Since there’s no legal definition for what hypoallergenic is, you might just think it’s just a buzzword that jewelry brands use.
“Then is there a point to hypoallergenic jewelry? And if I don’t have allergies, should this matter to me?” Confusingly, the answer is yes to all of the above.
The five hypoallergenic jewelry brands for men we’ve rounded up here take the necessary steps to accommodate skin sensitivities.
Before we get to the brands, let’s answer a few questions…
Hypoallergenic Jewelry: What Is It Exactly?
Hypoallergenic jewelry is made from metals that are highly unlikely to cause allergic reactions in most people. It’s best to think of this category as having varying degrees, similar to water resistance in a watch.
For example, virtually no one is allergic to platinum or gold. However, jewelry metal is mixed with other metals for different reasons—platinum is too difficult to mold on its own, and gold is too soft on its own.
Good hypoallergenic jewelry is made of the highest concentration of these hypoallergenic metals, and the best are the ones that don’t mix it with allergens—the biggest culprit being nickel.
Turns your finger green?
So does this explain why you’ve seen your finger turn green from a supposedly hypoallergenic ring? Maybe, but not always.
Base metals, like copper, react to the elements (including the sweat on your skin), and oxidize. This can turn your skin green temporarily, but isn’t necessarily harmful. Actual allergies can cause rashes, discomfort, and even infections.
If you’re bothered by the greenifying of your skin, you can put a coat of clear nail polish where the piece touches your skin, or even use painters tape to create a barrier between you and potential oxidation.
So, How Do You Know If You’re Allergic to Certain Jewelry?
Well, it’s quite easy. All you have to do is observe the areas of your body the jewelry gets in contact with.
If you’re allergic, your skin begins to turn red or itch, and at some point, you may notice a rash on your skin.
The most common signs of jewelry allergies include itchy earlobes, blisters, swelling, red rash on the neck area, and red marks everywhere the jewelry touches.
Metals to Watch Out For
While you can develop an allergy to any metal, nickel is the most common of all metal allergens, with cobalt and chromates as the second most common.
In North America alone, it’s estimated that over 18% of the population are allergic to nickel.
Nickel even accounts for around 75% of stainless steel production, appearing in varying concentrations, since it’s cheap and easy to solder.
Remember when we mentioned that hypoallergenic status is more like a watch’s water resistance? Stainless steel is a good example.
A lot of stainless steel is considered hypoallergenic, but it really depends on how much nickel is in there, and if you’re uniquely hypersensitive.
Some jewelry may be marked as nickel-free, though you may find trace elements of it, which won’t affect most people.
Back to our analogy, a watch with 100 meters of water resistance is more than enough for most people, and even most professional divers, but there’s a tiny minority that might need more.
When it comes to metal allergies, if you have a particularly acute hypersensitivity, then you likely already know since we’re exposed to base metals all the time.
Hypoallergenic Metals: What Materials are Best for Sensitive Skin?
Not only is this precious metal hypoallergenic, but the US requires a piece of jewelry be at least 90% platinum, often 95%, for brands to label it platinum. So even if you manage to get platinum with nickel in it, most people won’t be affected.
Moreover, it’s usually mixed with two equally hypoallergenic metals, iridium and ruthenium.
Only about 0.6% of the population is allergic to titanium. It’s three times stronger than steel and nearly half the weight. Compared to gold, it can better handle scratches and corrosion, despite daily use and its light color makes it elegant yet versatile.
It comes in four grades, Grade 4 being the strongest, and Grade 1 being the least strong (though I wouldn’t call it weak!)
Another metal that’s light in color, rhodium is also hypoallergenic and it’s often used as plating in the jewelry-making process.
It works well as a barrier between nickel alloyed white gold and skin. With time, the skin may be exposed to the alloy. When this happens, you’ll see your white gold turn to a yellowish color. That’s when you know it’s time to get rhodium plating.
When it comes to gold, the purer it is, the more hypoallergenic it is. Yes, it comes in different grades and levels of purity, but only 24k gold is completely hypoallergenic.
The lower you go in karat ratings, the more alloy is mixed into it. Alloy will usually be added to give the gold strength since pure gold is very fragile.
As long as there’s no nickel in it, sterling silver is an excellent hypoallergenic metal. Most sterling silver, otherwise known as 925 silver contains 7.5% other alloys, but often utilizes copper, to which very few people have allergies.
