Many people are damaging their skin with a "hot" new ingredient that costs a pretty penny!
Lately, it seems like everywhere I look there's a story about gold in skin care. Orlane's Crème Royale, for example, promises to firm and revitalize the skin with gold particles - for $650 per 1.7-oz. jar. During the new 24K Gold Facial from UMO, Inc., sheets of 24-karat gold are massaged onto the face - for at least $300. And many companies across the globe are following suit with their own spins on these ultra-posh facial treatments and products.
Proponents of gold-based products and treatments suggest that gold can preserve, and even regenerate, collagen and elastin to minimize wrinkles and tighten skin. That is simply not true. Other companies note that gold has an anti-inflammatory effect, which is true.
But what they fail to address is that while gold was once injected as a medication for certain inflammatory diseases like arthritis, the treatment has been largely discontinued due to the manifold side effects.
In a nutshell, there's no evidence that gold is good for the skin - and plenty of evidence that it can be bad. This skin care trend worries me for two reasons:
1) Allergies: Gold allergies are on the rise - at an alarming rate. Remember, while we all associate gold with luxury, it's still a metal, and you can develop an allergy to it. Perhaps you're thinking, "well, I'm safe - no $600 face creams here!" But in an interesting development, some of my colleagues in the dermatological community believe that the rise of mineral makeup is contributing to this rise in gold allergies. The theory is that those minerals, like bismuth and mica, scratch off small particles of gold from jewelry, eventually introducing that gold to the skin and causing the body to mount an allergic reaction. Gold allergy isn't an all or nothing thing - you can develop it slowly over time.
2) Lichen Planus: A skin disease that causes purple papules, lichen planus is known to be caused by gold. For example, in 1996, when Goldschlager - a liquor that includes gold particles - was popular, there was an outbreak of lichen planus associated with the trend.
Obviously, I have strong feelings about this one: Do not buy skin care products or splurge on facials that use gold! I encourage you to show this column to your friends to warn them, too.