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The Innovation Blog

Highlighting the inventiveness and trends shaping our industry and its future.

An Ocean of Formulation Opportunity with Marine Algae

Ocean of Red Algae

Splash! Marine algae is the newest hero ingredient in the skincare and personal care worlds – and is set to simply explode in popularity over the next few years.

Packed with beneficial vitamins, helpful minerals, essential fatty acids, and nourishing micronutrients, algae-infused skincare, personal care, and hair care items are about to become the perfect new products for consumers seeking out the most efficacious and sustainable beauty products around. For formulators, the opportunities for product innovation – and sales growth – run as deep as a Pacific trench.

As beauty behemoth Refinery29 recently wrote about algae-based beauty products: “A natural ingredient that’s easily sustainably sourced and harvested, with endless results for your skin? Count us in.”

Marine algae: helpful ancient organisms

Marine algae are one of three types of multicellular macroalgae, more commonly referred to as seaweed. The three main types of seaweed are: macroscopic, multicellular, and marine algae.  

Marine algae is divided into three groups:

  • Brown Algae (Phaeophyta)
  • Green Algae (Chlorophyta)
  • Red Algae (Rhodophyta)

Seaweeds typically grow in the water and live attached to rocky coastal areas, are often mistakenly referred to as plants. However, seaweeds are not plants at all, but ancient algae organisms.  

Unlike plants, algae and seaweed do not have a system of roots, flowers, leaves, or shoots and instead absorb water and nutrients directly from the surrounding water they live in. Additionally, they do their own photosynthesis within their tissues, without needing outside resources like a typical plant.

While many algae and seaweed share similar qualities of other beneficial plants used in personal care products, algae is an infinitely – and possibly even more – dynamic ingredient to incorporate into new formulations.

Beauty’s most sustainable secret

Used for thousands of years, marine algae is a perfectly potent ingredient that benefits both the look and health of the skin and body. Often referred to as the ocean’s “miracle ingredient” marine algae has been touted for its ability to do everything from protect against the ravages of pollution and environmental stressors to creating a glowing complexion.

“Nature has given seaweed natural methods of defense, protection, and regeneration against pollutants, stress, and other types of aggressions,” said Lenette Casper of Phytomer, in an interview with American Spa.

In addition to the benefits marine algae can provide to the skin and body, marine algae is also one of the sustainable ingredients to incorporate into personal care and skincare products. Recently, seaweed has even been referred to as a “completely sustainable” ingredient to harvest in the future.

For consumers, personal care products containing marine algae have the potential to tick off the three biggest boxes for their next purchase: green, eco-friendly, and an interesting sustainability story. So skin active ingredients like Astaderm™ – derived from red microalgae (Porphyridium cruentum) – should be at the top of a formulator’s go-to list.

Bathing in benefits

Marine algae is so incredibly powerful for healing and promoting vitality of the skin and body because of its living environment. Growing in the nutrient dense environment of the ocean gives seaweed a proverbial, non-stop bath in nutrients, minerals like magnesium, manganese, iodine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, copper, and zinc and vitamins, including A, B, C, D, E, and even B-12.

Topical application of these minerals and nutrients, via marina algae products, have hundreds of positive benefits, from diminishing the look of fine lines and wrinkles to detoxifying the body, to building collagen, to brightening skin tone. Simply put, algae and seaweed are among the best ingredients around at restoring, repairing, and nurturing both the skin and the body.

Additionally, marine algae is excellent for skincare products formulated for anti-aging, thanks to its hefty protein content. Marine algae is composed of almost 60% amino acids, the building blocks that create and fill cell structure. Amino acid-rich ingredients, like those derived from algae, are best for skincare formulations focused on anti-aging benefits, such as promoting plumpness, vitality, and smoothness.

A rising tide of popularity

Learn about Astaderm™

Consumer interest in the benefits of marine algae for improving their appearance and health has been steadily on the rise over the past two years. It’s a trend that looks to continue for at least the next few years.

“In 2016 alone, 40% of US millennials reported to have used skincare products containing seaweed – highlighting the popularity of marine algae,” said Noelle Gabriel, Founder of Elemis, in an interview with Glamour.

Today, the interest in marine algae and seaweed skincare and personal care products continues to spike as new scientific research and beauty publications detail the multitude of benefits marine algae can bring to the skin, hair, and body.

As an interest in harnessing the naturally beneficial powers of the ocean grows, marine algae personal care products will ride the wave of popularity, as consumers seek out sustainable, powerhouse products to deliver the results they want for their personal appearance and in the battle against aging.