What you're referring to is often called "staining". Good news: staining isn't caused by allergies, it's actually a reaction between the metals used in jewelry and our skin. When jewelry touches areas that perspire, the PH in our skin can react to the metal it touches. Then, our skin can turn black or green. Our jewelry doesn't have nickel and is hypoallergenic, but sometimes the copper can cause the skin to temporarily discolor. The earrings or ring you're wearing might not have much copper, but it might have enough copper to cause a reaction. It depends on your individual skin and body chemistry. Some people's skin runs more acidic than others, and people with more acidic skin can see "staining" occur. For some people, jewelry will stain even when a small amount of copper is present. For others, jewelry will never stain. Think of how a copper penny turns green and tarnishes over time -- the same thing can happen to your skin. Luckily, it's not dangerous, but it can be annoying!
At Grayling, we see this most commonly with brass jewelry, and occasionally with other finishes. Brass is a nickel-free, hypoallergenic alloy which contains copper and zinc. When copper touches skin, the skin can stain temporarily (again, it's not an allergy, but a chemical reaction). Sterling silver also contains 7.5 percent copper, so it is possible to see skin turn black or green from silver. Gold under 18K can also contain copper, so those metals can cause the skin to discolor. Some women find they can only wear 18K gold or higher because their skin is so prone to staining.
- How can I keep my skin from turning black or green?
1) Experiment with wearing jewelry for shorter periods of time (for instance, make it the last thing you put on before you leave your house, and the first thing you take off.
2) Try coating earring backs or the insides of rings with a light layer of clear nail polish.
3) Clean your jewelry with liquid soap and water and dry well between wears.
4) Don't wear your jewelry while exercising, or any time you may perspire.