Algae are plants that have no roots, stems, or leaves and grow in water or in other wet places. This diverse group of aquatic organisms has the ability to conduct photosynthesis. You will have heard of some – like seaweeds (such as kelp or phytoplankton), pond scum or the algal blooms in lakes. But there are many many more vast and varied types that are not just helpful to us, but critical to our existence (they produce about half the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere).
Which algae are used in skincare?
There are tens of thousands of species of marine algae and they are divided into four major seaweed classes, the rhodophyceae (red algae), the phaeophyceae (brown algae), the cyanophyceae (blue-green algae), and the chlorophyceae (green algae).
- Red algae (rhodophyceae) – there are about 4000 species of red algae, 98% of which are found in marine water. They get their name from their chief pigments, including beta carotene and chlorophyll a and d. A mix of sulfated polysaccharides (carrageenan), peptides, carotenoids, and fatty acids give them antioxidant properties. Mycosporine-like amino acids absorb certain UV light wavelengths when used topically, helping with anti-ageing. Studies have shown that red algae can improve smoothness and firmness in the skin.
- Brown algae (phaeophyceae) – contains high levels of iodine (an important mineral for hair growth) as well as fucoidan, which can help with wound healing. It does this by protecting skin’s elastic fibres. Although it’s effective in many skincare products, it can be irritating to acne sufferers.
- Blue algae (Cyanophyceae) – containing B vitamins, along with amino acids, polyunsaturated fats, calcium and protein, it helps promote healthy skin and aids hydration.
- Green Algae (Chlorophyceae) – containing high amounts of vitamin C and magnesium, green algae contain phlorotannins that absorb certain UV light and act as an antioxidant.
With cosmetic manufacturers answering consumers’ requests for safe, eco friendly ingredients, it is not surprising that algae have become so popular.
Each type of algae has its own unique properties. These wonder plants can help with detoxing your pores, increasing your skin’s moisture, aiding with anti ageing and softening fine lines. Some have anti inflammatory properties, some are antioxidants while others offer UV protection.
How does algae work?
Algae contain a number of naturally made minerals, each of which brings its own benefits. These include:
- Magnesium. Useful for soothing and desensitizing problem skin.
- Potassium. Helps with purification by pushing fluids and toxins out of your skin cells.
- Sodium. While potassium pulls toxins out, sodium pulls moisture into cells to keep your skin hydrated, soft and supple.
- Calcium. Helps promote elastin and collagen production to help revitalize your skin.
- Bromide. Excellent at relaxing and soothing your skin’s tissues.
Macro vs. Micro algae
There are two different types of algae: macroalgae (kelp and seaweed) and microalgae (single cell microscopic organisms). Both contain large amounts of protein. In fact amino acids make up to 60% of most of these plants.
Macro algae are multicellular marine algae which form a real plant. They have a stem and leaves. Depending on the depth of the water they fall into the categories of brown, red or blue algae.
Micro algae are different. They’re single cell algae, cultivated in fresh water tanks.
Although both are considered effective antioxidants and emollients, there are benefits to producing the algae in a controlled environment.
Algae can have toxic or irritant properties if not mined properly. Our oceans are a wonderful source of naturally regenerated algae, but there is a risk of pollution contaminating the algae. Microalgae farms use photo-bioreactors systems (Blue Biotechnology) to produce environmentally safe, allergen-free algae.
What’s special about Lemons’ marine algae?
Our algae farm cultivates a green microalgae called Tetraselmis suecica. This can penetrate deep into the skin cells, working at a cellular level against internal and external stressors. Green microalgae contain many active pigments, such as carotenoids, and these have antioxidant and protective effects on human cells. They reduce oxidative stress and induce repairing mechanisms, strengthening your first line of defense. This helps protect your skin barrier from the harmful effects of pollution and external stressors in clogging your pores and stimulating excess sebum production. It speeds up the effectiveness of the hyaluronic acid in our Oil-Control Booster too, aiding collagen production and reducing signs of scarring.