* MASKS and APPOINTMENTS Required *
Are you licensed and inspected by the health department?
Yes, we have been licensed and inspected regularly by the Jefferson County Department of Health (an arm of the Alabama Department of Public Health) since we opened in 2006. We have our facility license posted in the studio in addition to regular spore test results for all autoclaves currently used on site. All body piercers, tattoo artists and microblade artists carry Body Art Operator permits and have completed Bloodborne Pathogen Prevention training.
What forms of ID do you accept?
The state of Alabama requires that clients present current (not expired) government issued photo identification that includes full name, photo and date of birth. These can be from any state or country and include:
Non-drivers Identification Card
Out of country driver's license
Mexico Voter Card ID
US "Green Card"
We cannot accept social security cards or credit cards to prove identity.
If I am over 18 but do not have identification can I bring my parent and my birth certificate?
No, the state requires that you present proper identification of your own if you are 18 or over.
How old do you have to be to get a tattoo or piercing?
Due to COVID-19 related regulations and professional precautions we are not tattooing or piercing any minor until further notice. In the state of Alabama you must be 18 years of age or older to consent to your own tattoo or piercing. The age at which studios and body art operators agree to provide various services is up to their own discretion however. Some artists will not not tattoo minors at all or will not tattoo anyone under the age of 16 or 17. They will also need to decide if they feel comfortable with the design you have chosen. Therefore minors will need to check with the artist of your choice to see if they are willing to do the tattoo of your choosing. There are many considerations for long term legibility of a tattoo for a body that is still growing.
If I am under 18 can any older family member give consent for me, like a sister or an uncle?
No. The state of Alabama dictates that only a biological parent or legal guardian can give consent for minors to get a tattoo or piercing. Legally emancipated minors can give their consent but, of course, emancipation is a very uncommon situation. If you are legally emancipated you will need to bring your original legal decree along with appropriate government issued photo ID as listed above. Due to COVID-19 related regulations and professional precautions we are not tattooing or piercing any minor until further notice.
If I am under 18 but legally emancipated can I consent for my own tattoo or piercing?
Yes. Legally emancipated minors can give their consent but, of course, emancipation is a very uncommon situation. If you are legally emancipated you will need to bring your original legal decree along with appropriate government issued photo ID as listed above for adults. It remains the discretion of the studio and the artist to decide if they want to tattoo any particular minor and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If I am under 18 what do I need to bring with me?
Due to COVID-19 related regulations and professional precautions we are not tattooing or piercing any minor until further notice. You will need 4 things according to Alabama state law. We cannot do minor piercings or tattoos without all four of these items.
Biological parent or legal guardian must be present. We cannot accept permission slips or phone calls.
Minor's birth certificate to serve as documentation to prove that this person is your biological parent. If the adult is the legal guardian then you must bring official legal guardianship papers. This requires an official paperwork with the notarization stamp (not a copy) or of the executed legal guardianship papers (not photocopies).
Parent or legal guardian must have current valid government issued identification such as a driver's license, non-drivers identification, passport or a military ID.
The minor must also have identification. If the minor does not have a driver's license, learner's permit, passport, etc. they may use a school photo ID, a laminated membership ID associated with some organization or a yearbook with a clear photo and full name as it appears on the birth certificate or legal guardianship documents.
Do you use piercing guns?
No, we never use piercing guns (or "piercing cartridges"). Piercing guns use blunt force to shove a piece of jewelry into the body. Jewelry used in piercing guns is not very sharp. Piercing guns are very traumatizing to delicate tissue and do not create a clean/smooth piercing tunnel. We use piercing needles are very sharp that glide through the skin quickly and with significantly less trauma.
Piercing guns also cannot be sterilized unlike the sterile piercing needles that we use. People using piercing guns have significantly less training in the prevention of bloodborne pathogen transmission, proper piercing technique and aftercare. In fact, many of them are required to only watch a 30 minute video before they are turned loose with a piercing gun. Compare this to professional body piercers that have committed themselves to years of studying and apprenticeship, including continued education, in order to provide safe and healthy piercings with quality jewelry.
