Congratulations on finishing your piercing apprenticeship! You now have two options for getting started as a professional piercer: You can open your own shop or find a licensed tattoo and piercing shop that's looking for a piercer. Either way, you need to make sure you have a few things before you can actually start piercing--primarily, a piercing license (required only in some states), your bloodborne pathogens certification, any other certifications your state requires (ex. first aid), piercing supplies, and body jewelry.
You can read more about licenses and certifications, how to find out which ones your state requires, and OSHA requirements in the "Piercing Legalities" section of our Piercing Safely article. The purpose of this article is to guide you on the bare-bones supplies you'll need to get started as a professional piercer. If you're planning on opening your own shop, jump over to our Essential Supplies for Starting a Piercing Shop article.
Building Your Piercing Supplies Toolkit
If you go to work in someone else's tattoo and piercing shop, they'll probably expect you to purchase your own tools. The shop may cover the cost of piercing needles and body jewelry, but even if they do, they'll likely look to you for guidance on what to order. It'll be your job to ensure that you have the basics needed to handle standard piercing requests--piercings like belly button, eyebrow, tongue, lip, nose, and ear piercings. What should you order? Let's start with the foundation of every piercer's toolkit: piercing tools.
At a minimum, you'll need the following piercing tools to do basic piercings:
- 6" Standard Pennington Forceps (SKU: PT-009)
- 6" Mini Pennington Forceps (SKU: PT-011)
- 6.5" Standard Forester (Sponge) Forceps (SKU: PT-013)
- The True Septum Forceps - Style #1 (SKU: PT-016)
- Dermal Anchor Forceps Tool With Notched Tip, Designed by Jason Coale (SKU: PT-089)
- 5" Mosquito Forceps Straight Hemostats (SKU: PT-033)
- Steel Piercing Needle Receiving Tubes (SKU: PT-022) - Pick up a few of these in each of the following sizes:
- 3mm ~ 8g (SKU: PT-022-1880777965) accepts needles up to 14 gauge in size.
- 6mm ~ 2g (PT-022-3637355456) accepts needles up to 6 gauge in size.
- Handy 7" Ring Opening/Closing Pliers or Needle Holder - Multi-Use Tool (SKU: PT-057)
- 13 Piece Insertion Taper Set 18g-00g Body Piercing Tapers - Calor Style (SKU: PT-020-Calor)
- Plastic Wheel Gauge - Perfect for Measuring Body Jewelry (SKU: PT-024P-2127657112) - Choose from 4 colors: Black, red, dark blue, and light blue.
- Miltex Biopsy Dermal Punch Sterilized Disposable Punches for Dermal Anchors (SKU: MED-033) - These punches are available in multiple sizes. If you can only get them in one size initially, get the 1.5mm one for doing 14g dermal piercings. Alternatively, you can buy a dermal anchor kit that includes discs, punches and more to do 14g dermal piercings.
Medical Supplies & Disposables
In addition to piercing tools, you'll also need things like anti-microbial soap for skin prep and gloves. Here's a full list of the basic medical supplies and disposables you'll need to start piercing:
- Black Dragon Medical Latex Gloves for Piercing & Tattoo Artists (SKU: GLOV-003) - These gloves are available in multiple sizes. If you're not sure what size will work best for you, choose the medium ones.
- Microsan RX SOAP 8oz - Surgical Scrub - 1 8oz Pump Bottle (SKU: MED-202)
- 200 Sterilization Self Seal Autoclave Pouches 2-1/4"x2-3/4" / 57mm x 70mm (SKU: MED-103)
- 200 Sterilization Autoclave Pouches 3-1/2"x10" / 90mm x 230mm (SKU: MED-107)
- Case of 200 13" x 18" Blue Precision Dental Bibs (SKU: MED-112) - Use these as lap or table cloths. They're ideal for laying the foundation for your sterile field before each piercing you do.
- 15ml (1/2 oz.) Bottle of Gentian Violet (SKU: MED-060) - Use a toothpick dipped in Gentian Violet to mark clients' skin in preparation for piercing.
