Santa Cruz Ave.

There are salons all over Menlo Park, but there’s only one that’s considered the go-to destination for ear piercing. That’s Vizions Artwear & Salon on Santa Cruz Avenue, and in-the-know locals will tell you to forget the mall stores or pricey doctor’s visits and come here instead.

Shawn Blackburn, co-owner of Vizions along with wife Joy, is the man behind the ear-piercing gun. And he knows what he’s doing: Over the 15-plus years that Vizions has offered the service, Blackburn estimates that he has done some 5,000 sets of ear piercing. The average age of his customers is about nine years old, but he does plenty of adults as well. In a typical week, Blackburn sees about 10 ear-piercing clients. Of course, there are peak times, such as the conclusion of soccer season when players no longer need to follow the “no-jewelry” rule.

The most important thing to Blackburn is that his clients feel comfortable, “I understand how important this event is, something they will always remember, so I make it special,” he says. “Every ear I pierce, I make sure the placement is absolutely perfect—and I have never had to change one.”

Blackburn began doing ear piercing after getting repeated requests from his hair styling customers.  As with everything about Vizions, Blackburn was meticulous in developing the offering. Of special importance to him was coming up with the best method for caring for newly pierced ears. He learned that rubbing alcohol doesn’t do a great job, so he consulted with a local pediatrician and came up with a home-care routine that is very successful. It includes warm salt water baths, good old soap and water, and Neosporin.

Vizions has a variety of studs to choose from, but hands-down the most popular style is the 5-millimeter cubic zirconia in 14-carat white gold. Says Blackburn, “They don’t look like you have training wheels; they look like real earrings.”  Like everything in the salon world, there are trends. Currently, Blackburn is getting a lot of requests for double piercing and cartilage piercing.

Full-service Aveda salon

Of course, ear piercing is just a small part of the business at Vizions, which is an Aveda Concept Salon, meaning that it exclusively uses and sells all-natural Aveda products, which are plant-based. Both Blackburns are Master Stylists who provide a range of hair styling and coloring services, along with hair designers Erin Gruman and Lena Rafidi. Vizions also has an in-house esthetician and make-up artist, Alicia Ramirez, who does waxing, threading, and tinting, along with offering up a menu of affordable Express Bar spa services for time-pressed customers.

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