getting them pierced with a gun, which is most commonly used at stores in the mall.

"I don't want to be an advocate for or against taking someone to the mall, because piercing guns have been piercing people for a long time," says Brian Keith Thompson, owner and chief piercing officer of Body Electric Tattoo in Los Angeles. "I don't prefer (the mall) because I had it done with my first piercing, and it didn't go well for me. They got infected because I have sensitive skin."

Brian, who has been piercing for 10 years and works on celebrities like Beyoncé and Bella Thorne, explains that guns don't actually pierce the skin, so there's a chance you could experience an unpleasant healing process.

"The stud gets placed into the gun and the gun uses blunt force to get it through the ear. It punctures it, not pierces it," says Brian. "The needle is made to pierce the skin. It heals faster. You can sterilize it." With a gun, however, you can't actually sterilize it. "You can sanitize it, wipe it down with MadaCide, but you can't sterilize it. It's made out of plastic. To properly sanitize something, you need heat and steam," Brian says.

Brian, who has pierced children as young as 3 weeks old, takes the responsibility of piercing a child very seriously. "A parent bringing you their child, there's no greater compliment. And it's not just about giving them a great piercing, it's about giving them an experience. Sometimes I have families, like mine, where the mom and dad are divorced, and they're both there."

When piercing a small child, especially an infant, expect the appointment to take longer than normal. "The longest part of piercing an infant is marking. Thank God I was a marine and can hit a moving target. Babies don't want to keep their head still," says Brian.

The important thing is not to force your child into a piercing. "Some babies, once they start crying and they get really hysterical, I turn them away. It's not always the right time," says Brian.

After you get your child pierced, upkeep is simple. Brian suggests using soap and water, preferably the mild baby soap from Dr. Bronner's. And when looking for a kid-friendly studio like Brian's in Los Angeles, do your homework by calling and asking. "Go to Yelp, read reviews, and check websites out. If they have positive reviews, then call," Brian says. "Not all places will do it. Some states have different regulations. It's not bad that they don't want to do it, but some people don't want to work with kids. So call and ask."