An Uncomplicated Life Blog: How To Wear Cheap Jewelry When You're Allergic

Monday, February 6, 2017

How To Wear Cheap Jewelry When You're Allergic

If inexpensive jewelry makes you itch or break out in a rash, you need this simple trick

I was stupid enough to go to Anthropologie three days before Christmas. My sister and her husband were coming and getting her a gift had been on my to-do list for about two weeks. But I hate the mall and I hate shopping, so I put it off until I couldn't anymore. As I was standing in a checkout line that went all the way to the door with every other last minute shopper in Dallas, I had plenty of time to check out the jewelry they strategically place near the checkout line. I immediately loved these antique pearl studs! And two pairs for $38? I decided to get a gift for me, too. I put them on in the car and by the time I was home (we're talking a five minute drive) my ears were red and itchy and I had a headache to boot. If this sounds familiar, read on for how to wear cheap jewelry even when you're allergic to it.

How cute are these? I had to get them. Well played, Anthro. Shop this pair or this pair of pretty studs

I've been allergic to inexpensive metals for as long as I can remember. When I got my ears pierced at the age of six or seven, I got real gold studs. After they healed, I headed over to Claire's (who remembers Claire's?! Is that chain still around?) and spent some of my allowance on trendy, cheap earrings. Shortly after that, I learned that cheap earrings were a no-go for me.

It's gotten worse as I've gotten older! Within a few minutes, I can tell if a pair of earrings are anything less than 14k gold. I can't even wear 10k gold - there's too much nickel mixed in. I should have known when I got these that I'd have a reaction. Anytime an earring has a back like this, I find I'm instantly reacting to them. Fun fact: I'm so allergic to metals, when I had scoliosis surgery at 13, they had to use titanium. My back is now full of tens of thousands of dollars of titanium!

Backs like this almost always mean I'll be allergic to the earring

Not only is it expensive to only buy nice jewelry, but you also miss out on the fun trendy stuff! I love a good diamond stud, but c'mon. I want to mix things up a bit. I remembered a trick my aunt told me about way back when I was just figuring out that I was highly allergic to most metals: Paint the earrings with clear nail polish to coat the metal and protect your skin.

Use a clear top coat so that the nail polish isn't visible. Paint the stud and any of the metal that might touch your ear. I even coated the whole little pearl in polish since it wouldn't show and odds would be good whatever the "pearl" was made of would irritate me too. Don't put too thick a layer on, or it will be too hard to get the back of the earring on. paint the backs too - anything that might touch your skin needs a coat of polish.

Let dry until hard. Voila! You can wear those trendy, cheap earrings even if you're allergic like me. You'll likely have to touch up the coats of polish several times a year (depending on how often you wear the earrings, perhaps more often) to keep the cheap metal fully coated. But using this trick, you CAN wear inexpensive jewelry.


  1. I've heard this trick, but have never tried it!
    I'm the same way with cheap earrings. I have to have gold, although 10 karat is typically fine. I guess because I've had terrible reactions to them, I just don't buy earrings. I have a pair of gold studs I wear practically everyday. I do occasionally wear some Kendra Scott earrings, and for some reason they don't bother my ears as quickly has others. I'm really only bothered by those if I wear them for hours and hours at a time. In college I picked up some cheapies from Forever21 and I thought my ears were going to rot off. HA!

  2. I used to do this with the cheapo rings that would leave your fingers green. Clear nail polish always does the trick! Now I can barely even remember to accessorize with anything. I didn't even get a watch on this morning.

  3. omg I didn't know about this!! Allergies is exactly why I couldn't have fun things. Thanks for the idea... now getting ready to spend all my money haha

  4. Love your trick and the fun fact about your expensive titanium back! Claire's is alive and thriving and is my favorite place to take ginny!!

  5. You seriously just saved me! Why did I never think of this! I'm the same way and could never wear cheap jewelry. Going to coat the few cheap earrings I have today.

  6. WOW I never thought of this! Great tips - I have sensitive skin so this is good to know :)

  7. What a clever idea! One of my good friends has very sensitive ears, so I'll have to pass this along to her.

  8. My ears are super allergic to anything but solid gold. I had always used Neosporin as a barrier (it only works for a few hours) but this is a great idea. I will have to try it!

    Gennifer Rose |

  9. I can't put ANYTHING in my ears... even solid gold. my body flips out. bracelets, some necklaces, earrings, they give me a rash. when I wore a crappy ring my finger had a permanent green stain. and contact lenses? forget about it, I pass out -_-

  10. The only way I can wear cheap earrings for even just a couple hours is if I coat them in polysporin.

  11. I cant wait to try this! My ears are sensitive and I cant wear cheep earnings for a full day. otherwise I get pain. How long does the polish last for?

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