Mineral-rich pearl particles have been used medicinally for centuries and are now used in spa treatments to exfoliate, nourish, and revitalize dull skin.
Pearls have long been admired for their unparalleled opalescent sheen. Associated with both nature and beauty, pearls, like caviar and gold, are considered luxurious spa therapy ingredients and command a higher price. Imagine skin with a pearly glow and it’s easy to see why pearl treatments are in demand. But do they work?
Medicinal and Cosmetic Pearl Formulations
Besides being rich in calcium carbonate, natural gemstone-quality pearls contain the protein albumin and various amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Although the most valuable pearls are found in the wild, most of the pearls used in cosmetics and spa therapies are cultured or farmed from pearl oysters. Seawater pearls are considered more valuable than freshwater pearls.
Listed in the Materia Medica used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), pure pearl powder has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat nervous system ailments, hypertension and vision problems. Pearl has also been used as a beautifying agent since ancient times. For cosmetic purposes pearl powder is mixed with the nascent, iridescent inner shell of the oyster.
Practitioners of TCM believe that calcium carbonate, trace minerals, albumin and amino acids from pearl powder are absorbed through the skin. Applied externally as a facial mask, these ingredients are reported to speed the skin’s natural metabolism, tone and rejuvenate pallid complexions, heal blemishes, minimize large pores and reduce redness. During the Ming dynasty the physician Li Shizhen described the use of pearl powder for improving skin in the Classical Chinese Materia Medica, stating that it lubricates and improves facial skin while reducing blemishes. In addition, pearl powder is reported to relieve dryness and chaps on the hands and feet.
Pearl’s effects on eradicating blemishes are related to its natural antiseptic and antioxidant properties. In China, pearl powder is also routinely used to heal wounds and ulcerations. In the United States, physicians often sprinkle a lower-grade pearl powder, called surgical pearl, into their latex gloves before performing surgery. Pearl powder is thought to reduce infection by absorbing excess moisture.
Why Location Matters
In a South Pacific setting, where black and white pearls are readily available, local pearl therapies contain pure ingredients from freshly harvested pearls. Signature pearl-based treatments, including facials, masks and cellulite removal treatments, have been tried, tested, and perfected. Black Tahitian Pearl treatments offered at local spas are usually similar in price to other skin treatments. Look for affordable pearl treatments in Bali and other Polynesian resorts. At the Mira Mira Spa at the St. Regis Hotel in Bora, Bora, French Polynesia, spa treatments include therapies that use a blend of the finest traditional and contemporary local Tahitian and Pacific Rim treatments, such as monoi oil, tamanu oil, pure mother of pearl, and luminescent pearl powder.
Spas in the UK are more likely to use imported pearl products that may not justify their cost although reported benefits include skin regeneration and luminosity, diminished sunspots and exfoliation, Still, it’s important to compare costs as well as benefits. For instance, Denver’s Beautique Salon Spa, which offers treatments that combine western and eastern healing therapies, offers a 60-minute Purifying Pearl Facial for oily and combination skin that compares in price to other facial treatments. When it comes to more expensive pearl-based spa treatments, it might be simpler to import genuine pearl products from a company supplying TCM products, such as the Jamu Shop, which offers a reasonably priced Translucence of Pearl cCeam.
The Norweigian Själ skincare company also specializes in Ayurvedic treatments, including pearl-based therapies that are reported to replenish bio-osmotic energy. The idea is that natural gemstones act as electro-stimulants, a concept shared only with the luxury jewelry line Bulgari. Själ recently introduced a Pearl Enzyme Exfoliating Mask that’s receiving rave reviews. This product contains ground pearls, tourmaline, ruby, diamond and amethyst, plus botanicals like pomegranate, pumpkin seed oil and mushroom to brighten skin, exfoliate and reduce inflammation.