How Seaweed Can Improve Your Skin & Body
5 minutes read
When we say seaweed, you may begin to picture a salty, crunchy seaweed crisp. But did you know that the marine superfood has more to offer than just its unique umami flavour? Seaweed’s benefits are numerous – from aiding digestion to making your skin glow – and below, we’re breaking them down.
What is seaweed?
‘Seaweed’ is a broad term that encompasses various types of algae. Some are large, and others are microscopic. They tend to be divided into three main groups based on their colour: Rhodophyceae (red algae), Phaeophyceae (brown algae) and Chlorophyceae (green algae).
These sea vegetables are essential to marine life as food and habitat. And it turns out they have loads of benefits to offer humans too.
Why seaweed is the healthy superfood your body will love
The unique marine environment impacts seaweed’s natural composition, as it needs to protect itself against UV radiation and pollution. As a result, it’s packed with various nutrients. Seaweed and algae are typically rich in fibres, fatty acids, essential amino acids and vitamins A, B, C and E.
Many types of seaweeds also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. The ancient Romans used them to treat wounds, burns and rashes.
In 2019, researchers at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy studied a type of seaweed found near the Florida Keys. They concluded that consuming it may offer health benefits in preventing colon cancer and inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract.
How does seaweed help your skin?
In ancient times, seaweed was often used as an alternative medicine to treat skin diseases because of its protective and soothing properties. Today, it has found its way into several skincare formulations for similar reasons.
“The use of seaweed bioactive ingredients in skincare has become popular in recent years due to promising results in scientific papers,” says Dr Zainab Laftah, Consultant Dermatologist at HCA The Shard.
Studies have revealed that it possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, which makes it an excellent pick for skincare.
“Seaweed is rich in bioactive metabolites, for example, mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), phenolic compounds, and polysaccharides,” Dr Laftah explains. “These exhibit biological activity and have the potential to be involved in radical scavenging and DNA repair systems. So they may be helpful in photoprotection. Various seaweed extracts also contain ‘tyrosinase inhibition activity’ and have the potential to treat hyperpigmentation.”
Plus, because the marine ingredient is a rich source of vitamins, it “could be used in cosmetic skincare products to enhance the skin tone, glow, and provide anti-ageing benefits,” Dr Laftah points out.
She adds, “although these are promising results, further studies are required to determine the strength required of these bioactive and their true efficacy.”
Seaweed-based products you need to try
Clarins Double Serum Eye
The Double Serum Eye, £57, is a lightweight eye serum with a cream-gel texture that works for all skin types. The formula is loaded with 13 different potent plant extracts (like turmeric, organic leaf of life, kiwi and oat sugars). These work hard to moisturise, soothe and depuff the undereye area.
It’s also got Clarins’ anti-pollution complex – an innovative concoction of ingredients that helps to protect skin exposed to pollution. Furcellaria (a red algae) is a key ingredient in it. Furcellaria is common to the coasts of the North Atlantic. In skincare, it can help protect skin from dehydration.
Voya Hair, Skin & Nails Seaweed Food Supplement
If you want to reap the benefits of seaweed on the inside and out, try Voya’s Hair, Skin & Nails Seaweed Supplements, £35. It contains two Irish seaweeds: fucus serratus (which supports the immune system) and laminaria digitata (that’s rich in iodine and promotes normal thyroid function, cognitive function, energy metabolism and the maintenance of healthy skin).
Additionally, ingredients like vitamin C, biotin and selenium in the supplements are known to help improve the quality of your skin, nails and hair.
Weed & Wonderful Menopause+ Supplements
Weed & Wonderful’s Menopause+ Food Supplements, £18.95, are crafted to support your body during menopause. It’s got Scottish seaweed and vitamins B6, B12, C and D3 (among other nutrients) that are meant to help make the symptoms more manageable and generally make you feel better – both physically and mentally.
Haekels Exfoliating Seaweed Block
We love the Exfoliating Seaweed Block, £18, a bathing bar by Margate-based company Haekels, where seaweed plays a vital role in the formula. Its benefits are boosted by other nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, tea tree, coriander seeds and crushed peppercorns that exfoliate dead skin cells and nourish the skin underneath.
Mara Shony Seaweed Flakes
Ditch salt for this much healthier seasoning option – Mara’s Sony Seaweed Flakes, £4.95 (30g). It delivers a salty, umami flavour without the excessive sodium from regular salt. As a bonus, it also provides a dose of iodine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, fibre, iron and protein.
One Ocean Beauty Algae Oil For Face And Hair
One Ocean Beauty’s Algae Oil, £35.40, is an all-in-one formula that you can reach for to add moisture to dry skin (face or body) and hair. The star ingredient? A nutrient-rich sea lettuce from the coast of New Zealand. The formula also features popular hydrating heroes like argan, jojoba, sesame and sweet almond oils.