Ascophyllum, bladderwrack, serrated wrack, aonori and nori are just a few of the many names for algae, which not only essential to a healthy marine ecosystem but also really good for our skin and hair. Read on for everything you need to know about this multi-use ingredient.
What is algae?
Algae defines a diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms that includes seaweed and many single-celled organisms. Scientists still have incomplete knowledge of how many different species of algae exist. Numbers range from about 75,000 up to 400,000, coloured from red to green or brown, in micro size or up to 60 meters long. Only around 160 species are used for industrial purposes. Algae live mainly in oceans and freshwater environments. With the recent resurgence of awareness brought by World Oceans Day and many other initiatives, it’s important to pinpoint the pivotal role of algae in marine ecosystems and its many benefits.
What is algae used for?
Algae have a broad range of applications. They are well known for their use in the food industry, particularly in foods like sushi and agar, a vegetarian jelly powder for desserts. Chlorella is popular for its detoxing effects and is mainly used as a nutritional supplement. Algae have also been used since the 16th century as a fertiliser and soil conditioner in agriculture. These aquatic plants are also used in bio-plastics, natural pigments and bio-fuels.
What are their benefits?
Algae are rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. One of the primary benefits of algae is skin protection, not only against UV radiation, but also against microwaves, blue light from computers and other invisible dangers.
In terms of antioxidants, the Haematococcus Pluvialis alga produces astaxanthin, which is proven to be 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C, 770 times stronger than Q10 or 100 times more powerful than vitamin E. As a component in beauty products, the Haematococcus Pluvialis alga is primarily used for anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory applications.
Algae also provide nutrients to both the skin and hair; Ascophyllum Nodusum has regenerative and soothing properties while the multifunctional Enteromorpha Compressa algae is used for its magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, which helps calm inflammation.
One Ocean Beauty uses algae and their versatile power in their skincare range. The products are sustainably produced, created from marine actives that are produced in a lab through blue biotechnology rather than harvested.
Because of their numerous benefits and vast range of applications, researchers aim to extend the use of algae in antibiotics, antivirals, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular protectors as well as antineoplastic agents.
Liked this article? Sign-up to our newsletter for more.