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What Is a Flat Back Earring?

Flat back earrings have been trending like crazy over the past couple of years. While they’ve always been must-have items for people with cartilage and labret piercings, they’ve recently begun to gain steam among those with traditional lobe piercings as well. Many of the people who have tried flat back earrings from luxury jewelers like Porter Lyons have found themselves openly wondering why all earrings aren’t designed this way, and you may find yourself feeling the same after you’ve experienced this comfortable, stylish addition to the ear canvas.

So, what are flat back earrings, and why should you consider grabbing some for yourself? By the time you’re done reading this article, you’re going to be an expert. Let’s begin, though, by explaining what flat back earrings are and how they compare to earrings with traditional butterfly backs.

How Do Flat Backs Compare to Butterfly Earring Backs?

The friction or butterfly back is probably the type of earring back with which you are most familiar. Butterfly back earrings are common because they’re inexpensive to produce and because the backs are easy to replace if they’re lost – which tends to happen quite often. With this type of earring, the back has a scroll that fits into a notch in the earring’s post, securing the jewelry in place. The end of the post is left exposed, though, and that can lead to discomfort and a variety of other problems.

With flat back earrings, the back of the earring is completely smooth and flat because the earring’s post is entirely hidden within the back. The flat back design is practically a requirement for some types of piercings, and it’s also becoming increasingly popular among those with lobe piercings because it eliminates many of the problems associated with traditional butterfly backs. We’ll explain those benefits in further detail in a moment.

There are two types of flat back earrings: threaded and threadless. With threadless flat back earrings, the back of the earring stays attached to the front by friction. A threaded back, on the other hand, simply screws on and off. You’ll learn more about threaded vs. threadless flat back earrings in a moment. First, though, what are the benefits of flat back earrings compared to earrings with traditional butterfly backs?

What Are the Benefits of Flat Back Earrings?

Are you the type of person who wears earrings all day, every day? If you are, you’ve already experienced the biggest problem with traditional butterfly earrings: Because the post extends past the back of the earring, you’ll get poked if you sleep on your side, use the phone or even just touch your ear inadvertently. It’s a seriously painful experience that’ll sometimes leave you wondering why you wear earrings at all. Flat back earrings won’t poke you, and that means you can wear them all of the time in complete comfort. A flat back is also a necessity for labret piercings and many types of cartilage piercings.

There’s one easy way to avoid the discomfort of sleeping with traditional earrings, of course: You can take them out at the end of the day. That, however, is one of the reasons why just about everyone has a box of earrings without mates – taking an earring out only increases the chance of losing it. Earrings with butterfly backs also have a nasty habit of falling out when they get caught on your clothing and hair – which happens constantly. Flat back earrings don’t tend to catch on things, and they’re very unlikely to fall out.

Flat back earrings are ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies. With a traditional butterfly design, the back of the earring rubs against the back of your earlobe throughout the day. That can lead to irritation, redness and itchiness. Those problems are further compounded with tight-fitting earring backs, which can harbor moisture and allow microbes to breed. 

Even those without especially sensitive skin have to admit that traditional earrings can be seriously uncomfortable with headwear. Have you ever tried wearing earrings with a helmet or over-ear headset? It’s an awful experience if your earrings have butterfly backs. With flat back earrings, there’s no discomfort at all.

How Do Threaded vs. Threadless Flat Back Earrings Compare?

As we explained above, flat back earrings are available in both threaded and threadless styles. Threaded earrings are similar to the butterfly earrings you’re accustomed to wearing, but the difference is that the post of the earring has threading at the end. After inserting the earring, you screw the back onto the end of the post. Threaded earrings are extremely secure and should have virtually no chance of falling out as long as you tighten the backs every day or two.

Some people may find threadless flat back earrings a bit more comfortable to insert because with a threadless post, you don’t feel the threads traveling through your piercing as you do with threaded earrings. In fact, you don’t feel the post at all because the back of the earring is inserted first. You insert the back of the earring through the back of your piercing. This style makes it possible for you to change the decorative part of the earring whenever you like while leaving the back of the earring inside your piercing. Once you’ve inserted the back of the earring, you can leave it in indefinitely.

How Do You Insert and Remove Flat Back Earrings?

If you want to try flat back earrings but prefer an experience that feels as close to traditional earrings as possible, you’ll probably want to start with threaded earrings. With this style, you’ll insert the earring through the front of the piercing as you currently do. In many cases, the post of a threaded flat back earring will be blunt. If you have difficulty getting the earring through the hole, you may need to open the hole with a traditional earring. Hold the back of the earring against the post while twisting the earring clockwise until it’s fully tightened. To remove the earring, twist the earring counterclockwise while holding the back with your other hand. Don’t forget that you should check the tightness of threaded earrings once a day to prevent them from falling out.

The biggest benefit of threadless flat back earrings is that you can insert the back into your piercing and leave it there indefinitely while swapping out the decorative part of the earring as often as you like. With this type of earring, you’ll begin by inserting the back of the earring through the back of your piercing. Next, you’ll insert the front of the earring halfway into the backing and then bend the pin slightly. Bending the pin allows the earring to hold together via friction. After bending the pin, you can push the earring the rest of the way in. Simply pull the two halves apart when you want to remove the earring.

Comfortable, stylish and more convenient in many ways than traditional earrings, flat back earrings make instant fans of almost everyone who wears them. If you’ve ever been poked by an earring with a traditional butterfly back – and who hasn’t? – or experienced the heartbreak of losing one of your favorite pieces, you’ve got to give flat back earrings a try.

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