Ear-Redux: Piercings at Toronto's Exotix Studios
When I was 16 years old, I rashly decided to pierce my second holes in my ear lobes. I went to a cheap place in the mall and let them punch some holes in my ears using the dreaded piercing gun. I was quite satisfied, until they started getting infected-ALL THE TIME! Eventually, after being tired of constantly being in discomfort, I removed the little studs. Though, I would periodically miss them and re-pierce my ears. You read that right: RE-PIERCE them myself. I would perforate the flesh, over and over again. This naturally led to further discomfort. Earlier this year, I had absolutely enough and removed them "for good". However, as I am a low-key piercing aficionado, I couldn't stay away from those sexy studs.
It all started when I was discussing my favourite personal looks with a friend of mine. For roughly a year, I would wear the second studs with bright, blocky earrings in the first hole. As I reminisced about the "good-and-not-infected times”, they suggested I go to a professional piercer and get them redone. Because I am known for my last minute, spontaneous adventures, I immediately agreed. We decided that I would avoid malls and go to an actual parlour. Toronto has a wide array of tattoo and piercing places, but they can vary widely in terms of quality, atmosphere, and price. Generally, you get what you pay for. If you get a $25 piercing job, the quality of the jewelry will most likely be poor, with shoddy craftsmanship. This can easily impact your skin with nasties such as scarring or infection. On the other hand, it’s easy to get ripped off with painfully high prices. It is so important to research the parlour, especially in regards to their portfolio, prices, and general vibe of both the environment and the staff.
I was recommended to try Exotix Studios, just off the corner of Queen and Spadina. The aforementioned friend had gotten all of their piercings done there: tragus, double-helix, and septum. The very next day I mustered up the courage and had a walk-in appointment within the hour. My piercer, Jessie, and another, Six (who pierced my friend), examined my now fully healed second holes and advised me of the price and risks of piercing via a waiver. Exotix is definitely a bit pricier than surrounding parlours, but they pride themselves in their art and it shows! I waited in a sunny, clean waiting room while I quietly panicked about the 55$/lobe with earrings included.
Evidently, I was okay about the price. After Jessie sterilized all of her equipment, I was led to a small, medical looking room and greeted warmly. We went right to work with by marking where the holes should be. Whereas I expected just to re-pierce the old holes, Jessie examined my ears and suggested something a little funkier and different: high lobe piercings. I'm a lover of the unique, so this a perfect fit for me. I had never even considered this, so I was quite excited! I was given the opportunity to examine the little dots to ensure that they were equal on both ears, and that I was happy. With my approval, she prepared the instruments as I got comfortable.
I must stress the importance of being comfortable when getting pierced. If you tense up, it will hurt a lot more and there is then the risk of jerking, which can then tear skin. Jessie waited patiently and even encouraged me to take a few moments and relax. However, I'm the kind of person who will just bite the bullet and go for it. I took a deep breath, and we began. She used a sterile needle to create the hole, then gently guided the earring post, ball, and backing into my ear. It definitely hurt, especially since it was higher up and closer to the cartilage. I did not expect it to hurt that much, but I took another deep breath and Jessie pierced the second lobe.
Luckily, the pain subsided quickly. I was given a set of instructions for caring for my freshly pierced ears. Something that set Exotix apart was their care tips, which were the exact opposite from my mall store piercing-gun tips. When I was sixteen, I was told to clean around with rubbing alcohol and to twist the piercing to make sure it doesn't stick. However, Six and Jessie made it very clear that those "tips" were quite harmful, instead suggesting a saline compress and to leave the piercing alone. They also told me if I had any questions or concerns, I was absolutely welcome to come back or call. I took advantage of this twice to double check the length of the post, and they were gentle, patient, and made me feel like a valued client with legitimate concerns.
All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. The staff at Exotix truly surpassed my expectations and are incredibly skilled. They take extreme pride in their work and it is evident in the quality and confident nature. I would absolutely return to their studio if I ever wanted another piercing. So, if you or a friend has an itch for a piercing or tattoo, give the folks down at Exotix on 163 Spadina Avenue a call!