If you have pierced ears, you know that the same earring backs don’t work for all types of earrings. No matter what shape your ears are, the same earring backs aren’t always going to work for the same people either.
Some people need extra support while others are super active and don’t want their earrings to fall out or get lost. No matter why you’re reading this, there’s probably an earring back on this list you’ve never heard of or will work better than what you already have.
Types of Earring Backs
There are four basic types of earring backs that you’ve probably already seen. If these are working for you, there’s really no reason to change. In fact, these types of earring backs have been around for decades, they work, and there’s often not anything else better.
Friction earring backs
Perhaps the most common type of earring back, friction earring backs (more commonly referred to as butterfly backs) push onto your earring post and use friction to hold it in place. It has a flat plate the rests against the back of your ear, withhold the size of the post. The curly metal scrolls grip the post with light spring tension, keeping it secure.
These are convenient because they’re easy to slide on and off. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can pick what works best for you and the type of earrings you wear. They’re also very affordable, with the smallest size being the most so.
However, with repeated use, you’ll find that you have to replace these every so often because they lose their friction. Sometimes you can adjust the tension, but it often doesn’t last for much longer after this needs to be done.
Screw-backs are the most secure, but they only work on threaded posts. The threaded post spins into the nut, keeping it secure and eliminating the risk of it falling out. It has to be fully unscrewed to be removed.
While this is a good thing for those who have trouble losing earrings, it’s time-consuming to put on and take off. It’s also not ideal for active individuals who might get their earrings caught on something.
These types of earrings can be pricey, which means this type of back is really only reserved for earrings with a higher value. Threaded posts also tend to be thicker than regular posts, which can cause some irritation for people with smaller holes. The treads can also be rough and uncomfortable.
La Pousette earring backs
These mechanical earring backs are cleverly designed to grip your earring post via a spring-loaded mechanism on the inside. Pinch the backs as you slide them onto the post, and when you release them, it engages a connection that holds your earring backs in place. Even if they do slide up and down the post during the course of wear, they catch at a notch on the post and won’t fall off.
These are very costly due to the complexity of manufacturing, but they are very secure. They offer the security of a screw back with the comfort of friction backs.
Jumbo earring backs
These are the same as friction earring backs, but they’re larger and much easier to manipulate. The large size also helps provide more support for the earring, so they’re ideal for larger or heavier earrings. They can keep your large studs from drooping. However, their larger size often means a higher price.
Plastic disc backs
This inexpensive earring back is a simple clear plastic cylinder with a hole the size of your post. They work with friction to keep your earring in place, but they can also be used in conjunction with friction backs to offer more stability.
They’re helpful when trying to get earrings to sit straight on ears where they normally don’t. If you have trouble getting your earrings to sit correctly, try adding these to see what happens. Plastic disc earring backs are also a great choice for dangle earrings that hook onto your ear. They’re discrete and they’ll keep the hook from shimmying out of your ear.
Speaking of hooks, shepherd hooks are a type of earring intended to hook into your ear and provide counterbalance so the earring hangs loosely without falling out. They’re more common in longer earring styles.
While some might hook through the ear and latch back to themselves on some sort of catch, most don’t. They’re affordable and easy to put in and remove. However, the risk of earring loss is greatly increased, unless you combine them with some rubber or plastic earring backs.
Lever earring backs
Lever earring backs are a common European style and may be called European backs. They look like a shepherd’s hook with a curved wire, but there’s a hinged piece on a lever that closes over the loop around the ear at the back. They’re secure and easy to slip on and off. They’re popular with dangle earrings, and you may prefer the way this style looks to other hooks or even posts.
This isn’t an earring back style you can implement on any earring, so if you like it, you have to buy earrings specifically made in this style. While they are more secure than some types, a stronger tug could open the lever.
Omega earring backs
Omega earring backs are interesting because they’re like a mix of a clip-on earring and a post-earring. They feature a post that goes through the ear, but attached to the bottom of the earring is a clip-on lever that snaps closed over the post.
They’re more secure than clip-ons but not as secure as a locking back or a screw back. The post doesn’t require the use of another back, although you could secure it with a rubber or plastic disc as well. This style is a personal preference, much like the lever earring back. It’s not very common, but some prefer it.
These are very easy to put on, which makes them as hassle-free as the lever backs, but you still run the risk of losing an earring if you’re active. And while some people find them very comfortable, they’re not adjustable, so they could pinch others.
Unusual earring backs
Several other types of earring backs aren’t common at all but do work for some. The backless post features a sharp curve so you don’t need a back, but they’re still not quite as secure as some other options.
