Why do cheap rings make your fingers green?

Cheap costume jewelry can make your ensemble unforgettable, but it can also leave stains on your skin as green as the Statue of Liberty.

Lady Liberty’s natural dye job occurred because she is made of copper, which turns blue-green when it oxidizes. Oxidation often involves an element reacting with oxygen, it can also describe other chemical reactions in which electrons are lost. In the case of the Statue of Liberty, the color transformation includes a series of these reactions.

A similar process causes jewelry to discolor your skin. As Refinery29 explains, chances are the piece of jewelry in question contains copper or another metal that takes on a new hue when it oxidizes. Even gold and sterling silver items have been known to change color, as they are rarely made from pure gold or pure silver.

The catalyst for reactions can be any number of things on your skin, from soap or lotion to simple sweat. “One day it may not affect me,” Suzanne Friedler, certified board member of the American Academy of Dermatology, told Review. “Another day, it might depend on how hot and sweaty my skin is, and how close to my skin.”

How to Stop a Ring from Turning Your Finger Green

If you want to avoid the problem altogether, wear white gold, stainless steel, and other materials that don’t change color. But before you throw away all your expensive rings, know that there is a pretty effective way to keep the green from tinting your finger: just coat the bottom with clear nail polish. (The trick should work for all jewelry, although intricate bracelets and necklaces may be a bit trickier to paint.)

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