Why Jewelry Turns You Skin Green/Black & How To Prevent It

Why Jewelry Turns You Skin Green/Black & How To Prevent It

Have you ever wondered why some jewelry turns your skin green? Or black? Continue reading for the details and tips on how to prevent it.

Skin discoloration usually occurs when you wear pieces that fit tight to the skin, like rings or cuff bracelets. But you shouldn't be alarmed, it is usually not dangerous or bad for your health. The reasons and rate at which this happens vary, including your skin's own personal pH balance.

Let's take a closer look:


    Green is one of the most common skin discolorations. It comes from the copper in jewelry reacting to salts, lotions, acids, and other chemicals in the air and in/on your skin. This reaction creates a patina (or darkened color) on your jewelry, which can color your skin. It's not dangerous and will go away on its own in a day or two.


    Many metals used for jewelry are alloys, meaning they are not 100% pure metal. Sterling silver, 14k and 18k gold, brass, and bronze are all metals that contain copper, and any metal that contains copper can turn your skin green.


    Black is another common skin discoloration caused by jewelry. It typically results from the tarnish on the metal transferring to the skin. Metals, including fine silver and sterling silver, are susceptible to tarnishing, especially when exposed to water.


    If this happens to you, give your piece a good polish or try my Eco-Friendly Jewelry Cleaner recipe, and then rinse it thoroughly with a soap and water bath.


    Red discoloration is more often an allergic reaction. This typically happens because a metal allergy irritates the skin. Allergic reactions are specific to each individual, and when they happen, it is best to avoid wearing these metals.


    Nickel is the most common culprit. Nickel is often found in base metals used under plated materials or nickel-silver jewelry.


    Preventing skin discoloration and irritation is fairly easy. For copper, brass, and bronze, you want to create a barrier between the metal and the skin. This can be done with a product called Renaissance Wax, beeswax, or you can coat the inside of your piece with clear nail polish. These products will wear off over time, and you will need to reapply as needed.



    As previously mentioned, copper, brass, bronze, and plated jewelry that contains nickel or copper are more likely to discolor skin.

    Fine Jewelry can still cause reactions, as both gold and sterling silver are alloys (a mixture of metals), but it is less likely this will happen.

    While the material itself is important, environmental and skin chemistry must also be considered. Lotions, water, salty air, perfume, sunscreen, chlorine, household cleaners, and more can all cause metals to darken over time.

    Beauty products like lotions, soaps, perfumes, hairspray, and more often contribute to discoloration reactions. It’s easy to forget that these products stay on the surface of your skin after application. The residues contain many ingredients that commonly react with metal jewelry. You should never apply these products while wearing your favorite piece. If you do notice your metals start to darken, try cleaning your skin to remove these products before putting on your jewelry.

    Your body's pH makeup can also contribute, and as such, you can never predict who will have a reaction and how quickly your piece will start to oxidize or darken.

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