Is seaweed beauty really beneficial for my skin?
With tens of thousands of varieties in the world, seaweed (a type of large algae) could be the most ubiquitous underwater ingredient in skin care.
Medical studies show taking it in supplement form or including it in your diet can help to reduce joint pain, lower blood lipids for better heart health, and prevent allergies. Cosmetics companies look to these results, plus research by marine scientists and experiments in their own labs, to formulate products.
Our skin likes seaweed’s nutrients such as beta-carotene, potassium, zinc and iodine.
“Seaweeds don’t have a root system,” says Diane Bernard, owner of Seaflora in Sooke, Vancouver Island. “They take nutrients directly from the ocean, so these nutrients are more potent than they are in land plants.”
Lisa Walsh, owner of Indigena in Bay de Verde, Nfld., says “sea plants are eight times more potent than land botanicals.”
Bernard harvests laminaria, a large brown seaweed (also called kelp) that hydrates, soothes and stimulates collagen for Seaflora’s Laminaria Facial Moisturizer (kelp is also in Lush’s Sea Vegetable Soap). Walsh incorporates antioxidant-rich blue-green algae (also called spirulina), along with kelp, in Indigena’s Sea Mineral Mist toner.
Green seaweeds act mainly as an astringent. Bernard uses one called sea lettuce in her Sea Foam Cleansing Concentrate. Red seaweed is rich in beta-carotene, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; it’s one of the key ingredients in Dermalogicas Power Rich moisturizer.
Land plants that grow on the shoreline have self-regenerating and stress-resistant properties, so La Mer takes stem cells from Sea Holly in coastal France, grows them in a lab and uses them as an anti-aging ingredient in The Regenerating Serum.
Phytoplankton, tiny plant-like microorganisms, are a favoured ingredient of La Prairie, which mixes them into Advanced Marine Biology Day Cream SPF 20, claiming they fight ultraviolet damage and free radicals. Kiehl’s, meanwhile, heads to the Galapagos Islands for a molecule living deep in the sea that the company says protects and soothes skin. That, along with an extract from corallina (a coral that thickens the skin), goes into Abyssine Cream.