marine ingredients in anti-aging skin care

Did you know that blood plasma and seawater contain naturally occurring trace elements and minerals — in near identical concentrations? Seawater is so close to the body’s environment that if you removed your white blood cells and placed them in a sterile, diluted seawater solution, they would maintain normal function.

Still I wouldn’t recommend that you spend $55 (as Martha Stewart does) on Susan Ciminelli’s bottled sea water. The thing about sea water is it provides a nutrient-rich growing environment for micro- and macro-algae, or seaweed, if you prefer. Either way, they are rich in vitamins, peptides and antioxidants. And this makes them great anti-aging ingredients. Here are some marine actives worth hitting the beach for.

Marine Minerals

There’s more to seawater than salt. Seawater contains important minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium and sulfurResearch has demonstrated seawater’s ability to inhibit skin barrier disruption and inhibit dryness in irritant contact dermatitis.

Products with marine minerals:

BRAD Biophotonic Sea Minerals Purify Healing Detoxifying Gel Cleanser ($45 in the shop) has an “ocean mineral complex” for treating discoloration, irritation, scarring and redness.

Kat Burki Vitamin C Intensive Day Cream ($90) combines an ocean mineral complex and 15% vitamin C to brighten and even out skin tone.

Fucus Serratus

Toothed or serrated wrack seaweed is found along the Atlantic coasts of Europe. Fucus serratus survives by filtering the ocean for nutrients and as a result, amasses a huge amount of minerals and vitamins. Fucus serratus is a potent antioxidant and research shows its powers to be 30 times more than some other seaweed species.

Products with fucus serratus:

VOYA Me Time Moisturiser ($102). VOYA is an Irish skin care brand that is all about focus serratus. Its signature seaweed is in Me Time Moisturiser as well as plenty of landlubbers such as hibiscus, chamomile and coriander.

Spirulina

Blue-green algae comes with the full name of spirulina platenis geitler. It is a powerful antioxidant and contains eight essential amino acids that are necessary for good skin. Spirulina is also said to reduce skin irritation and lighten dark spots.

Products with spirulina:

La Vie Celeste Restorative Rose Hydrosol Eye Cream ($60 in the shop) is a lovely, all natural eye cream with firming peptides as well as spirulina and plenty of other antioxidant botanicals.

jane iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara ($33 in the shop) nourishes lashes with algae-extract and vitamin B to prevent breakage and splitting.

Chlorella Vulgaris

A single-cell green algae, chlorella vulgarisis loaded with amino acids such as lysine, proline, glycine, and alanine, all of which are the essential building blocks of proteins and constitute each individual collagen unit. Its large amino acid component leads many to believe that it has the ability to restructure and smooth out the surface of the skin, particularly with scarred or aging skin.

Products with chlorella vulgaris:

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Universal Mask ($55) features a “Sea Vegetable Complex” with chlorella, dulse, spirulina, sea palm and sea willow. There’s a veggie complex as well, making sure that this mask lives up to Dr Alkaitis’ claim that skin care should be good enough to eat.

Red Algae

Red algae contain a sugar that helps improve skin cell function. One type of red algae, porphyra, produces alpha hydroxy acid to create holes on the surfaces of rocks so that it can adhere. In skin care the alpha hydroxyl acid translates as an exfoliant and skin whitener. Seaweed spends a lot of its time exposed to sunlight, and so it isn’t surprising that it has ways of protecting itself. Red algae has amino acids that protect against UV damage.

Products with red algae:

Skinfinite Platinum 30spf ($32.50) is a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, red algae, specifically porphyra umbilicalis, and antioxidants to protect against sun damage and free radicals.

M.A.D. Skincare Wrinkle Repellent Environmental Protection Serum ($60) has porphyra umbilicalis and many other antioxidants and toxin eradicators.

Blissoma Refine Clay Renewal Treatment ($30.99) uses porphyra umbilicalis, rhassoul clay, licorice and willowbark to detoxify pores, lighten sun damage, exfoliate dead skin cells and soothe troubled or acne-prone skin.

Snowberry Cellular Regeneration Night Cream ($104). Snowberry has assembled porphyra umbilicalis along with a host of botanical extracts to repair the skin and neutralize free radicals.

Astaxanthin

A red carotenoid produced by algae, astaxanthin is consumed by salmon, and this is what makes them pink. According to one scientist, astaxanthin can eliminate free radicals 6,000 times more effectively than vitamin C, 800 times more than CoQ10, 550 times more than vitamin E and green tea, 75 times more than alpha lipoic acid and 20 times more than beta-carotene. Another study also found topical astaxanthin reduces melanin by 40 percent, greatly diminishing freckles and age spots.

Products with astaxanthin:

Kenneth Mark MD Antioxidant Hydrating Cream ($120). Astaxanthin is backed up in Dr. Mark’s formula by vitamin E, two forms of C and vitamin A. The anti-aging hit list just keeps on going with superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that overpowers the damaging reactions of superoxide toxicity and mineral peptides including copper.

Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen ($45 in the shop) is a tinted facial sunscreen with SPF 30. It contains astaxanthin and red algae.

Laminaria Digitata

This large brown seaweed is known as kelp, and it retains water in its plant tissue—much like the epidermis holds water—and even during low tide, it stays plump and moisturized. These water-binders (a combination of sugars, minerals and amino acids) are extracted to be used in cosmetics. One in particular, polygalactosides, reacts with the protective outer surface of the skin to form a protective moisturizing barrier.

Products with laminaria:

Astara Aromatic Seaweed Body Wash ($22), a moisturizing body wash with sea kelp, arnica, birch tree bark, lavender and rosemary.

Macrocystis Pyrifera 

A giant brown seaweeduseful in skin care products thanks to its high iodine, vitamin and mineral content. It is considered an anti-septic and anti-irritant that can not only heal sun-damaged skin but can also prevent wrinkles.

Products with macrocystis pyrifera:

Nutra-Lift Wrinkle Repair Ultra with Growth Factors($41). This seaweed extract is formulated with hard hitting anti-agers such as SNAP-8, argireline, Matrixyl 3000 and hyaluronic acid.


Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.