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Have you ever completely fallen in love with a gorgeous ring, only to find that at the end of your first week wearing it, you’ve developed a nasty green stain on your finger? You’re not alone.
So many of us fall victim to this every day, but why does it happen and how can you avoid it? Is costume jewelry to blame, or are there other factors at play? We’ve compiled our top tips and used our industry knowledge to give you all the information you need to avoid those dreaded green marks, so you can continue enjoying your jewelry for years to come.
Why Does Your Skin Turn Green?
While urban legend might have us believe that buying cheap jewelry or costume jewelry is a sure-fire way to a green finger, that simply isn’t the case. In fact, we can bid farewell to the urban legend and look to science for the answer.
When a piece of jewelry discolors your skin, it’s usually down to a chemical reaction between the acids in your skin (like sweat) and the piece itself. It can also be because of a lotion, cream or another substance you’ve used on your skin. We find that it most commonly happens with rings as they move around on the skin less than say a bracelet or a necklace, but it can also happen with earrings.
Ever noticed that the green hue is more prominent on a warm day? Your sweat can react to certain metals, and oxidation occurs, producing salts. This can then leave remnants on the skin.
That doesn’t mean that all metals are created equal, however. When it comes to metals that get a bad reputation, copper is known for oxidizing and turning green; the most well-known example being Lady Liberty herself. Copper is a popular base metal for costume jewelry rings and can be mixed in with other materials and if not properly looked after, will leave you green-fingered.
One material that surprises many is silver – not to be confused with sterling silver. Actual silver is a metal that oxidizes quite easily and is often mixed with other metals, such as copper, to make it stronger. As we already know, copper is the main culprit for color-changing, so don’t be shocked if your silver jewelry begins to tarnish, despite the amount you paid for it.
Generally speaking, the green tinge won’t harm you at all and is easily removed with some soap and water, but if you find that you’re constantly affected by jewelry discoloration, it might be that there’s a more serious issue at hand.
An Underlying Issue
As we’ve noted, costume jewelry can be made from a mixture of metals, including brass, copper, steel and often, nickel. It can then be plated with rhodium, gold and sterling silver. Nickel can also be found in materials like white and yellow gold, depending on the quality of the metal.
Some reactions can occur from a metal allergy, and according to statistics, allergies to nickel are more common in females in the US than men, and around 36 percent of women under the age of 18 have a nickel allergy.
Keep a lookout for inflammation, itchy or red skin and consult your doctor or dermatologist if you find that the problem persists.
How to Avoid Getting Green Fingers
Some people may think that avoiding costume jewelry material like copper, sterling silver and nickel, is the key to never having to deal with discoloration, but even high-end materials like gold can sometimes produce reactions.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to limit how often the situation occurs. Whatever the price of your jewelry, taking care of it is properly the ultimate way to have a long-lasting relationship with it.
Ensuring you remove all of your jewelry before washing your hands, showering and swimming is the simplest way to reduce the chance of your ring turning your finger green.
Keeping hand creams, face washes, shampoos, and any other products that may come into contact with your hands away from your jewelry is an effective way to ensure you’re never stuck with green fingers.
Have you been sleeping with your rings on? During the night while you’re busy dreaming of your Jewelry Binge wish list, your body will sweat, which can cause a reaction to occur. It might be tedious, but removing all your beloved pieces before bed can make a world of difference.
If you’re a keen DIYer, you could apply a coating to your rings which creates a barrier between the material and your skin – clear nail polish works really well, or you could head into your local jeweler and ask for a brand-new metal coating. Bear in mind, you’ll need to reapply the coating every once in a while.
Similarly, there are products that are specifically designed to protect your jewelry and skin, known as a polymer barrier. Substances like Jewellers Skin Guard can be used, but once again, will need reapplying every few weeks or months.
Lastly, if you can’t bear the thought of ever having green fingers again, materials such as stainless steel, platinum, rhodium, and all white gold should generally cause you fewer problems.
How to Clean Green Skin
If you were one of the unlucky ones who didn’t read this post and now, you’re battling with Shrek-like hands, don’t fear. There are some really easy ways to rid yourself of the stain once and for all.
Been wondering how to clean jewelry? It couldn’t be simpler. Start out by soaking the ring itself with jewelry cleaner and using a soft toothbrush, gently scrub away any residue. Then, rinse it with warm water and let it air dry. Now, let’s tackle those hands.
Using a nail brush, warm water and soap, scrub the area and rinse often, checking to see how your hard work is coming along. If you need to, soak your hands for a few moments beforehand to kick-start the process.
If you’re cursed with really stubborn stains, you can use rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or lemon juice on a cloth or cotton ball to remove any marks. Make sure to rinse your hands thoroughly and moisturize well, as many of these substances can dry out your skin.
Got some waterproof eye makeup remover or non-acetone nail polish remover? These common beauty cupboard items can also be used to remove green stains. Just use a cotton ball to firmly clean the area, but try to avoid using any harsh chemicals on your skin for prolonged periods of time, or more than once a week.
A Little TLC Goes a Long Way
If you’ve always believed that costume jewelry is the culprit when it comes to discoloration, you now hopefully know that there are many other elements at play, including substances, general care of the items, and perhaps even an underlying allergy.
Furthermore, getting into the habit of treating your jewelry with a little TLC will help you to keep it in tip-top condition, meaning your hands will be free of green marks, and you can continue to enjoy it as it sparkles in the sun.
Do you have any tips for removing green stains?
Share with us in the comments below!