Picture this—you have just purchased a new piece of jewelry and can’t wait to wear it. You put on a stylish outfit and accessorize yourself in your new treasure. Only, as the hours pass and you wear your jewelry, your skin starts to itch, redden and break out into a rash. We’ve all been there, and it happens when you wear jewelry that contains metals that aren’t compatible with your skin. In other words, you are having an allergic reaction to your jewelry.
What can be equally as troublesome is that you may have purchased jewelry labeled as “hypoallergenic,” and still had a reaction. Fact is, there’s ample misinformation swirling around when it comes to hypoallergenic metals.
Well, today we’re going to clear the air (and your skin, while we are at it), and ensure you know precisely what to look for when buying jewelry. Here’s everything you need to know about hypoallergenic jewelry.
When your skin reacts to a jewelry metal, you may experience constant itching, redness, rashes, and even puss or oozing. Symptoms like these are a surefire sign that the jewelry metal you are wearing either contains nickel, a known allergen, or allergenic metal. To avoid this unfavorable experience, most buyers purchase hypoallergenic jewelry.
Most jewelers define hypoallergenic jewelry as safe metals that won’t cause a reaction. These metals do not contain known allergens, most notably, nickel. The problem with nickel is that it’s a frequently used metal in jewelry alloys because of its strengthening properties; the addition of nickel strengthens softer metals that would otherwise damage or misshape with daily wear.
While nickel is a durable metal, it has one major drawback. Most problematically: 15% of the population has a nickel allergy. The solution? Hypoallergenic jewelry. But it’s not so cut and dry. You might think that the removal of nickel from metal would clear any potential allergic reactions, right? Well, many people agree, and “hypoallergenic” has become synonymous with “nickel-free.”
The thorn on this rose is that hypoallergenic metals still contain small quantities of nickel. Jewelry metals don’t have to be utterly void of nickel to be hypoallergenic. Doesn’t this seem problematic? As it turns out, when jewelry metals are hypoallergenic, they contain such a small amount of nickel that they are labeled “below normal.”
For people with sensitive skin, this is a significant issue. You may purchase a hypoallergenic jewelry item only to find yourself itching and scratching a budding rash. While the label helps ease a buyer’s worry, there are no regulations or enforced standards for what makes something hypoallergenic. With this in mind: there has to be a better way of deciphering safe metals from unsafe metals, right? Fortunately, there is!
Instead of looking at confusing labels, let’s get acquainted with the safest jewelry metals available, as well as which ones to avoid if you have sensitive skin. The first order of business? Let’s talk about purity.
As a rule of thumb: the purer metal is, the less alloy it contains.
Take gold, for example. The higher the number of karats, the purer the gold. People with metal sensitivities should opt for 18K gold and above, which only contains 25% of alloyed copper and silver. In other words, you may have to spend more on purer metal, but you’ll avoid a reaction. And gold isn’t the only metal that’s safe:
You may come across a jewelry item you love and adore, but what if it contains one of the following materials? The truth is, you may risk an allergic reaction if a jewelry metal contains:
While several known allergens infiltrate the jewelry market, you now have the knowledge to discern which metals to buy and which ones to avoid altogether. Time to say goodbye to rashes and hello to radiance. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of stunning, unique, and hypoallergenic jewelry items available for you!
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