Cold and cavernous below the surface and tempestuous above, the ocean is practically another planet—one ruled by deadly orcas and other alien-like creatures. Everything living in this harsh environment has to be really tough in order to survive.
For millions of years, seaweed has managed to not only stay afloat in its marine habitat—it also helps sustain aquatic life as a whole. So it’s no surprise that it’s got otherworldly beauty benefits. According to New York City dermatologist Dr. Marcene Alexiades-Armenakas, seaweed species have evolved over those millennia to protect their own DNA from constant UV exposure. (Floating around the ocean isn’t always a breeze—the sun is relentless!) Translation: On a cellular level, seaweed has major anti-aging power.
Here we share a few ways to incorporate seaweed into your beauty routine—through dietary sources and a few of our favorite natural skin care products.
Sea algae is loaded with chlorophyll and minerals that can help detox the skin, as well as amino acids for conditioning, and omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and shiny hair. Sea kelp—which forms full-on underwater forests—has regenerative properties, making it a secret ingredient in some killer beauty products like Alba Botanica’s Even Advanced Sea Kelp Facial Toner.
But it’s not just the stuff in the sea that boasts beauty benefits. Freshwater algae, such as chlorella, is potent in its own right. This blue-green algae also contains tons of amino acids, as well as beta carotene to promote healthy hair, and B-complex vitamins, which produce red blood cells that carry fresh oxygen throughout the body. And with its antioxidant content, chlorella has been clinically proven to reduce oxidative stress, neutralizing free radicals and combating premature aging that can occur as a result of environmental pollution, stress, and poor diet.
No wonder chlorella growth factor (CGF)—a compound extracted from chlorella—is the star ingredient in Acure Organics’ skincare, including eye cream and resurfacing lotion. Healthy cells depend on replication of RNA and DNA; CGF is naturally rich in each, and can help protect our own RNA and DNA, in turn boosting skin cell regeneration. “As a beauty ingredient, CGF is a no-brainer,” says Acure’s president and formulator, Amy Halman. “It increases collagen production, protects your own collagen, helps with cell turnover, detoxification, and moisture balance.”
Clearly, aquatic plants are being well-harnessed in natural beauty treatments, but of course consuming them can bring benefits from the inside out. Seaweed contains a healthy amount of vitamins A and C, but is a particularly great source for iodine, which is absent from most foods. This nutrient is instrumental in keeping hormonal balance in check—so any woman who’s ever experienced menstrual acne flare-ups might want to order up some kelp and wakame, stat.
But also, sea vegetables just taste good. Sometimes they taste like bacon. And if bacon-ish flavor can also come with a gorgeous complexion, then bring it on, seaweed.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho