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I learned something this morning about alchemy, which made me consider the question: Do gold facials work? (I realize the connection between alchemy and facials is a bit of stretch so bear with me – this is the way my mind works i.e. not effectively.)
Reading Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Nearly Everything I learned that the science of chemistry is a natural extension of the practice of alchemy, and that in the 1700s it was perfectly respectable to be a science-minded person and occupy yourself with the perfectly-respectable quest to turn lead into gold.
Unless you were a woman, of course, in which case you had to be careful you weren’t labelled a witch – that’s not from Bryson’s book, it’s my own brilliant theory.
The alchemy of the spa
In the ancient practice of alchemy you could attempt other alchemical experiments, for example to make yourself invisible (i.e weight loss!), or to live forever (anti-aging!) or make diamonds out of coal (gemstone therapy!) – oh, wait – that last one really works. But how does this bring us to spas and the question of do gold facials work?
The Golden Shower
One scientist, Henrig Brand, was convinced he could make gold out of urine. Instead he came up with phosphorus – this happened when some of his pots of pee began to glow and/or combust.
I don’t know of any spa treatments with urine, no matter how much your complexion would glow, although a traditional treatment in Japan, commonly referred to as the Geisha facial, (also available in New York and Hawaii) includes bird poop. Yes, nightingale excrement – sanitized – is supposed to smooth the skin.
The modern day goal of alchemy
But I digress. By far, the biggest quest of alchemy concerned transmuting lead into gold. And what strikes me about this in the spa world is that now we’re going the opposite way, using gold to turn us from lead-faced aging people into something radiant and gleaming.
(It’s not only facials that are gold-studded, by the way, you can get 24-karat body treatments, too.)
Do gold facials work?
So, does that make us beautiful? Do gold facials work? Have we turned the ancient practice of alchemy around, harnessing the power of gold for our own narcissistic means?
Of course, say the therapists. It’s a hard thing to measure – the changes are so slight – it’s not like surgery, and if the changes take place a few layers down in the skin the benefits may take time to show. Although, as with most spa treatments, and unhappily for our budgets, we would probably need to do treatments consistently.
Gold-plated spa experience
I’ve had a gold facial. It was marvellous. I had it in Switzerland at a fabulous spa called Bad Ragaz, and to make things even more exciting it was a Pure Gold Radiance Facial by La Prairie and while I can’t say I magically became a cover girl, I left feeling like a million bucks. But I still wondered, is it possible? Do gold facials really work?
Do gold facials work? The promises:
- Gold fights free radicals in the skin, which makes it anti-aging
- Gold strengthens elastin, which helps firm the skin.
- Gold helps to retain moisture in the skin
- Gold is anti-inflammatory
- Gold accelerates cell growth
Are gold facials effective according to scientists?
As of yet, I (sadly) have found no scientific study that definitively says gold facials work. Although, in the footsteps of the ancient alchemists, I’ll keep on searching until I find a study that says, Yes! Gold facials make you young!
Do gold facials work? The legend
Haven’t we all heard by now how Cleopatra slept with a gold mask on her face? Like all good legends, there is some skepticism over this. It’s still an excellent legend, though.
Gold in Ayurveda: Does gold have healing properties?
According to ancient Ayurvedic healing principles gold does possess a healing energy. Swarna Bhasma, which is prepared from gold, can be used for a variety of health issues: to increase memory, strengthen the heart, increase stamina, help with lung problems, epilepsy and hysteria – and some practitioners believe it’s good for purification and anti-aging.
Do gold facials work? Wandering Carol’s opinion
- I truly believe in the power of facials, all that exfoliation and those collagen sheets must do something, especially when ingredients are delivered in such a way that they are effectively able to penetrate the layers of our skin. (Thank you, nano technology!)
- I believe gold will make the skin radiant, at the very least just because of the added sparkle in the serums.
- I also think that it probably isn’t just the gold (even though I don’t want to think this. I would prefer to believe), but that the entire cocktail of ingredients included with a gold facial are what helps make skin plump and radiant – at least temporarily.
The real magic of alchemy in the spa
Maybe the real secret of alchemy is equal parts chemical and psychological. A good spa treatment makes us feel like we’re glowing, toned and magically youthful, which translates to a radiant smiley face.
But now that I’ve discovered the secret of alchemy, please don’t label me a witch.
Read more about Going to the Spa and Spa Travel
Silver is antibacterial but toxic in large amounts. There’s no limit to the amount of gold you can subject yourself to, though! Gold is antiinflammatory and that’s why people feel less arthritis in the hand that wears a gold ring…
If someone offers you a Golden Shower treatment on one of your spa adventures, do not say yes. I repeat – the answer must be NO.