The Call Of The Ocean

7th July 2011

Mary Linehan tastes salt in the air…

It is virtually impossible to do a little research on seaweed, such are its myriad uses: nutrition & food, health, beauty. It’s even used industrially as fertilizer. Seaweed is intrinsic to marine ecology and is to be found in every sea and ocean and some fresh water areas.

Seaweed can even be considered as an ancient superfood. It’s simply bursting with nutrients that include organic (photo-synthetic) vitamins, anti-oxidants, trace minerals, lipids, plant sterols, amino acids, growth hormones, polyphenols, flavenoids and omega 3 & 6. In addition, seaweed – actually marine algae, although the trendier term is sea vegetables – contains three phytonutrients not found in any plant found on land.

Any fan of Asian cuisine will not be surprised to learn that the bulk of seaweed farming is in China, Korea and Japan, but there are plenty of fantastic algae fields much closer to home, all around the British Isles and Ireland.

While one tends to think of seaweed as just slimy grungy stuff, in fact it’s pretty colourful. There are brown seaweeds (the wracks, such as bladderwrack), green algae (kelps and sea lettuce) and red (dulse) varieties. Other more common ones include carrageenan moss, kombu, wakame and nori.

For something so unattractive to the naked eye, seaweed is remarkable in the grand scheme of beauty and wellbeing. Given its bulk of nutrients, it’s not surprising that it’s not just a superfood, but also a super multi-tasker. It cleanses, tones and not just moisturises, but also helps the skin retain moisture. It is rejuvenating, encourages cell regeneration and can play a crucial role in sun care thanks to the polyphenol, carotenoids and antioxidant vitamin content. Because of its ability to encourage the elimination of toxins, seaweed is also much used in spas and body treatments so it’s an ideal ingredient if you want to create a spa-at-home experience. For the hair, algae can help to moisturise and boost shine and strengthen the hair shaft, at the same time reducing static so that the hair is less flyaway.

Smelling of seaweed might not be your thing, of course. The best seaweed-based beauty products have formulations that include marvellous blends of aromatic essential oils for their own additional skincare benefits and to enhance the properties of the seaweed – and their fragrance…

Seaweed for beauty…

Lush BB Seaweed facemask: £5.25 for 75g
Its formula contains powerful antioxidant vitamins C and E, beta carotene, citrus bioflavonoids, lypocene, selenium and the phytonutrients which have been found to increase the power of external sunscreens by as much as 25%. Evening primrose oil keeps the skin moisturised and also reduces inflammation.

Seaweed for hair…

Faith In Nature Seaweed Shampoo &
Conditioner: both £4.59
This is a mild – but effective – cleansing shampoo blend of wild harvested deepwater seaweed and aromatic lemon. It regenerates and promotes healthy hair, and stimulates the hair shaft. The lightweight conditioner helps nourish the hair and scalp. Paraben and SLES free, pH balanced with no preservatives.

Seaweed for body…

VOYA Lazy Days Seaweed Bath in a Box: £15
Made with fucus serratus seaweed harvested off the Irish Coast, this hot seaweed bath uses sea greens to rebalance the skin without dehydrating. The electrolytic magnetic action of the seaweed encourages the elimination from congested cells and dissolves fatty wastes helping replenish depleted trace minerals.

Thalgo Thalgomince LC24 Spray: £38.80
This is a powerful blend of marine ingredients to slim, smooth and tone the body. In a single spray the cooling active ingredients tackle cellulite, drain fat cells and release impurities – brilliant for problem areas including legs, bums, stomach and upper arms.

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