Algae in cosmetics: what are the benefits for the skin?

If in recent years, algae have been inviting our plates, they also have multiple benefits for our skin. The use of seaweed does not date from yesterday, a manuscript of the Chinese pharmacopoeia, 2700 before our era, already mentioned their interest in care products. It is only in more recent times and thanks to the discovery of the richness of their composition that the medical and cosmetic industry has made wider use and exploitation of them.

The seas and oceans thus offer us little treasures with many virtues for both health and cosmetics. They are indeed full of nutrients, of incredible biological richness, essential for life on Earth, which are perfectly compatible, bioavailable and assimilable with the nutrients in our skin. From this marine world, it is possible to extract substances of animal or plant origin. In fact, it is possible to transform fishery waste (small fish, heads, skins, etc.) into various substances with biological activity such as polysaccharides which make it possible to increase the resistance of the tissues and maintain their elasticity or even polyunsaturated fatty acids which protect against the loss of water from the epidermis, thus ensuring the softness of the skin and maintaining its elasticity. But in this article, we have chosen to talk to you instead about substances of plant origin, algae, another richness of our seas which are the center of attention. These photosynthetic plants can, like plants, fix carbon dioxide CO2 and produce oxygen. They contain very high levels of trace elements (copper, zinc, iron, potassium), vitamins A, C, D and E, lipids, polyphenols, proteins, amino acids or polysaccharides extremely beneficial for hydration, UV protection and regeneration of our cells.

Seaweed... for all tastes

Algae are plants close to fungi. Beyond their richness in nutrients, they have a very interesting anti-bacterial and antifungal capacity. These riches vary depending on the color of the seaweed. Indeed, algae can be green, red, blue or brown in color and France covers a large variety of algae, some of which can be used in cosmetology:

  • Red algae, such as Irish moss, known for its moisturizing and softening effect, or Palmaria Palmata, with fluidifying and toning properties, ideal for skin microcirculation and improving the radiance of the complexion.
  • Green algae, such as Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce): this is an algae rich in magnesium used mainly for its moisturizing properties.
  • Blue algae: they help fight skin aging and limit the appearance of signs of aging.
  • Brown algae, such as Laminaria Digitata, Fucus spiralis and Himanthalia elongata (sea bean): these are remineralizing, hydrating, protective, regenerating, soothing and emollient algae.

All these algae provide the skin with a rich and nutritious cocktail of high quality, which is of interest to professionals. Note that in cosmetics, it is especially brown algae that are popular. from which are extracted alginates, cosmetic components.

A brief history of alginates

Alginates, mucilaginous substances mainly derived from brown algae were discovered in the 1860s by the Briton Stanford who saw in them a particular great interest for their physicochemical properties. Its main characteristic is its gelation capacity, which is very useful in the fields of textiles, food, medicine and cosmetology.

Very early on, the pharmaceutical industry carried out research on alginate in order to develop new excipients for drugs and dressings (skin, gastric and hemostatic). Since then, interest in this natural molecule has grown steadily. Thus, alginate is the major component of treatments for treating wounds, gastroesophageal reflux disease or bleeding. It is also widely used as an excipient to stabilize, suspend, bind and still modify the viscosity of preparations. The alginate also makes it possible to obtain the microencapsulation of the active ingredients and their release according to controlled kinetics. Thanks to its physicochemical properties, its natural origin and its biodegradability, alginate is found to be an "ideal" substance for use as a biomaterial. However, in view of its great and numerous qualities, industries still continue to develop new applications.

It is sodium alginate that is most often used in cosmetics. It is a natural polysaccharide. Its extraction involves crushing the dry algae and then suspending it in a hot solution of sodium bicarbonate - also called baking soda which you use for cooking, cleaning, etc. - The solution is then filtered to obtain the solution of sodium alginate. Sodium alginate is used both for the preparation of dyes, inks or as a food additive to give creaminess to dairy desserts, ice creams, edible jellies and ice creams or to give a soft touch and velvety with cosmetic preparations. It also has the advantage of being hypo-allergenic. 

Cosmetic properties and benefits of seaweed

For decades, laboratories have been studying algae to design high quality cosmetic products and bring all the benefits of the sea to the skin. This allows them to best adapt their formulas for each type of skin and for each need. Some of them even develop sustainable seaweed cultivation in the open sea in order to control the quality of their ingredients and preserve marine resources.

Algae thus offer a variety of very valuable actions for our skin. These marine plants know how to do everything: absorb UV rays, repair the harmful effects of the sun, hydrate the epidermis, smooth the skin, ensure the renewal of our small cells.

At L’ODAÏTÈS, your artisan of botanical cosmetics, we have been convinced from the outset of their extraordinary power. You will find sodium alginate in the Well-Aging Sève Divine mask. Rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidant, this mask is above all an energizing treatment that boosts the skin's metabolism and plumps it up, giving it unprecedented radiance and light! Sodium alginate sublimates the texture of this mask by giving it a soft, melting and velvety feel and reinforces its smoothing and plumping action which dresses your face with light.

Spotlight on your Sève Divine light mask

Beyond their multiple benefits, algae have the undeniable advantage of being perfectly tolerated by the skin. We also talk about bio-affinity or bio-compatibility. Many experts agree on the fact that the ocean and marine active ingredients are the future, in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic fields.

We will not be able to conclude this article without this little ecological message to the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin or to those who are still on vacation in the Mediterranean who are probably familiar with the Posidonia herbarium. Although Posidonia lives in water, it should not be believed that it is an algae but an aquatic flowering plant absolutely essential to the marine ecosystem, it is one of the lungs of our dear Mediterranean Sea and in particular a place of spawning and a "nursery" for the fish. Fishing activities and the mooring of the boats that tear up this plant with their anchors is one of the threats that today greatly weakens its survival. Let's work together for its protection and for the protection of our algae.