24k magic in the air/on your face

All that glitters is sometimes gold, and when we put it on our faces, we hope for nothing short of the (luminous) best. But, what exactly does gold do for your skin? 

Kate Hudson and Stella McCartney wear the Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle™ 24k Gold Intense Wrinkle Sheet Mask.   Image courtesy of Allure.com

Kate Hudson and Stella McCartney wear the Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle™ 24k Gold Intense Wrinkle Sheet Mask. 
Image courtesy of Allure.com

There have been a multitude of luxury (and non-luxury) skincare products that incorporate gold flakes or nano gold particles into the formula. Gold is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, which helps to calm down irritated skin and fight free radicals that age skin.

Often, gold-infused products contain other ingredients that work to synergistically smooth, soften, and hydrate skin. Take the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask, which contains 24k gold and colloidal gold (a suspension of gold particles, usually in water). The mask incorporates caffeine to firm up skin and peridot, a gemstone that's high in magnesium, as another antioxidant. The Chantecaille Gold Energizing Eye Recovery Mask contains 24k gold and silk, which, apart from their smoothing skin properties already sound like a lifestyle goal. Gold and silk? Yes, sign us up.

In medicine, nanotechnology (the application of very small things, like atoms and molecules) has used gold particles to target a variety of diseases, like cancer. Because ingesting a metal can be toxic to the liver, a lot of research has been done to look into transdermal (through the skin) delivery of gold. Cancer drugs, for example, can be absorbed through the skin using gold nanoparticles. For skincare products, it has a similar function, carrying peptides and other complexes through the skin. A study showed that Panax ginseng berry, a powerful antioxidant, was absorbed using gold nanoparticles. Participants had better moisture retention and showed some whitening effects on skin pigmentation.

Overall, however, there isn't a ton of research in the field that directly shows skin improvement due to gold itself. There's always a difference between in vitro (experiments in a controlled, simplified environment) and in vivo (experiments on a whole, live organism) results so it's good to take conclusions with a grain of salt. More likely than not, the accompanying ingredients in gold-laden skincare are probably doing the heavy lifting. 

An added bonus, though, is that skin will likely look more highlighted or luminously pigmented because of the gold particles. Try the Farsali Rose Gold Elixir, which can be used as a moisturizer as well as a makeup primer. It's packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids to protect skin and smooth out imperfections. Want the golden glow all over? The Tatcha Gold Camellia Beauty Oil is a multi-purpose oil for hair, face, and body that uses a fatty acid-rich camellia seed oil flecked with 24k gold. So when all else fails, at least you'll glow, whether through the action of gold through your skin or just sitting on top of it.