The latest salon treatment in to become all the rage in Europe is the 24 carat facial from Japan. The core of the treatment is a potion called Gold Revitalizer, which utilizes real gold. I ran into the folks from the manufacturer, Cosme Proud, the other day and they tested the product - basically, an exfoliator - on my hand. Now I know why everyone has gold fever.

Gold Revitalizer is a thick, but not sticky gel flecked with surprisingly large flakes of gold. The procedure requires the gel to be massaged into the skin until all the gold flakes have disappeared. This takes a few moments. Then the skin is rubbed to exfoliate. The demo on my hand took about five minutes and the results were striking. Compared to the other hand, my gold treated one was a distinct shade paler (Gold Revitalizer is supposed to be an effective skin whitener), much smoother to the eye and much softer to the touch.

But is gold for cosmetic use anything more than a gimmick? Gold has a medicinal history going back to ancient times. Recently, gold has been associated with soothing arthritic symptoms. Gold salts (the ionic chemical compounds of gold) are injected to reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. So it could be an anti-inflammatory, except that the Harvard Medical School thinks that gold works by making proteins associated with autoimmune diseases inactive. Gold nano-bullets are being used, according to Science magazine, as a cure for cancer.

I was pleasantly surprised by Gold Revitalizer's formulation. Apart from methylparaben, an irritant and possibly carcinogenic, there is nothing not like. And apart from the precious metal, there is collagen and two forms of licorice (glycyrrhiza) - a skin lightener that also improves the appearance of dry/damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness, and an anti-irritant with anti-inflammatory and skin soothing capabilities. Another lightener is diacetyl boldine, which comes from the bark of a South American tree.

Conchiolin protein is found in pearls and gives them their rainbow-like luminescence. A study published in the Journal of Cell Biology in 2006, concluded that conchiolin acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair), and has the ability to hydrate skin cells, promote skin cell metabolism, facilitate repair of damaged skin cells, and enhance peripheral circulation. Scutellaria is a plant known as scullcap and is an antioxidant

I have feeling that Cosme Proud's Gold Revitalizer could give Chantecaille's overpriced ($420) Nano Gold Energizing cream, which has gold as the 63rd ingredient (!), a run for its money.

Water, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Glycerin, Potassium Hydroxide, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Soluble Collagen, Diacetyl-boldine, Polysorbate 20, Methylparaben, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Potassium DNA, Hydrolyzed Conchiolin Protein, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Scutellaria Root Extract, Saxifraga Samentosa Extract, Gold, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Squalane, Seaweed Extract, Caprylic Triglyceride, Fragrance