When you think of silver and gold, you probably think sparkly. Shiny. Eye-catching. But the colloidal silver benefits for skin (as well as colloidal gold) don’t just help with glow — these ingredients actually have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that make them ideal for soothing dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin. And thanks to an influx of moisturizers, mists, and masks spiked with colloidal silver and gold, the luxe-sounding substances are easier to find than ever.
“Both colloidal silver and colloidal gold have been used for quite some time in the fields of medicine and skincare,” Dr. Neil Sadick, a dermatologist with Sadick Dermatology in Manhattan, tells The Zoe Report. “They are minerals, each with different biological activities.” Colloidal silver is the more well-known of the two; it’s been used on its own for years as a DIY skincare ingredient and even an internal wellness supplement. But its golden counterpart has generated a bit more buzz as of late, thanks in part to the launch of Bliss’ new Rose Gold Rescue collection, infused with rose water and colloidal gold.
The term colloidal refers to the way the substances are formulated. “The particles are suspended in a liquid formula that allows them to disperse evenly and cover a larger surface area on the skin,” Susana Escobar, the Head of Product Innovation at Bliss, tells TZR. Even though the molecules are microscopic, they pack a major skin-healing punch.
Skincare Benefits of Colloidal Silver
“Colloidal silver has anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Sadick says. Its anti-inflammatory quality makes it a skincare heavy-hitter, as nearly all skin issues — including redness, acne, and chronic conditions like dermatitis and rosacea — stem from inflammation. But its unique way of fighting off acne-causing bacteria is where colloidal silver really shines.
“The particles attach themselves to the proteins on the cellular wall of the bacteria, where they penetrate into the cell to disrupt the metabolic processes of the bacteria; leading to the death of the bacteria,” Nicolas Travis, founder of beauty brand Allies of Skin, tells The Zoe Report. “Think of silver as suffocating the bacteria; cutting off its cellular respiration.”
This antibacterial power combines with colloidal silver’s anti-fungal benefits to foster a healthy microbiome (AKA, the environment of good bacteria on your skin), leaving the skin’s barrier better protected. You can take this barrier-repairing effect to the max by looking for the purest form of colloidal silver out there: silver hydrosol. “Colloidal silver is the generic term for substances with silver particles in suspension, but silver hydrosol is the ultimate refinement and purity of the colloidal silver category,” Joy Isaacs, the founder of ARgENTUM, tells The Zoe Report. “Silver hydrosol regulates skin flora with its powerful, soothing, and purifying properties that provide exquisite protection for your skin.”
In this way, the substance kickstarts the skin’s natural repair mechanisms. “These particles also help promote the healing of skin,” Travis says. “Hence, it works great on all skin types, especially the breakout-prone.”
Skincare Benefits of Colloidal Gold
This quality carries over into colloidal gold, which is known as a barrier-protecting superhero. “Colloidal gold has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” Dr. Sadick says. “It reinforces the skin’s barrier, while boosting repair and healing.”
As an antioxidant, colloidal gold works to protect the skin from damaging pollution particles. “It acts as a shield against free radicals,” Escobar explains; which have been known to wreak havoc in ways big and small — from triggering chronic conditions like eczema to provoking a pimple or two. Pollution is also a major cause of premature aging (it breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin), which is why Dr. Sadick recommends colloidal gold for anyone dealing with “thin, aging skin showing laxity or fine lines.”
Perhaps the biggest benefit of colloidal gold, though, is its calming quality. “It helps to soothe irritation, due to its skin conditioning properties, and is also known to help stimulate cell turnover for a smooth complexion,” Escobar explains. It's godsend for sensitive skin — Dr. Sadick maintains it shouldn’t cause any sort of irritation.
The Risks Of Using Colloidal Silver & Gold
“Just as some consumers might have allergies to wearing jewelry, these substances might cause irritation,” Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of BeautyStat.com, tells The Zoe Report. In other words, if certain metals usually give you a rash, you may want to skip this particular skincare trend. “Otherwise, these ingredients should not cause any adverse reactions when used topically,” Dr. Sadick says. As always, he recommends patch testing any new products on your arm before slathering them on your face, just in case.
Ahead, 12 ways to add skin-saving, barrier-boosting silver and gold to your skincare routine.