Do you pierce babies and children's ears?
Due to COVID-19 related regulations and professional precautions we are not tattooing or piercing minors. Exception for children's first earlobes. Contact our body piercer directly to arrange special appointment. Pre-Covid our policy is to only pierce children that can give consent to having their body modified through piercing and can participate in the aftercare for a healthy piercing outcome. Aftercare includes not touching the piercing while it is trying to heal even if it is uncomfortable. Babies cannot do this and are at risk for infection and poor outcomes. If a baby or toddler dislodges their earrings there is a chance of injury including accidentally swallowing one of the pieces.
Furthermore, the ears are very small at this time. Even the teeniest discrepancy in placement will become very obvious as the child's ears grow. In terms of esthetics, piercings performed at a very young age may not be well matched or evidently poorly placed later.
Our minimum age for piercing children is currently 7 years. Please consider though that even though a child wants a piercing and asks repeatedly for pierced ears it does not mean that they are mature enough to cooperate through the piercing process and healing period. Ask yourself if you think your child can sit through the entire process when they get anxious or uncomfortable. In most cases children really aren't ready to sit through the entire piercing process until they are about 7 or 8, at the minimum.
A good way to prepare children for their first earlobe piercings is to sit down and watch some videos with them. Find a couple of videos in advance that demonstrate a child getting pierced by a professional body piercer using a piercing needle (we do not us piercing guns or "cartridges"). Allow your child to see a video where the child shows some discomfort. It is much better for your child to have realistic expectations and come in prepared and feeling brave. Please do not tell your child that the piercing doesn't hurt or that they will barely feel it. When the child does indeed feel it you will have broken their trust and it will be hard for them to move forward with piercing the second earlobe. We usually tell children that it feels like a strong pinch that doesn't last long but then the ear turns a little red for a short while and feels very warm and tingly.
If at any time your child withdraws his/her consent we will respect your child's wishes and discontinue the piercing process. Please consider this when deciding when you feel your child is ready to be pierced. Children's first ear piercings (under age 14) are done by special appointment (scheduled directly with the piercer) and are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Do you reuse needles or ink?
No. Never. Absolutely not. All of our needles are sterile and single-use. After performing your piercing or tattoo the needle(s) will be deposited in a biohazard sharps container like you see in a doctor's office.
How do you sterilize your equipment?
We use hospital grade steam autoclave sterilizers in our studio. We purchase many of our supplies as disposable, pre-sterilized and packaged in single use pouches that we open in front of you for your assurance. We also use a SciCan Statim 2000 steam autoclave for rapid sterilization. When we use the Statim we insert an indicator strip to verify that the autoclave did indeed reach the appropriate temperature to sterilize the contents for your cycle. We are happy to show you the indicator for your sterile batch.
How much do tattoos cost?
Tattoo artists quote their own prices based on many factors that will determine the degree of difficulty and time spent on your tattoo. This includes size, amount of detail, part of the body (some areas take longer to work on). Other factors would include estimated amount of resources required to execute your tattoo design. Our studio minimum is $60 which is rather standard for professional, licensed studios in the metropolitan area.
How much do piercings cost?
Piercings will start at $50 and go up from there depending on the piercing(s). In most cases jewelry is additional with a large variety of options available (see our online appointment scheduler for details.) Cost of jewelry will depend on what you choose. We carry high quality jewelry with hundreds of options in our selection that would be hard to find in other studios in our area. We use implant grade titanium, implant grade niobium, gold, rose gold, white gold. We have very simple looks if you prefer or you can choose any number of colored Swarovski crystals, opals, genuine diamonds or other genuine stones. Jewelry will generally start at $30 plus tax per piece (not per pair) and go up from there depending on what you choose.
You can find more information regarding pricing and jewelry on our online appointment scheduler. Please visit the Appointments page for details and a link to our scheduling service.
