What comes to your mind when you hear seaweed? Sushi rolls? Salad ingredient? Beauty and skincare evolve. There are always new ingredient to be discovered, but one thing remains true. And that is that we make use of what we find around us, often turning to plants that have been used for food or traditional medicine for generations.

Seaweed, photo by Shane Stagner

Algae, more often commonly called seaweed, grows in our oceans. It’s a natural source of micro and macronutrients, including fibre, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. In short, it’s great for your health and your skin.


What we commonly refer to as seaweed sells it short. We understand under seaweed a gigantic variety of aquatic plant and algae species. Even worse, “weed” implies something negative even though seaweed brings so many benefits for not only us humans but also the water-dwelling creatures.

Seaweed can be grouped mainly into macro and microalgae. Macro is so large that you can see them with the naked eye. It’s what you feel brush against your leg when you’re swimming in the sea and probably comes into your mind first when you hear “algae”. These encompass seaweed and kelp.

Microalgae is so small, you need tools like a microscope to see them. Microalgae is a single-cell organism and often found in freshwater and marine systems.

Even though algae aren’t known as a typical skincare ingredient, they’ve been used for beauty for as long as people can remember. It’s probably the most beneficial and abundantly available natural ingredient for skincare on our planet.

Why is seaweed so good?

As algae drifts through the sea, it absorbs nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in the water. Just like plants that grow on land, there’s a wide variety of algae. They all are rich in vitamins, minerals, and various trace elements that are beneficial for our health, inside and out.

Algae extract for skincare come from four major classes

  • red algae
  • brown algae
  • blue-green algae
  • green algae

Each class contains nutrients that promote skin health including omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. Both macro and microalgae are used in beauty products.

So, what are the benefits for your skin?

Even if many commercial manufacturers don’t share the exact type of seaweed used as well as considering that there are about 20 000 different kinds of algae, you’ll find it listed as “algae” in the composition of the ingredients. Even so, you’ll reap the benefits of the above-mentioned nutrients.


Algae provides anti-ageing in 2 ways. Firstly, they are a great source of antioxidants. This means it will protect your skin from free radicals that can cause premature ageing. An antioxidant scavenges free radicals. By providing a free radical molecule the extra electrons needed to stabilise the cell or by breaking it down and so rendering it harmless, algae neutralises it.

Secondly, algae suppresses enzymes that break down collagen and elastin in your skin while protecting and reinforcing cell membranes. Algae also stimulates the production of collagen and elastin.

Put differently, seaweed helps reduce wrinkle depth and promotes skin regeneration and after free radical and sun damage.


Algae helps regulate the oil production in your skin. This in turn helps resolve related problems such as clogged pores and acne. Since it contains nutrients such as zinc and magnesium it reduces redness in sensitive and hypersensitive skin. In a nutshell, it protects and maintains your skin’s natural balance.

Evening out skin tone

Algae brightens your skin by evening out the dark spots. It either disrupts melanin production or hinders how pigment is transported in the skin. This can be attributed to the vitamin B and C that heal the skin and clear pigmentation that developed after it was exposed to the sun’s rays for too long.


As already described, algae floats through the ocean and absorbs the vitamins and minerals in the water. Interestingly, seawater and human plasma are chemically similar, so that algae has a great bioaffinity to the skin. It should come as no surprise that seaweed is more readily accepted into the skin where it can instantly hydrate and condition it.


Seaweed is an emollient. It creates a film over your skin to increase its moisture levels which increases its suppleness and firmness. This film forms a barrier that protects the skin from dry environment, cold and harsh winds while helping to heal the skin of any infections.


Regarding how algae is choke-full of vitamins, minerals, and other valuable micro-nutrients, it’s a no-brainer to add it to your beauty regimen and diet.

On top of all the mentioned benefits, algae is safe for all skin types. Need to soothe your skin? Algae. Want to relieve your dry skin? Algae. Have anti-ageing concerns? Algae, as you figured it would be. You can think of seaweed as your little black dress for skincare – it goes with everything. And also like your little black dress, you can dress it up and dress it down in endless ways – that is you get to try algae in almost infinite variations.

In the end, if you have dry skin, sensitive skin, or want to combat and prevent signs of ageing, reach for a jar with algae as an ingredient.

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