Seaweed, algae and salt – the natural, magical ingredients from the bottom of the sea

[Global] The mysteries of the deep are many, but some of the sea’s secrets could be the all-new skincare ingredients we’ll all be diving for.

The ocean is ravishing in its beauty – vast, unpredictable and totally alluring. It is well known for its healing properties. The ocean holds 72% of the surface of the world, with less than 5% of it explored by modern science. Of that 5%, we have already discovered over 200,000 species and even more flora & fauna. It is these forms of marine life – algae & plankton – that provide up to 80% of oxygen within the earth’s atmosphere.

It’s no wonder then, that within that marine life, algae – a term used to refer to red, brown & green marine fauna – is used in a vast array of skincare products.

“In 2016 alone, 40% of US millennials reported to have used skincare products containing seaweed – highlighting the popularity of marine algae,” says Noelle Gabriel, Founder of Elemis. “Marine algae are abundant in the wild and are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids. The different varieties of seaweeds deliver their unique properties and contribute to the success of the final formula.”

Seaweed is one of the most dense crops on earth, seaweed contains minerals such as magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, potassium, phosphorus & zinc as well as vitamins like A, B, C, D & E. The benefits of ingesting both categories include a boost in immunity, improved circulation, detoxification of vital organs and a regulation of natural hormones. Topically applying these have next to endless, positive results that can be understood here.

Macro or microalgae contain such a large amount of protein (amino acids make up to 60% of most of these plants) that is being researched as an alternative biofuel source. Also filled with phosphorus, magnesium, copper, calcium and both vitamin A & B1, algae is not as potent as seaweed but benefits from soothing, regenerating and barrier repair elements, explaining its frequent use in anti-aging products.

No wonder Ariel has such beautiful skin!

What makes these ingredients so alluring for the beauty world is their ability to adapt, regenerative and thrive in hostile environments.

“Seaweed is one of the fastest growing organisms on earth, with fronds reaching as long as 200 feet and the ability to grow at a rate of two feet a day in the prime seasons. With its endless ability to regenerate itself, its nourishing properties and the way it formidably retained moisture, sea kelp help promise and hope for renewal,” highlights La Mer’s creator, Dr Max Huber.

Where brands would have to source a multitude of ingredients from different sources, the rich nature of algae means that it can provide all of the immeasurable benefits.

Benefit 1. Moisture: Algae is packed with humectants that draw in moisture at a greater rate than any other natural ingredients, as well as containing vitamin E (famously hydrating).

Benefit 2. Antioxidants: Vitamin B & C combat pigmentation, stimulates collage and brightens lacklustre skin. They are both powerful anti-aging ingredients.

Benefit 3. Minerals: Omega, Zinc & Magnesium all contribute to a more healthy epidermal barrier, protecting from environmental aggressors and soothing any current inflammation.

Benefit 4. Proteins: Amino acids are the building blocks of cells, which maintain and fill cells membranes, simultaneously creating a plump, youthful face while preventing any accelerated aging.

In fact, the properties of marine algae are so great that several brands have been founded on that very basis – La Mer, Algenist & Phytomer to name but three, with many more brands creating niche product lines from the benefits of algae, and to a greater extent, the sea.

Sea Salt: Long used as an abrasive exfoliant and detoxifying ingredient, sea salt contains magnesium and calcium – both of which help to draw hydration and strengthen barrier function.

Seawater: Loaded with natural minerals and essential elements, seawater boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage while reducing any inflammation.

Marine Collagen: Extracted from fish scales and fish oils, marine collagen combines deep antioxidant properties with amino acids for a powerful reparative and anti-aging ingredient.

Our favourite marine-based skin & body products:


  • Cleanser Micro-Algae Cleansing Jelly £21 Estee Lauder
  • Essence Le Soin Noir Lotion £88.50 Givenchy
  • Serum Restoring Night Serum £46 Skin Laundry
  • Oil Pro-Collagen Marine Oil £65 Elemis
  • Day Cream Moisturising Matte Lotion £180 La Mer
  • Night Cream Marine Complex Deep Restorative Cream £125 Zelens

A algae-based skincare routine is beneficial for all skin types – moisturizing for dry skin, nourishing for normal skin and balancing for oily skin. While it more than forms the foundation of a strong routine, I would suggest supplementing with boosters & masks targeted are your specific concerns.


There is a wide selection of masks available that contain marine ingredients, all treating a wide range of concerns. For oily skin, opt for a sea clay, mineral or kelp powder mask. For dry skin, a dense mask rich in humectants is ideal. Normal skin can experiment with brightening or firming masks, rich in seaweed and additional algae.


  • Atlantic Kelp & Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil £26 Ren
  • Body Enhancement Capsules Energy Vitality £46 Elemis
  • Detoxifying Seaweed Bath £30 Espa
  • Cellular Hand Cream £80 La Prairie
  • The Body Creme £170 La Mer
  • Sunscreen SPF30 Face & Sensitive Areas £29.50 Phytomer
  • Atlantic Kelp & Magnesium Salt Exfoliating Body Scrub £26 Ren


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