Our Rating: 5 stars

Gold is one of those things that is reassuring and potentially unreliable at the same time. When the economy is volatile, investors view gold as a safe haven. Yet, gold is also associated with warnings that it can be a false friend: think “fool’s gold” and “all that glissters is not….: So while my inner glamor girl coveted the gold flakes in Prana’s AU 24K Gold Serum ($96 in the TIA shop), the sensible Capricorn sat on my shoulder to prevent me being seduced by all that glitter. Now, a month into my test, I am sold on AU 24K – as far as my skin is concerned this is the real deal.

Prana is one of the brands created by Cherie Dobbs, the founder of Dermastart (and one of the women in cosmetics that we recently paid tribute to in honor of American Business Women’s day). I have already had a great introduction to her range, which focuses on botanicals combined the most powerful actives available, with Active Vitamin Lift Serum.

Gold is supposed to stimulate blood flow and oxygen, according to Cherie Dobbs. It certainly has anti-inflammatory activities and it may be boost collagen III. However, although gold has been used medicinally for centuries, the research on how it interacts with the human body is frustratingly contradictory. Hence, my mixed feelings as to how efficacious Prana’s AU 24K Gold Serum would ultimately prove to be.

Whether the gold (billed as “genuine German gold” by Prana) is responsible for AU 24K’s effects I can’t really say. But this serum does an excellent job of plumping and smoothing the skin, fading fine lines and it even calms redness and seems to minimize broken veins. I’ve been trying it out on my cheeks, down to the labial nasal lines and am very pleased to report that the formula is not all comedogenic – this is a critical factor for me as this is an area of my skin that can be prone to blocked pores.

Regarding this last point, I think the aloe vera gel base is very suited to my skin and  I find that this serum goes on nicely (I think the technical term is ‘slip’) and is neither too oily, or drying but is, in fact, a very good match for my skin.

My Capricorn side still hasn’t really caught gold fever though and so I attribute AU 24K’s success to its many other actives, especially the peptides.  There’s that good old collagen builder Matrixyl 3000, as well as Matrixyl, and two peptide expression line inhibitors, pentapeptide-18 and acetyl hexapeptide-8.

Prana likes its B vitamins and here, as in the Prana Vitamin Lift, there are B12 and dexpanthenol, a biologically available form of panthenol that has been shown, according to German researchers, to heal wounds and improve skin disorders.

In a formulation that only has things to like, there’s also plenty of sodium hyaluronate and good botanicals including pycnogenol. This is pine bark extract and  it is more powerful and vitamin C and E as well as being an antioxidant multitasker. Last but not least there is chitosan, which comes from shellfish and seems to be an excellent skin regenerator, according to research.

To my mind the real gold in AU 24K is that there is nothing dislike and every single ingredient serves the skin. This makes it pretty good value – especially as I’ve used only a fraction after one month.

Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Cyanocbalamine (Vitamin B12), Sodium Hyaluronate, Ginseng .Green Tea, Marine Collagen, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3, Pentapeptide-18, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Dexpanthenol (Vitamin B), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Pycnogenol, Centella Asiatica, Chamomile, Genuine German Gold, Allantoin, Chitosan, phenoxyethanol