Why You Definitely Want Spirulina, Algae, and Seaweed in Your Skincare and Hair Products

Fish wouldn't be so good for you if it didn't eat this stuff first.
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Fish wouldn't be so good for you if it didn't eat this stuff first.

Aquatic ingredients are making a splash in beauty these days (get it?), and that’s because water is usually already a nutrient-rich stew; these plants just work it to their advantage—then to yours! 

Think of Creme de la Mer in this instance: the reason it is named la mer is because of its proprietary broth made of bioferment, a fermented algae product that's getting to be huge in beauty. This can now be purchased on its own from cosmetic supply stores. It's so prevalent because of its high concentrations of beneficial compounds, and how well it can moisturize skin. After all, it comes from the water to begin with.

Algae comes in many forms and colors, each one with a significantly different nutritional profile. Seaweed is even technically algae, but most brands will use one term or the other to describe it. Brown algae and red seaweed come from the ocean, whereas spirulina comes from fresh water, but both are the base of their respective food chains, passing on their self-manufactured energy onto other creatures. 

Brown Algae/Kelp: Hair's Best Friend

Usually, the generic term algae extract stands for laminaria digitata, a brown algae often harvested as kelp. Alterna is a luxury line that puts algae in almost every single product. You pay a pretty penny, but what you’re buying actually works, so it isn’t so bad if you ration your use. 

Alterna’s Caviar Anti-Aging range covers all the bases, but two of my favorites are their CC Cream and Overnight Hair Repair. Using algae and with other aquatic extracts, Alterna puts potent antioxidants in their products, helping hair and scalp stay their healthiest. A few pumps of the overnight treatment turned my weave from haystack to cornsilk! It absorbs almost completely and though it says to shampoo the next day, if you have thirsty hair you can leave it in longer.

No matter what your styling endgame is, Caviar CC Cream is an insurance policy. It’s got ingredients to cover every styling concern from smoothing to repairing damage, and I use it every single time I blow-dry these days. You get a silky feel without weight or slimy coating, and when you apply heat, it polishes even further to a perfect shine.

Spirulina: Good for You Inside and Out

Spirulina containins vitamins, amino acids, carotenoids and fatty acids. It's an algae as well, but specifically comes from a freshwater environment, unlike most beauty algae, which come from the sea. For this reason, you can find spirulina in more products, but currently it’s not as widespread as it should be. 

Nugg masks are pretty sweet. I initially thought it would be a sheet mask, but it's a small cup of face goo for to make the pretty. It harnesses the nutrients of spirulina to be anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant, so it's great for healing up after a bad breakout.

Erno Laszlo is one of the first skincare companies to use spirulina. Their Firmarine Moisturizer SPF30 is all about using the deep hydration properties. It's extremely thick but spreads like butter over the skin; just a small dab fully covers the whole face, and it dries down to a velvety, skin-like feel. I didn’t need a primer on the days I used this beaut! 

The aromatic loveliness that is Shiffa Eye Remedy has caused me to hoard my samples until its easier to get stateside. I love its floral/herbal scent from all of the extracts and oils used, and rich spirulina extract puts it where we always show fatigue: under the eyes.

Red Seaweed: Riding Dirty in Your Skin's Sidecar

M-61 Skincare is the brainchild of the peeps at Blue Mercury. My favorites are the seaweed-rich JetGlow Cream and Serum. Red seaweed is a skin friend because it has carotenoids out the wazoo in addition to the regular algae components. Getting down with copper peptides, fellow antioxidant goji berry and glycolic acid, both hydrate and brighten discoloration while plumping that dermis. 

I’m much more partial to the serum, with its hyaluronic acid and easy liquid application, I just put a few drops in with my toner and I'm done.

  • Got any favorite algae-based products?

Photos: Maria Penaloza