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Why You Need Gold In Your Skincare And Grooming Regimen

The latest miracle ingredients are precious metals and stones – here’s how to give your skin the Midas touch

There is a good, albeit slightly mad, reason why alchemists dedicated their lives to the transmutation of metals into gold. If they could turn everyday alloys into something as precious as gold, then perhaps they could find a way to purify the body and, in turn, attain immortality. Hence why alchemists in your Hollywood movies are always immortal or, at least, approaching immortality.

For centuries, gold has been linked with youth. Indeed, it was big in the beauty rituals of ancient Egypt – Cleopatra allegedly slept in a golden mask – and the world of 20th-century anthroposophical medicine. And, well, just ask Spandau Ballet.

A number of brands have cottoned on to this and launched gold-infused cosmetic products. Some rely on gold flakes, some on impossibly small particles while a fair few chancers peddle glittery pigments into their wares. Gold-leaf facials are now a thing, as is the gold-thread facelift whereby a 24-karat mesh is sewn under the surface of the skin and, in a feat of cosmetic puppeteering, defies the pull of gravity on one’s jowls.

Depending on who you listen to, gold is an anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory and anti-acne agent that has the added benefit of healing micro-damage on the skin. It is a circulation booster, can reduce sunspots and is hypoallergenic. “As an antioxidant, gold has an abundance of properties including regulating skin tone, soothing and brightening,” says Dr Yannis Alexandrides, the Harley Street cosmetic surgeon behind 111Skin. “However, the added value of using it over other antioxidants is the boost in microcirculation, which allows these results to be more effective.” Impartial clinical trials are few and far between.

But there is one form of the precious metal that shows definite promise, colloidal gold. This refers to microscopic particles of the element suspended in a fluid solution, usually water. Nanoparticles, it turns out, could be good carriers because they can penetrate the skin physically, rather than chemically. In doing so, colloidal gold can control, according to some researchers, “the release of active substances and [increase] the period of permanence on the skin”. In layman’s terms, this means that tiny particles of gold help other active ingredients go deep into the skin where they can have a more tangible impact. It’s a good delivery mechanism, in effect.

If a gold-based product is to have any long-lasting effect on the skin, you won’t be able to see sparkling flecks floating about in the solution. Nanoparticles (ranging from 0.8 to 200 nanometres) are the key form here as they are invisible to the naked eye. This one fact unravels the decadent premise on which some – the gaudy, glittery stuff –  gold skincare is based.

It is not just gold, either. A shining wave of diamonds, pearls and other gemstones have found their way into luxury formulations including Lancer’s Eye Contour Cream, which contains “diamond powder” and 111Skin’s Celestial Black Diamond Cream, a treatment that contains tiny black diamond particles that are able to penetrate deep into the epidermis to produce anti-ageing results. Diamonds and gems are inactive ingredients but they can diffuse light for a cosmetic brighten-and-blur effect, similar to vitamin C, while aluminium oxide crystals can create a fierce scrub. Products such as 111Skin’s Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask lend skin a warm halo.

Even if the science of gold-infused skincare is up for grabs, one can’t ignore “the strobe-like effect,” as Dr Alexandrides calls it. The aureole may last no more than two to three days but, as a pre-party and post-flight wonder, it is as good as gold.

All that glitters

  • Haeckels Seaweed / Geranium Hand Balm, 50ml

  • Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C+ Collagen Deep Cream, 50ml

  • Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Oil, 30ml

  • Sisley - Paris Sisleÿa L'Integral Anti-Age Cream, 50ml

  • 111Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask, 5 x 30ml

  • 111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Eye Cream, 15ml