The Bella bead is a type of earring back that covers the point of the post completely and is reserved for people who find that the back of their post pokes them. Bella beads are more comfortable for people who don’t like their posts, but they feature a unique look that not everyone likes.
The novelty of these two types of earring backs is what makes them appealing, but they’re hard to find.
Choice of Metals
Perhaps the shape of the earring back matters less to you than the material. Affordable earring backs can be made of anything from a nickel to sterling silver while fine jewelry is usually made with gold or platinum alloys.
If you don’t have a sensitivity to any materials and you want to save money, you’ll likely not have a problem with cheap earring backs. Buying them cheap and in bulk can also be really convenient if you tend to lose them a lot.
However, for those who can’t have a certain type of material against their skin for too long, you have to be more selective. Gold and platinum alloys are pricey, but they last longer. While some people still have reactions to gold alloys, platinum is considered a hypoallergenic material. It’s expensive but could be worth it for those who need it.
There are unique situations in which you may find that you really need a solution you didn’t think existed to a problem you didn’t know anyone else had. Until now. There are several other types of earring backs that provide support and stabilization either by themselves or in conjunction with the backs you already have.
If your earlobes have stretched over time and you find that earrings don’t look good anymore, are uncomfortable, or simply don’t sit right, these medical-grade adhesives can help support and stabilize your earlobes while you’re wearing earrings.
They’re thin, disposable discs that attach to the back of your ear. They help hold your torn or stretched earlobe in place while you wear earrings. Simply put your earring on like normal and push the metal through the disc. They work with any type of earring and they’re discrete enough that no one will know.
Earlobe support patches
Perhaps you don’t have stretched or torn earlobes yet, but you want to avoid it if you can. Earlobe support patches are similar to BlingDots, but they work better for heavy earrings. Simply attach them to the back of your ear in the same way and they’ll help support heavy earrings so your ears don’t have to do all the work.
Silicone and yellow gold
Earring backs made of medical-grade silicone with yellow gold help to support your earrings and they can be attached to the back of almost any earring type. They’re made of high-grade silicone that’s stronger than plastic discs and the yellow gold is made to fit traditional posts or screw backs.
These are designed to be larger, with extra depth and cushion that can stabilize heavy designs or make your valuable earrings more secure. They’re hypoallergenic, but maybe too big for smaller ears.
There’s not one type of earring back that’s best for everyone. It comes down to personal preference. The type of back you choose will depend on the shape of your ear, your sensitivity to the material, and the type of earrings you wear.
There are plenty of affordable solutions that will work for you, you just have to figure out what they are. I tend to gravitate toward the cheap kind and replace them as I need to, but many people choose to invest in something more secure or nicer, based on the look they want to achieve.
Answer: This depends on the type of earrings you wear, the shape of your ears, and your sensitivity to certain materials. While sterling silver and nickel are pretty affordable, they can also cause problems for some people.
Quite a few people even have an allergy to gold alloys, making hypoallergenic options like platinum the best solution for them.
As far as the type of earring back, you’ll have to look a little bit closer at the type of earrings you wear and your activity level to determine which is best. People who work in an office environment can get by with something like a rubber disc that’s a little less secure. Others may have to move up to a butterfly back or even invest in some screw backs.
Answer: Sometimes all it takes is investing in some new backs. Often, butterfly backs lose their tension over time, so you need to readjust them or get new ones. However, if you have a perpetual problem with the backs of your earrings falling off, you should probably look into some other solutions because what you’re using now isn’t working for you.
You can invest in locking earring backs or screw backs to keep the backs of your earrings more secure and eliminate the risk of losing an earring.
Another clever solution is to use BlingDots backward. Instead of putting the adhesive side toward your earlobe, turn it around so when you slide your earring back into place, it sticks to the adhesive and won’t go anywhere.
If your main problem is losing earring backs when you’re not wearing them, then come up with a more secure place to put them. Hook earrings together and place them in a safe place together so the pair won’t get separated. You can also use the holes of your watch to attach them to.
Answer: This will depend on your own skin’s sensitivity or allergy to certain materials. In fact, some people may have an allergy to gold alloys but can wear cheap materials like a nickel with no problem.
Platinum is very expensive, but it’s hypoallergenic and works well for people who have a sensitivity to almost everything else.
Answer: Sterling silver is affordable and very common, so if you don’t have a sensitivity to this material, it’s a great choice for you. However, it’s soft and can be bent, scratched, or broken more easily than other materials.
Surgical steel is very strong and ideal for active individuals. While it can scratch, it won’t scratch or break nearly as easily as sterling silver. It won’t tarnish or discolor and it doesn’t require cleaning, but it’s more expensive.