From Tropical to Topical: Algae Use in Skincare

Have you ever walked down the aisle of your local drugstore or department store and noticed that many of your favorite skincare brands have incorporated algae, an aquatic organism, in their products? If so, maybe you are thinking to yourself: why algae, what are the benefits in skincare, and are these products right for me? From ocean to on your face—let’s discuss if such algae-marketed products are worth the hype!

Algae are types of plants that are found in the ocean and vary greatly in size. From microscopic (microalgae) to large seaweeds (macroalgae), algae are an integral part of our ecosystems. Not only do they form the basis of the aquatic food chain, but they also generate approximately 70% of the air we breathe!

So, how did these aquatic organisms end up in skincare? Well, since algae are able to protect themselves from the same harsh environmental conditions as humans, these protective factors are beneficial on topical products that are used on the skin as well. Algae can work in a myriad of ways that are effective at cleaning out our pores, moisturizing, reducing wrinkles and fine lines, and combatting acne and inflammation. Despite this sounding like a one-stop miracle worker, there are certainly several types of algae that target each area of skincare—this is unfortunately not a one-size-fits-all.

There are seven major types of algae on the planet, but only three of them are actually used in skincare. The first is Rhodophyta, or red algae, which increases skin moisture. It does so by drawing water to the surface of the skin, acting as a humectant to bind water particles to the skin from within. The Vitamin C property found in algae can also brighten the skin and removes harmful free-radicals in the skin as well. Since skincare does not occur in isolation, when moisturizing the skin other skin concerns may be alleviated as well. For instance, increasing moisture may reduce acne that is caused by the over-drying of the skin, and also reduce the appearance of fine lines. The second is Phaeophyceae or brown algae, which softens and smooths skin. Absorption of harmful UV lights, increasing elasticity of the skin leads to antioxidant-like properties that improve the overall appearance of the skin when used in a topical form. Lastly, is the Cyanophyta (blue-green algae), which works best at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Due to the densely-packed amino-acids, vitamins, and minerals that algae is flooded with, this makes it a great option for those looking to add hydration to their skincare regimen.

Algae can be found in various forms of skincare products such as face masks, eye cream, serums, cleansers, and toners. So, next time you find yourself walking past any algae skincare product, take a look to try out a product that may assist your skin concerns!

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