Algae Extract for Skin: A Deep Dive Into This Miracle Ingredient

algae extract for skin

Algae Extract for Skin

According to ancient legends, mermaids have long been admired for their beauty, which they credit to the benefits of seaweed, which is an algae.

While mermaids do not really exist, it's a proven scientific fact that algae extract is not only nutritious, it can also restore the skins’ epidermal lipid balance thus leaving skin looking fresh and vibrant. Now that this beauty secret has evolved into skin care, we can all utilize its benefits.

Marine algae extracts have been used in alternative cosmetics for skin-related diseases since ancient times. Today, marine algae extracts have been extensively used in skin care products due its rich bioactive compounds. Algae extract is formed from the four major seaweed classes: red algae, brown algae, blue-green algae, and green algae. Each class contains molecules that promote skin benefits such as: omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E.

One of the essential amino acids present in algae extract is Mycosporine, which is an amino acid.  This amino acid contains strong antioxidant properties that help to effectively neutralize free radicals present in the environment. By lowering the amount of oxidative stress found in the skin, algae extract may also work to reinforce barrier function and provide soothing properties that can help alleviate dry skin.

In addition, studies show topical application of algae extract containing secondary metabolites, such as phlorotannins, can potentially function as a brightening agent. For this reason, cosmetic formulas often infuse algae extract as a way to promote skin radiance.

Lastly, with its antioxidant activity and high concentrations of polyphenols, extract from algae species like fucoidan may be a therapeutic agent for fighting signs of aging.  

Altogether, the benefits of algae extract make it a favorable ingredient to include in a wide range of skin care products.

Marine algae have gained tremendous attention in cosmeceuticals. They are one of the richest marine resources considered safe and possessed negligible cytotoxicity effects on humans. Marine algae are rich in bioactive substances that have shown to exhibit strong benefits to the skin, particularly in overcoming rashes, pigmentation, aging, and cancer. 

The History of Algae Extract

There is no shortage of algae on earth. The oceans are blanketed in a dense but invisible six-hundred-foot-thick layer of them. Swallow a single drop of seawater, and you could easily down several thousand of these unseen beings. They are the essential food of the microscopic grazing animals at the bottom of the marine food chain. If all algae died tomorrow, then all familiar aquatic life—from tiny krill to whales—would quickly starve.

In fact, if algae hadn’t evolved 2.7 billion years ago and oxygenated the atmosphere, multicellular creatures would never have graced the oceans. It was a species of green algae that, 500 million years ago, acclimated to life on land and evolved into all of Earth’s plants. Without plants to eat, the first marine animals that wriggled out of the water 360 million years ago would never have survived or continued to evolve and diversify into all the land-living creatures we know today. 

Algae Extract is Everywhere

Generally speaking, algae are a hidden part of our everyday lives. You can find them in the kitchen: in ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming, in chocolate milk to keep the cocoa suspended, in salad dressings to keep the components mixed, and in many other foods. Your tap water may have been filtered at the water treatment plant with live algae that remove nitrogen and phosphorus or with fossil algae that strain out particulate matter. Your fruits and vegetables may have been grown in soil supplemented with algae. You can find algae in the bathroom, where they thicken your lotions, keep your hair conditioner emulsified, gel your toothpaste, and coat your daily tablets. And you can now wear algae on your feet: a Mississippi company is making the soles of running shoes from pond scum. 

Algae Extract for Skin and Beauty

In a study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, researchers looked at the potential benefits of five different types of algae extract for skin care, to absorb and retain moisture, something that could obviously be useful in skin care.

They examined how much water the algae—which included three different types of green algae, one type of red algae, and one type of brown algae—would absorb when dry and how well it would then retain it over time. Their results showed that the brown algae extract, which had the lowest molecular weight, did the best. In fact, the results were even better than hyaluronic acid, a common skin-care ingredient that’s known for its powerful humectant effect.

Blue green algae, which already has a fair amount of wellness hype around it, has also performed well in skin care studies. For a study published in Clinical Pharmacology & Biopharmaceutics in 2015, researchers had 40 female subjects apply a gel cream to their faces twice a day for 28 days. They were sorted into two age groups (18-39 and 40-60) and two treatment groups (half got a gel cream that actually contained the blue green algae extract while the other have got a control cream).

After the 28-day study period, the researchers found that those who received the algae cream did show more water retention in the outer layer of the skin compared to those who got the control cream.  Thanks to algae extract, skin may benefit significantly to it’s hydration benefits. 

Algae Extract for Pigmentation Issues

There’s also some evidence to suggest that some types of algae can be used to manage hyperpigmentation through a particular mechanism: One major step in the body’s production of melanin depends on tyrosinase, an enzyme. And compounds extracted from algae have been shown to inhibit tyrosinase in animal studies. But, again, human studies are lacking here.

Algae Extract for UV Protection

Algae is also interesting because several species have their own natural methods of protecting themselves from UV radiation, something that could obviously also benefit humans. In particular, research has shown that cyanobacteria and other types of algae can produce compounds called mycosporin-like amino acids (MAAs), which can absorb UV rays similar to the way that chemical sunscreen ingredients work. However, that doesn’t mean you can swap out your usual SPF for an algae cream.  Fortunately, we do make a mineral sunscreen with includes algae extract

Algae Extract for Antioxidant Benefits

And how about those antioxidant claims? Well, some types of algae do contain compounds like carotenoids and vitamin E, which are known to be antioxidants, meaning they can manage free radicals that, in high amounts, would otherwise cause damage to the body.

Our Hyaluronic & Multi Peptide Serum include algae extract and is a fantastic way to rejuvenate skin naturally. 


There is a lot of evidence that shows algae is a huge benefit to your skin, in a variety of ways.  As science continues it's work and completion of studies, we can learn more about this wonderfully natural, healthy ingredient.