This Is Why Your Skin Turns Green After Wearing Certain Jewelry

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The good news: there are still ways to wear your favorite pieces of jewelry.

It has happened to almost all of us. You find the perfect ring, necklace, pair of earrings, or bracelet and you wear it all day long—then it turns your skin green. After feelings of devastation dissipate, you’re left with questions as to why the jewelry is turning skin green in the first place. Fortunately, we have an answer—and tips on how to prevent it from happening.

Why does your skin turn green when you wear certain jewelry?

Copper is often the culprit when discussing jewelry turning skin green. When jewelry is made with copper, it can react with sweat, lotion, and other products on your skin and oxidize. When copper oxidizes, it goes through chemical reactions that create a green type of “film” on the jewelry, which then transfers to the skin. (Did you know the Statue of Liberty’s real color isn’t green? It’s because she’s made out of copper!)

Copper isn’t always the metal at fault, though. “You must be careful with any fashion jewelry that isn’t solid gold or platinum, as it may not always be defined which metals are in the alloy,” says Tori Dundas, founder and president of True Curated Designs. “Many people specifically must ask about nickel as well as copper, because skin allergies to nickel are common.”

Does green skin from jewelry go away?

Yes, green skin from jewelry does go away. Some people may confuse this sensation with their skin being allergic to copper, but that’s not the case. “It’s important to note this is an oxidation reaction, not a skin reaction,” says Beatrix Bell of Beatrixbell Handcrafted Jewelry. “It is physical residue left on your skin. It can be wiped off, but can be stubborn at times.”

As long as you sweat (which is inevitable), chances are, your skin will react with the copper in your jewelry. Despite this, there are always exceptions. If you’re experiencing an itching sensation or a rash after wearing copper jewelry, it may be a sign of an allergy.

How do I stop my jewelry from turning my skin green?

Fortunately, you can still wear your copper jewelry without having green skin as a side effect. Here are some tips that can help prevent jewelry from turning your skin green:

  • Paint the part of the jewelry that touches your skin with a coat of clear nail polish so there is a type of barrier between the jewelry and your skin. Here are some other things you can fix with nail polish.
  • Clean your jewelry regularly to remove excess lotion, sweat, and dirt.
  • Store your jewelry in a dry environment.
  • Keep your skin dry when wearing jewelry.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry on hot days, since you’re more likely to sweat.
  • Take off jewelry when swimming and cleaning.
  • Buy stainless steel or platinum jewelry, or jewelry made from precious metals like sterling silver or solid gold.

Additional reporting by Brittany Gibson

Sources:

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Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia, and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music, and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout New England.