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Kelp And Algae

Kelp And Algae
Writer and expert3 years ago
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We all know how cleansing and invigorating a dip in the ocean can be, but what if we told you that you could get some of those same benefits by bringing a bit of the sea into your beauty routine? Forget using a fork to comb through your hair, all you need to get the mermaid glow is the bountiful green stuff that you can find on the shores of the British Isles… and further afield, of course!

Science is discovering more and more about the healing properties of algae by the day, and a growing number of beauty brands are incorporating it into their products. But do you know your kelp from your dulse? Dive into the world of phycology (that’s the scientific study of algaes to you and me!) and discover an undersea world full of beautiful opportunities!

What Is Algae?

“Algae” is the collective name of the diverse family of organisms that photosynthesise in the same way as regular plants but are aquatic. Seaweed is algae, but confusingly it’s not a type of organism, nor is it restricted to the sea. Seaweed is actually just another term for “macroalgae”, visible algae which can be found in the ocean but might also be found in rivers, lakes or ponds. Essentially, seaweed is just a way to refer to the larger varieties of algae.

Kelp is one of the most well-known varieties of algae and is probably what you picture when you think of seaweed. It’s also the kind you’re most likely to find in the active ingredients of your favourite skincare products due to its high iodine, vitamin and mineral content and its anti-irritant properties. But kelp isn’t the only algae on the skincare scene. Others of note include:

Channelled Wrack

Usually listed by its taxonomic name, Pelvetia canaliculata, channelled wrack is a type of brown algae that is composed mainly of sugars. Pelvetia canaliculata extract is used in skincare due to its amino acids, carotenoids, and polyphenolic compounds, which are able to neutralise the enzymes that degrade the collagen in our skin.


A red algae often used to season food in Asian cuisine; dulse is better known as Palmaria palmata in the world of skincare. Rich in minerals and antioxidants, this algae helps to brighten and replenish the skin, leading to a smoother complexion.

What Products Contain Kelp and Algaes?

The algae you’ll most commonly see in skincare products is kelp. Fast-growing and nutrient-dense, kelp is a sustainable resource which makes it ideal for skincare products where quality is as important as accountability.

French skincare brand, Thalgo, boasts a range of marine-inspired products that include Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) among their active ingredients which enriches the skin with vital minerals and helps to soothe the signs of irritation.

Extracted from giant kelp, SeaStem is a unique compound that retains the regenerative and protective properties of algae. Shown to counteract the harmful effects of pollution, it encourages the skin to replace and repair skin cells while keeping free radicals at bay. Keen to see the results for yourself? Try Indeed LaboratoriesInstant Results Nanobronze Bronzing Drops which uses SeaStem to improve the skin’s elasticity while giving it an added dose of colour with bronzing pigment.

From another humble seaweed, Ambre Ocean is a water-soluble extract taken from Pelvetia canaliculata, or channelled wrack. The extract is highly effective at fighting the signs of ageing as it increases the amount of hyaluronic acid and collagen available to the skin. In turn, this hydrates the skin, makes it firmer and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Deep in the polar ocean, where daylight is in short supply, lives a rare type of algae named Rhodimenia Borealia. Using only the light of the moon, it creates phytomelatonin, a plant enzyme that closely replicates melatonin, the hormone released by our brains overnight which encourages cell regeneration as we sleep. Collected at the source, the Boreal algae is clarified and cold-filtered to keep its beneficial properties. Polaar’s Nuit Polaire range uses the healing powers of Boreal algae to revitalise stressed and dehydrated skin, replenishing moisture overnight.

Ready to take the plunge into the world of algae? Swim on over to our Ingredients page to discover more.

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