Do you want to wear cute earrings so badly, but your ears are too sensitive to wear them? This may seem like a deal-breaker for accessorizing with earrings, but it actually isn’t. It may just mean that you haven’t been wearing the right kind of earring.
Some earrings are made of metals that can be harmful to those with more sensitive skin and ears. With almost every kind of metal, there is some form of allergy to it somewhere in the world, so it is all about finding the metal that works for you. If your ears are sensitive, I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying earrings from cheaper stores that aren’t made of real metal.
Below is a list of metals that earrings can be made out of, and which ones cause the most and least amount of sensitivity for most people. Each metal is labeled with either highly sensitive meaning avoid it, mid sensitive meaning it probably isn’t a good choice, less sensitive meaning it may work in certain circumstances, and least sensitive meaning that most people with sensitive ears can wear it:
Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears
Nickel- Highly Sensitive
Nickel is one of the most common metals to cause ear sensitivity. That is why most ‘hypoallergenic’ earrings are labeled as nickel-free. However, just because earrings are labeled ‘nickel-free’ does not mean they contain no traces of nickel. In fact, the government allows nickel-free earrings to contain up to 5% nickel, so beware.
White Gold with Nickel- Highly Sensitive
White gold can either be made with nickel or palladium. If it is made with nickel, this can be a risky metal to wear with ear sensitivity.
Copper- Mid Sensitive
While pure copper earrings are nickel free and a great option for sensitive ears, copper jewelry can often contain some small traces of nickel and other sensitive-prone alloys. Another factor that plays into this triggering sensitive ears is that it can react badly with chemicals in the skin and result in your earlobes turning a greenish color, though this doesn’t happen to everyone.
Rhodium- Mid Sensitive
Rhodium is usually the metal that forms what is known as ‘white gold’ jewelry and, on its own, it is good for sensitive ears. However, it is to be avoided by those who have nickel allergies due to the plating needing nickel to stick.
Sterling Silver- Less Sensitive
Sterling silver is the most commonly used metal in ‘hypoallergenic’ earrings because it is nickel-free a majority of the time. These are a good option for those with sensitive ears, though I would verify that there is no nickel added to the silver before investing in a pair.
Gold Filled- Less Sensitive
Gold-filled jewelry is often made of more gold than gold plated earrings are, so this should have the same properties and characteristics as a 14-karat pair of earrings would. It is a good option for those with sensitive ears, though some people also have a sensitivity to gold so be wary of that as well.
Karat Yellow Gold- Less Sensitive
Because gold can be very soft, other alloys and metals are often used to harden it including zinc, nickel, silver, copper, and more. Because of this, some people may be sensitive to pure gold earrings. However, most can wear gold that is either 14-karat or 24-karat.
Surgical Steel- Less Sensitive
For most people with sensitive ears, surgical steel is the best option. While this is true, some surgical steel still contains up to 12% nickel, so if you have a nickel allergy, this is a metal to avoid as well.
Titanium- Least Sensitive
Titanium is one of the better choices for those with sensitive ears because pure titanium metal is 100% non-allergenic. While some forms of titanium jewelry can contain nickel and other alloys, if you find grades 1-4 of titanium jewelry, those are your best bet.
Fine Silver- Least Sensitive
Since fine silver is known to be 99.99% pure, it is one of the top-ranking options for those who are sensitive to nickel and other alloys.
Argentium Silver- Least Sensitive
Argentium silver is often used as a more durable alternative to sterling silver and is a great option for those with sensitive ears. Argentium contains the metals copper and geranium, so it is more durable and harder to tarnish while also being nickel-free.
White Gold with Palladium- Least Sensitive
When white gold is made with palladium, it is usually a safe bet for sensitive ears. However, it is important that you first ensure that there is no nickel mixed in.
Niobium- Least Sensitive
Niobium is actually known to be the safest metal for those who have highly sensitive ears. It is 99.99% pure and is not mixed with any other metal or alloy. On top of that, niobium is also strong and durable, so it can last you a long time. It also comes in a lot of fun and bright colors so that can be fun to play around with as well.
Overall, with all of that being said, there is a large variety of metals that earrings are made of and they all range on the sensitivity scale. Another thing to note is that everyone’s ears are different, so while one person may be able to wear gold perfectly fine, another person may react badly to it, so you just have to find what works for you. Traditionally, the best options for those with highly sensitive ears, particularly to nickel, is argentium, titanium, fine silver, white gold with palladium, and most importantly, niobium. If you want to be extra careful, you can even opt for medical-grade jewelry to be on the safe side.