Dollar store and counter-side jewelry, aka faux bijoux, is so hard to say no to many times. The price is super low, it looks flashy and sometimes like the real deal. But its low cost does come with downsides.

Do not underestimate the risks that the counterfeit industry may carry for the health of the skin. Irritant dermatitis, nickel allergies, and skin rashes that occur with itching, swelling, burning, and redness of the skin are all consequences of cheap metals such as nickel and cobalt. Its not just dangerous jewelry as well, it can be a bag with poor quality buckles and zippers, or even the zipper on your jacket. Even small traces of nickel and cobalt may trigger sudden skin reactions in some people.

“According to the European rules, earrings and necklaces should be free of nickel”, says Professor Marcello Monti, head of Dermatology at Humanitas and Professor of Dermatology at the University of Milan. “However, it is often easy to find merchandise that has the words “nickel free” on it, but may later prove allergenic” he adds.

Leather merchandise is not excluded from the problem either. “The same problem occurs with bags, belts, bracelets and shoes – explains Prof. Monti. In this case, the specific allergen is the Chrome, which is used to tan leather. If the product is not manufactured properly it can trigger contact dermatitis”.

Jewellery box on white background

Saving money on accessories could end up costing medical bills

The guard for cosmetics and perfumes should be even higher.

“Poorly preserved cosmetics, and products with low quality ingredients cause dermatitis on the face, eyelids, and neck. Cosmetic dyes, lipsticks, foundations and eye shadows often contain colors that are not allowed by the EU, these can be toxic and carcinogenic” emphasizes Prof. Monti.

Another problem that is often overlooked, recalls the specialist, “is that of contamination with pollutants. Perfumes, creams and lotions made from raw materials of poor quality may contain pollutants and heavy metals beyond the limits set by European standards. These may be contaminated with microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that develop over time”.


How to avoid dangerous jewelry, make-up and other items?

First, by paying attention to the low priced items, and second by “relying on the major retailers that carry out checks on goods and producers” says Prof. Monti. Furthermore, if one experiences itching, burning, or the skin becomes red or stings, it is important to immediately get rid of the suspicious product.

If the product doesn’t come in packaging with a label of ingredients or constituents its probably best not to take the risk. If you have any piercings opt for jewelry that is nickel free. Surgical grade stainless steel, 18-karat yellow gold, and sterling silver are good options. Sterling silver is often the best option just make sure it is stamped “925” or “sterling” to ensure its purity.

If its the first time that you experience a dermatological problem remember that your skin can be tested for allergies. You can do this at your dermatologist or a specialist that they can recommend, which will be able to identify the allergen that caused your reaction.