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Dangerous Metals in Costume Jewelry…and How to Avoid Them

Many of us know that itching, burning sensation we feel when we wear a certain piece of costume jewelry. Sure, its fun wearing it at the time…but that rash on our skin (or hives) that it can create is not nearly as fun.

So how do you know if your jewelry could be harmful to your skin (or worse, your health. Some of these nasty metals are actually carcinogens).

Ready for this reality check from Jezebel?

A non-profit organization called The Ecology Center ran tests on 99 pieces of jewelry (some of which was geared toward children but most of it was for adults) that were purchased from 14 different discount stores such from around the country, like Target, Claire’s, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, and Hot Topic. They checked each piece for dangerous things like lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, brominated flame retardants, chlorine, mercury and arsenic. And, surprise, surprise, lots of the jewelry was full of nasty stuff.

Scary stuff, right? The study goes on to say that 90% of these pieces of jewelry had nickel and chromium, which can cause allergic reactions. 10% of the pieces of jewelry had cadmium, which has been the cause of several jewelry and toy recalls.

So what’s the takeaway? Can you wear costume jewelry occasionally without fearing its dangerous effects? Well…not necessarily. Like the food you eat, know the “ingredients” and know the source. If you notice an effect on your skin, remove it asap. Don’t endure the itch. Your skin is an organ and you don’t want to absorb dangerous metals for hours on end.

Even if your budget only allows for a few good pieces of jewelry, we advise wearing those only, except for a few rare occasions. And even then, know thy jewelry!