Do piercings hurt?
Piercing discomfort varies from person to person. A piercing is done swiftly so the initial discomfort is quite short lived. Most people say that the area gets very warm and tingly or numb shortly after it is done. You will be aware of it but it would be rare for you to feel like you are in significant pain or for it to be prolonged. Most of the discomfort of a piercing has to do with what happens or doesn't happen after you leave the studio. For example, if you bump it, catch it on your hairbrush or wash cloth or don't take care of it properly it can get rather sore. In general, most people say this at the end of their piercing experience "It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would."
How much do tattoos hurt?
Most people will feel some irritation or discomfort during a tattoo but it's very manageable. The tattoo needle does not go very deep and does not feel like an injection. Most people would say it's just irritating and gets sore. Others say it feels like a sunburn. Some areas of the body are more sensitive, especially in more bony areas (ex. along the spine, on the ribs or sternum, on the feet).
It is very important that you are completely still while your tattoo artist is working so if you are very nervous, have a low pain tolerance or think you will have a hard time sitting still you should consider getting your first tattoo in a more fleshy area that won't be as sensitive. We are happy to advise you on good locations for your tattoo in consideration of all your concerns.
Do you use numbing solutions for tattoos or piercings?
No, we do not use any numbing solutions. In order to effectively numb the area an injection of prescription grade Novocaine or Lidocaine would have to be delivered under the skin in multiple spots around the piercing or tattoo location. We are not physicians and cannot offer such a service. Additionally, the capillary restricting action of numbing agents can lead to healing complications in some cases so we don't recommend them for your average tattoo or piercing.
It is standard practice to use topical numbing agents for microblading eyebrows and semi-permanent makeup tattoos. We do use topical numbing agents for microblading and permanent cosmetics.
What kind of jewelry do you use for new piercings?
We use implant grade titanium, implant grade niobium, gold, rose gold and white gold. Both implant grade titanium and niobium are used in various medical devices. For example, implant grade titanium is used in joint replacements and various rods and screws for repairing bone fractures. All jewelry is properly sterilized in a hospital grade steam sterilizer prior to use.
We have hundreds of options for you to choose from. Jewelry pricing will depend on what you choose. Starter jewelry with Swarovski crystals, for example, start at $30 each plus tax (a pair would be $60 plus tax). We have bezel set and prong set gems, diamonds and other genuine stones. If you prefer an understated "dome" or ball, we have those as well.
Do you have colored metal jewelry for a new piercing?
We do not use jewelry that has been painted or coated with different colors. These coatings tend to crack, flake and peel inside your piercing...a truly terrible experience. We do, however, have anodizing equipment in-house and can safely change the surface tone of your titanium or niobium jewelry. This is not a plating process. The anodization process involves placing your jewelry in an electrolyte bath and then sending an electrical current over it. This causes the surface of the jewelry to oxidize. Various colors of oxidation are achieved at different voltage levels.
The oxidation will not crack, peel or flake off your jewelry like what happens with plated jewelry. The oxidized surface can begin to fade over time depending on your body's pH and what makeups or skin products you use. The fading is not harmful and for most people takes a long time to become noticeable. Fading can occur more quickly on jewelry inside the mouth, genitals and if exposed to a lot of make-up or other pH altering products including skin toners. If fading will bother you then we do not recommend anodization for jewelry in tongue piercings or genital piercings. You may want to consider yellow or rose gold if you are looking for something different. If you look at the jewelry in photos on our piercing page you will see that we have options that are unique and eye catching.
Can I bring my own jewelry to get pierced with?
I'm sorry but we do not use outside jewelry. The high quality jewelry options we provide are carefully chosen from reputable jewelers, made of quality metals, and inspected to insure a well polished, sooth surface to ensure that you have a healthy piercing and healing experience with an attractive outcome.
Which piercings do you do?
