We get a lot of questions asking, ‘how do I know this piercing place is good?’ ‘how do I know I can trust them?’ and so on and so forth. The reality is that it can be a tricky process to find your soul mate studio.

There are two ways of going about this. The relatively easy one for those in the US, and the one that a lot more people have to work though.

Method number one: The APP method. The APP stands for Association of Professional Piercers, we talk about them a lot, well, because they’re gosh darn awesome! Now, not only is their website a bountiful treasure chest of interest and information, but they also have a handy shop finder. What’s so good about an APP shop, you ask? Well, all members have to go through a rigorous testing process to ensure they meet the APP’s high standards, be totally compliant with local governing laws, and practice safely. So, by using the APP’s local shop finder, you can find an excellent and well trusted modification shop.

Head to http://www.safepiercing.org/locate-a-member/ and enter your ZIP or postal code, and the local shops to you will pop up!

Now, the main issue for me is that there’s not one single APP registered studio in the UK. There’s basically very very few anywhere outside of the US. So where does this leave us? Or those who can’t travel 100~ miles to the closest APP shop?

I thought I’d come up with a checklist to help us find a good, reputable shop for all our piercing and jewellery needs.

Piercer, Pricing, Portfolio, Pressure, Shop and Sense.

These six things should hopefully cover everything you need to see, know and feel about a shop before committing yourself to get a piercing there. Let’s start off.

Piercer: Go in and meet the piercer. Do they have a friendly yet professional demeanour? Are they dressed appropriately? This means non-restrictive clothing with no silly frills and such that would get in the way. Does the piercer seem comfortable with any question you throw at him/her? Are they knowledgeable? Don’t be afraid to ask about aftercare and their preferred piercing methods. Is the piercer fully licensed to practice with the relevant certificates displayed? Do they look at home and are they respected by other staff members? Are they confident? If you can answer yes to all of these, then the piercer is probably a good person.

Pricing: Is the pricing reasonable? How do they price? A one-off all inclusive price or a price for the basic piercing and then add on for jewellery? Is the price really cheap, so cheap they probably aren’t making a profit? Are you comfortable paying what they’re asking? Pricing is important when running a shop. Too cheap, and that can set off alarm bells, and if it’s totally out of your price range, ask if they pierce with basic titanium jewellery.

Portfolio: There should be a diverse mix of piercings, from all over the body, displayed neatly in a book or on the walls. They should show a full range of healing, fresh and fully healed piercings. If they want to display 18+ piercings, are they in a separate book? If you’re unsure or worried about a portfolio piece, ask the piercer. Why did they decide to use this jewellery instead of another kind? If you see any huge red lights (like straight piercings in a surface bar), ask them about it. If they make up some form of rubbishy excuse, that’s probably the time to leave.

Pressure: Do you feel under pressure from the people in the shop to get something done then and there, did they pester you to buy something? Were they friendly? Ask yourself if you felt comfortable in the shop.

Shop: This one’s really quite important. What does the shop look like? Is it neat and tidy? Merchandise kept behind glass casing? If there’s any clothing or other merchandise, is it well organised? Is the shop floor totally clean? Fire exits marked clearly? No rubbish lying about? Hygiene and local licenses displayed? Does the shop have an autoclave? Ultra sonic cleaner? Do they use one use needles? Brand new jewellery? Autoclaveable clamps? Are the staff friendly? Once again, is everything clean, neat, tidy and well turned out? Basically, you need to ask yourself: Is this shop spotless? Spotless with everything, ethics, staff turnout, the floor, jewellery organisation and everything. Are you happy with how everything is? Make sure you are!

Sense: This is basically the most important one here. Your common sense and judgement. Even if everything ticks all the boxes and you still don’t feel right about it, then trust your instincts. If someone felt a little off, something didn’t feel great, then trust what your heart says.

Sometimes it takes a while to find a shop you’re happy with. Sometimes the right shop for you will be the wrong shop for someone else. I hope this guide will hopefully help someone else in the future!

Shepherd of Fire . | via Tumblr