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Pearl powder is a popular ingredient in skin care products today, but it isn’t new. It’s been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Wu Zetian, a Chinese empress, supposedly used the powder to beautify her skin.

In Chinese medicine, the powder is said to be detoxifying and is used as an anti-inflammatory and a relaxant. In Ayurvedic medicine, pearl is said to be an antidote for poison, and it was also used in love potions.

Pearl powder contains amino acids, calcium, and trace minerals and has many purported benefits for skin and health. Keep reading to learn about how it’s made and used, along with its benefits and potential side effects.

Pearl powder is made by boiling fresh or saltwater pearls (to sterilize them), and then milling the pearls into a soft fine powder that’s similar in texture to flour or cornstarch.

Pearl powder contains the following:

  • Amino acids. These building blocks of protein are essential for our bodies to function properly. They stimulate skin cells to produce collagen, promote cellular repair and hydration, and protect skin from pollution and outside elements.
  • Trace minerals. Pear powder contains over 30 trace minerals, including magnesium and potassium, which help maintain skin’s health.
  • High levels of calcium. Calcium promotes skin regeneration and moisture. It also helps to regulate sebum and cell turnover. Taken orally, calcium also helps with bone strength and may fight against osteoporosis.
  • Antioxidant boosters. Pearl powder is said to boost two of the bodies most abundant antioxidants: superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione. These antioxidants can help fight against disease and may even extend life.

Is pearl powder vegan?

Pearl powder isn’t technically vegan since pearls grow in oysters. However, many vegans believe it’s acceptable to use pearl powder in their beauty routine because it’s similar to honey or bee pollen.

Pearl powder has both internal and external benefits for the skin and body. It’s said to reduce activation of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that causes the production of melanin. Without this, skin appears more luminous — much like the sheen of a pearl.

Nacre, an ingredient in pearl powder can also stimulate fibroblasts in the body, which accelerates wound healing. This can also help collagen regenerate itself, which may make wrinkles appear less prominent.

Pearl powder was used as an anti-inflammatory, detoxifying agent, and relaxant in Chinese medicine. This could be in part because of the magnesium it contains.

Magnesium has an ability to elevate gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, which can help alleviate depression, anxiety, and certain sleep disorders.

Pearl powder comes in many forms and can be used topically or orally. Forms of pearl powder include:

  • finishing powders
  • face masks
  • skin lotions
  • oral supplements
  • toothpaste

Finishing powders

Pearl is a mineral, and it can be used as mineral makeup powder. Many people like the subtle glow that’s achieved by using pearl powder as a natural finishing powder. It also helps makeup stay in place.

You can find pearl powder at most beauty stores or online.

Face masks

You can buy capsules of pearl powder online and in certain beauty stores. Just be sure that the packaging specifically says 100 percent pearl powder.

To make a face mask, open a capsule and mix with a few drops of water (or rosewater if you prefer). Stir until a thick paste forms, spread on your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water and follow with moisturizer.

You can also find ready-made pearl powder face masks online.

Skin lotion

Skin cream made with pearl powder is said to stimulate collagen production and protect against radicals that make the skin age. You can find pearl powder lotions at most beauty stores or online.

Oral supplements

Pearl powder may promote relaxation and bone health when taken orally. You can take pearl capsules or find pure pearl powder online and mix it into drinks such as smoothies, water, coffee, or tea.

Pearl powder is said to contain eight of the essential amino acids you must get through your diet (meaning your body doesn’t make them on its own).

Pearl powder is edible and can be mixed in drinks, including smoothies, water, coffee, or tea.

Toothpaste

There’s not much scientific research on how effective pearl powder is for teeth. Anecdotally speaking, the calcium content of pearl powder is thought to strengthen teeth, while the minerals may aid gum health and brighten teeth without bleaching.

There’s limited research behind the benefits of pearl powder, and as with other supplements, the powder isn’t tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, new research has shown that when taken orally, pearl powder can help the body create antioxidants and fend off free radicals.

Pearl powder can also help cells turnover and wounds heal more quickly, according to a 2010 study. Research also shows that when used topically, pearl powder can temporarily shrink pores, decrease redness, and improve skin texture.

Pearl powder is generally considered safe, but some people do experience allergic reactions to calcium, which is found in pearls.

It’s a good idea to patch test the powder before ingesting it or using it on your face. You can do this by putting a small amount on your forearm, and waiting for signs of a reaction, which can include redness, itching, or swelling.

Pearl powder has been used since 320 A.D. Research and anecdotal evidence claims it can help with everything from bone health and wound healing to skin health.

As with most supplements, pearl powder isn’t FDA-tested, but preliminary research points to its benefits both internally and for the skin.

You can take it orally in either capsules or powder form. Follow the manufacturer’s directions, as concentrations may vary. Or if you prefer, you can make a face mask from the powder or buy a skin cream that contains pearl powder.

Pearl powder is generally considered safe, though it’s high in calcium, which some people are allergic to. Be sure to test it first on a small area of your skin, before ingesting it or using it on your face.