- Big Bag of 1440 Tooth Picks (SKU: MED-059-big-bag) - Dipping disposable toothpicks in Gentian Violet to mark clients' skin is a money saver compared to piercing markers.
- Sleeve of 50 3oz Plastic Rinse Cups (SKU: MED-035) - Use these multipurpose cups to give clients oral rinse before doing tongue piercings, to soak tools before putting them in an ultrasonic cleaner, and more. You can also purchase cases of rinse cups.
- Box of 200 3"x3" Precision Gauze Pads (SKU: MED-030)
- 1/4lb Bag of Black Size #12 Rubber Bands (SKU: TAT-423) - These latex-free rubber bands serve a variety of purposes. Use them with forceps and more.
The next item on your list is one of the most critical things to have on hand as a professional piercer: piercing needles. There are so many gauges and styles available; how do you know which ones are absolutely essential? Here's your cheat sheet for stocking the piercing needles you'll need most:
- 100 - 12g Sterilized 2" Body Piercing Needles (SKU: PT-118-BOX-12g48mm)
- 100 - 14g Sterilized 2" Body Piercing Needles (SKU: PT-113-BOX-14g48mm)
- 100 - 16g Sterilized 2" Body Piercing Needles (SKU: PT-108-BOX-16g48mm)
- 100 - 18g Sterilized 2" Wholesale Body Piercing Needles (SKU: PT-103-BOX-18g48mm)
Basic Body Jewelry
The final thing on your starter piercing supplies list is body jewelry. Here are the styles, sizes and quantities of basic body jewelry you should stock initially:
- 18g Stainless Steel Captive Bead Rings (SKU: UR323) - We suggest buying 20 with an 8mm ~ 5/16" diameter and 20 with a 10mm ~ 3/8" diameter, both with 3mm balls.
- 16g Annealed Steel Captive Bead Rings (SKU: UR340-annealed) - Buy 20 each of the following sizes:
- 10mm ~ 3/8" with 4mm balls
- 11mm ~ 7/16" with 4mm balls
- 14g Annealed Steel Captive Bead Rings (SKU: UR341-annealed) - You'll use these a lot, so pick up 20 each of these rings with the following diameters and ball sizes:
- 10mm ~ 3/8" with 4mm ball
- 13mm ~ 1/2" with 5mm ball
- 16mm ~ 5/8" with 5mm ball
- 16g Internally-Threaded Stainless Steel Bent Barbells (SKU: MN1409) - You'll need 10 of these that are 10mm ~ 3/8" long and have 3mm ~ 1/8" balls.
- 14g Internally-Threaded Stainless Steel Bent Barbells (SKU: MN1165) - Get 10 of these that are 11mm ~ 7/16" long and that have a 4mm ~ 5/32" ball size.
- 12g Internally-Threaded Stainless Steel Bent Barbells (SKU: MN1415) - Pick up 5 of these with a 16mm ~ 5/8" length and 6mm ~ 1/4" balls.
- 16g Internally-Threaded Steel Circular Barbells (SKU: UR286) - Buy 10 of these with a 11mm ~ 7/16" diameter and 3mm ~ 1/8" balls.
- 2mm Swarovski Crystal Top for 16g & 18g Internally-Threaded Jewelry (SKU: derm217) - Get 10 of these in the "Crystal" color option.
- 18g-16g Internally Threaded Replacement Steel Jeweled Balls (SKU: derm085) - You should get 10 each of the following sizes in the "Crystal" option, for clients who want to upgrade from a plain steel ball, as starter jewelry for nostril piercings, and so on:
- 14g Internally-Threaded Swarovski Crystal Dermal Tops (SKU: derm002) - Pick up 10 each of the 3.4mm ones and the 4.4mm ones.
- 14g Titanium Dermal Piercing Anchors With 2.0mm or 2.5mm Rise & Double-Hole Bases (SKU: derm016) - Get 10 of these with a 2.5mm rise and 10 with a 2mm rise.
