Give Algae the Green Light

6th July 2018

This summer, bring the seaside into your bathroom and bask in the healing power of seaweed. Lisa Botwright tells us more…

it may be slippery and slimy underfoot, and distinctly unattractive when it washes limply onto the beach, but algae is an adaptive and nutrient-dense organism: a powerhouse of potent ingredients ideal for healthful skincare…

Seaweed – a kind of multicellular marine algae – is not just full of vital minerals and proteins, it also has a formidable ability to retain moisture, and to adapt and regenerate in extreme, harsh climates. Unsurprisingly, the beauty industry is increasingly harvesting its goodness to boost product efficacy.

US skincare company Algenist has built an entire award-winning beauty brand around unlocking the secrets of algae. Their research scientists have isolated the compound that protects and regenerates the algae cells – Alguronic Acid –which they source naturally and sustainably. Tammy Yaiser, vice president of product development at Algenist, tells me “it’s been proven to boost cellular regeneration by 55%, outperforming well-known gold standard ingredients in the beauty industry.” Their Elevate Advanced Retinol Serum has a pleasant, not-too-thick consistency, and is easily absorbed into the skin, which feels very soft and smooth after the first few applications.

Sun Chlorella’s beauty range and food supplements are based around chlorella, a freshwater algae – and their hero skincare ingredient is the peptide complex found in the nucleus of the algae, which is responsible for its efficient cell turnover. Their facial cream, blended with natural flower extracts, is beautifully comforting.

Elemis have also harnessed the power of algae in their brilliant, cult Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. They’ve paired Mediterranean algae Padina Pavonica with broad spectrum UV technology to protect the skin, and support cell renewal. I found its light texture works really well under makeup, even in hot weather.

Used for centuries for its healing properties, seaweed makes an ideal ingredient for soothing sunburn or tired feet, as PHB Ethical Beauty have recognised with their delicious Seaweed and Mint Gel. Pop it in the fridge to make it even more refreshing on sun-sensitive skin.

Algae is good for the hair too. Neal’s Yard Remedies have blended seaweed with nourishing avocado oil and a toning herbal infusion of seaweed, rosemary and lavender, for a great conditioner that left my hair really soft.

REN’s Anti-fatigue Bath Oil is made from Atlantic kelp (brown seaweed) extract, selected for its toning properties and its water-binding ability that intensely hydrates – it’s mixed with a blend of essential oils that make it dreamily relaxing. The Body Shop have also used Atlantic kelp in their body cream to create the ideal summer moisturiser. I love its lingering sea-salt scent, and its mild healing quality has worked wonders on my rather over-zealously depilated legs.

All in all, it’s no wonder that mermaids are said to be so alluring, with so much seaweed at their disposal…

Algenist Elevate Advanced Retinol Serum £81, spacenk.com; Sun Chlorella Cream £59.95, sunchlorella.co.uk; Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30 £82, elemis.com; Seaweed & Mint Skin Refresh Gel £13.75, phbethicalbeauty.co.uk; Invigorating Seaweed Conditioner £11.50, nealsyardremedies.com; Atlantic Kelp Anti-fatigue Bath Oil £28, renskincare.com; Atlantic Seaweed Cream £25, thebodyshop.com.

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