« Knit Watch — by Clare Crespo | Home | Roll Buddy »

December 4, 2007

The Cleopatra Look


Edwina Ings-Chambers, in an eye-opening November 30, 2007 article in the Financial Times, explored the beauty industry's current rage for gold; her piece follows.

    The Cleopatra look

    December is a good time to focus on a spot of gilding: consider the wise men, the tinsel and the sparkling decorations. But this year, the gold rush has truly hit the beauty world, for gold has suddenly become everyone’s magic ingredient.

    There’s Chantecaille’s new Nano Gold Energizing Cream, which promises to deliver “unprecedented antioxidant and anti-ageing powers of pure gold to skin” at a cost of £350 ($700), and Guerlain’s L’Or Radiance Concentrate with Pure Gold — a clear gel in which flakes of gold have been suspended and that is meant to be used to boost, well, radiance, but also acts as a good holding base for foundation (£37). There’s La Prairie’s Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold, which “boosts the skin’s vitality and luminescence” — and has had a dedicated facial created around it. And then there’s the Umo 24 Carat Gold Facial [top], which has been launched by the Japanese company and includes the placing of fine sheets of gold on the face that are then massaged into the skin (the treatment is currently only available in Japan and the US).

    When those gold sheets are in place during the Umo treatment patients almost resemble a mummy’s sarcophagus and this is no coincidence: many beauty companies hark back to Cleopatra and her apparent forward thinking on the beautification front, for she is said to have slept in a mask of gold. The ancients apparently considered the metal a source of immortality.

    Gold is “a symbol of luxury and sophistication and ancient civilisations attributed healing properties to pure gold and often included gold in cosmetic preparations and medicinal remedies,” says Brigit Blair, creator of the New Zealand-based Linden Leaves range, which has used flakes of 23-carat gold, mined in Australia, in its Gold Mist Facial Mist and Body Oil to naturally tone and hydrate (the flakes are placed into each bottle using chopstick to avoid contamination). “Gold has historically been referred to as a healer — it is thought to generate, strengthen and amplify energy,” says Blair.

    In other words, not much has changed — though perhaps nowadays the concept of immortality has been replaced with simply the look of immortality: a bit of wrinkle dodging and the search for an epidermis that possesses a youthful dewiness long after we have any right to expect it.

    Still, it was the apparent medical benefits of yellow gold discovered in recent research for cancer treatments, as well as its traditional use in ayurvedic medicine, that first inspired Sylvie Chantecaille to investigate further gold as a beauty serum.

    “I’ve noticed since I studied it that in the US they give you a shot of gold for multiple sclerosis, or in really bad cases of arthritis, as it has such strong anti-inflammatory properties that it allows people more movement when they are completely stiff,” she says. Such benefits convinced her that there must be advantages for the skin too. The Nano Gold Energizing Cream took two years to develop, but Chantecaille is pleased with the results – she has found that even on her own epidermis the cream helps to “restore and heal the skin — and we added triphosphorus which helps the skin manage its energy. I have a lot of sun damage as I’ve been sunning myself like a fool all my life, and I see that disappears [when I use it]. And also, on oily skins, it seems to control it and bring it back to an optimal level.”

    Over at Carita, meanwhile, one of the most sumptuous body creams you will ever slather on yourself, Progressif La Crème Parfaite Corps aux particules d’or pur, not only offers a subtle shimmer to skin but also promises your skin will “become increasingly firm, smooth and amazingly beautiful”. That’s not to say it’s a miracle worker or will help you to fit into that party dress, but I can certainly vouch for its smoothability.

    “We have used precious metals and gems within our luxurious anti-ageing skin care products over the years,” says Emma Maclennan, of Carita UK. “Gold has been specifically used in some of our products as it gives an iridescent shimmer, luminosity and glow to the skin. So highly valued are the 24-carat particles that create the iridescent effect of the Perfect Cream for the Body that they are protected by security when delivered to the Carita headquarters in Paris.”

    Beauty that requires security guards might seem like an extravagant way to go, but an even more pressing concern is the fluctuating gold price. “It’s an expensive thing to put in creams,” admits Chantecaille. “We’ll try not to [increase the price] as that’s very depressing for the customer because it’s already costly, but at some point, if we have to, we will.”

    Of course, to keep up with the gold trend you don’t have to get all scientific; you can treat it on a purely superficial level — at least on the cosmetics front. Nail technician Leighton Denny reports that his Golden Girl nail polish is, “Flying off the shelves. Gold represents glamour in the highest class, it wakes up those little strappy black sandals and adds a touch of pure panache to a little back dress, dress it up or down,” he says.

    Over at Guerlain the gilding is truly glamorous. Inspired by “Kingdoms full of gold and incense, palaces as wonderful as those from a thousand and one stories from the Arabian nights,” according to creative director Olivier Echaudemaison who has introduced some golden gems especially for Christmas.

    Top among them is Golden Lash mascara topcoat which, when wiped over normal mascara, makes lashes look as though they’ve been sprinkled with festive fairy dust. Think of it as a shades of gold take on the house’s classic meteorites powder baubles.

December 4, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Cleopatra Look:


I bet one of those big old pink jellyfish slapped on somebody's face would restore some of that youthful dewiness and iridescent shimmer, too.

Posted by: Flautist | Dec 5, 2007 12:47:35 AM

Have these people never heard of the phrase "Conspicuous consumption"? Or perhaps they have and think it's a good thing.

Posted by: Skipweasel | Dec 4, 2007 1:47:48 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.