Why Algae Are the Future of Skincare

One more reason to save those oceans.


Seas and oceans offer treasures with numerous virtues. Their waters are full of resources with incredible biological richness. That is the case for algae, marine plants at the center of the cosmetic industry's attention.  

These photosynthetic plants can fix CO2 and produce oxygen. They are also high in minerals  (copper, zinc, iron, and potassium), vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients with regenerating and emollient properties.

Considering their multitude of active ingredients, algae represent a real asset for the cosmetic sector.

Older than you think

The use of seaweed does not date from yesterday—a manuscript of the Chinese pharmacopeia written in 2700 BC linked seaweed to body care. However, in recent times, thanks to the discovery of the richness of their composition, the medical and cosmetic industries have increased algae's exploitation.

Alginates, viscous substances derived mainly from brown algae, were discovered in the 1860s by the British scientist Stanford, who saw great interest in their physicochemical properties. The main characteristic of these alginates is their ability to gel, a sought-after property in the textile, food, medical and cosmetic industries.
Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry researched alginate to develop new excipients for drugs and dressings (skin, gastric and hemostatic). In the food industry, alginate is the additive responsible for the creamy texture of your favorite desserts.
Nowadays, industries are still developing new applications for seaweeds.

Algae in beauty and skincare

For decades, laboratories have been studying seaweed to design high-quality cosmetic products and bring all the benefits of the sea to the skin.
Sodium alginate is the most widely used in cosmetics. To extract it, dry seaweed is crushed and suspended in a hot sodium bicarbonate solution.

This alginate is a crucial component in the preparation of dyes and inks. Besides, it is an additive to give a soft and velvety feel to creams and lotions.

For instance, the premium cosmetic brand La Mer has always prided itself on harnessing the power of algae in its products. Despite its hefty price tag, the brand's iconic Moisturizing Cream is a recurrent best-seller. Celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, and Chrissy Teigen are devoted fans.



Algae in all forms and hues

Algae are plants similar to mushrooms. For years, they've developed extraordinary antioxidants exposed to difficult living conditions (current, salt, wind...). Antioxidants protect skin cells from the damage of free radicals (such as pollution and UV radiation), thereby avoiding premature aging.
Beyond their nutrient richness, algae have anti-bacterial and antifungal capacities, meaning they minimize the spread of germs. Thus, their active ingredients will keep your skin free of breakouts.

Seaweed's riches vary according to the color of the algae. According to some skincare experts, "Different colors of algae have different skincare benefits". Indeed, algae can be green, red, blue, or brown.

Red algae, such as Irish moss, are ideal for skin microcirculation and improving the complexion's radiance. They are rich in antioxidants: beta carotene, chlorophyll a and d, carotenoids, fatty acids, peptides, and polysaccharides. As such, red algae can help enhance the firmness and smoothness of the skin.

Green algae such as Ulva Lactuca (sea lettuce) is an alga rich in magnesium used primarily for its moisturizing properties. They are rich in vitamin C and phlorotannins, which can protect your skin against UV damage. They can help relieve inflammation with their fatty acid content. Blue algae: they help fight against skin aging and limit the appearance of signs of aging. They contain B vitamins and amino acids, calcium, protein, and polyunsaturated fats, all of which can help aid hydration and make skin healthier.

Brown algae such as Fucus spiralis represent remineralizing, protective, and emollient algae. They’re rich in iodine, which can promote faster wound healing. They can also help protect your skin’s elastic fibers, but they may not be suitable for individuals with acne, as they may cause irritation. 

In essence, the benefits of algae to the skin can vary depending on their color. From improving skin hydration and smoothness to protecting skin from UV damage and minimizing the signs of aging—their wonderful effects make algae beauty products popular.

Better assimilated than chemical ingredients, marine ingredients can be integrated into lotions, shampoos, and face creams. Beyond their multiple benefits, seaweed has the undeniable advantage of being perfectly tolerated by the skin and hypoallergenic. As a result, many experts agree that the ocean and marine active ingredients are the future in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic fields.

So if you also believe that your skin can benefit from algae-derived products, consider adding them to your regimen. But it’s important to know that these products are not created equal; their effects can still vary from person to person. Check the best selection of these products online. Read the reviews to know which one will work best for your skin.

You can now find various products featuring seaweeds extract at different price points. From Biotherm's red Algae day cream to Kate Somerville Hydrakate collection, plenty of options are available.

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