Real gold face masks and facials are all breaking Instagram. How effective are they really?

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaMay 26, 2023 | 19:09

Real gold face masks and facials are all breaking Instagram. How effective are they really?

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, incorporated gold for its rejuvenating properties, applying it in skincare preparations. Photo: dailyO

It is often said that diamonds are a girl's best friend. But when it comes to skincare, it's not diamonds or silver – it is gold that comes in various forms such as sheet masks, glow serums, and more.

A few days ago, when Urvashi Rautela stepped out, she faced heavy trolling for something. While she is known for controversies, this particular incident was not about her wearing a neckpiece whose sources are unknown (iykwim) or making comments about a certain cricketer. It was about something she had slathered all over her face, which was quite unusual; and the Internet was divided over it: she had on her face a '24 carat real nano gold face mask'.

Photo: Urvashi's 24K Gold Mask/Twitter

Although it is difficult to figure out what brand of face mask she had on her face, gold face masks are not that cheap. Not just face masks; any skincare range that has the word gold in it, is really expensive. Just for some context -- a normal serum-based face sheet will cost you Rs 100 or 150 at max (since you're just practically using it only once); a gold sheet mask that is available on Nykaa will cost you Rs 13,000 (and no one can say if it has 'pure gold' or not). 

Now, we are not saying that gold is not good for your skin; rather, it has been used by our rich ancestors for achieving that 'glow', and has been used in skincare for centuries.

  • For instance, ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, incorporated gold for its rejuvenating properties, applying it in skincare preparations.
  • In ancient Egypt, Queen Cleopatra and others used gold for its healing and anti-ageing properties, applying it in facial masks and serums.
  • Traditional Chinese medicine also recognised gold's benefits, using it topically to promote energy flow and improve complexion.
  • In Renaissance-era Europe, gold was used by the elite classes to create a radiant complexion, with gold leaf applied to the face.

Today, gold is seeing a resurgence in skincare, with luxury and Korean products utilising gold nanoparticles, (like the one on Urvashi's face) for their antioxidant properties.  

Dr Ranjini Banerjee, a dermatologist from Mumbai, tells DailyO the benefits of gold for your skin.

At first, she explains just how gold works for skincare - so, the gold that you see in your products including creams, lotions, moisturisers, sunscreens, eye creams, lip balms, and even deodorants are actually gold nanoparticles (very tiny little particles). And depending on the brand, the gold is either flaked or liquefied.

Hence, any company claiming to have gold in their product actually has gold in it, but the concentration might be different. 

In an ideal world, gold has several properties that might do wonder for your skin as marketed, here are some that Dr Banerjee explains: 

  1. Anti-ageing: Gold is believed to have anti-ageing properties. It is claimed to stimulate collagen production, which can help improve the elasticity and firmness of the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  2. Brightening and illuminating: Gold particles reflect light, which can create a brightening effect on the skin. Some gold-infused products are marketed as giving the skin a radiant and luminous glow.

  3. Anti-inflammatory: Gold is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It may help soothe and calm irritated skin, reducing redness and inflammation.

  4. Moisturising: Gold can be used in skincare formulations as a moisturising agent. It helps to retain moisture in the skin, promoting hydration and improving overall skin texture.

  5. Enhanced absorption: Some skincare products incorporate gold nanoparticles to enhance the absorption of other active ingredients into the skin. The idea is that the gold particles can improve the delivery and effectiveness of other beneficial compounds.

However, there are a few things we need to keep in mind, as explained by Dr Deepti Rana, a dermatologist from Noida.


Dr Rana states that the use of gold in medicine is known and there have been several research studies conducted on that topic. However, the use of gold for cosmetic purposes is still being studied. DailyO spoke to three other dermatologists who also do not have much idea about gold in skincare. So, clearly, it is a fairly new concept in India.

Just how effective are these 'gold products' for your skin?

Dr Judith Hellman, a dermatologist based in in New York, said, "At best, they do nothing, and at worst, they can give you the irritation of the skin," reported The New York Times. 

Since many people are allergic to gold, it can cause symptoms like redness, scaling, itching, and swelling. 
- Dr Deepti Rana
Gold in cosmetics is not very well studied, and most of the products is more of a fad to attract people and there is no proven way to say that it will actually benefit somebody
- Dr Anupama Bisaria, Dermatologist, Noida

Majorly, not every expert seems to agree with the 'magical benefit of gold' in skincare products. 

What else can you use?

Instead of going for flashy expensive compounds like gold in your skincare, try using chemical compounds that work for your skin type and skin problems. For instance, experts suggest you use: 

  1. Hyaluronic Acid for hydration as it helps retain moisture and improve skin elasticity.
  2. Vitamin C to brighten your skin and reduce hyperpigmentation, and promote collagen production.
  3. Retinol (Vitamin A) for its anti-ageing property as it minimises wrinkles, stimulates collagen production, and improves skin texture.
  4. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) as it helps to regulate sebum production, reduces pore size, and improves uneven skin tone.
Last updated: May 26, 2023 | 19:09
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