Safe, Therapeutic, Cosmetic: To use a good, pure pearl powder for skincare is to get a rare gift of nature which can boast all three benefits at the same time.
It’s common knowledge that royal ladies were using pearl powder to keep their skin looking young and beautiful as far back as 2,000 years ago.
Although this is a historical fact, modern pearl powders come in a wide range of variety, quality and performance — which these ladies never knew.
The powder from nacre of Akoya pearl oysters is among the finest anywhere, renowned for its quality, nutrition content and iridescent hues (also called orient). Akoya oysters are rare and exceedingly sensitive to pollution. The Japanese variety accounts for less than 2% of the market.
Pearl powder promotes bouncier skin, reduces pore size, lightens skin’s tone and improves texture. It can also be used as a subtle, yet sophisticated mineral makeup.
Pearl powder’s powerful benefits mainly come from its abundance of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron plus a complex protein called conchiolin.
Conchiolin lightens skin. It has been scientifically proven to reduce skin’s pigmentation by inhibiting an enzyme (called Tyrosinase) which is responsible for melanin production.
It also hydrates skin, helps rebuild its natural collagen and increases skin’s barrier action for retaining moisture.
How to Use
Pearl powder is versatile. It mixes well with almost all powders, oils and other common cosmetics.
You can use it in many different ways by mixing it with your cleanser, moisturizer, liquid or other powders.
You can also use it to prepare a facial mask, or as a subtle highlighter or even as mineral translucent setting / finish powder.
Mix Pearl Powder with Cleanser, Moisturizer, Sunscreen and Cosmetics
- Take 0.1 grams of pearl powder
- Place onto your palm
- Add your favorite cosmetic to the powder
- Mix well and apply to face, neck, hands or body as you wish
If using with soap or cleanser, wash and rinse as normal.
Make a Nutrient-rich Pearl Powder Mask
You can mix pearl powder into your own favorite recipe or use the sample recipe below.
- Take 2 grams of pearl powder
- Add 2 tsp of wheat powder (or Shiro Nuka Rice Bran if you like gluten-free)
- Add 2 to 3 tsp of water, milk or soy milk
- Add other ingredients such as honey or a good moisturizing oil as you prefer
- Mix well. Apply to face for 10 minutes
- Rinse with lukewarm water
Apply Pearl Powder as Mineral Highlighter
Pearl powder, though it looks white, is not just white-colored powder. Its crystalline structure imparts unique iridescence and hues which shift subtly from direct to side views.
You can enhance your favorite features by applying a small amount of powder with a highlighter brush or a Q-tip. Go slow and keep layering till you get the effect you like.
How to Apply Pearl Powder as Translucent Setting/Finish Powder
The fine size of Akoya pearl powder (2.3 microns) gives you the ability to apply it translucent to match the tint of your makeup.
Brush on a small amount over foundation as setting powder, or over makeup as a finish powder to subtly blur fine lines and control oil and shine.
When you look at a pearl, the shiny beautiful object you see is called nacre (pronounced neikər).
Nacre is the inner layer of the shell (called mother-of-pearl) and the outer coating of the pearl itself. It is made of layers of calcium carbonate crystals and minerals plus a protein called conchiolin.
Inside of pearls is a non-nacre core (sometimes called a seed). This core is typically an implant and has no nutritional benefits.
Nacre’s conchiolin is a complex protein of 17 types of amino acids. It heals blemishes, repairs skin and promotes new cell generation. The net result is a bouncier, smoother and lighter skin with better tone and texture.
Freshwater and saltwater nacre crystals look different under a microscope. Akoya nacre crystals have a much flatter and more organized microstructure.
It is a well-known fact to gemologists and jewelers that nacre of Japanese Akoya has deeper luster and iridescence compared to other kinds (for jewelers’ perspective, see Japanese Akoya Pearls Luster)
It Matters Where Your Pearl Powder Comes From
You want to make sure the powder you choose is sourced from clean waters. Oysters and mussels do not move around and are highly dependent on the purity of water they live in. When they are bred in polluted waters, heavy metals and pollutants seep into their nacre, and end up in the powder.
Saltwater oysters in general, and Akoyas in particular, are exceedingly sensitive to water quality. They need to be bred and cared for in pristine waters and do not survive in polluted environments.
In contrast, freshwater mussels are hardy and easier to breed than Akoyas (that’s one reason why they are more abundant). Powders from freshwater cultured pearls are mainly from China, which dominates an estimated 90% of the world pearl market.
The UN has published an informative paper on the environmental problems faced by the Chinese pearl industry entitled China’s Pearl Industry: an Indicator of Ecological Stress.
Not Hydrolyzed or Chemically Treated
A top quality pearl powder such as from Akoya’s nacre is not treated with chemicals at all.
The so-called “pearl” you find on the label of many cosmetics is a processed ingredient. You will see it next to words such as activated, hydrolyzed or hydrolyzed conchiolin, often times next to preservatives such as Phenoxyethanol (warned by FDA as toxic).
Hydrolyzed pearl powders are typically processed by using Hydrochloric acid (HCl) to make them water-soluble and ingestible.
It is important that the particles in your pearl powder have the optimal size for your skin. Of course you don’t want you powder to be coarse. Perhaps even more importantly, you don’t want them to be too small.
2 to 3 micron powders are as fine as some of the highest quality cosmetic powders you can get. This is an optimal size for a refined look and skin’s pore texture.
Many pearl powders today are processed into extremely small nano-size particles, ostensibly for faster absorption into the body. One nano is about 1/80,000 of the thickness of human hair.
Numerous studies have shown that nano-sizing even safe ingredients can cause DNA damage and a range of serious health consequences. You can read more on the topic in the informative paper published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 called Tiny particles may pose big risk.