Marine-Inspired Seaweed Ingredients in Skincare & Food
Deep Dive into the wonders of Seaweed
Covering over 70% of our planet and still largely unexplored, the ocean has always been a source of inspiration for majestic myths and legends. With as much as 80% of its depths still undiscovered, it doesn’t come as a surprise that scientists from all fields have been diving deep into the secrets of our seas, looking for hidden gems.
And gems they have found: Seaweed products are making waves in both the food and beauty industry, thanks to their high concentration of antioxidants, essential minerals, and amino acids.
From cleansers to moisturizers, marine-inspired ingredients are the next big thing in natural skincare, but there’s still much that consumers don’t know when it comes to how they work and why they work so well.
Let’s take a deep dive…
An ocean of benefits
Found in many Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dishes, seaweed is highly versatile and nutritious, providing plenty of iodine, tyrosine, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants.
Iodine plays a vital role in thyroid health and hormone regulation, as well as being crucial for improving cognitive function.
Tyrosine, one of the many amino acids you can find in seaweed, is another key nutrient for maintaining optimal brain function, and it’s also believed to help improve your mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are also incredibly helpful for lowering blood pressure, improving eye health, joint health, and even regulating mood and sleep.
Protection from the depths
While the supplement industry has long tapped into the benefits of fish oil and seaweed oil for improved focus, hormone synthesis, and cardiovascular health, the use of seaweed in skincare has more to do with its remarkable UV protection and antioxidant properties.
Seaweed is naturally equipped to absorb large amounts of UV radiation, making for a completely natural and chemical-free sun protection factor. Since traditional SPF products are infamous for contributing to our planet’s increasing waterway pollution, the natural UV-blocking properties of seaweed make marine-inspired skincare a carbon-neutral wonder. On top of that, seaweed’s humectant properties and nutritional content make it perfect for moisturizing and even getting rid of painful skin issues.
Let’s take a closer look at the seaweed varieties you’re most likely to come across on your natural skincare journey…
Long used in spas all over the world, kelp is one of the most popular types of seaweed used in skincare products, thanks to its remarkable soothing properties. Sea kelp is best recommended for dry and flaky skin, since its high antioxidant and iodine content allows you to moisturize and hydrate the skin without messing with your natural oil production.
On top of that, kelp’s high iodine content can also help you reduce the appearance of breakouts, and even prevent more serious breakouts from happening. This is because iodine is a natural hormone regulator as well as a powerful wound healer, combating infections and aiding in the healing of cuts and scars.
The algae Chlorella is primarily used in facial masks and SPF products for its anti-aging and UV protection properties. Packed with a potent blend of chlorophyll and antioxidants, Chlorella can help you fight free radicals and even carcinogenic compounds when ingested, as well as promote cell rejuvenation with topical applications.
This green alga is loaded with B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, perfect for both combating inflammation and providing an antioxidant boost to your skin, resulting in a younger-looking, smoother appearance.
While many confuse the two, Chlorella and Spirulina are different when it comes to their vitamin and mineral content. For example, Spirulina contains more thiamine (vitamin B1), making the green seaweed perfect for treating irritated, acne-prone, and dry skin. It also contains more iron, making it the preferred choice for complete supplements.
Thanks to this seaweed’s anti-inflammatory properties, Irish moss gel is another up-and-coming product in anti-aging skincare, as it can help stimulate your natural collagen production when applied directly to the skin or simply ingested as a supplement.
Due to its remarkable sulfur content, Irish moss can also help you balance your skin’s pH naturally, letting its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties do the heavy lifting.
This brown alga is also a potent prebiotic, helping you boost gut health, soothe your gut lining, and improve immunity.
Bladderwrack is a brown seaweed found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Baltic coast, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Bladderwrack is especially recommended to those suffering from eczema flare-ups and other skin irritations, due to its high concentration of iodine, fucoidan, and alginic acid. Iodine supports cellular regeneration, fucoidan can soothe irritated skin and protect it from damage, and alginic acid is a natural deep moisturizer — the full skincare package!
Sea grapes, also known as “green caviar”, are not only rich in skin-healthy antioxidants but also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, the ideal combination for regulating oil production and improving hydration.
These tiny oceanic gems are quite rare and only found around the Indo-Pacific coast, making for one of the priciest marine-inspired ingredients on the market.
Looking at their properties, however, most would agree that they’re very well worth the price tag: Sea grapes’ unique blend of vitamin A, C, omega-3s, iodine, and polysaccharides can not only deeply hydrate and boost the elasticity of your skin but also provide the same level of hydration to your hair!
A mystifying, yet limited resource
As vast as it may be, the ocean is still a limited resource. Taking out any marine life from its natural habitat is never without its risks, and there are sizable knowledge gaps on how more intensive cultivation might affect marine ecosystems going forward.
But in the meantime, you can rest easy and enjoy your seaweed products knowing that small to medium-scale farm management is one of the most low-impact (if not fully carbon positive) cultivations on the planet.
Chemical-free, climate neutral, cruelty-free, and vegan-friendly — who knew there were such treasures to be found at the bottom of the ocean?