Most of us have stainless-steel jewelry in our collection. It’s rustproof, almost impossible to scratch, and the silvery shine lasts forever. I mean, it’s “stainless,” right? Stainless steel is a popular metal for jewelry makers because it is relatively inexpensive (when compared to gold) and holds its shape.
However, if you suffer from an allergy to nickel, it’s not as safe as you think. Women and children with sensitive skin should think twice about wearing it. Here’s why the safest hypoallergenic earrings are not stainless steel.
What is Stainless Steel?
You’ve heard of “surgical” stainless steel. Doctors use it for biomedical implants. You would think that it’s safe for everyone, but it’s not always the case.
Stainless steel is a mixture (alloy) of iron with at least 10.5% chromium. It’s the chromium that prevents “rust” or corrosion of the surface. Stainless steel also contains varying amounts of other elements such as Nickel and Molybdenum. Both chromium and nickel can cause skin allergies, but nickel is most often the problem.
Although there is no formal alloy of surgical stainless steels, the most common are:
- Austenitic SAE 316
- Martensitic SAE 440
- SAE 420
- SAE 17-4
While they work well with our bodies, they still contain nickel, which can cause complications.
One of the most famous cases of stainless steel causing a nickel allergy was the Disney Light-up Watch Recall in 2011. Disney had to recall over 1,200 watches after children’s wrists became red and irritated where the metal touched their skin. A few kids even developed blisters. The cause was the nickel in the stainless steel.
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 11 million children suffer from nickel-allergic contact dermatitis. Earrings can be the biggest offender.
That’s why people look for hypoallergenic earrings. They think they are safe from allergenic materials, but that’s not the case.
Do You Need Hypoallergenic Earrings?
When buying earrings for yourself or your child, hypoallergenic is a fantastic way to start. It means that most people with sensitive skin can wear jewelry comfortably.
However, you need to know that hypoallergenic does not mean nickel-free. The clinical definition of hypoallergenic means "below normal" or "slightly" allergenic. Cosmetic companies came up with the term in 1953 to describe how their products would cause fewer allergic reactions.
To be sure you’re buying the safest earrings, look for these two materials.
Two Earrings That Are Safer Than Stainless Steel
Doctors and hospitals routinely use these materials for patients because the body does not react to them. The first is medical-grade plastic. Hospitals use this sturdy material for everything from sutures to implants.
The second is medical-grade titanium. Titanium is lightweight, durable and the body does not react to it. For these reasons, it’s the top choice for dental implants.
However, medical-grade plastic and medical-grade titanium make pretty earrings too.
What Are the Safest Earrings for Your Ears?
BlomdahlUSA has found a way to craft these skin-safe materials into beautiful earrings for kids and adults. They are hypoallergenic earrings that are nickel-free. These materials are easy to clean and doesn't harbor bacteria as other jewelry materials can.
Of course, with any piercing, you need to take care to keep it clean. But you’ll never again worry that you or your child will get a nickel-allergy from our earrings or other jewelry.
If you have a sensitivity to nickel, the safest hypoallergenic earrings you can wear are not stainless steel but are medical-grade titanium and medical-grade plastic earrings.