A new brand has recently launched on QVC and Sephora called Algenist, which has as its signature ingredient something called Alguronic Acid™.

The beauty industry – for reasons that I have never quite understood – loves positioning new products as if they were stumbled upon by accident. For example, StriVectin, we are supposed to believe, was designed as a treatment for stretch marks but testers misread the instructions and used it on their faces thereby witnessing the miraculous depletion of their wrinkles. Algenist and Alguronic Acid came about when scientists at a company called Solazyme “unexpectedly discovered alguronic acid after studying thousands of microalgae strains for renewable energy solutions.”

I doubt whether it was all that “unexpected” since Solazyme is in the business of converting algae into something it calls algal oil that in turn is used to make biofuels, surfactants, cosmetic ingredients and edible oils for animal and human foods.

Whether algal oil and alguronic acid are one and the same thing I can’t say, but in any case neither appear in the Algenist product that I (randomly) took a look at, the Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm ($65). Solazyme says that Alguronic Acid is polysaccharides extracted from algae and, there, in the Algenist eye cream’s ingredients are “algae exopolysacharides”. Solazyme says that they stimulate collagen and it refers to “women in clinical studies” who had great results, although I couldn’t find any specific information on these trials.

It is a shame that marketing twaddle has got in the way of what is in many ways a very good product. Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm has many good ingredients going for it – some of them are on the anti-aging hit parade. There’s the increasingly ubiquitous Matrixyl 3000 (although that isn’t to denigrate what is a good active). Another peptide, dipeptide-2, is thought to promote lymphatic drainage and is, therefore, used in eye creams to combat puffiness. Caffeine may also be helpful in that respect and hesperidin methyl chalcone is used to diminish dark circles.

There are some relatively unusual ingredients here. Undaria pinnatifida extract is phytessence wakame and is still used only rarely in anti-aging cosmetics although it is supposed to help in inhibiting hyaluronidase, thereby preventing the deterioration of the extracellular matrix. Also relatively uncommon is tetrapeptide-21, about which little is known except that its makers (Lipotec) say it prevents DNA damage. Inula crithmoide extract is a totally new one for me, although researching it for this post I have found that it crops up a few hair care products by Alterna. It has antioxidant properties, according to studies. Other antioxidants include raspberry, pea and apple cell culture extract.

It is an impressive line up, especially for a mid-priced product. To be sure, Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm has its fair share (perhaps slightly more than) of fillers, silicones, copolymers, steareths, and harsh preservatives, such as chlorhexidine digluconate. They would probably put me off buying this product, but the lack of substance behind Alguronic Acid had already done that.


Water/Eau (Aqua), Stearic Acid, Isopropyl Isostearate, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cetearyl Alcohol, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Algae Exopolysacharides, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Leaf/Stem Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caffeine, Tetrapeptide-21, Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Malus Domestica Fruit (Apple) Cell Culture Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Glucosamine HCL, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Inula Crithmoide Extract, Phospholipids, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone, Lecithin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Steareth-20, Ceteareth-20, Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorhexidine Digluconate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.