The Parlor: Check your local Yellow Pages for places that specialize in piercing, or asked satisfied pierced friends and coworkers where they went to get the job done. Even stopping strangers on the street is acceptable, as most pierced people are proud of their addition. Avoid getting your piercings done in malls, flea markets, or clubs. It's no fun to be the victim of a piercing horror story - although it might make you popular at parties.

Piercing Artist: Unfortunately, piercers are not usually required to have licenses. Therefore, it's really important to talk to them to get a sense of whether or not they fall within your comfort zone. Find out how long the piercer has been "practicing," and ask to look at pictures of his or her work. Chat up people working at the parlor, and grill customers who've just gotten something done. You should also check out The Association of Professional Piercers, which will provide you with referrals (including piercing-friendly MDs), as well as a state-by-state list of piercing regulations.

The Waiver: In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to get a piercing (unless we're talkin' earlobes). Besides proving your age with a non-fake ID, you must also sign a waiver that basically says the establishment is not responsible should anything bad happen to you. If you're not asked to sign a waiver of any sort, think of it as a major red flag.

Safety and hygiene

  • New needles: This is a must, especially in today's disease-ridden society. Needles must be completely new, with the packages opened in front of your eyes. Never settle for used needles, even if the piercer insists they've been sterilized.
  • Gloves: Latex gloves are key. There is always the possibility of blood emerging from the skin, so make sure the piercer is wearing a barrier to protect him/her from a soon-to-be-open wound.
  • New jewelry: Clean, brand new jewelry is also vital to the procedure. Make sure that the hoops, rods, loops, or whatever random metal beauty you're putting in your body is brand new. You should see the piercer take the jewelry out of an airtight, individually wrapped, sealed plastic bag immediately before the "procedure" begins.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW get an unusual piercing?