How do I earring as a grown up?
August 20, 2016 7:38 PM   Subscribe

I stopped wearing earrings for a couple years due to grabby baby hands, and now my ears hate me whenever I try again. I haven't bought earrings since high school, either, so I think I need to level-up from Claire's. What kind of earrings should I buy, and from where? I just want simple studs or hoops, is there some kind of basic earring supply website in 2016 where I wouldn't need to buy in bulk?
posted by Maarika to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My ears are fairly tolerant of cheap metals, but my partner can only wear earrings made from either relatively pure gold, or the various medical-grade metals you can buy at piercing shops (like stainless steel, niobium, etc). We have just learned to a) not buy cheap studs at all, and b) buying dangling earrings usually means buying some better grade hooks separately. It raises the price point of earrings slightly, but not out of reach at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:59 PM on August 20, 2016

What style are you looking for?
posted by greta simone at 8:01 PM on August 20, 2016

Best answer: You want either stainless steel or solid gold hoops - either closed hoops or the horseshoe style with the beads at the end. You probably want gold if you think you're having a reaction to the metal. Then once they're healed you can try something else.

Then, you wear them, nonstop, for the next 4 to 6 weeks. You're basically re-healing your piercings and you need to go through the healing process all over again. I have to do this occasionally with my second ear piercings because I've had the others my entire life. They flare up and get sore for about the first week of continuously (or every day) wearing earrings. It will take longer to heal if you take them out at night, hence why a hoop or something you can sleep with will make it go faster.

Keep in mind some of the horseshoe style or anything closed with a bead may be a slightly larger gauge than regular earring posts.

Amazon might be a good place. Locally I've seen simple solid gold hoops at Target and you may also want to check someplace like Hot Topic or a local tattoo/piercing shop. The piercing places will have high quality stuff and usually gold options. (I don't have many recommendations beyond that as I buy fashion jewelry when I see something cool.)

Also this post reminded me that I should try to retrain my second piercings and I just put my hoops in. Ouch.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:05 PM on August 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Assuming that the reason your "ears hate you" is a reaction to the metal, you want earrings with stainless steel stems and backs. If your ears hate you because the holes are stretching back out, start with hoops that have a small wire where they go through the lobe, and work your way up to larger gauge earrings. Claire's actually has a decent selection of earrings with stainless stell posts -- DaughterR and I both have lots of them. (I had to wear earrings through the grabby hands stage because my holes close uncomfortably in three weeks and heal completely closed in about six months. I wore a lot of starter studs, with the large gauge post.)
posted by jlkr at 8:26 PM on August 20, 2016

Do you have a good local piercing shop? I bought my captive bead stainless steel earrings from a local piercing shop. Bonus is that they sterilize the jewelry for you. They also make very plain precious metal hoops that might work.
posted by oneear at 8:37 PM on August 20, 2016

Maybe try fire mountain gems. Shipping is reasonable, and, while there are discounts for buying more items, individual earrings are affordable. This is a search for sterling silver earrings.
posted by the twistinside at 8:57 PM on August 20, 2016

I know you said you want studs or hoops, but a small, light dangle on a leverback might be an easier-to-wear option if you're leaving them in overnight (and for extended periods). It's what I ended up using when I first got my piercing done (very late in life) and had difficulties. If the leverback doesn't sound like a suitable option, find an earring with the thinnest, straightest wire or post possible. For hoops, I'd suggest a snap-down instead of a slide under closure style.

I'd also suggest a decently high (14K or above) grade of yellow gold. (White gold should be fine, but on the off chance you get unlucky and get a pair with nickel in them, you don't want the possibility of having a reaction.) You can try stainless as well.

As for buying them, just go to the mall to get your first pair or two. That way you'll be able to see them, examine the post size and thickness, feel the weight of the earring (seriously, you want them as light as possible). Any Kay's, Beldon's, Zale's, etc. should have basic gold earrings. Also check out the better department stores. They should also have options, and many times they'll be on sale. Your small, local jewellery shop would likely be helpful as well.

If your ears have healed up and got thicker in the process, you may want to consider an earring with a longer post or wider opening. If you go shopping in person, you should be able to try them on (after they're disinfected and sterilized) and make sure they're comfortable and your ear isn't being squished.

It may be a good idea to get a small variety of styles--(stud and/or leverback and/or hoop). That way when one style starts to bother you (and it will) you'll be able to swap them out for something else that will be comfortable for a few days.
posted by sardonyx at 9:00 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

My wife had this issue. The only thing she can wear fine is 585 Russian gold. Search eBay, there are lots of options.
posted by pyro979 at 9:09 PM on August 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

This sounds like you're allergic. Probably to nickel, which is in a lot of earrings. I'd recommend (a) find some that aren't, and (b) try wearing dangling earrings or hoops rather than earrings that sit close to the ear and have a big ol' back right up next to your earlobe. Those tend to make it worse, somehow.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:50 PM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with titanium French wire hooks I found on eBay, swapping them with the hooks on cheap dangle earrings.

