- Gold face masks are reputed to improve skin in many ways, from reducing wrinkles to treating sun damage.
- There are plenty of options on the market at a wide range of price points.
- There is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these masks.
- Allergic reaction is a common side effect.
Sometimes it seems like the cosmetics industry has the Midas touch, with gold flakes appearing in every product possible, from eye creams and lotions—and now masks.
Like other gold beauty products, 24K gold face masks are purported to have a wide range of benefits, from reducing wrinkles to lightening the complexion.
We will investigate the claimed health benefits of gold and see whether gold masks deliver on these claims. We will also look at the different kinds of gold masks, discuss how to apply them, and list some popular products to try.
Touted health and beauty benefits of gold
Various cultures have used gold as a cosmetic ingredient since ancient times, including the Romans, Egyptians, and Japanese. It was used as a makeup, applied topically or taken orally for medicinal purposes. Even the famous empress Cleopatra supposedly slept in a gold face mask to preserve her already lovely looks.
While it’s been used for thousands of years, for approximately the last 15 years, gold has experienced a resurgence in cosmetic and medical products, as claims about its benefits have grown.
Gold is purported to achieve the following:
- reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and spots
- stimulate skin cells
- prevent premature skin aging
- decrease puffiness
- treat sun damage, allergies, and inflammation
According to proponents of gold cosmetic products, the precious metal achieves these effects by maintaining collagen in the skin, inhibiting the breakdown of elastin, and improving blood circulation. Modern-day beauty queens such as Victoria’s Secret Angels swear by 24k gold masks as part of their beauty regimen.
Using a gold mask
Gold masks are available in two formats: a cream-based mask and a sheet mask. Make sure your face is clean and free of makeup before using either.
The cream formulation is usually infused with gold nanoparticles and can be applied just like any other facial mask.
Spread the product across the face until the skin is completely covered (but not so much that the product drips), leave on for a set amount of time according to the package directions, and then rinse thoroughly with water.
The sheet mask is a little bit trickier to apply. For one such type of product, you will apply a serum directly to your face and then pat the gold sheet(s) onto the serum. Another type of gold sheet mask is sealed in individual packages, “marinating” in the serum and ready to use.
Simply open the package, remove the sheet mask, and apply it to your face for the instructed length of time, then rinse thoroughly.
Do gold sheet masks work?
There are usually two types of gold used in cosmetic products: gold flakes that are visible to the naked eye, and gold nanoparticles. The latter are small enough that they are said to pass through the skin’s outer layer to repair skin cells and stimulate collagen production.
Generally speaking, gold flakes are too large to penetrate the skin’s surface and will simply rest on top of the face, looking shiny but not doing much else.
Gold nanoparticles have been shown to enter tissue samples in a laboratory setting, depending on the size and formulation of the particles. One 2010 study indicated that gold nanoparticles in an antiwrinkle mask maximized contact of the active ingredients— ascorbic acid, retinoic acid, gold, and collagen—with the skin, aiding in skin permeation.
However, no scientific studies have been conducted on whether these nanoparticles themselves have any significant rejuvenating effects when applied to the face as a mask. More research is needed—currently there is no solid evidence that a 24K gold facial mask will leave you looking like Cleopatra.
“Experts disagree on whether gold [masks] do indeed benefit the skin,” explains Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat.com who has developed products for major brands such as Clinique, Estée Lauder, Revlon, Avon, and Lancôme.
“Some dermatologists say that gold may cause an allergic reaction on skin—think about those that are allergic to gold jewelry—and others note that gold may provide a brightening, glowing effect due to luster.” He states, “There are no extensive studies that show that gold in itself provides any benefit to the skin.”
Possible side effects
There is one side effect to take note of before you try gold masks—allergic reaction. Gold is often hailed as a “hypoallergenic” element—meaning it’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction—but that term doesn’t necessarily mean much, as there are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic,” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as redness, irritation, swelling, flaking, and itching. Reactions can also be caused by other ingredients in the face mask, so be sure to check the label before purchasing and remove the mask immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Products to try
If you’d like to experience a gold face mask for yourself, here are some of the most popular products that won’t cost their weight in gold.
This cream-based mask includes both 24K gold and colloidal gold, as well as other sought after ingredients including hyaluronic acid, glycerin, caffeine, and peridot. This mask is said to help moisturize skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and make the face look firmer and more youthful.
As a bonus, it’s made without parabens, sulfates or phthalates.
Peter Thomas Roth also produces a gold sheet mask, if you prefer a sheet to a cream formulation. This product is made with 24K gold and hyaluronic acid, and it also contains 18 neuropeptides and peptides that claim to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you wish to target only the bags under your eyes, these masks may be the answer. The gold foil is said to retain heat and keep the serum from evaporating, ensuring skin absorbs the maximum number of ingredients.
Active ingredients include hyaluronic acid, aloe leaf extract, and lavender oil, and this cruelty-free product is free of parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, and synthetic fragrance.
The evidence behind 24K gold sheet masks isn’t as solid as gold itself—at least not yet.
Fortunately, there are many other evidence-backed rejuvenation facials and treatments available. If you need help deciding which one is right for your skin, ask a doctor for more information.
» To learn more about face masks and skin care treatments, meet our Medical Review Team.