Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and whitening benefits, seaweed is about to become a staple in your skin care routine.
The last time you came close to seaweed, you were probably: A) swimming in the ocean when its silky fibers brushed against your leg, or B) eating a delicious roll of spicy tuna. But it’s time to start getting a little closer to seaweed – algae and its extracts have powerful properties that do amazing things for your skin.
The Benefits of Seaweed for Skin
As algae floats across the ocean, they absorb the vitamins and minerals from the water. “As a result, seaweed becomes a dense concentration of these vitamins and minerals, as well as phytohormones and amino acids,” says Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of the Repêchage brand for seaweed skin care. All of these attributes make it an incredibly promising and potent skin care ingredient. It is also important to note that human plasma and seawater are chemically similar. “Because of this, seaweed has a great bioaffinity for the skin, perhaps higher than any other natural ingredient,” says Sarfati.
There are tens of thousands of varieties of seaweed, each with its own unique qualities that can benefit your skin in different ways. Depending on where they grow and what minerals are in the water, extracts can be rich in everything from antioxidants like skin-brightening vitamin C to a host of anti-inflammatories. “The anti-inflammatory properties of algae are probably most notable because they help with a variety of skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and rosacea,” says Elizabeth K. Hale, a member of Shape Brain Trust, a dermatologist in New York. “The plant also has detoxifying abilities, which is why it is present in so many body and bath products.”
When you add sea salt and seaweed to a bath, warm salt water removes the detoxifying nutrients from seaweed. “These nutrients include chlorophyll, magnesium and iodine,” says Dara Kennedy, founder of Ayla. They can help regulate nutrient levels in the body to prevent or relieve muscle pain, making it an ideal treatment before or after training. Algae also contain polysaccharides, which pull water into the skin to increase hydration.
And if you want to create an environmentally conscious skin care routine, you’re in luck. “Algae is a totally renewable source, but only if properly treated,” says Emma Roberts, skin care specialist at Voya. Ethical brands harvest algae by hand, cutting sections rather than pulling them from their roots and striving to leave marine life intact. “Once taken to shore, the algae are hung to dry,” says Sarfati. Its mineral-rich filtrate is then extracted and formulated for skin care. So how exactly do you use the green product?
The best algae products for your skin type
The benefits of each species of kelp vary depending on the nutrients it absorbs. Here’s how to find the right extract for you.
For oily skin: Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata)
High levels of vitamins and amino acids allow algae to regulate skin moisture levels and naturally balance skin pH. Try the Voya Get Glowing Illuminating Clay Mask (Buy It, $ 70, voya.ie) for a soothing and luminous skin care experience.
For acne prone skin: Bladder (Fucus vesiculosus)
When harvested in the summer, these seaweed is rich in vitamin A, which helps the skin to fight blemishes while improving cell turnover.