As a person with extreme trypanophobia (fear of needles), I'm one of the minority that didn't get their ears pierced as a child. Even shots and blood tests make me lightheaded, so the idea of a hole being punched in my earlobe sounds like an absolute nightmare. Unfortunately, this mentality clashed heavily with my love for accessories, so as a fashion editor in my mid-20s, I finally caved and got into a piercer's chair.
Here's the thing—I (incorrectly) assumed that the worst part about getting your ears pierced would be the moment of piercing, which actually wasn't so bad. The real headache (or earache) came after. While I was beyond excited to finally wear the massive inventory of earrings I was hoarding, my accessories game was sidetracked when I realized that my skin was reacting negatively to nearly all of them.
PSA: A lot of affordable jewelry pieces use nickel as the base metal—and with time, friction, and moisture, the skin often begins to feel sensitive. And contrary to popular belief, it's not just nickel that can cause this irritation (although it is the most common culprit). Other metals, including gold, can spark a whole bunch of allergic reactions, such as itching, skin rashes, swelling, and redness. (Side note: If the irritated area of skin starts to feel warm to the touch, fills with pus, or spreads rapidly, see a doctor ASAP as you may have an infection.)
Everyone's ears are different, so not all earrings will work for you if you have a particular allergy to that metal. The only way to assess a metal sensitivity is through an arduous trial-and-error process, but there are certain materials that tend to pop up as particularly problematic. Generally speaking, you want to avoid nickel and opt for at least 14k gold (anything less usually contains nickel or brass) or sterling silver 925. If your ears are still reacting negatively, try posts made of medical-grade stainless steel or titanium, which tend to be the least reactive.
To simplify your search, I did the vetting for you and picked the best earring brands that have helped me throughout my piercing journey. Not only are they made with sensitive, allergy-prone ears in mind, they use high-quality materials and metals at affordable prices, so your ears can feel as good as they look.
Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears