November 22, 2021

Skincare's Newest Ingredient: Algae


Emma Wood


Emma Wood


Written by Deepthi Sendilkumar


Shopping for a new skincare product can be a very daunting task with the wide varieties of products and companies to choose from. Nowadays consumers are more concerned with what is in their product than how it's packaged. With a rise in consumer awareness, shoppers want products that are good for their skin and the environment.


Consumers are gravitating towards skincare products labeled ‘clean’ or ‘natural’ and beauty brands around the globe are taking notes. Sephora has introduced the ‘Clean at Sephora’ tag to categorize cosmetic and skincare products which do not contain any harmful synthetic chemicals, including parabens and sulfates, and now house over 1,680 ‘clean products’ [1]. Although the term ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ is defined differently depending on the brand, it generally refers to products containing only safe and non-toxic synthetic chemicals and naturally derived ingredients. According to Statista Research, globally the clean beauty market (including cosmetics, skincare, etc) will reach $22 billion by 2024 [2] due to the rise in consumer awareness and demand. 

The use of natural ingredients for beauty is not a novel concept. Ancient Mesopotamians used seaweed as a lip product [3] and now algae are being reintroduced as a super ingredient for skincare. Algae is capable of significant anti-aging properties including hydration, UV protection, anti-acne, and anti-bacterial. 


To slow the signs of aging, hydration is key to improving skin texture and firmness in which algae’s high water retention can do just that. Like other marine organisms, algae has a high water content in its composition. The polysaccharides - complex carbohydrates -  present in algae are capable of cross-linking with one another to form ‘hydrogel’[4]. Hydrogel is the slimy texture we often associate with seaweed and is critical for hydration and moisture retention in the epidermis of our skin. Through a research study, polysaccharides from brown algae were found to have better water retention rates than hyaluronic acid - a very popular skincare ingredient for hydration [5]. Algae in turn can replace synthetically made chemicals like hyaluronic acid and would be a great addition to hydrating face masks and serums. 

Like most of us, sunscreen is probably a staple in your daily skincare routine. As we age, our exposure to UV radiation increases, resulting in the oxidation of our skin, also known as photo-aging. When UV rays penetrate into our skin and reach the dermis, it damages the collagen fibers. As the damage increases, skin elasticity decreases and eventually fine wrinkles and loose skin starts to appear [6].   

To prevent the oxidation of our skin and protect ourselves from harmful UV rays, we use sunscreen. Sunscreens contain antioxidant ingredients which, like its name suggests, prevent the oxidation of our skin by oxidizing themselves and slowing aging. Likewise, algae has demonstrated UV absorbing, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties [7]. In 2015, an all-natural sunscreen was created using algae as a basis to protect against UV rays [8]. 

Natural anti-acne products have also been in demand recently as consumers want a safer and gentler option to treat acne. Acne occurs when oils, dead cells, and bacteria accumulate in open hair follicles causing inflammation and pimples. Anti-acne treatments containing algae have huge potential due to its antibacterial properties. Depending on the species of algae, several are capable of inhibiting different types of bacterial growth and some can even reduce sebum production, which is crucial to control acne [9]. ‘Sargassum macrocarpum, a type of brown algae, has shown antibacterial activity against Propionibacterium acnes and can become a lead compound to develop anti-acne skincare treatment [10]. Additionally, the antibacterial property of algae can help increase the shelf life of products by acting as a preservative. 


With recent beauty trends favoring natural ingredients, several companies have done just that using algae. Algenist has carved a name for itself in the vegan and clean skincare realm by creating their signature skincare ingredient - Alguronic Acid - from naturally and sustainably sourced algae. One of their bestsellers includes GENIUS Liquid Collagen® containing ‘plant collagen and Microalgae Oil beads for a more youthful and vital appearance’ and has been awarded The Greatest Skincare award by BeautyInc 2021 [11]. Osea is another leading brand for clean beauty and their Undaria Algae Body Oil has been met with rave reviews. Capable of anti-oxidation, hydration, and firming the skin, products like this show the power of algae in skincare [12]. 

Spira is excited to dive into the world of cosmetics. With constant research and innovation being conducted, we are excited to test the wide range of possibilities algae can be used in a variety of beauty products. To learn more about how algae can be incorporated into your products, book a free initial consultation with Spira!