Stretching your piercings – Why not acrylic?
Part of our mission with the Association of Professional Piercers is to spread the information necessary to keep you, the client, and your piercings happy and healthy! However, there is a lot of misinformation out there. One of the problems that people run into while stretching is the materials they are using to stretch. Acrylic is commonly seen around retail stores and websites, but there is lots of information out there on why acrylic is not a safe material to use in piercings. In this post, we will try to make it simple.
So why not acrylic? On the surface it would appear to be an ideal material – easily formed, brightly colored and dirt cheap! However, the problems only start on the surface and go from there. Acrylic is a plastic, and like other plastics cannot be heat sterilized due to its tendency to melt. While there are other forms of sterilization (ethylene oxide and gamma ray being some examples), steam / heat sterilization is the only style of device that most studios have access to. While this wouldn’t be a huge issue, as lots of healed piercing jewelry we sell doesn’t go through the autoclave – the issue is that the chemical based wipes we use on our woods and other organic pieces can break down the surface of acrylic.
Basically you’ve now got a piece of jewelry that has been handled by who knows how many people, and you cannot clean it effectively.
We wish that was the long and short of it, but there’s more.
Human skin is slightly acidic and over time the presumed smooth surface of even the best produced acrylic will break down. This creates microscopic pitting in the surface – what a great place for bacteria, dead skin cells and other nasties to hide! Furthermore, this rough surface tends to cause skin to tightly grip the jewelry, prolonging stretching times and setting the stage for further irritation of the tissue. We’ve even seen people turn their piercing literally inside out, simply by removing a piece of acrylic jewelry thats been worn for too long.
How long is too long? In our opinion, acrylic should never be worn long-term but more on a costume jewelry basis. For the above reasons, we do not stock acrylic. Do not fret! Glass usually satisfies all of the requirements for jewelry to be used in initial stretching, its is affordable, and it comes in tons of colors and styles! Manufacturers like Gorilla Glass and Glasswear Studios even produce high quality pieces of wearable art in all the shapes and colors one could dream of. Best of all, glass is highly polished and non-porous, similar to titanium and gold. This is practically the reverse of acrylic – the body pulls away from the jewelry, allowing for smoother stretching, easy insertion and removal, and more comfortable long term wearing.
For funsies – we’ve attached some rad images of glass plugs – to illustrate how creative you can be with this awesome alternative…. As always: For questions about stretching, piercing, what is safe and what isn’t, you are always welcome to contact our studio to speak with a member of our piercing team. 865.951.1486
So, let’s recap:
1)Acrylic is bad for your body.
2)if not acrylic – then what?!?!?? Glass! (or any other safe material for the body such as implant grade titanium) To see what the APP’s list of jewelry standards – check out this link here: http://www.safepiercing.org/publications/brochures/initial-jewelry/