Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green? Here's What You Must Know

Jewelry has the potential to transform a look and improve the appeal of an outfit. There is nothing like wearing the perfect piece of jewelry in order to pull together an entire look. However, if that same jewelry turns your skin green, it effectively does the opposite. It ends up ruining what would otherwise be a beautiful look. 

So why does this happen? Why does some jewelry turn skin green while other jewelry works just fine? And is there any way to avoid this problem? Keep reading to find out!

Related: Which Jewelry Metals Are Hypoallergenic

Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green? 

If a piece of jewelry turns your skin clean, chances are that it was copper jewelry. This is because of the specific properties of copper and the way they interact with things. 

Copper begins to oxidize when exposed to sweat, various skincare products, the elements, or even the natural oils on your body. As copper oxidizes, a greenish film is created on the outside of it. Most people have at least some experience with this happening, as it is similar to the process that turned the Statue of Liberty from a traditional copper color to what we now know today. 

This film then gets on your skin and makes it look green as well. So, the central issue with jewelry turning skin green is how copper interacts with everything around it. 

However, the issue isn’t confined to pure copper jewelry. In fact, you may have worn a piece of amazing gold or silver jewelry only to find that it turned your skin green. 

This happens because many jewelry pieces use a mix of metals to make them stronger or to make them cost less. Jewelry made from gold or silver may incorporate copper and other metals into the final product. Because of this, many types of jewelry may not be pure copper yet still have copper in them. This gives them the potential to turn skin green. 

Avoiding Copper Jewelry

Now that you understand why jewelry turns skin green, you can start to determine ways to prevent this from happening. The main way to do this is to avoid copper jewelry. 

Instead of using copper jewelry, pick metals that do not react with the skin. For example, titanium, gold, and platinum generally do not react negatively with skin and still look great. These have the added bonus of being metals that are less likely to produce allergic reactions. 

However, as you look for these metals, try to get them in as pure a form as possible. Other metals, like copper, are often mixed with these metals. This is why finding a pure or mostly pure form is important, as they will not have this issue. If finding this isn’t possible, just make sure that the metals they are mixed with do not include large amounts of copper.

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How to Avoid Jewelry Turning Skin Green

Unfortunately, completely sticking to nonreactive metals isn’t always possible. You may find the perfect piece of vintage jewelry only to discover that it turns your skin green. Or you may already have a nice jewelry collection with plenty of copper pieces. In any of these cases, you will still want to wear your jewelry but will want to wear it without having it make you look strange. 

Luckily, there are ways to help with this as well. You can avoid situations that cause reactions and take measures to prevent your jewelry from reacting in the first place. 

Avoiding situations that cause reactions means preventing your jewelry from coming into contact with anything that may trigger oxidization. You may want to avoid using lotion or other body products to prevent them from reacting with your jewelry. You may also want to avoid wearing your jewelry when you will be sweating a lot or when the jewelry will come into contact with water, as these may also cause a reaction.

Related: Got A Tarnished Heirloom? Here's How To Clean Vintage Jewelry 

You can also take steps to prevent your jewelry from having reactions in general. An easy way to do this is by wearing copper pieces outside your clothes. A copper necklace worn over a turtleneck still looks great yet doesn’t come into contact with your skin. You can also apply a thin layer of clear nail polish on the jewelry to provide a barrier between it and your skin. However, if you do this, we suggest only doing it on cheaper or less important pieces, as the nail polish may damage the jewelry in other ways. 

Finally, another measure that helps prevent your jewelry from turning green is to clean it after you wear it. Doing so will remove the water and other reactive materials from the piece. This way, the jewelry won’t undergo a reaction as it is stored. 

Is Jewelry Turning Skin Green a Medical Issue?

Having your skin turn a strange green color seems like a serious issue. After all, having a pale, green complexion is a pretty direct sign of sickness. This causes many to wonder if having your skin turn green from jewelry is a serious issue. 

In general, the answer to this is no. The reaction that causes the green color is occurring within the metal, not your skin. This reaction then leaves a residue on your skin. So, your skin isn’t in trouble or changing negatively; the jewelry is. 

However, this is not the case if you are experiencing an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to the metal in jewelry, the skin will usually turn red and become irritated. This results from your skin having an allergic reaction to one or more of the metals in the jewelry you are wearing. Typically, this looks very different from the green that copper leaves behind, as the reaction looks more like a rash. 

Luckily, this isn’t a very serious issue either. Metal allergies are common, especially nickel allergies, and are more annoying than dangerous. There are also plenty of ways to deal with these allergies and help avoid them in the future. 

Related: Which Jewelry Metals Are Hypoallergenic

Dealing With Jewelry That Turns Skin Green

Having your skin turn green from the jewelry you are wearing is annoying. However, it isn’t harmful and shouldn’t prevent you from wearing your favorite pieces. 

If you want to avoid jewelry that could cause this problem, simply avoid copper pieces. While doing so, make sure to look out for metals that have copper in them.

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