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Why gold really is beautiful

Gold beauty

As far as beauty is concerned, all that glisters is indeed gold. Renowned spa and health expert Jo Foley writes for Glint on the best gold based treatments around

As a beauty aid there is nothing quite like gold – no matter what your skin shade is, how young or old you are, a little touch of gold somewhere close to the skin, always makes it look better. Whether as a piece of jewellery, a sweep of a gold tinted blusher or in the shimmer of an eye shadow,  gold always lends enchantment to the view; which is why it has always had a place in the beauty industry – an industry as adept at selling dreams as creams.

But then gold as a beauty aid has been around for much longer than the cosmetics and skincare industries we know so well.

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For instance the Empresses of China would soothe and smooth their complexions with golden rollers to stimulate cell renewal as much as attempting to iron-out or smooth lines and wrinkles, while Cleopatra, both queen and sex siren, was said to have worn face masks of gold to help keep her skin young looking and radiant. In fact, the Egyptians believed that gold had true medicinal properties acting as an anti-bacterial agent in helping treat scars, lesions and sores. They also believed it helped hydrate and maintain the skin’s moisture levels in the dry desert air.

'Both queen and sex siren', Cleopatra by John Williams Waterhouse

‘Both queen and sex siren’, Cleopatra by John Williams Waterhouse

Little wonder that now, centuries later, gold is still used as an important ingredient in a myriad of oils, lotions, potions, masques and serums to add radiance and moisture, as well as helping to keep the skin supple and healthy – which is why it is used particularly as an anti-ageing ingredient.  Research into this aspect has shown that the ions in gold help stimulate the basal cells of the skin, this in turn slows down the depletion of collagen, the vital tool in keeping skin supple, elastic and hopefully firm.

Gold & gurus

In Ayurveda, the oldest medical discipline in the world, gold (‘suvarṇa’ in Sanskrit) has long been used as part of the revitalisation, conservation and rejuvenation of the skin. It is still in use today in the Mogra Rejuvenation Gold Moisturiser by the Australian brand, Subtle Energies, whose Indian founder, Farida Irani, has fused the science of Ayurveda with that of aromatherapy, for one of the more natural skincare brands around. Irani, who lectures on skincare and wellbeing across the world is adamant that only 24 carat gold is used, as its purity enables it to penetrate the layers of the skin more easily. She also says that her mentor and professor, P H Kulkarni, suggests she boils a nugget of 24 carat gold, cools the water and then drinks it the following morning. “It is an excellent tonic for the heart,” she says.

Just add water?

Just add water?

Sylvie Chantecaille, the founder of the eponymous cosmetic brand, claims to sleep in her latest product: the Gold Recovery Mask. “It’s infused with 24 carat gold and combined with a potent cocktail of ingredients which addresses all signs of stress, fatigue and ageing. It’s super-rich and multi-tasking – and you wake up with brand-new skin”. Its particular USP is that it claims to address both vertical and horizontal wrinkles. The mask joins both a firming cream and eye cream as part of the Chantecaille range.

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“It’s super-rich and multi-tasking – and you wake up with brand-new skin”

Sylvie explains her choice of gold is based on both its history and its scientific provenance.  “Historically many cultures have used gold to treat physical and emotional signs of trauma and stress – its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and circulation boosting properties are seriously beneficial. And while the incorporation of gold into skincare is relatively new, the ability for gold to be used on the epidermis is exciting because it is so immediately successful and long term”.

The gold treatment

Should you need to experience for yourself exactly what gold in a product can do, then why not head to the Dorchester Spa and book for a treatment which claims to be worth its weight in gold.

The Carol Joy of London Pure Gold and Collagen Facial, comes in at £220 and for that you get a seriously good cleanse, followed by a terrific facial massage – the sort that brings blood and oxygen rushing to the surface, rather than the desultory stroking that often accompanies such a treatment. This is followed by a plumping collagen mask and then a final facial, acupressure type massage in which 24 carat gold flakes are used. You may not feel quite like the Queen of the Nile but your complexion will be clear and glowing. This treatment was devised by founder Carol Joy Hatton and has been a constant top treatment at the spa for more than ten years.

“Dr Burgener is a great advocate of gold, particularly when mixed with the polyphenols from champagne grapes…”

The Carol Joy London Gold Leaf Facial Treatment in conjunction with The Dorchester

The Carol Joy London Gold Leaf Facial Treatment in conjunction with The Dorchester

In that time any number of treatments and products have entered the market, making it, like its namesake, ever glistening. But should you feel the need for a supercharged gold treatment, then the spa in London’s Four Seasons at Trinity Square, is the place to go. Here, treatments devised by Dr Pauline Burgener make use of a gold mask aided by both LED light therapy and green caviar. Dr Burgener is a great advocate of gold, particularly when mixed with the polyphenols from champagne grapes and enriched with fruit acids and vitamin B. She uses it in both over the counter products and in a personal treatment capacity.

Toasting your health

Toasting your health

And for a little gold plus, the spa at the Vineyard Hotel just outside Newbury, offers a shimmering gold facial, the ingredients of which also include champagne, but this time boosted with both caviar and pearl extracts! After which you can celebrate your new found glow with a refreshing glass of the hotel’s resplendent 2007 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling, a Piesporter Goldtropfchen.

Jo Foley is a spas and wellness writer and former editor of  World of Cruising. She currently edits the Spear’s Spa Guide.

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