We do most piercings unless they are associated with a high chance of poor outcome or unnecessary damage to the body. Piercings that we absolutely do not do are: snake eyes on the tongue, cheek piercings, implants or magnets in the fingertips.
At this time we are not offering micro dermals or surface bars but may do so in the future.
We do not do any oral piercings, industrial bar, nipple or genital piercings on minors.
***During the COVID-19 pandemic clients and staff are required to wear face masks. For this reason we are not able to perform any piercings or change jewelry for piercings that are under the mask and involve exposure to your respiratory system. For example, we cannot perform nostril, septum, tongue, lip, medusa/philtrum, monroe, labret, vertical labret, and inverse vertical labret piercing, etc. This precaution is to protect our health can yours. Additionally, it is difficult to heal nose and oral piercings at a time when we are wearing masks that will rub and catch on the piercings.***
We also cannot change your jewelry or lift your face mask to look at your piercing. If you would like to take photos of a problematic piercing in one of these areas and send it to us we can take take a look and advise. If you want to purchase jewelry or posts to take home with you and install yourself we are happy to sell you that jewelry. Please send us photos of your piercing from home so we can advise on new jewelry options. Alternatively, you may bring a piece of your jewelry in a clean plastic bag and we will help you size your new piece. If you need only a new threadless "topper" or "end" for a nostril or oral piercing we can easily help you with that because it is not necessary to look directly at your piercing.
For some piercings/jewelry we can accept payment remotely and send it to you via US postal service if you are unable to leave your home during quarantine or are living outside of the state.
If you are interested in a particular piercing but do not see it listed on our online piercing appointment scheduler, please give us a call. 205.458.9998 (ext. 2).
Will I have privacy during my piercing or tattoo?
Yes. Unlike many studios all of our artists and piercers work in private rooms with doors for your privacy and comfort. You can choose to have the door open or closed.
Do you have a female body piercer?
Yes. Our studio is female owned and managed. The studio owner is also our body piercer. We do not currently have a male piercer on staff. Regardless of the gender of our clients and our piercer(s) at any given time you can be assured that you will be treated with respect and professionalism.
Do you have a female tattoo artist?
Yes. We have two female tattoo artists. You can find Brandy's portfolio on her page and Emily's portfolio on her page. We also have a male artist. Regardless of the gender of our clients and our artists(s) you can be assured that you will be treated with respect and professionalism at Cloud 9.
Are you LGBTQ+ friendly?
Yes. We are an inclusive studio and are focused on giving you the service and consideration that you deserve. Please let us know if you have alternate pronoun preferences or go by a different name than what is shown on your identification.
Do I need an appointment?
Yes, we are operating on an appointment only basis in order to streamline client flow and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in our community. You will need an appointment for:
Piercings and piercing consultations
Jewelry purchase, insertion, removal
Tattoos and tattoo consultations
Please see our page titled Appointments & COVID-19 Protocol for more information regarding our new protocol and the required tattoo, piercing and jewelry appointments during this time. You will find a a link to our online piercing and jewelry purchase scheduler on the Appointment page.
Can I bring a friend or family member for moral support?
I'm sorry but we cannot permit clients to bring a friend of family member at this time. This restriction is intended to reduce the number of people in the studio during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our page regarding Appointments & COVID-19 Protocol so you will be prepared for your visit.
Can I drink some beer or alcohol to help get my nerve up?
No. Please do not drink before you come or within 24 hours of your tattoo or piercing. Drinking can actually make your skin more sensitive. It is also harder to sit completely still if you have been drinking.
Alcohol thins the blood and will make you bleed more during a piercing or tattoo. Piercings may bruise or swell more than normal which can cause difficulties with healing. Excess bleeding during a tattoo will draw the tattoo out longer and most importantly can cause you to lose more ink which effects the long term look of your tattoo. If you want to drink alcohol we recommend you do that after getting your new tattoo or piercing.
Legally, we cannot tattoo or pierce you if you have been drinking or under the influence of any mind altering substances. If we suspect that you have been drinking or have been using substances you will lose your retainer/deposit. We can schedule a new appointment for another time.
Should I take some painkillers or muscle relaxers ahead of time?
No. Please do not take painkillers or muscle relaxers prior to your tattoo or piercing. Some of them will make you swell, bleed or bruise excessively. Other issues include making it harder for you to sit still and fully cooperate during the procedure. Some people will choose to take an NSAID such as ibuprofen afterward if that is something that normally helps them.
Similarly, please do not take any products containing aspirin within 48 hours prior to your procedure unless your doctor has prescribed it. Aspirin thins the blood and causes heavy bleeding. Products containing aspirin include Bayer Aspirin, Goody's Power, BC Powder, Pepto Bismol and Alka Seltzer.
How do I prepare in advance for a tattoo or piercing?
You should eat a balanced meal within 4 hours of your tattoo or piercing. Drink plenty of water starting the day before. Your body will handle the stress of piercing or tattoos better while hydrated. Well hydrated skin also accepts tattoo ink better during the tattoo process.
Wear comfortable clothing that will allow easy access to the area you are getting tattooed or pierced. Consider wearing layers in case you get cold or too warm (we keep it cool in the studio on purpose). Bring a hair tie or headband to pull your hair out of the way for tattoos or piercings in the area of the ears, necks, shoulders, etc.
What piercing aftercare products do you sell?
We recommend and sell Neilmed Wound Wash Piercing Aftercare fine mist saline. This product is in a pressurized canister which will keep the pH balanced contents sterile while allowing the gentle mist to be released at any angle.The mist is formulated to facilitate gentle cleansing and promote healing in fresh or irritated piercings. You do not need an appointment to drop by for a Neilmed purchase. We also offer emu oil and emu oil lip balm for moisturizing the skin surrounding your piercing if you are experiencing some dryness.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept debit and all major credit cards (your ID must match the card). We also accept Apple Pay and Google Pay. We will accept cash but prefer cards in order to minimize transmission of COVID-19 through potentially contaminated items. For your convenience you are welcome to include a gratuity for your artist on your card transaction or through Venmo or CashApp.
Do your artists use vegan tattoo inks?
Yes, our artists do use vegan inks but you are welcome to mention it to your artist when you come in for your tattoo.
Do you sell gift cards?
Yes, we sell gift cards online (see link above in our menu). If purchased electronically the virtual Gift Card will be sent by email to the recipient of your choice or to yourself if you prefer. You can also purchase physical gift cards in our studio.
Where exactly are you located?
We are in the heart of historic Five Points Southside at 1030 20th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205 This is just a couple blocks from UAB. We are at the main intersection, at a diagonal from the"Fountain". We are directly across the street from Black Market Bar & Grill (previous location of The Mill). We should be easy to find if you notice that we have a light blue awning that says "Cloud Nine" and a banner in the window that says Cloud 9 (photo of our store front is below to help with recognition).
Don't be confused...in the front of our building there is a retail store with smoke and vape products, clothing, accessories, incense, decor and various fun stuff. Enter through the store and head straight back. The attached building immediately behind the store contains our studio. You will see a neon sign that says "Tattoo & Piercing" above that doorway.
Where do I park my car?
Limited metered street parking is available in the area. Most meters permit only 2 hours at a time. Meters are monitored until 6pm Mon-Fri, no need to pay after 6pm or on holidays and weekends.
There is a parking deck available right in Five Points. It is a little difficult to see but you can find it behind Black Market Bar & Grill and the Indigo Hotel (entrance is up a large ramp right on Magnolia Ave.). The parking deck is monitored with security cameras and accepts cash and cards upon exiting. We recommend utilizing the parking deck, especially if you are getting a tattoo or other service that may require you being in the studio for 2 hours or more during normal business hours.
We do not recommend parking in lots designated for any businesses, such as Chik-Fil-A, various restaurants, the post office or other businesses because they are very quick to have you towed.