I've also had good luck on eBay with earrings in general. I browse to fashion jewelry, then earrings; then filter to price lowest to highest, Buy It Now. Then I just scroll 'til I see what I'm looking for. There are lots of cute pairs for under $1 with free shipping.

IANAD or a biologist, but I found that after a couple years wearing just the titanium, my ear piercings seem far less sensitive to other metals than they used to be. This summer, I've been wearing some small, pretty dangles I found in a local antiques shop.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:58 AM on August 21, 2016

If you're OK with super-cheap sparkly studs, I love nylon earrings.

One box of these has lasted me years - I also bought some backs separately because I lose those more often.
posted by Metasyntactic at 1:07 AM on August 21, 2016

The best cheap hypoallergenic earring shop in in the universe is CLOSING, depressingly. I can't give a long term recommendation... But they're not closed yet. I've been ordering from Simply Whispers for the last decade or so with universally great results and so has my mom. If you want to pick up a few fun pairs before they finally shut down, that might tide you over for a bit.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:56 AM on August 21, 2016

When you say, "My ears hate me," do you mean that they get red, inflamed, and/or oozy when you wear you earrings? I started to develop this problem, too, and eventually learned that nickel allergies were a thing. I switched to wearing only sterling silver, stainless steel, and gold earrings, and I've been fine since then (avoid white gold, though, as it frequently contains nickel). Keep in mind that pretty much all mass-market earrings have nickel in them unless they're specifically marked as being made out of some other metal. Claire's is pretty much right out, unless you go for the fancy gold or silver earrings in the case on the counter. As I understand it, there are other metals that work as well -- search for "nickel-free" to find options. I'd never heard of nylon earrings before reading the Metasyntactic's comment above, but those sound promising, too!

Amazon most likely has what you need. Some keywords you might want to look for: huggies (small, thick hoops that "hug"your earlobe), small hoops, and simple studs.
posted by ourobouros at 6:49 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I exclusively wear NeoMetal jewelry. This is where I got my latest earrings.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:50 AM on August 21, 2016

I would go down to a piercing parlor and talk to them about what you need and what you're looking for. They'll surely have had many customers who are in a similar situation to you; it sounds like you have some combination of a constricted hole and a metal allergy, and both of those are things that piercers deal woth regularly.

Possibly your holes need to be re-pierced or at least stretched a little bit, and they'll be able to advise you about strategies and products for doing that successfully. They will also have a better understanding of what materials are present in their jewelry than you typically get at a mass-market jewelry place, and will be able to show you what your options are if you want to avoid common allergens.

If simple hoops are your style, they'll have them—I'd suggest looking into segment hoop earrings if you want something that's literally just a circle. They'll be able to advise you as to sizing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know about where you are, but in Australia chemist shops (drug stores?) will sell things like Studex brand studs and hoops - these are the studs they use for ear-piercing and are made to be used by people who are allergic. They are also good for wearing long-term as the proper stud backing so mean they sit at the end of the post (no sharp bits cutting in to your head if you sit on your side) and can't be pushed right in to your ear.
posted by Megami at 2:56 PM on August 21, 2016

Seconding Amazon - I wear sterling studs and hoops and I've mostly started getting them there.
posted by mskyle at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2016

I am allergic to nickel and I actually have great luck at Target for simple studs and (fake) pearls. They have a lot of nickel-free options that my ears don't mind at all. I exclusively wear small fake pearl studs from Target, or some tiny 14k gold hoops from some mall department store (Macy's maybe)... I often don't take my earrings out for weeks at a time, even to shower or sleep, and my ears are fine with these.
posted by raspberrE at 6:59 PM on August 21, 2016

Best answer: Oh and I just wanted to state as well that your ears bleeding or oozing when you do this doesn't mean you have a nickel allergy - again I recommend nickel free stuff to start just in case. But you don't mention problems with other jewelry.

It is normal for them to bleed and ooze slightly while they're stretching/healing. (Just ask my ears this morning after having my stainless steel hoops in overnight.) I also regularly wear cheap jewelry and have no problems. It's just a matter of re-healing those holes.

Also I forgot to add to my post that standard earrings are usually 20 gauge. The horseshoe or closed with a bead type typically start at 16 guage but that would be too big. You want 20 gauge or 18 gauge if you get jewelry that's sold with "gauge" listed which is common for things like body jewelry or at a piercing studio.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:45 PM on August 21, 2016

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