You may have enjoyed vegan sushi rolls or miso soup with a hint of red algae, but this seaweed is also used in our beauty tubes! Pearl Mathias tells you everything you need to know about it
Red algae may be at the bottom of the food chain, but when it comes to the beauty sphere, it is right at the top. Tons of beauty products are loaded with this seaweed, but don’t let the visual of the slimy gunk gross you out. It’s been found to have several benefits for your skin and overall health too! Since it is rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as elements such as copper, iodine and zinc, it is known to be nature’s ultimate beautifier. And, that’s not all. When you bathe in a seaweed bath, your body is flushed with billions of marine ions that are well-absorbed by your skin. So, you can only imagine the benefits it brings you cosmetically. Read on to find out more.
Red algae and its role in cosmetics
Red algae is classified as one of the oldest groups of algae. The group consists of about 5,000 to 6,000 species, both marine and fresh water, the latter are generally found in clean, running water. Apart from minerals, red algae is rich in amino acids and folic acid, which help to gently stimulate sensitive skin, especially iodine sensitive skin. It is also rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6, which are usually found in the fish we eat. When incorporated in cosmetics, red algae acts as a thickening agent and a water-binding agent, and also as an antioxidant, while some types are also potential skin sensitisers.
Why is it used in skin care?
Shikhee Agrawal, head of training at The Body Shop, tells us. She says that dark spots and skin pigmentation are caused by the production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that is naturally produced in our bodies and it rises to the surface of our skin with exposure to the sun. Over time, melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) begin to work less effectively, causing the chemical to build up in certain areas of our skin. This causes dullness and unevenness in our skin textures and the pigmentation impacts your overall look.
The benefits of using red algae
In vitro studies have shown that red algae extract has brightening and anti-darkening qualities by inhibiting key stages of the pigmentation process, even after melanin has been produced.
Shikhee explains that red algae extract is proven to:
- Limit the process of melanin production by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, which is a key enzyme involved in melanin production.
- Limit pigmentation induced by exposure to UV rays, which causes break-outs.
- Limit the transport and accumulation of melanosomes (responsible for skin colour), preventing dark spots from appearing on the surface of your skin.
- Is it beneficial to particular skin types or will it cause any side effects?
Shikhee explains that products enriched with red algae can be used on all skin types except super sensitive skin and that it does not produce any side effects. “On using it regularly, your skin will appear smoother and healthier, with an even tone,” she says.
What is it used for?
- Gentle facial care
- Delicate eye areas
- In your bath, for soft and supple skin
- To protect skin from sun exposure and pollutants
Products we love
- Thalgo Descomask Scrub
- The Body Shop’s DROPS OF LIGHT range
- Kate Somerville HydraClear Hydrating Acne Gel