Needles, Piercings and J. Colby Smith

For someone who has plenty of tattoos, I’ve always been slightly iffy about ear piercings. Yes, you read that right. I am the girl who is not afraid of needles on my skin (or injections too for that matter) and didn’t even blink an eye when I got my nipple pierced halfway during sourcing at work, but I’m shit scared when it comes to ear piercings. It’s probably due to all the horror stories I heard when I was a kid. You know those urban legends about a black string drooping out of your piercing and when you pull it you go blind cos the string is in fact a vein… Yeah, I believed them. Two years ago, I also had a botched helix piercing that cost me $3 and got so badly infected, I had to remove the jewellery with a pair of pliers. I shudder just thinking about that episode again.

Anyway, I’ve been having many ear piercing discussions with my colleagues and we’ve been egging one another on to get our conch and helix pierced. Since I’ve gotten my septum and lower lip pierced, it’s changed my look – in a good way. Another thing about piercings I like is that it’s not permanent like a tattoo, so I don’t think it’s something you need to particularly stress over. If you grow tired of it, just remove it. When it comes to my piercings, I have so far pierced my navel, tongue (twice), nipple, tragus, lobes, lower lip and septum; some of which I have removed in the last few years either due to issues I had with them or because I just couldn’t stand it when the people I interviewed paid more attention to my piercing than the questions I were asking. #occupationalhazard

After plenty of debate on what to get done and when (before or after my New York trip), one of my colleagues drew my attention to an elle.com article about J. Colby Smith – New York’s go-to-piercer for celebrities and fashion folk. And if you were still wondering, there’s no doubt that the ’90s are back in full force. What was once reserved as part of punk culture and high school rebellion has turned into a full-fledged fashion trend, and I was totally getting sucked into it. Just do a tumblr or google search on piercings and you’ll see what I mean.

I finally worked up my courage to get a conch and double helix piercing and on a whim decided to email Colby, and mind you, I didn’t think he would fit me in or even bother to entertain my request – he’s known for his waitlist of appointments and I was but a small fry from Singapore. But lo and behold, Colby replied within a day and I scored myself an appointment and a day after my birthday, I was stoked beyond words and also strangely nervous like I was doing something naughty with a slight nagging feeling that I might go blind if I went ahead with it.

Four days into my New York trip, the day to get pierced dawned on us. I made my way to New York Adorned which is located in the East Village and where Colby does what he does best three or four days a week. The registration process was smooth and easy, and I quickly picked out my jewellery as I already knew what I wanted (yellow gold hoops with a subtle beads, because I’m having a YG and subtle piercing moment). Honestly, I was kind of a nervous wreck when he sat me on the leather flatbed, and was rapidly shooting questions at Colby while he maintained very calm and assuring. He even told me that it was good to be a little scared, I guess it helps with mental preparation. After debating for 30 seconds on which ear I wanted the piercings to go, I decided to get the double helix on my left ear and the conch on my right, kinda to balance things out as I only had one lobe piercing on the left. Very gungho of me, since that would mean making an effort not to sleep on either side, but YOLO right?

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Once I was very sure on the placement of the piercings, Colby proceeded to clean the area, mark where the piercings would be, let me checked and we were good to go. We were pretty much done in 10 mins, and I have heard varying accounts from different people but I can say there was no crunchy sound (another one of my ridic cartilage piercings fear) and the conch did not hurt at all. On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate it a 1 or 2. However, I defo felt a pinch for the helix (especially the second one since I already knew what was coming), but it’s still bearable at a 4. If I really had to compare, my nipple piercing hurt the most coming in at a 7 and the septum at a 4 or 5. In fact, re-opening my lobe piercing ranks at an 8 and hurt like hell.

Overall, I also credit the lack of expected pain and a great experience to Colby, who was super gentle and just all-round amazing. It’s no wonder why everyone who has been pierced by Colby raves about him. What’s more, Colby’s piercing approach is very personalised, he’s known to observe you as a person and recommend what will suit you best without coming off too forcefully. I recall when I first got my navel pierced when I was 17  and in Melbourne, and the piercer had absolutely no interest in his job and didn’t even bother to give an opinion when I asked him if I should go for a tongue or navel piercing. He just wanted to get the job over and done with so he could go back to doing jack all – which really annoys me because this is my body we’re talking about so I’ll ask what I wanna ask! Just like getting a tattoo, piercings (especially facial ones) will change your look and it’s nice and important to know that someone cares that you don’t walk out looking like a circus freak show. Colby can definitely consider me one of his many fan girls now.

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Besides piercing, Colby also designs some pretty cool jewellery – check out his site, he does overseas shipping and the pieces come in white, rose and yellow gold. I’ve since changed my septum jewellery to his 108 YG chain which is easy to change and remove yourself once you get the hang of it. I had a mini episode yesterday because it was my first time flipping the retainer up and I’ve been told I have tiny nostrils which made it harder at first, but after some coaxing and manoeuvring got it sorted. It’s very subtle and I love that now my face is not screaming “LOOK AT ME, I’M SO BADASS” anymore. Aftercare for the new piercings are pretty simple, Colby’s “instructions” were to just do what I normally do, wash with soap and water, and ice it if get swollen. I’m holding up pretty well so far, and although it’s difficult to sleep on either side (as expected), I’m very happy with them.

There you have it, my “Went to NYC and got pierced by Colby Smith” story. If you’re ever planning a trip to the city and want to get pierced, just drop Colby a liner and go for it. Even better, Colby mentioned that he’d love to do pop-up piercing around the world, so if you happen to know how to get him on your shores, do it, the rest of us and our pretty ears will thank you for it.

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