Forget Claire’s. A New Generation of Ear Piercing Options Has Its Needles Ready

Three options for freshening up those lobes

If you bloomed into tweenhood in the 1990s and wanted your ears pierced, you probably had it done by a bored college kid at your local Claire’s. Until recently, the old-school mall chain has seemingly been the default location for the service. Thankfully, though, the piercing scene is evolving and you no longer need to ride an escalator or pass an Auntie Anne’s to get that devil-may-care cartilage ring. You’ve got options!

One of those is Rowan, an at-home and in-store piercing service. Rowan promises ears pierced by licensed nurses, premium hypoallergenic earrings, and “thoughtfully written mindfulness cards.” It even offers a monthly subscription box filled with new earrings, accessories, and “mindfulness content.” According to their website, “Rowan encourages taking a moment to celebrate the ‘now’ by tapping into your superpowers of self-expression.”

This month, Rowan is opening 57 studios in Targets across California. Rowan also offers in-home ear piercing services in eight states, though California is not yet one of them. Founder Louise Schneider says she “quickly realized there was a gap in the market for services providing safe and celebratory ear piercings by registered, experienced [nurses].” To celebrate their launch, the company is offering limited-edition gold California state earrings.


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Another new arrival to the L.A. piercing scene is famed studio Studs, which opened its doors on Melrose Place in June. Born in NYC, Studs gained a reputation for its bubbly, neon interiors and celebrity clients. Unlike Rowan and Claire’s, which use Studex ear-piercing “guns,” Studs uses sterilized single-use needles to pierce. This method may bring back terrifying memories for some of us—sleepovers involving icing an earlobe and holding an apple behind it while an over-confident 12-year-old charges you with her mother’s sewing needle, perhaps—but Studs obviously has it dialed in. Another location will open in the classy Westfield Century City mall later this year—and the company donated $20,000 to the Los Angeles LGBT center in honor of their opening and Pride month.

Interested in supporting small local businesses? Leo West is a woman-owned-and-operated piercing concierge service on Pico in West L.A. Opened in 2020 by registered nurse Jillian Katz and Alaina Rothstein, “best friends with medical and business backgrounds who found a shared passion in aesthetics and great customer service,” the teeny studio offers a cozy, classy vibe. If you’re looking for a place to get your lower lip or navel pierced, Leo West isn’t for you. They offer cartilage and lobe piercings and seem to have a special knack for handling kids—many of their testimonials feature relieved and grateful mothers. Here, clients can avoid the factory-farm feel of a Claire’s or the intimating energy of tattoo parlor. Email for a consult—with only two people running the show, it’s not the kind of place to walk into on a whim.

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