Is Pearl Powder Worth the Hype?

Millennials are a unique generation. Often blamed (and known for) killing off industries – taxi cabs, professional sports, chain restaurants, diamonds, even traditional finance, you name it – there’s never been a demographic so loved and hated for the changes they prompt. I mean, who doesn’t love their Smartphone, after all? But Millennials are almost never given enough credit for their inspired creativity. They’re a generation of tinkerers, makers, and DIY-ers. And that’s true right down to the makeup they wear and the at-home remedies they create…all in the name of beauty.

Amidst the organic sugar scrubs, DIY skin firming masks, natural conditioners, and essential oils, a new (but old) trend has emerged: pearl powders.

That’s right, the same pearls you wear around your neck and in your ears are also being used for the quest for healthy skin…naturally. Best of all, Millennials are taking an ancient Chinese tradition and putting their own spin on it to make it their own.

We spoke with Leon Rbibo, a pearl importer, wholesaler, and President of The Pearl Source and Laguna Pearl, to find out more. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Rbibo doesn’t make or sell pearl powder.

Q: What is pearl powder, anyway?

Rbibo: It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is. Basically, cultivated pearls, typically pearls that are not suitable for jewelry, are ground and crushed until the result is a fine powder, almost like flour or powdered sugar.

Q: Is it expensive?

Rbibo: It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. You can buy it online by the ounce. It hasn’t really taken off in the U.S. to the point where you can walk into a beauty store and pick it up. It’s really just catching fire now.

Q: Is it safe?

Rbibo: Always consult your doctor before trying out a new skin regimen – that’s important. But generally speaking, yes, it’s safe. The truth is powdered pearl has been used in cosmetics for decades without much of an issue.

Q: What exactly do you do with it?

Rbibo: The options are endless, and it really depends on the needs of the person using it. Pearl powder is used to treat acne, dry skin, it’s a great exfoliator, and even reduces redness. You can use it as a spot treatment by mixing it with a thickening agent, but I also know plenty of people use it like a mask by mixing the powder with at-home items, such as egg whites, avocado, cocoa powder, oatmeal, even oils. Leave the mask on for about 10-15 minutes and rinse your face with cold water and a mild face wash. It should leave your skin feeling silky and smooth.

Q: We’ve read that some people take pearl powder supplements – like pills. What’s that all about?

Rbibo: That’s not really my area of expertise, but I would say that ingesting something and using something on your skin are two very different things. It’s probably a good idea to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplement you intend to ingest. The purported benefits are clearer skin, a subtle glow, and even healthier, more vibrant hair. But it’s not something I would consider without consulting a medical professional

Q: Are there any other uses?

Rbibo: It’s become popular among younger generations to use the powder as part of their makeup routine. You can mix a bit of it with your concealer to give your skin a nice glow naturally. It will also cover up small skin discolorations and other blemishes, but it’s exactly that – a cover up. It’s not going to be a cure-all for serious skin conditions.

Q: Can you make it yourself?

Rbibo: I suppose you very well could. But I definitely don’t recommend rummaging through your jewelry box and crushing up your old pearls. Chances are, those pearls are far more valuable than you probably realize. Pearls have made a huge comeback as of late and their prices are increasing due to increased popularity and decreased supply. Also, the pearls used in pearl powder are typically not jewelry quality, so if you start pulverizing your jewelry it’s probably not a very good idea and a huge waste of money.