BMJ Blog

Why Does Some Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

Posted on September 08, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Why Does Some Jewelry Turn Skin Green? | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Although beautiful, copper (in pure and alloyed form) is often responsible for turning skin temporarily green.

You just bought a cute new ring, but you’re distressed to discover that it’s left an unsightly algae-colored stain on your finger! What gives? Although jewelry stains on your skin are certainly undesirable, there’s no need to fret. Stains from metal are fairly common and can happen with any quality of jewelry—although you may find that cheap jewelry is more likely to cause jewelry stains.

Why Does Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

A green stain does not mean that you’re allergic to metal. (If your jewelry causes your skin to itch, however, look into getting tested for a metal allergy.) Rather, the green stain is caused by a chemical reaction between the metal and the acids on your skin (or the acids in your lotion, soap, or body care products). Most often, this happens with copper—or metal alloyed with cooper, like rose gold, among many other copper alloys. The acids present on your skin cause the copper to corrode, creating copper salts, i.e. that blue-green business that looks less than lovely on your skin.


Copper isn’t the only culpable metal, however. Silver in sterling silver can sometimes leave a dark stain on your skin as the metal oxidizes. Fortunately, white gold, stainless steel, platinum, and rhodium-plated jewelry is generally immune from unpleasant stain issues.

How to Remove a Jewelry Stain from Skin

Green jewelry stains aren’t permanent and will likely go away within a day. To speed up the process, apply a little nail polish remover or makeup remover to skin, and wipe the stain away. You can also try exfoliating the area with a damp cloth.

How to Prevent Jewelry from Turning Skin Green

To minimize your jewelry’s exposure to corrosive acids, remove your jewelry before showering, applying lotion, handling cleaning fluids, or hopping the pool (chlorine is not friendly to jewelry!).

You can also take semi-permanent preventative measures by applying a coat of clear nail polish to the part of the jewelry that comes into contact with your skin. This creates a barrier between the acids on your skin and the metal. There is even a special jeweler’s version of clear polish designed especially for this purpose called Jeweler’s Skin Guard. Before applying, be sure to gently clean your jewelry and polish it with a jewelry polishing cloth. Since the clear polish will chip off over time, you’ll want to reapply it periodically.

Have you found any clever ways to prevent your jewelry from turning your skin green?

Photo: Alaridesign via Etsy

Posted in copper, jewelry care, jewelry tips