Why Does Jewelry Turn Your Skin Green


So you went out and bought a pair of shiny new earrings or a fabulous necklace. They look pretty good on, but after wearing them for only a few hours, your ears or neck start to feel irritated. At first, it might not be bad, just slight redness where the jewelry touches your skin. But eventually, it gets worse and turns into a skin rash. You notice that the skin rash has turned green; the jewelry is to blame. So you take off your new earrings and necklace. Before putting them back in their packages, you want to ensure they aren't defective. So what's causing this skin reaction to jewelry? How can you prevent it?


Why Does Copper Turn My Skin Green?


Did you know that copper turns green when exposed to oxygen? The same thing happens if your skin comes in contact with copper. There are two types of contact dermatitis, classified by exposure to the metal. The first is allergic contact dermatitis, which causes redness and itching around the area where metal contacts your skin. The other type, which is the one that gives a green tinge to the skin, is contact dermatitis. This skin reaction happens when you develop an itchy red rash without any allergic reaction.

Most metal in jewelry includes copper or nickel. When these two low-cost metals contact your skin, they cause a skin reaction to jewelry, either irritant dermatitis or an allergic reaction to jewelry.

The good news is that some people don't experience any skin irritation at all from wearing jewelry with these metals, so some side effects are due to your sensitivity to the jewelry metal in question. The bad news is that if you do have a reaction to the metal in jewelry, it only takes a few hours for the rash to start appearing, so you don't have much time before your skin starts turning green.

What Does It Mean When Your Skin Turns Green? Is It An Allergy?

The greenish tint on your skin is a form of corrosion. It results from a chemical reaction between the metals in your jewelry and the acids found naturally in your skin. When these two substances come into contact, they create a new compound called verdigris. Verdigris is a greenish-blue substance that can be pretty harmful to your skin. It can cause skin irritation, rashes, and even skin cancer.

Allergic reactions to jewelry include redness, swelling, and itching. If you're not experiencing any of these symptoms but experience a green tinge on skin, it's not an allergic reaction to jewelry.


Does Alloy Turn Your Skin Green?

It depends on the alloy combination, but most alloys include nickel and copper, which commonly cause skin discoloration spots—however, the prevention of skin discoloration is achievable by wearing rhodium-plated alloy jewelry. The rhodium plating acts as a protective barrier between your skin and the alloy combination.


Does Brass Turn Skin Green?


Brass is a metal that turns skin green, if not coated correctly. Oxidation is an inevitable aspect of brass since it's composed of a mix of metals, including copper and zinc. Unfortunately, many factors contribute to brass turning skin green, such as humidity, skin oil, and sweat.

Brass creating a green tinge on skin can be prevented by wearing gold or rhodium-plated alloy jewelry. These protective metals keep the skin looking beautiful and healthy.


Does Sterling Silver Turn Skin Green?


Sterling silver is combined with alloyed metals to make it more durable. Jewelers use a mix of base metals (copper, brass, etc.) in this process. Is it an issue that the metal is not pure? Not in the least. This alloy mixture is certainly not a problem, given that sterling silver contains less than 8% copper content.

So, can 8% copper content in sterling silver cause skin to turn green? Yes, copper is a metal that turns skin green if not coated correctly. So, sterling silver turning skin green sometimes happens, but it is rare. It also depends on who is wearing the jewelry.

Furthermore, several skin lotions and creams can produce skin discoloration. On hot days and during strenuous exercise, sweat will make you more prone to skin discoloration, especially if you wear your sterling silver jewelry 24 hours a day. This reaction is why it is best to remove jewelry during these activities is a smart idea.


Does Cheap Jewelry Cause Skin Discoloration? Why Does Fake Gold Turn Your Skin Green?

Several jewelry metals cause your skin to turn green. While some of these metals are less expensive materials, not all low-cost jewelry causes skin discoloration, and not all high-end jewelry is free from skin discoloration.

It all boils down to your chemical makeup and how your skin reacts to different jewelry metals. Yes, fake gold turns skin green because it contains a high amount of copper, nickel, or bronze. When the acid in your skin comes into contact with the metal, it causes a chemical reaction that turns the jewelry green. So, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid wearing fake gold jewelry. On the other hand, real gold is made of pure gold and does not contain copper, nickel, or bronze, so it will not turn your skin green.


Will Aluminum Turn Your Skin Green?

Aluminum is a non-reactive metal. Aluminum won’t tarnish or cause skin irritation, but it also won’t turn your skin green. If you notice that it is beginning to tarnish, it can only mean that it has some alloy metals mixed within it.


What Type Of Metal Turns Your Skin Green?

Some metals that turn skin green include copper, brass, and bronze. When the jewelry is in contact with the sweat on your skin, the salt in the sweat will cause a chemical reaction with the metal. This chemical reaction will create a greenish-black tarnish on your skin. If you have sensitive skin, this may also cause an allergic reaction.


What Kind Of Jewelry Won't Turn Your Skin Green?

If you've ever worn uncoated jewelry made with copper, bronze, or brass, you may have noticed that your skin turns a greenish color after a while. This skin reaction results when the proteins in your skin form a green compound called copper sulfide. While this reaction is harmless, it can be pretty unsightly, especially if the green discoloration is on your hands or neck.

If you want to wear jewelry that won't turn your skin green, you should stick with pure gold or platinum. These metals don't react with proteins in the same way as copper, silver, and brass so that they won't cause any discoloration. However, even pure gold and platinum jewelry can cause skin irritation in some people, so it's always a good idea to do a patch test before wearing any new jewelry.

Rhodium is another metal that doesn't react with proteins, so it's a good choice for people who are prone to skin discoloration. Rhodium is more expensive than gold or platinum, but it may be worth the investment if you want to wear jewelry that won't turn your skin green.


How to Prevent Skin Discoloration:


  1. To avoid getting green skin from jewelry wear, only wear copper jewelry occasionally and for brief periods.
  2. Get your jewelry rhodium plated to provide a protective barrier between the jewelry and your skin and extend its longevity.
  3. On hot days, don't wear jewelry because sweating is the primary cause of oxidation reactions causing your skin to become green.
  4. Clean your jewelry regularly to remove dirt, liquids, lotions or soap particles that may adhere to the jewelry and cause oxidation reactions against the skin.
  5. Don't swim with jewelry on, as chlorine and copper have an adverse reaction leaving a green mark on the skin.
  6. When cleaning, take off your jewelry. Chlorine in standard cleaning solutions can discolor gold jewelry and leave a green mark on the skin.
  7. Another way to prevent a green tinge on skin is to wipe down contact areas. First, remove all jewelry to allow your skin to breathe. To fix skin turning green from jewelry, wipe down the irritated areas with non-acetone nail polish remover, makeup removal, or alcohol.
  8. To prevent a green tinge on skin from jewelry wear, use clear nail polish or petroleum jelly to coat the jewelry and act as a protective barrier to prevent further reaction with the metal.




Before purchasing a new piece of jewelry, check the metal content and determine how your skin reacts to different metals.

After assessing this data and truly knowing how you personally will react to them, go ahead and wear those silver rings or gold necklaces without having to worry about discolored skin or rashes!