Trend Alert: Heavy Metals

Pumping iron, going for the gold, perfecting a steely gaze: Metals are part of our everyday vocabulary and, as it turns out, our beauty regimen. Lately, they’ve been cropping up as the key ingredients in high-performance skincare products. And although it may sound a little offbeat to put metals on your skin, they actually offer an impressive range of benefits with a low risk factor for allergy, according to Beverly Hills Dermatologist Dr. Harold A. Lancer, creator of Lancer Skincare (as with any product, it’s best to test on your inner upper arms before applying to your face). “If formulated and used properly, certain metals make for great skincare ingredients,”he says. Read on for the basics about these power elements.


Here’s a little science trivia for you: Human skin and pennies contain the same material, copper. When used as a topical product, copper may help soothe irritations, calm rosacea, and reduce puffiness. And, when used in peptide form, copper can zip deep into your skin and help rebuild natural collagen levels. It’s the star ingredient in Kiehl’s new Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream, where it’s been shown to improve skin’s firmness within four weeks, and in Osmotics Blue Copper Firming Elasticity Repair.

Zinc (Oxide)

Taken orally, this nutritious metal can help battle illness, Dr. Lancer says, but it’s just as powerful as a topical ingredient. By reflecting radiation, zinc oxide bolsters skin’s defenses against the sun, so it’s no wonder oodles of sun-protective formulas rely on it as a UV blocker. Consider Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream which contains 20 percent zinc oxide: Working alongside vitamin C, resveratrol and fruit stem cells, this ultragentle metal helps reverse cellular DNA damage. (In layman’s terms, say bye-bye to fine lines and hello to smoother, more even skin.) For another example of zinc’s power, try Cotz Plus Sunscreen SPF 58. With its high SPF coupled with zinc, skin stays smooth and youthful-looking.


If you’ve ever used Epsom salts (technically magnesium sulfate) to treat a scratch or a rash, you’ve already experienced this powerhouse element in action. Along with copper, magnesium is necessary for cell membrane function, and can also act as an anti-inflammatory, such as in Borghese Crema Saponetta Cleansing Creme, which simultaneously cleans and soothes, and as an exfoliator, like in Miracle Skin Transformer Hydroactive Microderm. When combined with calcium, potassium, and zinc, such as in AHAVA’s Mineral Hand Cream, it helps heal severely dry skin.

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