There are A LOT of hypoallergenic earrings on the market, and also a lot of nickel free earrings. Often, both of these labels are used to describe a single pair of earrings. If you have sensitive ears though, you may have noticed that hypoallergenic earrings and nickel free earrings still cause painful reactions or irritations. You've probably thought, what do these terms actually mean? Are they the same thing? Why are my ears so sensitive to jewelry?
Do you have an allergic reaction to metal?
First of all, you need to understand that if you have sensitive ears or if you develop a reaction over a few minutes or hours of wearing earrings, you are most likely experiencing a metal allergy. Metal allergies are contact allergies that develop after an extended period of time in contact with a reactive substance (like when you are wearing earrings).
Most jewelry is made with metal alloys (mixtures of 2 or more metals), and if any of the metals in the alloy are reactive they can cause a reaction. Nickel in particular is one of the most common causes of a metal allergy, however there are many other very reactive metals that are used in jewelry.
That helps to put the labels hypoallergenic and nickel free into context. Hypoallergenic literally means "less likely to cause an allergy." Nickel free on the other hand, means that the alloy that the earrings are made with does not contain nickel.
What earrings are best for sensitive ears?
What does biocompatible mean?
At Tini Lux, we successfully make biocompatible jewelry. It's not as easy to say as "fetch," but hopefully it will catch on. Biocompatible means that a substance is capable of coexisting with the human body without causing a reaction. Unlike nickel free earrings and hypoallergenic earrings, biocompatible earrings are guaranteed to be safe. We believe you shouldn't have to try to decipher the difference between labels like nickel free and hypoallergenic and guess whether one will work for your body or not.
Instead of looking for hypoallergenic earrings or nickel free earrings, look for earrings made with pure, biocompatible metals like titanium and niobium. If you are willing to spend much, much more, pure platinum and 24k gold are both biocompatible metals as well.
Dan Dobbins 12/5/2022
Which of the metals are the most hypoallergenic?