Gold, is it worth its weight in skin care?

The short answer is no because the skin cannot easily absorb gold. If you think about all of the people who wear gold wedding bands, this actually makes sense. Many people wear gold wedding bands and yet, no one, including myself, who’s been wearing a gold band on my finger for over a decade, has reported any skin effects resulting from wearing one. If gold could easily seep into the skin, then people would notice a difference in the appearance of skin on their ring finger as opposed to that of their other fingers. In addition, we also know that gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is highly resistant to most acids. Taking this into account with the fact that we need to put slightly acidic toners onto our faces in order for it to absorb all of the serums and essences we put onto it, makes gold a highly unlikely candidate for being an effective skin care additive.

So why then, do skin care brands market products containing gold? And more importantly, why do women buy these products when they’re often sold at prices upwards of $300 for pure formulations? Well, gold is believed to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. In 1998, results from a clinical research study were published in JAMA Dermatology, which showed that gold was effective as a direct treatment for patients with pemphigus or as a steroid-sparing agent in this patient population. Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease in which patients experience painful blisters on their skin. In this study, treatment efficacy was measured by improvements in patient skin blistering, which was observed in 62% of patients treated with gold. Patients saw improvements in blistering due to the anti-inflammatory effects of gold therapy, which had comparable efficacy to the steroids used during the study as control group anti-inflammatories. While these results suggest that gold does indeed have anti-inflammatory properties, it’s important to note that there was a long delay before its therapeutic effects were observed in the study (and gold wasn’t applied topically).

Clinical trials studying the efficacy of gold in skin care applications are limited because sponsoring these trials would not make much economic sense for most skin care companies as gold is expensive. Even if someone paid for such a study and were able to show that gold did indeed have beneficial properties for skin care applications, they wouldn’t be able to patent it because it’s a naturally occurring metal. They’d just be giving the data for free so their competitors can use gold in their products too. So what then, would be the incentive to sponsor such a study? Nothing, which is why we don’t see it.

For the past 4 few months I’ve been using cleansers, moisturizers and masks that have been infused with gold not because I believe it will do anything to my skin but because I like the cosmetic effects of gold. To name a few, the products I’ve tried include:

  • Saranghae cleanser (made with truffle oil and gold)
  • Shangpree Gold Mask
  • Chantecaille Nano Gold Cream
  • Mimi Luzon 24K Gold Pure Gold Mask
  • Mimi Luzon 24K Gold Flakes (to mix in with your favorite moisturizer)
  • Bioxidea Elements 48 Natural Gold Mask
  • Mrs Pick Gold Mask

I don’t believe that any of these products have any anti-aging properties or that they’re better at promoting collagen production in my skin (I’ve  heard that somewhere but haven’t found any scientific basis for this). Even if they did have these effects, I’d need many bottles and years of applying these products to my face in order to see them. However, at these price points, I cannot afford to invest in a long-term ritual involving gold. Instead, I purchase these products only when I want a little gold sparkle on my skin for special occasions, which is what I think they should be marketed for. Anything more then I would consider it to be false advertising.

What I like about gold in skin care is that when you add it to a skin care product like a moisturizer, little specks of gold get deposited on to your skin when you apply that product (like glitter). So, when light hits your face in a certain angle, it gives you a bit of a golden sparkle. This is why I think it’s more of a special occasion cosmetic product and not a therapy. There are so many other products out in the market that are great anti-aging and anti-inflammatory agents sold at a fraction of the cost of gold that you and your wallet are better off buying those instead.

So, the next time you go shopping for skin care and are tempted to buy a gold-infused product, remind yourself that it’s going to be a long-term investment before you actually see its skin therapeutic effects, if any. You’re better off buying serum containing vitamin C or resveratrol if that’s what you’re looking for because these products cost less and there are plenty of research studies showing that they work in skin care applications. However, if you want something just for a special occasion that gives a hint of sparkle, then go ahead and get some gold, it won’t hurt you.

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