Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green – Is It Safe To Wear?

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Do you have a few annoying pairs of earrings that tend to turn your skin green, despite how well you clean in and how good the quality of the earrings was deemed to be?

We can all agree that despite having some nice pairs that just work fine, the pairs that cause the green discoloration are a great cause of alarm for most people.

But why exactly causes the green discoloration on the skin, and are such alloys safe to wear?

Well, keep reading to learn more.


Do alloy earrings turn your ears green?

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

Some metal alloys, but not all, will cause the green discoloration of the skin. The ones that cause the discoloration are the earrings whose metal alloys are made with copper.

The green stains result when the metallic jewelry pieces react with your skin and also other compounds on your skin, such as your hand lotion. This color change often is a result of the oxidation of copper. So, depending on the metals present in the alloy, there could be a green discoloration on the skin.

Also worth noting is the fact that not all people get green discoloration on the skin from copper. This is because we all have different body chemistry, meaning some people (compounds in sweat) will react with the copper salts and others will not.

So, if the alloyed earrings turn your skin green, there is often a high likelihood of the presence of copper as one of the alloys. The green discoloration is the result of acids from your body sweat or maybe the lotion causing the oxidation of the copper in the jewelry to cause corrosion.

The reaction also causes copper salts, which appear as green residue that leave stains on your skin. Note that the green from the copper is called the Statue of Teal, but in a high concentration, it leaves behind a dark-green, almost black stain that is rather unsightly.

That said, copper-alloyed metals used in jewelry making are not the only metal alloy that causes green discoloration.


Why do alloy earrings turn your ears green?

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

As mentioned above, the reason for the green discoloration on your ears is the presence of copper in the metal alloys that the earrings are made. The copper reacts with sweat salts and other elements in the skin like your body oil, lotion, or cream, and the resultant copper salts make the green discoloration.

Copper oxidizes or reacts with other components, and the resulting copper salt is green. So, your ears turning green possibly has to do with the reaction that takes place between the acids that are on your skin naturally and the type of metal alloy that the jewelry is made of.

So, in the case of your ears, the copper alloy reacting with your sweaty ears or oil/ lotion/cream on your ears is what causes the green stain.

So, what metals or metal alloys are responsible for the green skin discoloration?

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

Essentially, the green discoloration results from the presence of copper. And this means that any metal with copper that is used to make the earrings may cause that green discoloration. Some of these metals include:

Sterling Silver – this is an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. Although there is a low copper content, this copper could still be oxidized, resulting in a green discoloration, especially if your body chemistry causes the formation of the green stains from the copper salts.

The low copper content would not just cause the black or the dark-green discoloration, but it also causes the tarnishing of the sterling silver, resulting in the black residue on the sterling silver earrings.

Other metals that may cause green discoloration include brass and 10k gold.


Is it Safe to Wear alloy earrings?

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

Despite the annoying green discoloration from the presence of copper in the earrings, this greenish tinge on the ears is quite harmless, and it will not cause any harm or irritation well, unless you are allergic or have sensitivity reactions to the copper that causes the green discoloration.

Some people experience itchiness around the earring holes, especially the discolored parts, but it’s not something to worry about; you will not lose the ear. Also, the stain is temporary.

We recommend that if you have discolored skin, you should remove the earrings for some time until you feel safe to wear the earrings again. Just know that despite the skin regenerating, the stain will still come back after some time.

It’s worth noting that despite the color change is harmless, it is very annoying, especially if you have a lighter complexion, and you may have to avoid the earrings altogether.


Tips for wearing your alloy earrings

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

  1. First, know what metals you should wear and what you shouldn’t– Essentially, some of the metals that you need to avoid for your earrings are the metal alloys that contain copper. Instead, opt for the safer metal alloy with very low or no copper, for example, 14k or 18k gold.
  2. Clear nail polish layer to prevent discoloration– although the green stain will still be there after you clean your lobes and avoid new discoloration, you can reduce the risk of staining by painting over your earrings using clear nail polish, especially on the areas of the earrings that get in contact with the skin.
  3. Clean your jewelry regularly– since the green discoloration results from copper salts that are deposited on the skin and subsequently react with the sweat in the skin, you’d want to clean your sterling silver or brass earrings often. Cleaning them means getting rid of the layer of tarnish, meaning a reduced reaction rate for green discoloration.
  4. Avoid the jewelry– this is the best thing to do when there is just too much staining and tarnishing on the jewelry.
  5. Invest in higher-quality gold earrings– if you don’t want to deal with the green copper stains on your ear lobes anymore, you may want to ditch the cheaper jewelry for the higher-grade versions of solid gold earrings, for example, the 18k gold earrings. Other options include earrings made of platinum or titanium.
  6. Rhodium plating– you should also consider plating the jewelry with rhodium. If you are not ready to give up on the jewelry, talk to your jeweler about the possibility of getting the earrings plated with rhodium. Rhodium is non-reactive and non-corrosive, and it will keep your skin from being in contact with the copper in the alloy.
  7. Wear the earrings/ jewelry last– this is an important step in preventing the risk of skin discoloration. You should put on the jewelry last, making sure that the skin is completely dry before you wear them. Doing this reduces the risk of allergies or any kind of reaction with the copper salts, hence a reduced risk of the green tinge.
  8. Don’t get the earrings in contact with water, whether in the shower, ocean, or the swimming pool.


Tips for cleaning your tarnished alloy earrings

Alloy Earrings Turn Ears Green

  • Clean the earrings regularly
  • Use simple materials like baking soda, aluminum, toothpaste, vinegar, or aluminum foil.
  • Inspect your jewelry frequently
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean the earrings



The alloy earrings that cause the green tinge on the ears result from the presence of copper and copper salts that react with the salts on the skin.

It’s not harmful, but we can all agree that the green discoloration is pretty annoying.

Read more jewelry metal topics here or here!

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