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My metal allergy kept me from wearing most earrings — until I found these hoops

They're hypoallergenic, nickel-free and super affordable!
Courtesy Lauren Witonsky

I’ve gotten my ears pierced twice now. And no, not to get a second hole on my upper lobe or do something bold like decorate my tragus. Twice because I had to let my initial piercings close up after learning what a metal allergy was ... the hard way. If you have sensitive skin, you know the signs: swelling, redness, irritation and worst of all, itchiness. The symptoms began when I changed my earrings for the first time, from my sterling silver studs to a pair more fun, colorful and, I hate to say it, not up to par quality-wise.

Eight-year-old me was bummed, but I eventually decided to go back for round two. Another six weeks of meticulously following Claire’s aftercare protocol, and I was much more hesitant about taking them out. So much so that now, almost 20 years later, I still stick to the studs used for piercing on a day-to-day basis. But when gold hoops started trending, I fell so in love with the look that I decided it was time to test the jewelry waters. Not quite ready to invest in (pricey) solid gold earrings, only to have another traumatizing skin reaction, I figured it made more sense to try a chic but less expensive gold-plated option.

17 Mile Gold Hoop Earrings Set

I found my perfect pair right on Amazon — a medium-sized, chunky hoop. Better yet, it came in a set with five other differently sized, shaped and patterned pairs. After wearing them for a week straight, I didn't have a single issue with the metal irritating my skin. No swelling, redness or itchiness, even when I had them on all day long. It makes sense considering they are listed as lead-free, nickel-free and hypoallergenic (which I didn’t even know jewelry could be).

Metal allergy aside, it's easy to see why these earrings are so highly reviewed, with nearly 5,000 five-star ratings. They’re extremely lightweight — a factor I didn’t even consider before adding to cart, but one I will pay more attention to from now on, since it made them easy and comfortable to wear while working and working out. They also feel durable as the clasps don't bend out of shape when snapping them into place.

Style-wise, this set has pushed me to play with different earring designs than I’m used to. (I’ve been gravitating towards the twisted hoops lately and have been dying to try the wide-ridged croissant style next.)

They've also proven over and over again to be the easiest way to elevate any look. Even though I’m usually sporting athleisure, I always feel 10 times more put-together when I pull my hair back into a low bun, slap on a baseball cap and pop in these hoops. They’re my favorite piece of jewelry to wear when I’m getting dressed up, too, and can easily transition from day to night.

If you don’t have this allergy, consider yourself lucky — and please get a second piercing for me. But whether or not you do, these hoops are a great budget-friendly option for sensitive skin. I can’t say they’ll never tarnish since they’re such a new find, but several reviewers have said they’ve even showered in them with no reports of discoloration. One five-star reviewer went as far as to say they offered a "spectacular value." They continued, "They have not turned my ears green, and I have worn many of these over and over again for 8-10 hour days at work. Just buy these, you really won't be disappointed in them."

I certainly wasn't. It's safe to say that my days of trading comfort for cute earrings are officially over.

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