Understanding Who Can Legally Consent to Body Piercings
Getting your first body piercing can be an exciting rite of passage. However, because body piercings involve puncturing the skin and inserting jewelry, there are important laws regarding consent that must be followed.
As a minor, you’ll need an adult present to give permission and sign consent forms at a professional piercing shop. Here’s what to know about the legal requirements around body piercings for minors.
Age of Consent Laws for Body Piercings
The age at which a minor can legally consent to getting a body piercing varies by state. In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to get a piercing without parental consent. Some states allow piercings at younger ages with parental permission. For example:
- Alaska: 14 years old with parental consent
- Arizona: Parental consent required under 18
- Arkansas: Parental consent under 18
- California: Parental consent under 18
- Colorado: Parental consent under 18
Some states have additional requirements beyond just age and parental consent. For example, minors in Wisconsin must have parental permission verified in-person at the piercing studio.
Who Can Provide Consent?
For a minor to get a piercing, written consent must be provided by a legal guardian. This is usually a parent. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, etc. cannot provide legal consent.
The parent or legal guardian must come to the piercing studio in-person and show valid photo ID to confirm their identity and relationship to the minor. They’ll also need to sign the consent forms at the studio. Email or verbal consent over the phone is not enough.
Are There Exceptions?
Most states make no exception to age of consent laws for body piercings, even for emancipated minors. However, a few states like New York allow emancipated minors to provide their own consent without a parent.
Emancipated minors have legally become adults in the eyes of the law after going through the emancipation process. This involves proving financial independence and the ability to live apart from parents.
Can My Grandma Claim to Be My Parent?
No, your grandma cannot legally give consent by claiming to be your parent. Piercing studios must verify valid photo ID and proof of guardianship. Claiming to be the minor’s parent when she is not would be identity fraud.
Some piercers may not scrutinize ID as closely as they should. However, a professional, licensed piercer will not take the legal and ethical risks of allowing a grandparent or other relative to improperly give consent.
Finding a Reputable Piercing Studio
Getting pierced at a disreputable place greatly raises your risk of infection and injury. Follow these tips to find a piercing studio you can trust:
Check Licenses and Regulations
A licensed piercing studio with proper permits from your state health department is essential. Licensure proves they adhere to strict regulations on sanitation, training, age verification, consent forms, and more.
Ask to see the studio’s current health inspection certificate too. This will tell you they recently passed a health inspection.
Look for Memberships
Studios that pay for membership in professional organizations show extra dedication to quality standards. The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) has strict criteria its members must meet.
Visit In Person
Once you’ve narrowed down some licensed, reputable piercing shops, go to check them out in person before booking an appointment. You want to inspect the cleanliness and professionalism first.
Look for strict sanitation procedures, single-use needles, sterilized instruments properly stored, and a good bedside manner. Never get pierced in an unclean environment or by a rude or impatient piercer.
Ask Friends for Recommendations
People you know who have gotten pierced can tell you about their own positive or negative experiences at certain studios. While recommendations aren’t everything, they can give you a good starting point.
Getting Parental Consent
At a professional studio, you can expect a standard process for getting parental consent before piercings on minors:
The parent or legal guardian must review and sign a consent form provided by the studio. This confirms their understanding of the procedure, risks, and aftercare.
Staff will check the adult’s valid photo ID to confirm they are the minor’s documented parent or guardian.
A photocopy, fax, or emailed signature is not acceptable. The parent must be physically present to sign the consent form in the studio.
The piercer will also verbally confirm with both minor and parent that consent is fully understood. They’ll go over risks, aftercare instructions, and more.
Following proper age, ID, and consent protocols at a professional piercing studio keeps everything legal and above-board. Attempting to sneak a piercing without the documented consent of a verified parent has serious risks for both the minor and the piercing studio. Instead, be patient and get the piercing done properly and legally.
Caring for New Piercings
Once you get your piercing, following your piercer’s aftercare instructions is vital. Here are some essential aftercare tips:
Use the cleaning solution recommended by your piercer – usually a saline spray or antimicrobial soap. Gently clean the piercing 2-3 times per day.
Hands can transmit bacteria. Avoid touching or handling new piercings until fully healed.
Don’t Change Jewelry
Leave the initial piercing jewelry in place for the entire healing period. Changing it too soon can re-injure the piercing.
Watch for Signs of Infection
Redness, swelling, oozing, and fever can indicate infection. See your piercer or doctor right away if these last more than a few days.
With proper aftercare and cleaning, your new piercing should heal well. Be sure to follow your piercer’s advice and return if you have any concerns.
Getting your first body piercing can be exciting, but don’t cut corners. Follow your state’s age of consent laws by having a verified parent or guardian give written consent in-person at a professional studio. Take time to identify a piercing shop you trust. Once pierced, carefully follow aftercare instructions. With patience and care, you’ll enjoy the experience and end up with a trendy new piercing you love.