I have to admit that I was disappointed to learn that seaweed had limited nutritional value as well as a troubling downside. But I was then thrilled to discover that seaweed is a skin care superstar. Different forms of sea plants have long been used in the manufacture of creams, lotions and balms to provide natural thickening and emulsification ( eg keeping oil and water together). In the past decade, peer reviewed published studies have shown that seaweed varieties can benefit skin in four much needed ways:
Seaweed for Super Hydration
Sea plants helps the skin hold moisture in two ways. The gel-like properties of seaweed acts like a shield to prevent water evaporation from the skin– sort of the way plastic wrap keeps a sandwich fresh and moist. In addition, sea plants are rich in polysaccharides– and why should you care? Polysaccharides are natural moisturizing factors that helps the skin both hold onto water as well as repair itself. They are important for smooth healthy skin and like other natural moisturizing factors, hyaluronic acid and ceramides, we have lower levels of polysaccharides as we get older. But unlike hyaluronic acid and ceramides which are quite pricey, seaweed is widely available and inexpensive. Yea!
- UV Protection from the Sea
Different forms of seaplantsoffer different types of help. Red algae can actually absorb UV light offering defense from skin cancer and ski aging. Brown algae comes packed with antioxidants that can reduce UV induced skin cell damage. This makes seaweed enhanced night ceam a great choice after a day in the sun.
3. Preventing Collagen Destruction
Geek alert! Explaining how seaweed keeps collagen healthy gets a bit dense but please stick with me. Our body produces MMP’s which trigger production of an enzyme called collagenase which is needed to breakdown old damged collagen fibers. This is essential to promote healing and keeping the skin strong and healthy. But certain situations like sunlight and stress can trigger the over production of MMP’s. This leads to excessive collagen destruction and loss of skin elasticity and an increase n wrinkles. That’s the bad news. The good news? Some types of brown algae block production of UV induced MMP’s. To bottom line it , less MMP means healthier collagen and smoother skin.
4. Seaweed for Skin Lightening
We all love an even, golden tan, but dark patches and splotches make our skin look dull and older than its years. These darkened areas develop when UV rays trigger production of melanin. Agents like hydroquinone and kojic acid have been shown to stop melanin formation. Research is still in the early stages, but studies suggest that sea plants can be added to the list of safe and effective skin brightening agents.
Using Seaweed in Your Skin Care Routine
Seaweed extracts are the key ingredients of the incredibly epensive Creme de Mer skin care line– $2000 night cream anyone? You can also find seaweed enriched skin care products in both drug and department store shelves. I love to make my own sea plant products. You can buy dried seaweed capsules in the health food stores– 100 large capsules are $16.00. Open a capsule, mix with an eg yolk and you’ve got a wonderful face mask. One capsule mixed with a teaspoon of simple moisturizer= fabulous night cream. To me there is something so organic about using a seaweed moisturizer after a day at the beach.