Ew! Why is my skin turning green from wearing chain story jewellery?!

The allure and problem of trendy costume jewellery – your skin turning green!

I must confess. I get a bit of a rush when see my favourite 4 letter word:


Running my fingers through the jewellery racks, flipping each item back and forth gets my blood pumping in excitement for prospective treasures I might uncover. The anticipation is intoxicating. But I’m patient. I’m willing to trawl through a lot of ugly duds in hopes of discovering a diamond in the rough.

Among a hell of a lot of duds, I spot a geometric cocktail ring – the last in my size! GASP. I eagerly try it on… yes it fits! It was destined to be mine! Flipping through a few more racks I spy some earrings, ear cuffs and more chokers.

ZOMG I’m in jewellery heaven! 😆

I smile on the inside and it spills out to my face making me look a bit like a crazy maniac, grinning ear to ear like a crazy old lady weighed down with a sack full of costume jewellery.

As I jingle my way to the checkout line, the urge to buy those cute socks, hair ties and a tote bag eats at me like a fat kid in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I grab a handful of each, as the line inches closer to the counter and eventually haul my sack of goodies up onto the counter. It makes a heavy ka-chink sound as it makes contact with the counter’s surface. The sales assistant feigns enthusiasm as they scan each item. With an all too easy tap and a ping all the goods I picked out are officially mine!

Waiting on train platform with my new loot, the hot summer heat waves bore through the darkness of the underground tunnels. It’s hot. Really hot. I start sweating as I wait for the next train service to arrive. 7 minutes. Bleh. The next 7 minutes feels like an eternity. Beads of sweat ball up and drip down my cheeks like it’s raining. Yuk. So needless to say, it felt amazing when the train finally pulled up to the platform. The joy when the doors slid open and a rush of cool air escaped, caressing my skin like long distance lovers greeting one another.

Trudging up the carriage stairs with my new stash, I plonk myself down onto a free seat and the afternoon sun beams through the windows of the train carriage. I peek into my shopping bag and the silver and gold reflection off the metals are reflected back onto my face, gleaming as the afternoon sun shines on different facets of the metal. Glistening, my eyes widen with glee. Hehe! Once I arrive home I carefully unpack my goods, carefully removing each of them from its packaging. I slip and stack all the rings on, raising my hands in the air in front of you, admiring my new purchases.

Piling on the earrings, ear cuffs, bangles and necklaces I drape yourself with everything, run to the bathroom mirror and admire my handy work. I jiggle my arms and body around pretending like I’m a backup dancer in “Slumdog Millionaire” and hear the satisfying jangle of me new jewellery clanking against each other. I laugh at myself.


Removing each item carefully and placing it into my wooden jewellery box, I take off most of the jewellery and leave just the perfect set to wear to my girlfriend’s birthday dinner that night. Mexican! Time to tequila it up and soak it all up with enchiladas and tacos!

Fast forward to after a merry meal and a couple of (read: many) shots, I stand in front of my bathroom mirror, buzzing with alcohol running through my veins. Despite being inebriated, I was still being a good girl and start to remove my make up. Off comes the foundation, eye shadow and mascara and lippie. Off comes the jewellery and where the metal was in contact with my skin, I gasp!

ZOMG! Ewww! What is this weird green/brown stain on my fingers?! 😷

An unsightly green/brown ring stain encircles my index, middle and ring fingers. I stare at it and frown. Hurriedly I strip off my clothes and jump into the shower. I scrub at my fingers on both hands, desperately willing for the marks to be gone. Finally after an age of scrubbing your skin is no longer green. I come out smelling divine and vanillary but as I towel off, I pick up the culprit jewellery and examine them carefully. How did this happen? Why did my fingers turn green?

Why does cheap jewellery make my skin green?

The green stain is the result of a reaction between your skin’s natural oils, air and the metal alloys contained in the costume jewellery – the main offending metal usually being copper. The acids from your skin cause the copper to react and a salt compound forms – which is the green stain left on your skin. Sweat from heat and humidity would also speed up this reaction. This green stain isn’t a skin allergy per se – as skin allergies would usually result in redness, swelling and itchiness – in which case stop wearing the offending jewellery now!


How do I stop my skin turning green?

Avoid wearing costume jewellery

If you buy costume jewellery, you get what you pay for. Your trendy new piece of jewellery may look fashionable and on trend now and be cheap but you’ll pay for it in other ways – hello skin turning green! As costume jewellery is at a lower price point, it’s not always possible to know the exact metal alloy composition because they’re not stamped with what metal they’re made from. Because these pieces are at a lower price point, they’re usually made from base metals such as brass (copper/zinc), copper, nickel, pewter etc. These metals can serve as a skin irritant to some and usually have industrial purposes such as to prevent rust, increase spark resistance, heat dispersion and insulation – therefore not designed for close skin contact.

Buy higher quality jewellery!

Understanding the composition of your jewellery’s alloy is a good place to start when you decide to start buying and wearing higher quality jewellery. Click through to learn about the most common jewellery alloys like 925 sterling silver and the various karats of white/rose/yellow gold and what all the metal alloy jargon means.

Now that you understand the common types of jewellery alloys, higher quality jewellery doesn’t necessarily have to be super expensive! Sterling silver jewellery is easy to look after and a great metal to wear everyday. Sterling silver jewellery comes at a variety of price points – but generally is nothing that breaks the bank! Spending a bit of extra money on something higher quality and will last longer is worth it – especially to avoid the embarrassment of having your skin turn green right? And who knows what other long term health effects wearing cheap jewellery made from those base metals will cause?

Some fashion favourites who hand make unique sterling silver and gold jewellery include:

Wear jewellery made from less reactive materials

Wear stainless steel, titanium, tantalum or wooden jewellery! Jewellery isn’t always made from the most common alloys we talked about previously and there’s a great breadth of jewellery made from unusual or atypical materials. Some of my favourite artists who work with these materials include:


Now that I’ve got some nicer jewellery, how do I look after them?

Congratulations on making the decision to wear higher quality jewellery to avoid having your skin turning green! To keep your jewellery looking it’s best, it’s important to regularly clean your jewellery from sweat, body and hand lotions, perfumes etc. Click through to learn 4 tips on how to best care for your jewellery.


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