Just a couple of days ago, I got my ears pierced for the second time. My original piercings were done at a Sweet 'n Sassy, but I chose to play it safe and get my second piercings at a professional piercing parlor. I'm so glad I did.
1. There's virtually no pain.
Before going into the shop, I was so nervous. Given my last piercing experience, I was bracing myself for the initial searing pain and dull fire that I thought was standard. However, as soon as I talked with my piercer, I realized that this was going to be far different. He explained that the needle would just feel like a pinch. When he actually pierced my ear, it really did feel like someone was just pinching my ear, and not the blast that I remembered from the piercing gun. Afterwards, on the drive home, I barely even noticed it was there. I fell asleep against the door of the car and had no problems whatsoever. In fact, after about 30 minutes, the soreness was gone too. I was really stunned. If you're sensitive to pain, professional piercings are definitely the way to go.
2. It's more sanitary.
Piercing guns are notoriously unsanitary. According to Good House Keeping, "You can't actually sterilize a piercing gun." My piercer took about 25 minutes to sterilize my actual earrings, and then showed me the sterilization process that he went through. He made sure to put on three pairs of gloves and changed them at various intervals, and ensured that the piercing needles were sitting on a sterile piece of plastic. He left no stone unturned, whereas piercings at Claire's or other mall stores typically only use an anti-bacterial wipe to wipe down the gun and then proceed to pierce people with said gun.
3. The piercers are well-trained.
According to a Claire's employee's Reddit AMA, most Claire's employees receive minimal piercing training by way of watching a few videos, practicing on mannequins or other employees and then going out and piercing customers. Personally, the prospect of being pierced by an unclean gun being wielded by an untrained person is duly horrifying. While, yes, it's possible that you can get pierced at Claire's or another location without any negative repercussions (as I did with my first piercing), I wouldn't risk it if I were you. Professional piercers are licensed by the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) and that puts my mind at ease.
4. There's more detailed after-care instructions.
Once my piercing was finished, I was handed a detailed sheet of instructions for after-care to prevent infection. I was told to wash my piercing with natural soap in the shower, and to spray it with a saline spray twice a day. I was shocked at how much information they actually gave me in comparison to my first piercing's. After my very first piercing, I was simply told not to touch my piercing and to leave my earring in for 4-6 months until it was healed. I don't recall any other instruction or guidance. In hindsight, that was startling.