The penetration of spherical and rod-like gold nanoparticles into human skin is reported. Several skin preparation techniques are applied, including cryo techniques, such as plunge freezing and freeze drying, and the use of wet cells. Their advantages and drawbacks for observing nanoparticle uptake are discussed. Independent of the particle shape no uptake into intact skin is observed by a combination of imaging approaches, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), and scanning X-ray microscopy (STXM). These results are discussed along with suitable skin preparation approaches. Experiments on barrier-disrupted skin, i.e. mechanical lesions made by pricking, indicate, however, that gold particles can be identified deep in the dermis, as follows from STXM studies on wet skin samples.