The Luxe Factor

With the party season upon us, why not add a little sparkle to your spa menu with a precious metal-infused treatment? Gold, silver, copper, and platinum are all sought after ingredients—and they certainly speak to the holiday season’s indulgent nature. Thanks to evolving technology, skincare companies are finding better ways in which to penetrate the skin with these luxe ingredients. Nanotechnology and peptides are just a couple of the methods they’re exploring. Fortunately, the high price tag associated with such decadent treatments doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. In fact, they’re proving more popular than ever.

Gold Rush

For the ultimate in luxury, gold-infused treatments certainly embrace the metallic mood found in skincare today. While there is no disputing the incandescent shimmer gold provides the skin, it also has proven anti-inflammatory properties. Doctors have even used colloidal gold (particles of gold suspended in liquid) to treat rheumatoid arthritis. La Prairie, a pioneer in the gold rush, introduced its Pure Gold Radiance Facial (starting at $310, 90 minutes), formulated with colloidal gold, in 2007. “Our Pure Gold Radiance Facial was one of our original treatments when the spa opened in 2011,” says Helen Storer, spa director at Hotel Bel-Air Spa by La Prairie (Los Angeles). “The immediate lifting, firming, and brightening benefits this facial delivers have made it a favorite among our clients, especially when they’re preparing for a momentous occasion.” Christian Davies, spa director at La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park (NY), agrees. According to him, the Pure Gold Radiance Facial ($330, 90 minutes) has been a favorite since it was introduced, and La Prairie’s Cellular Radiance Emulsion SPF 30, containing 24-karat colloidal gold, is the spa’s number-one selling product.

Omorovicza, another luxury skincare line, introduced gold into its collection in 2009. The company chose to ferment colloidal gold in Hungary’s mineral waters in order to create a formula that is easily absorbed by the body. Spa-goers at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North (AZ) can experience a host of Omorovicza products in The Pinnacle Facial ($300, 1 hour 50 minutes). “Inflammation is the cause of many of our skin woes, so gold is an excellent ingredient to help combat troubled skin,” says spa director Lia Rowland. Building upon this facial’s success, the spa introduced a Nighttime Repair Facial ($195, 50 minutes) in October, which uses Omorovicza Gold Night Drops, a collagen-boosting serum.

The use of gold in skincare treatments is not without controversy. Some people question its ability to enhance the skin. “Gold itself, either ingested orally or injected into the skin, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects,” says dermatologist  Neil Sadick, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. “There are no evidence-based studies to show that topical gold application has any effect on improving skin quality. The only adverse potential on the skin for topical application would be an allergic contact sensitivity. Although facial and skin products containing gold are in fad now, there is not enough science behind it to make me recommend it to my patients.”

Although some still doubt the ability of gold to transform the skin, no one can deny its luxe factor. Gold is a menu mainstay at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (Canada). In addition to the Omorovicza Gold Plumping Facial ($223, 90 minutes), the spa also offers the Luxury Gold Manicure ($75, 60 minutes) and Pedicure ($116, 90 minutes), both of which feature the Gold Sugar Scrub and Shimmer Oil. “What started out as a fad is now an important consideration for any spa,” says senior spa director Todd Hewitt.

 Not surprisingly, precious gems marry well with precious metals. At The Spa at Four Seasons Washington, D.C., the Carita Paris Gold and Diamond Facial ($470, 90 minutes) incorporates gold particles and diamond dust as part of a cutting-edge treatment featuring ultrasonic exfoliation, microcurrent therapy to tone sagging muscles, and LED therapy to stimulate collagen production. Another option is to pair the ingredient with natural botanicals. At Spa Réveil (Austin, TX), the 24K Gold Collagen Indulgence Facial ($170, 60 minutes) uses a KollagenX mask with 24-karat nano gold combined with Naturopathica products. “It’s a holistic facial therapy that brightens, firms, and lifts the skin while stimulating cell renewal,” says spa owner Lidya Wati. “There is a rise in demand for such facial treatments, because they offer a unique combination of organic and natural ingredients with visible results.”

The gold trend has even made its way into the sunless tanning market, with Xen-Tan now offering Dark Lotion Absolute Luxe sunless tan and Scent Secure Gold wash-off instant bronzer, both containing 24-karat gold leaf. The brand does not claim the gold provides any skincare benefits other than to deliver a shimmering glow to the skin. “Gold is here to stay and has always been a sought after beauty ingredient thanks to its anti-aging properties and luxurious reputation,” says Angela Eriksen-Stanley, director of education for Fleur’s, whose face and body treatments, as well as retail products, feature gold peptides.

Platinum Power

Considered 30 times rarer than gold, platinum is prized not only in fine jewelry but also in skincare. “Platinum, in the colloidal form, establishes electrical balance in the epidermis,” says Daniel Stangl, Ph.D., La Prairie’s director of innovation. “Skin that is not balanced is more vulnerable to damage from free radicals and more susceptible to dryness, resulting in a look of premature aging.” Colloidal platinum is used in La Prairie’s Cellular Cream Platinum Rare, Cellular Serum Platinum Rare, and Cellular Eye Cream Platinum Rare. At the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie (Los Angeles), the Platinum Rare Facial ($510, 90 minutes) is a popular choice for restoring balance, to protect skin cells from damage.

