The Truth About Hypoallergenic Earrings | Tini Lux

The Truth About Hypoallergenic Earrings

By Jacqueline Burke

Hypoallergenic Earrings: Fact vs Fiction

Do you have sensitive ears? When you wear earrings, do your ear lobes itch, swell and become red and painful? Can you only wear earrings for a few hours or even minutes before these symptoms inevitably occur? Have you purchased hypoallergenic earrings that still caused these same painful symptoms?
What you are actually experiencing is not just sensitive ears, you are have an allergic reaction to the metal in your earrings.  Metal allergies are contact allergies, meaning they occur when your body is in contact with the reactive substance. You are probably not born with these allergies, they are developed over time when your body is regularly in contact with a reactive material.  This is why most people can wear earrings for years without issues, then seemingly overnight start to develop painful reactions.
The term hypoallergenic earrings is probably the most misleading an misused marketing term in jewelry. Labeling earrings as hypoallergenic earrings implies that they are safer than other earrings for people with sensitive ears (or people with metal allergies). There are two major issues with the label hypoallergenic earrings: 1) the term is unregulated and 2) it doesn't really mean anything.
Firstly, any company can call their products hypoallergenic earrings. There is no regulatory committee or business bureau that sets standards for what can be called hypoallergenic earrings.  For this reason, it is especially difficult to trust this label.
Secondly, the literal meaning of hypoallergenic earrings is that the earrings are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.  While this sounds promising, it is really not that helpful for someone with a metal allergy. Once you develop an allergy to metal, even trace amounts of reactive metals can cause a reaction. Hypoallergenic earrings are only "less likely" to cause an allergy, but what you really need is something that will not cause an allergy.
A quick google search will reveal thousands of "hypoallergenic earrings" made with alloys like stainless steel, surgical steel, and brass. These alloys are mixtures of two or more metals. Any and all of these metals could be extremely reactive, and without knowing every single trace metal in the earring, you cannot be sure that the earrings will really be safe for sensitive ears. 
By this point, if you have sensitive ears, you have probably given up on wearing hypoallergenic earrings. However, there are other types of earrings that you can actually wear safely.
Some terms to look for: Non-allergenic earrings and biocompatible earrings. Non-allergenic means the material will not cause a reaction. Biocompatible means the material is capable of co-existing peacefully with the human body.Again, these terms are unregulated for use with jewelry products. But if a company is using them, they are probably more invested in creating safe earrings for sensitive ears. 
To be sure the earrings you are looking to purchase are safe, you need to figure out the exact material used to make the earrings.  Titanium and niobium are two of the only metals that are biocompatible and non-reactive with the human body. Less than 0.6% of people are allergic to titanium, which is why it is commonly used for medical implants.  Look for earrings that are made with pure titanium or pure niobium. If these metals are alloyed with other metals, the earrings are no longer biocompatible because the other metals can cause an allergic reaction.
In summary, while it is frustrating that hypoallergenic earrings are not actually safe for sensitive ears, it is promising to know that there are options out there. Once you know what to look for, it makes it easier to find earrings that will work for you. We've created an entire line of pure titanium earrings and bracelets. We only use pure titanium for our products, because we want our jewelry to be safe for everyone to wear. 


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