The golden age of beauty

Gold-infused skincare is everywhere; it’s said to reduce fine lines, slow collagen depletion and brighten the complexion. So is this beauty trend worth the hype?

You’ve probably heard it said that Cleopatra slept in a pure gold face mask every night.

These days, 24k gold is a common ingredient in sought-after beauty products, with many amassing a cult following.

So what’s behind the golden revival, and is worth the sometimes hefty price tag?


“Gold has always been popular in any form,” says Dr Gregory Goodman, of the Dermatology Institute of Victoria.

“I think it has become more popular because it has been successful in exciting the public and has been taken up in blogs and social media.”

Indeed, any scroll through the Instagram accounts of some of the world’s most notable beauties would see gold-infused, gel under-eye masks are particularly popular.

And, if nothing else, it certainly looks beautiful and luxurious.

Skin deep

Medicinally, gold injections have been used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory joint diseases – although they are used less frequently in recent times due to the discovery of more effective methods with fewer side effects.

But as for applying the precious metal topically, Dr Goodman says the jury is out.

While it can offer radiance purely through the reflective nature of the gold particles, the claims of any other benefits are not currently backed by science.

“There is a lack of evidence of the claims of antioxidant or anti-inflammatory skin activity when applied to the skin,” he says.

“It certainly can penetrate in nanoparticle form, but I am not sure this means that it does anything beneficial.”

Effective alternatives to gold skincare

Dr Goodman says there are plenty of scientifically-proven and more affordable ingredients to look out for instead, depending on what results you’re looking to achieve.

For glow, makeup such as highlighting powders and illuminating foundations will do the trick.

If it’s an improved complexion you seek, there are lot more proven products available.

For instance, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which gently exfoliate, promote collagen and blood flow, and increase product absorption.

Vitamin B can reduce redness and improves the skin’s appearance; vitamin C brightens the complexion, while vitamin E is known to improve uneven skintone.

There is also extensive research suggesting that regular use of retinoids (vitamin A) improves skin texture and softens the appearance of fine lines.

Social media is always on the hunt for the next big thing, and ultimately Dr Goodman believes gold-infused beauty products are just the latest in a string of fads.

“I think it is a matter of expensive products not wanting to be left behind,” says Dr Goodman.

“But since there are now diamond-infused products, maybe gold is already (left behind).”

Written by Sophie Goulopoulos