Copper for Collagen

Another coveted ingredient is copper, which plays a key role in boosting collagen and elastin production. “Adequate amounts of copper are extremely important for skin, as copper is required for collagen synthesis,” says Charlene DeHaven, M.D., clinical director at Innovative Skincare. As a result, the brand offers nine copper peptide products, including Super Serum and Youth Eye Complex.

Janel Luu, CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics, champions copper peptides due to their ability to repair tissue. “Copper peptides are increasingly being used to help accelerate the wound healing process for many esthetic procedures, such as peels, microdermabrasion, micro-needling, and dermaplaning,” she says. The Le Mieux Signature Facial ($90, 50 minutes; $125, 70 minutes) features two copper peptide products including the TGF-β Booster regenerative serum. Spa-goers can also take advantage of the healing benefits with the Copper Facial for After Cosmetic Surgery ($135, 60 minutes) at Dorit Baxter New York Day Spa.

Copper also aids in the delivery of other key minerals to the skin. “Copper is a trace mineral that is key to the absorption and utilization of iron,” says Aleks Vranicic, vice president of sales and technical training at Vitelle Dermatology Laboratories. “It smoothes, moisturizes, and renews cells, making it an ideal ingredient in skincare products.” Copper also helps strengthen the skin, as it is involved in collagen and elastin production. Ben Johnson, M.D., founder and formulator of Osmosis Pür Medical Skincare, harnesses the power of copper by using patented Zinc Finger Technology. This is “designed to fully activate the use of copper so that it doesn’t hurt the skin,” he says of the copper-peptide complex. “Zinc Fingers are proteins in your cells that repair DNA, make collagen and elastin, and offer many other benefits.” 

Silver Lining

Silver, while not as popular as other precious metals, is also turning up in the skincare arena. Like gold, it has its skeptics, with some arguing that silver has no place in the body. However, up until the 1940s when modern antibiotics became widespread, physicians used colloidal silver to fight infection, and today, it’s still prized for its antiseptic qualities. “Colloidal silver is a brilliant substitute for alcohol in all Organic Male OM4 aftershave pH balancers for its antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfecting properties,” says Mike Bruggeman, CEO of Organic Male OM4. “No stinging, no drying, just pure results.”

Silver has also proven popular in other forms. One of Hylunia’s best-selling products is its Colloidal Silver Mist, a spray toner containing antiseptic silver and therapeutic lavender that can be used on all skin types, including skin with acne, blemishes, or minor cuts. It can also be used after waxing to calm irritation. At Angelface Day Spa (Yorktown Heights, NY), the mist is used in all facials, especially after extractions, to stop the spread of bacteria. “Our clients also find this product to be beneficial as a homecare staple and use it for multiple purposes such as hives, rosacea, sun burns, or acne irritations,” says spa owner Angela DeAngellis.

Whatever one’s take on the precious metal beauty market, there’s no denying that opulent products and treatments have their place in the spa. If you’re going to introduce a decadent treatment using gold, platinum, copper, or silver onto your spa menu, the holidays are the perfect time for your clients to catch the glitter bug.—Carrie Buckle

Give clients’ the Midas touch this holiday season with products featuring precious metals.—Jessica Morrobel

  1. CBI Laboratories Botanical Bio-Peptide Toner: Featuring antioxidants and copper, this toner reduces redness and inflammation, while calming botanicals provide restorative moisture.
  2. Elemental Herbology Facial Glow Radiance Peel: Infused with a copper, magnesium, and zinc complex, this treatment exfoliates, stimulates cell metabolism, and evens skintone.
  3. Fleur’s Eye Contour Expert: This eye cream relies on gold peptide technology to improve elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness around the eye area.
  4. Hale Cosmeceuticals Dermist M3 HA: Containing copper, hyaluronic acid, manganese, and zinc, this serum helps revitalize damaged and aging skin. It’s ideal for sunburns and post-laser treatments and peels.
  5. HydroPeptide Face Lift Advanced Ultra-Light Moisturizer: This cream blends copper and hyaluronic acid to protect cells from free-radical damage while reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
  6. IS Clinical by Innovative Skincare Youth Serum: Combining a proprietary blend of copper tripeptide growth factor and healing extracts, this serum minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helps rebuild dermal structure.
  7. Jane Iredale—The Skin Care Makeup 24-Karat Gold Dust: Featuring 24-karat gold leaf and mica, this multipurpose powder offers shades of gold, silver, and bronze for the face, body, and hair.
  8. Kerstin Florian Mineral Wellness Soak with Eucalyptus: Created with calcium, colloidal silver, and eucalyptus leaf oil, these bath salts nourish and detoxify the body, leaving skin soft and smooth.
  9. Le Mieux Cosmetics TGF-ß Booster: Designed to promote skin firmness and elasticity and correct fine lines and wrinkles, this serum features algae extract and copper ferment.
  10. Naked Princess 24K Love Dust: This hydrating body shimmer—available in Vanille Blanc, Boudoir Blush, and Midnight Bloom—is infused with 24-karat gold flakes, argan oil, and cucumber extract to nourish the skin.
  11. Osmosis Pür Medical Skincare Catalyst: Packed with copper gluconate, honeysuckle flower extract, and zinc, this serum promotes wound healing and rejuvenates skin through DNA repair.
  12. Vitelle Labs Private Label Hydrating Complex: Made with acqua-biomin copper Y3, a protein-mineral complex, this treatment offers intense hydration and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.