“Colloidal silver is tiny, charged silver particles suspended in a solution that react to the environment and have antimicrobial properties,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. This is why ancient civilizations used silver for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and disinfectant. It’s also why colloidal silver is still infused into band aids and wound treatments in high-tech hospitals, and NASA scientists use it to purify water in outer space.
Does it do anything for skin?
Colloidal silver’s benefits are still being further investigated on a clinical level, but many, like Argentum Apothecary founder Joy Isaacs, believe that applying it topically can help treat everything from rosacea to acne to aging. “It calms the skin by reducing inflammation and fights bacteria without destroying the natural flora of your skin,” says Isaacs. “It also decreases the irritating effects caused by oxidative stress and stimulates skin elasticity.” It is these properties that secured colloidal silver’s inclusion in face masks including Allies of Skin’s Promise Keeper Blemish Facial and Mimi Luzon’s Wonder Dust.
Are there any health benefits?
You’ll find everything from sprays to dietary supplements with colloidal silver on the ingredients list, with claims that they boost your immune system and even treat diseases when taken orally, but the jury is still out. “There are no scientific studies that have proven these health benefits,” says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, founder of Entière Dermatology in New York. “Furthermore, the buildup of colloidal silver can cause different medical conditions. As a dermatologist, I have seen generalized argyria, which is usually a permanent slate-gray to blue discoloration of the skin predominantly on sun-exposed areas. Very rarely, excessive colloidal silver ingestion can cause more serious health problems such as seizures and kidney damage.”
Is colloidal silver right for you?
“Unless you have a specific allergy to silver, it should be perfectly safe to use across all skin types and ages,” says Isaacs. That said, she warns that not all products containing silver are created equal and “can be very simply made – even homemade, which in turn produces varying qualities,” so it’s worth doing your homework. “The colloidal silver that Argentum Apothecary uses is silver hydrosol, which is positively charged silver ions, made of 99.99% pure silver, suspended in pharmaceutical-grade purified water,” she explains.