Precious Ingredients in Cosmetics

Precious Ingredients in Cosmetics

Last week I had written a review on a “gold bleach”.  I had my doubts if the product did really contain gold.  Few readers agreed with this. This got me thinking about the various precious ingredients used in cosmetics today.  Do all these cosmetics really contain precious ingredients or is it just a marketing gimmick? First a brief background on various unique ingredients used in beauty products.

Gold: gold facial

Gold facials which have its roots in Ayurveda have been around for some time. But of late gold creams and lotions have also hit the market. This metal is known to have anti-ageing , revitalizing and rejuvenating properties. Interestingly gold is sometimes used in food to promote stamina and vigour. Some products that are supposed to contain this precious metal include Nature’s essence Gold Bleach, Jovees Gold gel, La Prairie’s Pure Gold etc.


Pearls have been used for beauty purposes by Chinese and Japanese through the ages. Powdered pearls were used to maintain the youthfulness of skin. They are known to contain amino acids that help in healing cells.  Hence mother of pearls is used in some anti-ageing creams. L’oreal’s White Perfect Pearl range is one such beauty product. Coral Well corals are not as expensive as gold and pearls, but considering they are fast nearing extinction, they might become a precious element in the future! Corals are known to lend a radiance to the skin. Fab India’s Coral Glow face pack is one product that uses this.


To be honest till I started researching for this article, I had no clue silk was used in beauty products. I have seen products such as “body silk”etc but it never struck me actual silk was used in this! silk2

Using silk for beauty has its roots in Ancient China. For the longest time China was the exclusive makers of silk and during this time they discovered silk has anti pigmentation properties. Japan’s Kanebo range of products was the pioneer to use silk in beauty products commercially. There is an interesting story, that it was noticed silk workers had amazingly smooth and soft hands. This encouraged the company to research silk as a beauty ingredient and thus was born their range of anti ageing/anti pigmentation products.

Today of course there is a wide range of products with silk infused in them. Some of the most popular ones are St Ive’s Whipped silk cream and Dove’s Silk Body Lotion. Silk is also used in hair products and sun screens.

Gemstones Coloured Gemstones

Most of us are aware that ancient Egyptian royalty like Cleopatra powdered gemstones to color their eyelids. That must have been some expensive eye make up! Our modern day eye-shadow probably has its roots from this.

In modern times, gemstones have found their way into a variety of cosmetics. Stones such as White sapphire can apparently fight ageing while crushed diamonds are used in nail varnishes for that sparkling effect.

Interestingly gold and diamonds have also been used in make up packaging.  A few years ago French luxury firm Guerlain released its KissKiss Gold and Diamonds lipstick in selected stores in the US, with a whopping price tag of $62,000. the lipstick case was made from gold and diamonds.

That brings us to the question do these products really contain precious ingredients? We in India are more than aware of gold price sky rocketing. In such a scenario how is possible to use gold in a cosmetic and sell it for as low as Rs. 100? I came across a research article which can shed some light on this. DoubleX’s health and beauty section did a research on a few products to see if they really contained precious stones. One of the products they tested was Lancôme Ageless Minerale with White Sapphire Complex.  According to the ingredients the product contains white sapphire complex. It was discovered that alumina was used pass off as white sapphire. Alumina is a raw material from which this gemstone can be made. Hence though it is not blatant lie on part of the company, it is still a clever marketing gimmick. This brings us to the next question if they do contain these gemstones,gold etc how much do they use? The same research group tested another product  Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Fresh Powder Makeup. This product is said to contain Rhodolite a semi precious stone from the Garnet family. During the testing they discovered that the product did in fact contain Rhodolite but in a very small quantity.

If a product contains minuscule amounts of gold/diamond dust etc, its hardly justifiable calling it a gold bleach or a diamond lipstick in my opinion.

Finally are these ingredients really beneficial? Some skin specialists argue that though these exotic ingredients have been used traditionally, there is no scientific backing to say that they have long term benefits. Such arguments are mostly with regard to using silk and pearl in cosmetics.

To conclude, this article is not say that all products that use precious ingredients are a sham. After all some of the brands I discussed are known for their quality and excellence. But as consumers it always pays to be careful about clever marketing tactics!

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16 thoughts on “Precious Ingredients in Cosmetics

  1. Great piece of writing..esp the question “how can they sell gold in Rs 100 bottles” always hits my mind whenever those all-smiles models and actresses try to convince us in tv!!! keep writing on this plzz..wud love to read more!!!!

    1. i agree with Anuradha… Plz keep writing more on this !!! this is the best article i have read in few days !! :yes:

  2. Oh I know those gold gel from Mrun’s review..hehehehee. But ya, I always read the ingredient list of all products. For all my complaints with Lush, I really respect their ingredient list. At least, they don’t make claims of using this rare blah-blah nut gathered by newborn kids in the middle of a moonless night or some such rubbish when its the last ingredient in a really long list of synthetics. White sapphire complex..u know I thought the same thing when I was looking at their list..hehehehee..though to be fair, they have a video on their site somewhere which kind of describes the ingredient and its use!

  3. Excellent Post Wanderlust. I had no clue about silk being used in our beauty products. It was quite an enlightening article. Now atleast we know that the companies are not writing such things just for the heck of it but as you said a teeny weeny amount of a magical dust wouldn’t do wonders to our skin…

    But we still fall for all things that promise us beauty. 😉

  4. a recent sunday newspaper supplement (i think it was brunch?) had an excellent article about the usage of gold, diamonds, pearls etc in cosmetics and whether or not they work. this article compliments it really well. enlightening.

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