Luxe or Lie: Are There Really Any Benefits to Pearl, Gold, and Diamonds in Skincare?

Luxe or Lie: Are There Really Any Benefits to Pearl, Gold, and Diamonds in Skincare?

Taylor Davis
Taylor D.

Jul 12, 2018

Beauty brands tout exotic ingredients all the time, but perhaps none are as alluring as pearl, gold, and diamond. Just the thought of slathering our skin with these precious gems may be enough to give us a warm glow. But are the benefits of pearl, gold, and diamond real? And is the price tag worth it? Here, the real scoop on these coveted commodities.


Pearls, gold, and diamonds have represented opulence and status since ancient times. Historically used to create jewelry and art, these precious resources have recently been adopted by the beauty industry as ingredients in masks, creams, and treatments.


The allure of mineral-infused beauty products correlates to the idea of glamour. It’s fun to feel expensive! But does this beauty trend actually improve appearance? We look at the research and ask an expert to give us the rundown.


pearl, gold, and diamond


Pearl: anti-aging, hydrating, brightening


The use of pearl powder is one of the best kept secrets in the beauty world. Its use spans from the royal beauty regimen of Cleopatra to traditional Chinese medicine to Ayurvedic love potions.


Pearl powder gets its beauty powers from conchiolin, a protein secreted by mollusks. Studies have found that this complex protein stimulates collagen production, hydrates the skin, and repairs cellular damage. Pearl powder contains numerous amino acids and minerals, which help inhibit melanin production and contribute to cell reparation and skin protection. Pearl has also been found to be a powerful antioxidant, even boosting the powers of activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant enzyme.


pearl, gold, and diamond


However, many dermatologists are hesitant to recommend the use of pearl powder in skincare products.


“In vitro and rat studies have shown that [pearls] activate fibroblasts, which are cells important in wound healing and building collagen, which is important for anti-aging effects,” says board-certified dermatologist Yunyoung Claire Chang of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.


“However, there is a paucity of clinical studies showing that oral or topical formulations of pearl powder or extract lead to increased collagen in human skin,” adds Dr. Chang. “Given this lack of scientific evidence, I do not routinely recommend this to my patients.”

pearl, gold, and diamond

If you would like to judge pearl for yourself, Korean beauty brands offers many well-formulated options. The Missha Pure Source Pocket Pack Pearl Sleeping Mask is an affordable way to try out pearl extract, also found in Dr.Gloderm's super luxe TABRX Whitening Cream. For pearl powder, try Swanicoco Swan Cream Intensive Vital.


Gold: iridescent glow


Gold has been adored across the globe for generations. The Romans and Chinese believed it healed. The Japanese and the Egyptians valued its symbolic power.

pearl, gold, and diamond

Modern day, many people believe in the anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties of gold passed down through ancient tradition. Unfortunately, there are no studies that confirm these claimed benefits.


“Gold in cosmeceuticals has become increasingly popular and touted for its anti-inflammatory, brightening, and collagen-producing effects,” says Dr. Chang. “However, I have not seen any compelling studies or evidence to confirm the positive effects of gold directly to the skin.”


However, Dr. Chang sees hope for this luxury ingredient in the future. “Interestingly, gold has been studied as a nanoparticle to penetrate the top layers of the skin and may be beneficial in drug delivery to the skin in the future,” she explains.


pearl, gold, and diamond


Additionally, there is a study that shows gold may have healing powers. The Journal for the American Medical Association published a study that tested gold leaf on low blood-flow skin ulcers (topical sores or wounds). Many of the ulcers showed drastic improvement.


So what are we certain about? While the jury’s still out on gold as a topical skincare ingredient, we do know gold is a great reflector of light, which makes it an ideal luminizer or highlighter. Try adding a little luxury to your routine with the Labiotte Freniq Essential Gold Modeling Pack, which is infused with real 24K gold, or the Swanicoco Gold Plant Stem Pure Ampoule with real flakes of colloidal gold.


Diamond: smooth as ice


Unlike pearl and gold, the use of diamond is cosmetics does not have an ancient history. Present day, dermatologists, estheticians, and spa specialists alike use diamonds for one special purpose: exfoliation.


“Diamonds may be used in the dermatology office in the form of a diamond-tipped wand for microdermabrasion to exfoliate the top layers of the skin surface,” explains Dr. Chang. “Diamond powder in cosmeceuticals can also help with gentle exfoliation and creating a nice glow.”

pearl, gold, and diamond

However, exfoliation is the only verified beauty benefit of this ingredient. There is no scientific evidence to support the purported anti-aging and collagen production benefits.


Dr. Chang believes that if you’re looking for crystal clear skin, you’d do better to look at science-backed ingredients that offer additional benefits.


“Active ingredients that have scientific evidence supporting their use in the skin include vitamin C and vitamin A analogs,” says Dr. Chang. “I routinely recommend using topical vitamin C and retinoid creams, which can brighten the skin and also have biologic activity to increase collagen for preventing fine lines and wrinkles.”


The Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop is a popular K-beauty pick packed with a 5% vitamin C concentration, while Purito’s Pure Vitamin C Serum features 10% ascorbic acid, peptides, and 99% natural ingredients to help brighten and smooth skin.


Final thoughts


Of the three luxury ingredients, pearl is the most studied and does have some scientific support for its skincare claims. Gold may offer some hope for cosmetic development in the future, but diamond seems to be an ingredient best handled by expert hands.


Dr. Chang gives us the final verdict: “More studies need to be done on all of these ‘luxury’ ingredients before we can routinely recommend them for daily skincare use.”


Pearl, gold, and diamond are undoubtedly special treats; if you love the way they make you feel, it’s OK to use them every once in a while. Just remember that their benefits may not carry long-term. But then again, a little luxury in the present never hurt anyone.


Have you ever tried pearl, gold, and diamond in your skincare products? What did you think? Let's talk about it in the comments!


Taylor is a writer in New York City with a passion for Korean beauty and investigative journalism. She enjoys practicing her Spanish, anything matcha, and adding to her gua sha collection.

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