It started with the likes of Bar Refaeli, Karolina Kurkova, and Cameron Diaz. The glamest of A-listers were visiting top spas for 24k gold facials and raving about being covered in gold. To prep her skin for the Met Gala, Kurkova used a gold mask, which she described as ”rejuvenating” and “illuminating.”
The gold rush quickly caught on, and now luxe skincare brands are serving up gold-infused creams and single-use golden sheet masks and gold eye masks—the latter of which has especially become popular. “Gold is used as an anti-aging ingredient, as it can help reduce inflammation, which is a cause of acne and hyperpigmentation,” claims Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist. “When applied topically, it also helps brighten the skin.” Meanwhile, gold facial brands tout that the softness of the precious metal means that skin will more easily absorb it, at least partially, and reap its benefits.
There must be something to this as the number of devotees to gold-infused products increases—yet some experts are skeptical. “There are not enough studies yet on the cosmetic use of gold,” says dermatologist Robert Anolik, of Dr. Brandt Dermatology Associates in New York. “If there are real improvements, it is likely because of other ingredients in the product or because the material it comes in is moisturizing.”
Another critique of gold-infused skincare is that for gold to actually penetrate the skin, it would have to be in nanoparticles—and many gold treatments weren’t created with nano or colloidal gold until recently. Using nanoparticle gold raises its own issues, however. Many are justifiably concerned with the safety of nanoparticle gold and worry that this ultra-fine gold could become lodged in other parts of the body.
The Mayo Clinic explains that depending on how they are fashioned, gold nanoparticles can be toxic to cells and are currently being used to destroy cancer cells in ovarian cancer, which suggests that we wouldn’t want to expose healthy cells to certain varieties of gold nanoparticles. Additionally, in 2001, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named gold the allergen of the year, so exposing sensitive facial skin to gold could backfire if you have a gold allergy or sensitivity to metal.
Finally, if the price, questioned efficacy, and potential toxicity of gold-infused products and gold eye masks isn’t enough to make you say nah, consider the environmental implications of gold mining (gold mining creates 20 tons of waste for every 1 oz of usable gold produced!). I’m losing my glow just thinking about it!
Speaking of glow, there are several ways to enhance yours sans precious metal. The following are more sustainable and scientifically verified ways to improve your skin’s radiance, reduce under eye bags, and feel luxurious.
Pick your serum. Some of the most helpful ingredients to brighten, refresh, and plump skin include hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, caffeine, and ceramides.
For example, if you want to address under-eye bags and crepe-y skin around the eyes, a serum with caffeine and antioxidants could do wonders. I would layer Evolve Beauty Hyaluronic Acid serum with pomegranate extract with 100% Pure Coffee Bean Eye Cream. To maximize absorption, I would maybe lightly steam my face beforehand and apply a silicone mask over the mixture for at least 15 minutes. On a hot day, I may even chill the mask in the fridge! Ahhhh…
To simplify things further, strongly brewed green tea combined with a bit of aloe gel could also help soothe and tighten the eye area—or the entire face. For added effectiveness, layer your DIY mix under an oil serum—rosehip oil (vitamin A-rich) combined with properly diluted chamomile essential oil (anti-inflammatory) and dill essential oil (elastin-boosting).
What’s your favorite under-eye treatment?
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