TikTok star Sissy Sheridan said that a "crazy accident" during an Icing by Claire's piercing appointment that left her cloth face mask pierced to her ear.
She initially shared the story in a series of TikTok videos that went viral.
The online personality, 16, told TODAY Style that she was getting her third set of piercings for each ear. Malls and stores in her state of Virginia were open, and she wore two cloth masks and gloves, anticipating how close the piercer would be standing to her. Her mother and best friend, who attended the appointment with her, also wore masks.
During the appointment, she wasn't aware that anything had gone wrong, but felt that one ear hurt more than the other. Her friend was filming the moment and caught Sheridan's reaction on video.
"I was like, 'Wow, this hurts more than when I did it myself,'" said Sheridan, explaining that she had once tried to pierce the same spot with a safety pin. "It hurt so bad. I'm squeezing my mom's hand in the video. It really, really hurt, and then she did the next one, and it didn't hurt as bad, it was fine. But that ear was really hot, it just really hurt."
Sheridan added that she also didn't like the placement of the piercing and thought that the store employees had used a different piercing than the one she picked out, so she was upset and left the mall quickly. It wasn't until she was outside that she realized one of the masks was stuck on the piercing.
"We're walking out the mall and at this point I'm already hurting really bad and I don't like the way they look and now it's like I'm overthinking all of it," Sheridan said. "We get in the car and we realize that my mask is stuck to my ear."
She said that the white ear loop on the mask had been pierced, leaving the face covering hanging from her ear when she went to take it off.
"The blue one is dangling ... and it hurts, you know, because it was already painful. There is this piece of fabric between my ear and the actual piercing, and now it's pulling on my ear," Sheridan said. "I was completely shocked. It never even crossed my mind that my mask might wind up being pierced.
"I couldn't even believe it, I was just in a state of like, shock," she continued. "I was crying so much, and I'm already a dramatic person, so this situation was just even more chaotic because I'm crying and there's nothing we can do because we're in the car; my mom doesn't have scissors or anything that we could use."
Once home, they cut the mask off except for a small piece that was still punctured by the earring. Sheridan said that eventually, her mom was eventually able to remove the mask thread.
"Last night we literally spent 30 minutes getting this piece of fabric out," Sheridan said. "We wet it with hydrogen peroxide and my mom would go in with super tiny scissors or tweezers and try to take a piece. She was literally tweezing it, thread by thread, from my ear. ... It was an interesting removal procedure."
Many followers asked Sheridan why she didn't just remove the earring backing and pull the thread off that way, but she said the area was too swollen and painful to do so.
"These are the earrings backs are meant to stay on for like three months, so you're not supposed to take them out or twist them or anything," Sheridan said. "So when they get clamped, they're the really tight ones that have like two little notches before you pull them off. And my ears still already so sensitive from it and it just hurt, so I couldn't take the back off."
In a press statement, Claire's told TODAY that they were aware of the incident.
"Over 40 years, Claire’s has pierced more than 100 million ears," said a spokesperson for the store. "Customer well-being is always our main priority. We are investigating this incident and are taking appropriate corrective action. We have reached out to the customer offering support and a full refund."
Sheridan said that Claire's had been supportive, giving her a refund and gift card, and explained that she wasn't trying to blame the store or employee for the situation.
"It was kind of a crazy freak accident that happened," Sheridan said, adding that she recorded and shared the video because she knew she would find humor in the situation looking back on it. "I'm like, 'How crazy is this that that happened? That's such a 2020 issue.'"
Claire's did not respond to a request for information about how their piercing procedures may have changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Information on their website states that the ear piercing area is sanitized before and after each customers, the earrings and cartridges are pre-sterilized, and associates sanitize their hands and use disposable gloves.