Say buh-bye to high-end creams and hello to seaweed beauty!
Haven’t heard of seaweed beauty? For centuries, humans have harvested the vast resources of the underwater world to enhance skin. Luxury skincare companies like La Mer, Phytomer, La Prairie and Kiehl’s have built the majority of their reputations on high-end creams formulated with ingredients like sea kelp and caviar. But with consumers seeking more natural products, the marine beauty wave has gone mainstream – introducing seaweed as its go-to ingredient.
Brands such as Lush, The Body Shop and St. Ives use ocean-sourced ingredients, while small-batch companies such as B.C.’s Seaflora and Newfoundland’s Indigena have created lines around ocean plants.
Companies like La Prairie say their research reveals sea ingredients make excellent beauty products: They moisturize, fight free radicals and tighten skin. But does this beauty trend harm the ecosystem?
In Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in conjunction with the provinces, regulates seaweed harvest, and there are rules in the U.S. and Europe, too, since these plants serve as a portion of the ocean’s food chain and as a nesting ground for some fish eggs. But in unregulated waters, seaweed clear-cutting for various purposes has led to declines in the fish population.
Aware of the risk, some companies (including Lush, Seaflora and Indigena) harvest ingredients themselves and always cut seaweed, never yanking it from the seabed, which would stop it from growing back.
Others, which buy from contracted harvesters, say they screen suppliers carefully. Phytomer now sources farmed sea plants and Dermalogica grows its ingredients in the lab.
Some companies explain their harvesting practices on their websites, but it’s best to check if you’re concerned.