You can also go the non-metal route, if that’s your style.
Bioplast is a plastic made from vegetable fats, oils, and other renewable sources. Small pieces can be made to look like colored glass.
Moreover, it can be used for the post and backing of an earring, while paired with a metal or gem stud, ensuring that at least the more invasive parts of the piece are hypoallergenic.
Acrylic jewelry, meanwhile, is hypoallergenic, but comes with its own issues. It can be made with chemicals that can degrade in hot weather and release slightly toxic vapors, so it isn’t a great choice for newly pierced ears.
Hypoallergenic Jewelry Brands: 5 of our Favorites
Triton is one of the few hypoallergenic jewelry brands that’s fully focused on men’s pieces.
It’s best known for producing jewelry made from titanium, with an emphasis on rings. Some of their rings are also made from gold, diamond, meteorite, and wood, so they do a really excellent job of accommodating a range of personal styles, or offering fun one-offs for your collection.
The best part about Triton is that they offer customized rings as well. After you’ve selected your core material, you’ll then have the option to select a core design, base metal, and color.
Their multi-piece constructions give you the choice of mixing contemporary metals, special metals, and other types of stones to make your jewelry look super distinct.
BaubleBar, a New York-based brand, offers particular jewelry that’s certified nickel-free, lead-free, cadmium-free, and phthalates-free.
Most of these specific pieces are labeled “hypoallergenic,” but just make sure to contact customer service if you’re interested in a specific piece and aren’t sure of its status.
They offer earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings, and other types of jewelry for men and women, at a wide range of prices, in playful and timeless styles.
The unisex Maro Ring Set, for example, uniquely straddles the line between classically simple and just a little chunky. It’s plated with 14k gold, with a brass base.
BaubleBar even has solid gold and diamond jewelry, and Mickey Mouse NFL bag charms, with every team from the Chiefs to the Vikings.
Unlike the commonly-used tungsten carbide, tungsten itself is hypoallergenic and offers the same light gray tone as stainless steel.
King Will makes classic, industrial, and even highly decorative rings, mostly out of tungsten (though a lot of their colored tungsten rings are indeed tungsten carbide, so watch out for that!).
In addition to their popular tungsten wedding bands, they make exquisite carbon fiber pieces, like this black and green Celtic Dragon ring.
Carbon fiber is hypoallergenic, conflict free, and gives this ring an authoritative look that complements the green midsection, making it look like it’s glowing.
You can check their ring collections on Amazon and you’ll find plenty of helpful reviews—they’re rated at four and a half stars!
Tini Lux is a mid-tier brand that makes earrings for people with sensitive skin and metal allergies. While there’s no specific men’s collection, there are plenty of options for guys who wear earrings.
They even have a blog post about hypoallergenic earrings for men, in which they acknowledge the demand for non-reactive jewelry among male jewelry wearers, before recommending a few studs and a chain from their collection.
Their Hypoallergenic Starter Studs are definitely unisex since they’re technically healer studs. However, they have an industrial but still sleek look about them and are made of titanium.
Overall, Tini Lux earrings are lab-tested and dermatologist-approved, so you can rest assured that they’re as pure as the brand promises they are.
Blomdahl, a Swedish brand, specializes in making skin-friendly earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings. They’re actually a piercing go-to, whether you wear nose rings or earrings, and boast a patented medical piercing system.
This super scientific approach ensures that the specific tools that come into direct contact with you come straight from sterile packaging. It’s literally as antiseptic as getting a shot at the doctor.
Their jewelry is made from silver titanium, gold titanium, and other types of materials that are hypoallergenic.
Allergic to Jewelry Metals? What To Do About It
If you’re allergic to a certain type of jewelry, the best thing you can do is investigate the type of material that each jewelry piece is made of and then switch to the hypoallergenic alternative.
Stay away from nickel, chromates, and cobalt, and stick to higher concentrations of precious metals.
If you already have jewelry that you know you are allergic to but just can’t let go of, it’s often okay to wear pieces for a short amount of time as long as your allergies are very slight.
Another solution is getting in contact with a jeweler and asking them to add a layer of metal or film to the jewelry parts that will touch your skin. Doing this will protect your skin and won’t react to the metal you are allergic to!
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