When the Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, little did they know they were carrying the makings of a modern-day skincare regimen, laden with ‘super’ ingredients.
‘Frankincense was a valuable gift, referred to as “the king of essential oils” and as valuable as gold,’ says facialist Fiona Brackenbury.
Science has since caught up with tradition, and now the aromatic resin from the boswellia tree has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. ‘Frankincense now finds itself in skincare thanks to its regenerating, soothing and firming properties,’ explains Fiona.
Don’t be surprised to find gold in your year-round skincare and body care, too. ‘It’s not all about the shimmer and the light-reflecting particles that illuminate your skin. Gold has the same regenerating properties as frankincense.’
The Magi gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are now part of skincare regimes. Frankincense is often referred to as ‘the king of essential oils’
And those are not the only festive elements to have found their way into your bathroom cabinet. Cranberries, oranges and even coal are all now used to boost winter skin.
But which Christmas ingredients are gold-standard and which are, well, turkeys? Victoria Woodhall tested them…
GOLD TO GLISTEN
Mimi Luzon 24k Pure Gold Exfoliator (£75, liberty.com)
As well as making your skin glisten, 24-carat gold is said to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Facialist-to-the-stars Mimi Luzon makes it the centrepiece of her famous red-carpet facial, where the face is covered in gold leaf, and in her line of gold-infused products including this exfoliating mask.
What’s it like? Washed off after three minutes, it left tiny gold particles twinkling on the skin, but the heavy lifting is done by other ingredients — a combination of exfoliating acids, scrub particles and oils. 2/5 Glittering, at a price
Frankincense Intense AgeDefying Overnight Mask (£50, nealsyardremedies.com). Powerful frankincense helps the skin ward off and repair damage from pollution, stress and sun
Dr Craft Mandarin Antioxidant Rescue Serum (£26, drcraft.co.uk)
Who knew mandarin peel was rich in skin-protecting antioxidants?
What’s it like? With mandarin extract and skin barrier-boosting, pigment-busting niacinamide, this light gel serum is hydrating, too. It is unscented and made in the UK. 4/5 Eco hero
Frankincense Intense AgeDefying Overnight Mask (£50, nealsyardremedies.com)
Powerful frankincense helps the skin ward off and repair damage from pollution, stress and sun. In this overnight mask, it’s paired with firming and lifting ingredients.
What’s it like? Lay it on thick for a 30-minute treatment or use three times a week as a turbo-charged night cream. It’s not greasy and I woke with soft, calmed skin. 4/5 Wise man’s generous gift
Mimi Luzon 24k Pure Gold Exfoliator (£75, liberty.com). As well as making your skin glisten, 24-carat gold is said to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
The Seated Queen Cold Cream (£22, cultbeauty.com)
With an enticing, earthy vanilla scent and strong antioxidant and antibacterial qualities, myrrh (a tree resin) has centuries of traditional use, not just for healing but for anointing and even embalming.
What’s it like? Myrhh is a powerful addition for this cold cream, which can be used as a cleanser, night moisturiser and mask, and is perfect for dry winter skin. It smells and looks sophisticated. 5/5 A modern multi-tasker
Kiehl’s Turmeric and Cranberry Seed Energising Mask (£38, kiehls.co.uk)
Cranberry oil can work wonders on the skin thanks to resveratrol, a compound that can help lessen the effects of sun ageing. The crushed seeds are thrown in too, as a face scrub.
What’s it like? This warming, detoxifying clay mask left my skin feeling zingy and looking polished. 3/5 No turkey
Dr Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Oil with mistletoe leaf (£21.50, drhauschka.co.uk)
Mistletoe is an anti-inflammatory traditionally used in herbal medicine and homoeopathy. It almost never crops up in skincare.
What’s it like? Mistletoe leaf extract plays a supporting role to uplifting lemongrass, which is the star of the show in this beautiful toning oil, used for massage or cellulite relief. 2/5 Christmas de-stresser