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Cosmetic Gold: Fact or Fiction?

Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to find a spa offering a skin treatment that incorporates gold. Even some department stores sell creams and moisturizers that contain colloidal gold or gold flakes. But does gold really improve the skin? Are gold-containing cosmetics worth the extra costs?

The labels on these products and the people who sell them both claim that gold has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-acne benefits for the skin. To their credit, certain gold compounds have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. On top of that, gold is at the forefront of many medical advancements.

On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration does not recognize gold as an active ingredient for cosmetic applications. And currently, there are almost no unbiased scientific studies that show whether or not gold (in any form) is effective as a skin treatment – which would explain why most dermatologists are reluctant to recommend gold cosmetics.

With a lack of hard evidence, it’s difficult to say whether or not gold cosmetics can improve skin quality. But, they do pose a risk of irritating the skin. In 2001, the American Contact Dermatitis Society voted gold as “Allergen of the Year.” Although it’s somewhat rare, gold has been shown to cause allergic reactions on the skin of sensitive individuals. In a cosmetic product where the gold is formulated to penetrate and “nourish” the skin, this reaction is probably even more pronounced (but not as bad as what happened in Goldfinger). If you want to buy any gold-containing cosmetics, be sure to sample it first to make sure you aren’t allergic. 


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