Is Stainless Steel Jewelry Hypoallergenic?
When you have sensitive skin, taking care of yourself is quite challenging as you have to evaluate every item before you use it. Mainly, you are limited in the type of jewelry you can put on, as the direct contact of these fashion accessories often results in bad allergies. All the itching, red, and swollen skin is never pleasant, and you are always better off avoiding situations that lead to these problems. This brings us to the big question - can you wear stainless steel jewelry without it reacting with your sensitive skin?
A look at stainless steel jewelry and its formation
If you have sensitive skin, then the metals that primarily lead to an allergic reaction are nickel, copper, and zinc. Nickel is the worst of the three, as studies have shown that it is the most reactive to people with sensitive skin. This means that you always need to go for the nickel-free options whenever you are shopping for jewelry, as they are likely to be hypoallergenic. Sadly, nickel is widely used when making metal alloys, given its excellent properties since it hardens metals such as silver and gold.
When it comes to the formation of stainless steel, it is a similar scenario as the preferred metals for creating this alloy is nickel. Nevertheless, this metal compound is at times made of other metals such as chromium, titanium, carbon, and iron. In such cases, the stainless steel will have low or negligible nickel levels, making it have excellent hypoallergenic properties. This is why today, you find the term ‘nickel-free stainless steel’ is widely used when marketing stainless steel jewelry that does not contain any percentage of nickel.
Should I purchase stainless steel jewelry if I have sensitive skin?
The most straightforward answer to this question is –it depends.
You are probably wondering, what does it depend on? Well, firstly, you need to consider the type of stainless steel that the jewelry is made from. Secondly, you need to know how sensitive your skin is to metals used to make this alloy. If you are highly sensitive to even the lowest exposure of these metals, then you need to avoid any jewelry that contains any trace of these allergens.
Generally, the rule of thumb for anyone with sensitive skin is to settle for surgical-grade stainless steel alloys. The best grade widely used for making jewelry is the 316L stainless steel, as it is almost 100% free of nickel. This is a giant leap from most stainless steel grades that contain up to 10% nickel and would pose a severe risk if you have sensitive skin.
Why choose 316L stainless steel jewelry for sensitive skin
In the fashion industry, the 316L stainless steel is widely known as hypoallergenic stainless steel. The reason behind this is simple – this stainless steel alloy does not contain any metal that widely causes allergic reactions. All the metals used to make the 316L stainless steel, namely chromium and iron, are relatively stable and non-reactive. The best part is that this alloy does not rust even when exposed to damp environments, and you will never have to worry about it rusting over time.