How to Stop Jewelry Turning Your Skin Green

Girl wearing rings

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Your costume jewelry looks great when it’s all sparkly and bright, until you notice it’s turning your skin green. This can be quite unnerving, but it’s usually not a cause for worry. It also doesn’t mean that you have to throw out all jewelry pieces you own that discolor your skin. However, it’s important to know why some types of jewelry can turn your skin green and how you can avoid it.

Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

There are several reasons that jewelry metals can cause skin to become green. It’s a common belief that cheap jewelry can cause skin discoloration, but this isn’t always the case. This can happen with almost any type of jewelry and is a result of chemical reactions.


Certain metals are prone to oxidization when they’re exposed to the skin. Copper is one such metal, which turns your skin green when it encounters body oils, sweat or lotion. 

Metal Composition

What your jewelry is made of plays a role in making your skin green. While copper is the main reason for skin discoloration, nickel is another common culprit. Alloys that contain these metals are all likely to cause skin discoloration.

Brass and bronze are excellent examples, as they’re alloys made using copper.  

Although some people think that precious metals like gold and sterling silver don’t cause skin discoloration, these metals often contain copper, nickel and zinc. Sterling silver typically contains about 8% of copper that can turn your skin green. Unless the purity levels are high, these precious metals can also cause green skin.

Body Reactions

Humans react differently when their skin comes into contact with jewelry. If you have a higher acidity level in your body or you sweat a lot, it’s likely that metals can oxidize when in contact with your skin. High acidity levels can cause jewelry to oxidize and as a result, your skin will turn green.

Metal Corrosion

Some metals used for jewelry-making are prone to corrosion and tarnishing, especially under favorable conditions like the presence of oxygen or dirt. This corrosion ends up staining your skin green.

Cheap Jewelry

Yes, cheap jewelry can discolor your skin, although the reason isn’t the price tag. The real reason is that cheap jewelry is usually plated. This means that the piece is actually made of a much cheaper metal like copper, nickel or silver and covered with a very thin coat of another metal like gold or silver. When the plating wears off over time, your skin will be exposed to the metal underneath the plating, which can turn your skin green.

Ways to Stop Your Jewelry from Discoloring Your Skin

Skin discoloration is not the same as a skin reaction. A skin reaction is much more serious and may require medical attention. Discoloration is harmless, but it can look unappealing. To keep this from happening, here are some tips to stop your jewelry from turning your skin green.

1. Plate your jewelry.

To ensure that the jewelry metal doesn’t touch your skin, have it plated with silver, gold or rhodium. It’s an effective, but temporary measure that will prevent your skin from turning green. However, you’ll need to re-plate the piece regularly not only to avoid skin discoloration but also to maintain its beauty.

2. Create a barrier with common substances.

Consider applying something on your jewelry to create a barrier between the metal and your skin. You can use any of the following:

  • Microcrystalline wax polish – Apply, leave to dry and buff with a fluffy cloth. It gives your jewelry a nice, shiny finish.
  • Clear nail varnish – Nail varnish is a popular way of preventing jewelry from discoloring skin. Smear two to three coats of clear nail varnish on the jewelry’s inner surface that touches your skin and leave it to dry.  

Make sure to let all substances dry completely for about 20 minutes before putting on your jewelry. While these remedies are effective, they’re not a long-term solution and must be repeated as soon as you notice that the coating is peeling off.

3. Keep your jewelry away from water and soap.

Whenever you’re washing your hands, bathing or swimming, it’s a good idea to remove your jewelry. Water and soap can speed up the oxidation process, while chemicals like chlorine in water can react intensely with some metals, turning your skin green. Because sweat increases oxidation, remove your jewelry when working out or doing heavy work.

4. Use anti-tarnishing cloths.

Using an anti-tarnishing cloth to wipe down your jewelry will help prevent skin discoloration by stopping the oxidation process.  Anti-tarnish cloths are also known as ‘silver polishing cloths as they’re commonly used to remove silver tarnish. Sometimes these cloths can turn black with regular use but avoid washing them since they will lose their cleaning properties.  

5. Avoid perfumes, cream, and lotions touching the jewelry.

Remove your jewelry before applying perfumes and body lotions or creams to minimize contact. This is because certain beauty products contain acids that can oxidize your pieces.

6. Remove jewelry from time to time.

You can take out your jewelry every now and then during the day to give your skin rest and reduce skin discoloration. For the same reason, we also recommend removing all your jewelry before going to bed at night.

7. Consider the weather.

Avoid wearing your jewelry when it’s hot because sweating will cause your pieces to oxidize against your skin. You’ll have to either make do without your jewelry for the day or change your plans according to the weather.

8. Avoid wearing cheap jewelry.

While skin staining can occur with almost any type of jewelry, cheap jewelry is more likely to cause it. Therefore, it’s best to avoid cheap pieces and go for something that has a higher content of precious metal. Jewelry with higher gold, platinum and palladium purity levels don’t typically cause discoloration.

9. Invest in hypoallergenic jewelry.

If you don’t like the unsightly green on your skin, consider buying hypoallergenic jewelry which is made of such metals as niobium, tungsten carbide, stainless steel and titanium. Hypoallergenic jewelry is specially made for people with sensitive skin who experience allergic reactions to certain metals so if that’s you, then you might want to switch to this type of jewelry.

10. Keep your jewelry clean.

Cleaning your jewelry regularly means that you’ll be wiping off all the body sweat and oils on your pieces. This reduces the oxidation process, making your jewelry a lot safer to wear. Use a spotless, soft cloth to clean your jewelry pieces after each use.  

Wrapping Up

While skin discoloration caused by jewelry isn’t permanent or harmful, it look bad and make you uncomfortable. However, this shouldn’t be a reason for you to avoid wearing your favorite jewelry pieces altogether.  With a little extra effort, you’ll be able to comfortably wear your jewelry as you like, without having to deal with discoloration.