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Does gold skincare actually work?

Much has been made of the skincare benefits of silver, but what about its smarter, shinier, arguably more sophisticated sister, gold? With healing benefits established over centuries and antioxidant properties to rival those of cult new ingredients, gold skincare really does offer the Midas touch, says LISA NIVEN-PHILLIPS

Is your skincare regime as good as gold?

If you’re looking to give your skin the ultimate indulgent treat, then creams, serums and elixirs infused with precious gold feel like the luxurious choice. After all, what could be more decadent? But for those who also want potent products that give visible results in smart formulations, gold-infused skincare will also deliver.

Dr. Maryam Zamani is a firm believer that the skincare benefits of gold go beyond mere luster: “Gold harbors antioxidant properties and is used in skin to reduce inflammation. And, as we know, antioxidants are effective in neutralizing damaging free radicals from environmental aggressors such as UV, smoke and pollution. Plus, when applied topically, there’s the added benefit that it brightens the skin by reflecting light – making it look more luminous.”

In the current crowd of hot ingredients, gold is certainly one of skincare’s shining stars. MZ Skin’s Hydra-Bright Gold Eye Mask, for instance, combines gold nano-particles with seaweed and hyaluronic acid, while its Hydra-Lift Golden Facial Treatment Mask adds vitamin C for the ultimate antioxidant booster. Clé de Peau Beauté’s Insta-famous Precious Gold Vitality Mask uses 24-karat gold in a blend of antioxidants to defend against environmental stressors, while Chantecaille’s Nano Gold Energizing Face Cream binds nano-particles of gold with silk microfibers for the ultimate in luxe beauty.

But how much of gold’s appeal is just glitter and glimmer, and how much is based on scientific fact? Dr. Zamani is clear that larger clinical trials are needed to clearly evaluate gold’s efficacy in skincare, but adds that “studies support several claims regarding the benefits of gold on your skin”. Then there’s the fact that all that glistens is not in fact gold – many products branding themselves as ‘gold’ don’t contain any of the real stuff at all, so checking the ingredients is key.

According to Omorovicza’s co-founder Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza, in order to get the best from gold, you first need to understand how it works as an ingredient – and what to look for.

“Colloidal gold is formed by suspending small gold particles in a liquid (a colloid). It’s then fermented, so the minerals become bio-available and can penetrate effectively into the skin. It’s good for reducing redness and soothing and calming the skin.” Colloidal gold plays well with other hero ingredients, too, maximizing their benefits and boosting their efficacy. It’s even thought to stabilize sensitive molecules, such as vitamin C, protecting them from degradation and delivering them safely into the skin. “Colloidal gold can be combined with other potent actives like retinol, peptides or hyaluronic acid,” says de Heinrich de Omorovicza. “For instance, our Gold Night Drops and Gold Eye Lift also contain retinol to further enhance anti-aging benefits.”

And if you need further persuasion of gold’s calming properties, Dr. Zamani points out that colloidal gold is sometimes injected by doctors to treat rheumatoid arthritis. “There’s a theory that the same healing properties could also help with collagen and elastin loss,” she says.

Crucially, while certain ingredients trend for a while before falling out of favor, gold has stood the test of time. “It is fascinating to know that there’s evidence that goes as far back as 2,500 BC, with gold being used in traditional Chinese, Indian and Arabic medicine,” Dr. Zamani explains. “It is an ingredient that is being used a lot more in skincare now, [particularly] as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce skin redness, protect skin and give your complexion a beautiful glow.” And what more can you ask for than that?


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown