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Demystifying Cleopatra’s Elixir
An eternally radiant and youthful skin is every woman’s reverie. Of late, gold infused skincare products with various promises have been hogging the limelight. Rekha Shamugham gets to the bottom of the phenomenon

Gold has had a long and successful association with our country. It is a well known fact that its shimmer and majestic opulence are almost synonymous with revelry here. However, it is interesting to note that over the years the elusive metal has been making steady inroads in the skincare industry as well. In the recent past, an enormous number of skincare brands have come out with a range of products with gold as the crux. From unmatched radiance to slowing down of aging, promises that accompany these products are aplenty.

From the Egyptians to the Romans to the Chinese it is said that ancient civilizations held firm faith in the healing and rejuvenating powers of the metal. It fact it is believed that gold jewellery became an indispensable part of our tradition owing to the myriad health and skincare benefits it offers. The lovely Cleopatra who is infamous for being the epitome of beauty was believed to have used a gold mask regularly to keep aging at bay. The Japanese geishas were said to rub pure edible gold leaves on their skin to ensure their skin’s luminance was intact for a long time.

The Promises
Amongst the various skincare benefits of gold, anti aging and revitalizing are most often the USPs of skincare products. Gold is said to restore the elasticity of tissues by inhibiting collagen depletion and the breakdown of elastin. It therefore promises a lift to the sagging skin, lending a tightening effect. It is said to aid in the stimulation of cellular growth resulting in the regeneration of firmer and younger skin cells. It is also believed that the area being treated with gold experiences increased blood flow. The yellow metal is said to detoxify the skin creating a splendid visible glow.

Certain products also promise a lighter and a more even complexion and the prevention of age spots and pigmentation with repeated use. They say gold slows down the production of melanin and protects skin from dust and pollution while sealing in moisture. It is also said to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and act as a strong antioxidant. Furthermore, the luxurious ingredient is believed to be capable of exciting electrons in skin cells. These electrons being sensitive to electric charges establish cellular connections, thereby lending an enviable radiance.

The Scepticism
With every passing day, newer products keep entering against the backdrop of endless research. However, the onset of this trend does not seem to bode too well for dermatologists who most often dismiss the entire phenomenon, branding it a pure marketing gimmick. Fresh products seem to incite fresher cynicism among detractors. They point out that there exists no scientific evidence to prove the claims. “Gold particles are too big to enter the skin. There might be a temporary glow but it ends up causing more harm than good. If indeed there is any improvement, it could be owing to the other ingredients in the product,” says a well-known Chennai based dermatologist (who does not wish to be named). The dazzling metal has been flaked, suspended and even liquefied to be used in beauty products. Nanotechnology enables it to be broken down to Nano-gold, that is, extremely minute particles made into a colloidal solution. Aestheticians opine that Nano-gold is the most effective for prolonged use as flakes cannot penetrate the skin and thus can do no more than lend an instant glow.

Numerous concerns have been expressed regarding the usage of gold in skin care. In an ironic twist, some scientists say that gold Nano particles can in fact restrict cell division and accelerate the aging process. In high doses the metal can be toxic. Further, certain studies show that repeated use can interfere with the fat storage mechanism in the body and maybe even contribute to diabetes. People with sensitive skin should be doubly careful when it comes to indulging in a gold face mask as it can almost immediately cause rashes.

The options
As the quest for truth continues, nothing seems to deter seekers of a dazzling complexion. Gold facials are still supremely popular among women, especially to be brides. The immediate effects are obvious, they say. With their promise of an everlasting iridescence they are a colossal hit among women in their 40s and beyond. Beauty experts ideally recommend four to five sittings spread out over three to four months. “A simple gold facial has the usual routine. It starts with a cleanser and moves on to the toner and exfoliator. Following this is the steaming after which comes the serum. It is of utmost importance to use a premium quality gold serum. The massage that follows this ensures that the serum gets absorbed into the skin,” says Vibhavna, a Bangalore-based beautician. “There are also other elaborate techniques that might include gold face masks or sheets of 24K gold.”

Gold bleaches promise to lighten facial hair and skin and lend the face an instant golden hue. Gold skin toners are said to improve skin vitality and luminosity. Gold moisturizers are also available in the market. Most often they contain oils along with gold flakes and guarantee instant relief from dry and flaky skin. Gold gels/creams assure replenished moisture levels and seek to address wrinkles and fatigued skin. Gold serums again promise detoxification and revitalized skin. Gold sunscreens, lip balms, foundations, scrubs, eye creams and gold oils with flecks of colloidal gold are other products that feature in the gamut. Older women can also opt for a gold thread facelift in which a 24K gold mesh framework is inserted permanently under the surface of the skin which supposedly stimulates better collagen production which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Expert Talk
“Gold can be beneficial to the skin if blended in the right way. It has skin lightening and skin polishing properties. The purity of the metal used is paramount. I would recommend people to rely on the premium brands. Certain brands might just add some shimmer and call it gold. As far as anti-aging is concerned gold can only go so far. There are newer products in the markets that focus exclusively on anti-aging. Personally I would prefer the metal for radiance over anti-aging,” Ayesha Wadiwala, Mumbai, Celebrity Makeup Artist for Shah Rukh Khan, Sunny Leone and others
“The gold facial is one of the most popular facials especially for brides- to- be. It gives a splendid glow to the skin. We offer gold facials with gold packs and stand-alone gold packs as well. It follows the regular routine of scrubbing, cleansing and toning after which we remove the blackheads and whiteheads. This is followed by the enzyme mask with the gold cream which brightens the skin by banishing the acquired tan. After this we have the face, neck and back massage. Next comes the gold serum which is followed by a gold pack.” Varsha.S, owner of Studio Profile, Royapettah
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