- 14g Internally-Threaded Jeweled Labret Studs (SKU: JL101) - Buy 5 of these in size 1.6mm ~ 14g that are 10mm ~ 3/8" long and that have 4mm crystal balls.
- 16g Internally-Threaded Steel Labret Studs With UFO Rounded Disc Backs (SKU: JL120) - You'll need at least 10 of these that are 10mm ~ 3/8" long and that have 3mm ~ 1/8" balls.
- 18g Internally-Threaded Steel Labret Post - Version 2 (SKU: JL107) - Get 5 of these with a 6mm ~ 1/4" length and 10 with a 9mm length.
- 14g Internal Straight Steel Barbells (SKU: UB317-14G-internal) - You'll need these in a few different lengths, so you have the right sizes to do a variety of piercings, like nipple piercings, tongue piercings, frenum piercings, and so on. Get 5 that are 10mm ~ 3/8" long and have 4mm ~ 5/32" balls, and get 10 each of the following sizes:
- 13mm ~ 1/2" long with 4mm ~ 5/32" balls
- 16mm ~ 5/8" long with 5mm ~ 3/16" balls
- 19mm ~ 3/4" long with 5mm ~ 3/16" balls
As you can see, getting started as a professional piercer means making an investment. As long as you're properly stocked, though, you'll reap the rewards tenfold.
Special Tools & Unique Body Jewelry
Even if you stock up on all the piercing supplies outlined above, there will still be times when you don't have exactly the right size jewelry to do a piercing in a particular size or a special tool needed to do an unique piercing. There will also be times when a customer wants a unique piece of body jewelry as their starter jewelry. When those times come, tell your prospective client what you're ordering just for them, set a date in a week or two to do their piercing, and then order what you need from us. Just add a note to the "Customer Comments" field in checkout stating that you need the items you're ordering by a certain date, and we'll get them to you in time. We can even overnight your order to you, if you have a client who's in a hurry to get their new piercing.
Ways to Save on Piercing Supplies
Keeping a healthy supply of body jewelry and other piercing supplies can be expensive, even when you find great deals. We understand that and strive to make it as affordable as possible for you to always have everything you need to practice your craft. We offer a variety of ways for you to save on the supplies you use most:
- Look in the light gray box containing the "Add to Cart" button on any product detail page to see if we offer bulk price breaks on that item. This is a great way to save on products you use frequently, like our 14g Internal Straight Steel Barbells, which are half off when you buy 100 at a time. (Note that these price breaks only apply when you're buying a single size, style or color in bulk.)
- When you're placing an order of $100 or more, shop in our Wholesale Store to take advantage of reduced pricing offered only to industry professionals. If you're spending $500 or more, shop in our Distributor Store, where you'll find our absolute lowest prices.
- Sign up for our weekly emails to have coupons and other special offers delivered right to your inbox. Just go to your store of choice (Retail | Wholesale | Distributor), scroll to the bottom of the page, and enter your email address in the sign-up box in the bottom-right corner. Alternatively, you can also visit the Events section of our site to see our current offers.
- Check out our Sales & Deals section to see all the products we've marked down promotionally and the ones that are priced really low to move and make room for new inventory. You'll find body jewelry galore in this section, like the nose rings to the right that have been marked down an extra 10%. Occasionally, you'll also find discounted piercing supplies, too, like the 15%-off tray table to the right, which is perfect for setting up a sterile field before doing a piercing. We also have select piercing needles, needle and jewelry kits, discounted piercing tool kits, and more in our Sales & Deals section--even cases of Wavicide.
Simplify the Shopping Process
We know it can be time-consuming to build an initial order like the one outlined above, so we've added two options to make it easier for you to get everything you need:
- You can click on any product name above to go right to the corresponding product detail page, where you can add the item to cart. The link will open in a new browser tab or window, so this page will always still be easily accessible for reference if you need to look back to see what sizes, colors, etc., to buy.
- We've also prepared a shopping list that you can fill in using Microsoft Excel and/or print out and reference while you shop for body jewelry and piercing supplies.
Happy shopping and piercing!