Where do I find the right studio?
How do I go about finding the cleanest and most hygienic piercing studio?
The price is no indication of the quality or level of hygiene provided by a given studio.
Therefore, anyone who thinks that the most expensive studio will guarantee the best service is severely mistaken.
On the other hand, those who avoid the cheapest studios may have a point, even though a low price does not always mean low quality.
Generally, the following guidelines should be taken into consideration when selecting a piercing, tattoo, or permanent make-up studio.
The golden rules when choosing a studio:
- Google a studio which offers piercing, tattoos, or pigmentation; leave out the precise district (e.g. Google piercing studio Vienna)
- The resulting hitlist will show you what is most frequently searched for, but not whether the level of hygiene, etc. is good or not.
- Trust your common sense: Unattractive websites will usually mean unattractive studios. If the website already looks sloppy or off-putting, it is unlikely the studio will be very different.
- Once you’ve found a studio that you like, it will then be a question of looking into its background and credentials in detail. In particular:
- Does the studio have a trading license, and is it displayed online?
- Does it have a hygiene certificate from an accredited Microbiological institution? Does it have an inspection certificate for the autoclave from the current year?
- Are there any additional certification marks from reputable institutions on display, e.g. the HHÖ (Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich – Hepatitis Help Austria)?
- What is the piercer’s reputation—do they have considerable experience, how did they obtain their trading license, what examinations did they undergo?
- Can the piercer provide proof of medical knowledge, e.g. formal training, related occupations, studies, courses, etc.?
- Is the piercer involved in other fields relating to their main occupation, e.g. Chamber of Commerce, WIFI, course administration, collaborations with any related organizations, do they write articles, trade reports, or other publications?
- What do the social media have to say about the studio (Facebook, etc.)?
- Are there pictures of the procedure room, the tools, the work procedure, and materials? (Those who do not show pictures of sterilized utensils may not use them.)
- Are there videos/images of the studio illustrating how the piercers work? (Sterilized gloves are NEVER black—any videos/images depicting piercers with black gloves simply indicate a violation of legal requirements on the part of the studio.)
- Are there videos/reports in the media, newspapers, etc. concerning the studio?
- Are there customer testimonials on the studio’s website which look genuine?
- Then you should actually contact them by phone, or write them an email. The time it takes them to respond will say a lot about the studio, and a failure to respond is a clue in itself.
- When contacting them by phone, don’t hesitate to ask very specific questions, and you will quickly see if you’re getting the appropriate answers. If you get the assistant, ask if you can speak directly with the piercer.
- If you are required to make an appointment, this is generally a good sign. First, it shows that they are in demand, and second, that there is a structure in place and that each customer is being given a certain amount of time and attention.
- When visiting the studio, keep in mind that the actual location and its outward appearance are not necessarily a reflection of a good studio. Whether it is large or small, it should be clean above all. That may sound like a motto, but it couldn’t be truer. If you should ask to see the procedure room, and they have nothing to hide, then there’s no reason they won’t show it to you (unless of course they’re performing a procedure at that very instant). If they tell you that the room is sterilized to such an extent that nobody is allowed in, then you have every right to be suspicious.
- You should ask them to show you their credentials and certificates. The hygiene certificate in particular should be up-to-date. Also check the trading license to see if the name displayed on it is that of the piercer working there. You might, for example, see the name of a woman on the license, but see a man piercing, or according to the license the piercer is 50 years old, and you see a twenty-something standing before you. In these cases you should voice your concerns.
- How does the piercer look? Well-groomed or unkempt? Is his/her clothing clean or dirty? By the way, if the piercer has numerous piercings or tattoos, this says nothing about their ability, since they are unlikely to have performed them on themselves.
- You should ask questions regarding hygiene and related dangers/risks, and expect a detailed answer. “Don’t worry” is not an acceptable answer. The studio should also be inquiring about the age of the customer or about any particular illnesses, which could be a deal-breaker even before the procedure is considered.
- A quick look into the corners and the floor of the studio will give you an idea of how clean it is. If you see cobwebs, that will tell you a lot.
Asking a broad range of questions will help you tell a good studio from a poor one. Of course you might catch a good studio on a bad day, but if it’s worth its salt then it will take the time to address your concerns or at least ask you to make an appointment.
If your first impression is not a good one, or you are not encouraged by the sight of the piercer, you should not hesitate to select a different studio.
Unfortunately, the price says nothing about the quality of a studio.
The Chamber of Commerce has a list of all registered studios, which makes it easier to weed out the less trustworthy ones from the very beginning. Independent bodies like the Verein für Konsumenten (VKI) (Consumer’s Association) conducts regular inspections; here too, additional research can’t hurt. The ultimate decision, however, is up to you.