An All-Natural Anti-Ageing Ingredient – Sea Algae Extract

 

INGREDIENT RESEARCH

An All-Natural Anti-Ageing Ingredient – Sea Algae Extract

 

Do you use sea algae extracts in products for their anti-ageing benefits?
 

We choose to dive deep into ingredients that peak our interest to understand our options. Formulations, the complex ingredient mixture of a product, determine how and why a product is created. Prior to mixing, we see these explorations as a chance to not only educate ourselves, but create a resource for those interested in common skincare ingredients. The process is essential in the careful selection of ingredients we choose to incorporate into our Noéma’s Activated Essentials range, evaluating benefits for all skin types and targeting areas of concern.

We’re creating an unparalleled micro-range of activated essentials. Find out how you can co-design your own natural skincare range with leading experts – and get it free for an entire year.


This is an ode to algae. A declaration of our love and respect for aquatic non-vascular plants.

A smattering array of greens, reflected and refracted in the sea, carry an abundance of nutrients, vitamins, and microorganisms priceless in the food and skincare industry. From adorning culinary delights to being mixed into skin food formulas, the natural properties of algae are known to benefit the human body internally and externally. As an unconventional beauty ingredient, algae woos the skincare industry because of its hydrating and regenerating characteristics.

The sea is a nutrient-rich environment that experiences a continuous input of sunlight, upwelling, and oxygen that is absorbed by algae. Algae, a blanket term for aquatic plants, includes macro-algae (Wakame, Irish Moss, Kombu, etc.) and microalgaes (single-cell algae). Over 60 variations of algae is found worldwide. 

Algae can photosynthesise and produce its own oxygen, which makes it an abundant resource for harvest and incorporate in multiple industries. It’s recognised as a vital organism because it is believed to provide up to 85% of the earth’s oxygen. As an organism that has been on earth for millions of years, algae is resistant to external influences, which ensures that it is nutrient dense and untainted.

Bonus? It’s also incredibly regenerative and sustainable (as long as its harvested responsibly). 

 
Image via Osea

Image via Osea

 

History 

Thalassotherapy, a term derived from the Greek word for the sea, is the belief that exposure to sea air and algae helps restore the body’s natural balance. Renditions of thalassotherapy have been for hundreds of years. From Japan to Ancient Greece, people have been relishing in the healing powers of seaweed (and seawater) to aid in anti-aging, enhance moisturising, and revitalise the skin. Anyone that has spent enough time near the sea has felt the positive effect of saltwater. 

Seawater, seaweed, and the human plasma share similar properties - so when the body is exposed to algae, it benefits from the shared traits. They are a source of high-quality protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, dietary fibres and secondary metabolites, elements the body thrives off of. 

Benefits 

If you’ve ever brushed against seaweed while swimming in the sea, you’ve probably felt how slimy it is. That texture is telling of one of algae’s main benefits: intensive water and nutrient retention.  Seaweed soaks in all the good nutrients, antioxidants, and microorganisms that exist in the ocean. From fiber to Omega-3 fatty acids, seaweed contains key minerals and elements the body craves including: antioxidants, proteins, vitamins (A, B, C & E) and amino acids.  

Algae is an abundant source of minerals, antioxidants and fatty acids that incredibly bioavailable, meaning easily absorbed. It also contains specific carbohydrates that are retracted and utilised in cosmetic formulations as moisturising and thickening agents.

The texture of seaweed, which largely depends on the variety, can also be used as a natural exfoliant to cleanse and remove dead skin cells. Algae is revered for its ability to encourage moisturised, brightened, and tighter skin. 

Ocean greens, especially in Japan, are a staple in the diets and skincare routines. They’re recognised as a necessity for healing wounds, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and relieving external stressors. As seaweed becomes more mainstream in Australia, we’re keeping our eyes peeled to see how the industry welcomes and incorporates different strains and uses for algae.

 
Image via Osea

Image via Osea

 

Sustainable Sourcing 

Here’s where it gets complicated. The sea is expansive and unknown, and seaweed grows in just about any body of water with enough nutrient circulation and photosynthesis. Algae is a lucrative industry - the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that harvested algae accounts for $5.65 bn and has use has increased 176% since 1995.

Algae is either grown in controlled environments or harvested in the wild. Controlled environments allows  for growers to enhance certain elements tailored towards specific products or industries.

Some bodies of water are revered for their high mineral content, which makes certain areas a harvesting hotspot. For example, Patagonia, where company OSEA hand source their products, provides “frigid waters and shifting extremes of sea surface temperature to produce some of the world’s most bioavailable, nutrient-rich seaweed.” 

Wild harvesting is largely poorly regulated, which results in a culture of overharvesting and low economic pricing. The transport and processing of wild algae is presumably harmful to the environment through diesel use and sloppy harvesting techniques. As the industry continues to grow, there is potential for over-harvesting, biosecurity risks, and significant ecosystem damage.

Key Takeaway 

We’re big fans of algae as a skincare product because it’s pure. Incorporating ingredients that absorb true nutrients and letting their natural processes do the work on the skin is our jam. The simpler, the better for Noéma’s Activated Essentials range.

 
Katherine Guerrero 2.png

Katherine Guerrero
Content writer /
Environmental policy

 

Co-Design Your Activated Essentials —

Here at Noéma, we’re busy researching the best ingredients - so that we can make the best activated essentials for you, with you. We’re taking a radically new direction in skincare; we use you as the key ingredient.

By collaborating with industry experts such as naturopaths, biochemists, product specialists and formulators, our aim is to create an Activated Essentials product range with the best ingredients, formula and design.

We’re taking applications from our diverse community to contribute to co-designing an essential micro-range of products right for them. Get involved in upcoming events and workshops covering wellness, self-care and design.

 

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