The treasures hidden in beauty products

GOLDEN GIRL: There's gold in that there bathroom cabinet, and plenty of other precious metals besides.
GOLDEN GIRL: There's gold in that there bathroom cabinet, and plenty of other precious metals besides.

When Swiss brand La Prairie released its first caviar-based anti-ageing elixir more than 25 years ago it did so in a market not exactly populated by luxe lotions.

Today, $1000+ creams and serums containing pricy ingredients such as platinum, pearls and crushed diamonds aren't exactly rare, with entire ranges (Estee Lauder's pearl-infused Re-Nutriv for example) based upon them. Exotic ingredients are also finding their way into makeup - Rihanna boasted a 24-karat gold manicure at last year's Grammys. The cost of the enamel? US$5000 a bottle.

But precious pigments aren't exclusively the domain of prestige products: Linden Leaves puts gold in its Gold Collection of body products, Sally Hansen this year released a nail enamel containing real silver. Here's our guide to the highly prized ingredients some women choose to wear not only around their necks but also on their complexions.

What it does: Soothes, protects, heals and refreshes stressed and inflamed skin.
You'll find it in: Dr Hauschka's Rhythmic Conditioner (Sensitive), $169, a night treatment that helps reduce redness and dilated capillaries. You'll also find malachite in This Works Clean Skin Refining Toner, $46.

What they do: Even out skintone.
You'll find them in: Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Age-Correcting Serum, $424, which contains powderised South Sea pearls to help improve skin clarity.

What they do: Exfoliate, refine and brighten.
You'll find them in: La Mer's The Refining Facial, $200, which contains fine, powdered pharmaceutical-grade diamonds to gently buff the skin and help improve tone. Diamond dust is also in MAC's Mineralize Charged Water Face and Body Lotion, $70.

What it does: Colloidal silver has antibiotic/antibacterial properties. In cosmetics, silver dust has a mother-of-pearl lustre effect.

You'll find it in: theCream, $69.90, an ultra-nourishing face cream claimed to help a wide range of skin problems. TheCream also contains another slightly controversial ingredient - bovine colostrum. Silver is also included in Sally Hansen's Lustre Shine Nail Colours, $12.99 each.

What it does: Brightens, protects and slows down the breakdown of collagen and elastin. In makeup and body products, it provides a subtle sheen.
You'll find it in: La Prairie's Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold, $910, an uber serum that works on all signs of ageing. Although it can be used as a potent booster by all ages, it's recommended for mature skins. Gold is also in Linden Leaves Gold Mist, $30.50, Chantecaille's Nano Gold Firming Treatment, $489, L'Oreal Paris NutriLift Gold Anti-Ageing Serum Foundation, $43.99, and Jane Iredale's Shimmer Powder Eyeshadows, $25.10 each.

What it does: Lifts, protects, softens fine lines and re-texturises.
You'll find it in: La Prairie's Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, $605, sourced from Siberian Baeri sturgeon and aqua-farmed in France.

What it does: Improves circulation and revitalises.
You'll find it in: La Mer's The Cleansing Fluid, $180, and The Hand Treatment, $180. A gemstone, tourmaline helps convert massaging action into energy, bolstering circulation. It also eliminates the need for skin-stripping detergents. Tourmaline is also added to Dr LeWinn's Skin Perfect Anti-Ageing Foundation, $45.90, and This Works Daily Boost Body Scrub, $60.

What they do: Wake up the skin, helping it regain its youthful glow.
You'll find them in: La Prairie's Cellular Radiance Cream, $910 where they help diminish the appearance of fine lines, improve firmness and increase cell turnover.

What it does: Sometimes used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, platinum has the distinction of being one of the world's rarest precious metals.
You'll find it in: La Prairie's Cellular Cream Platinum Rare, $1550, where it helps to establish electrolyte balance and improve moisture levels.

Fairfax Media