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Marine Ingredients: The Future of Skin Care

By: Angela Eriksen-Stanley
Posted: May 28, 2013, from the June 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Chlorella vulgaris

Chlorella vulgaris

Scientists believe the first cell life to form on earth was a marine bacteria, or a very simple single-cell algae. The depths of the ocean provided a simple filtration system for the harsh UV rays that blazed down on the planet that, at the time, was devoid of an ozone layer. Thanks to the water’s protection from the harsh rays and the nutrients in seawater, species of microalgae could form and flourish.

Now, 3.8 billion years later on a planet with diverse marine and terrestrial plant content, microalgae species are the future of topical skin and body care products. What can these plants from the ocean do to answer the demands of spa-savvy clients?

First, as a picture begins to be painted of what marine-based skin care has to offer, it is important to understand the unique nutrient composition of the oceanic environment. It’s no coincidence that seawater and blood plasma have a nearly identical chemical composition in terms of mineral and trace element levels. Both blood plasma and seawater contain naturally occurring trace elements and minerals, and the concentration of each mineral present is very similar. Seawater is so close to the body’s internal environment that if white blood cells are removed from the body and placed in a sterile diluted seawater solution, they are able to maintain normal cell function—this is the only solvent that will accommodate continued cellular activity. The human body needs replenishment of minerals, such as zinc, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium on a daily basis. Because seawater contains the body’s ideal balance of minerals, it is the perfect medium to restore these levels. Minerals and trace elements are important catalysts to all cell functions. Maintaining ideal mineral levels is key to preventing cellular imbalances and boosting every cell function.

Marine ingredients and human skin

Not only can seawater provide a balanced way to supplement minerals to human cells, it also provides a nutrient-rich growing environment for micro- and macro-algae. As marine plants grow in this amazing mineral medium, they absorb and concentrate various nutrients also beneficial to the human body. Depending on the environment in which the seaweed is growing, it will develop different nutrients and cell functions as defense mechanisms to protect itself from various aggressors. Researchers have well-noted the similarities between human skin and various seaweed species, and have found ways to use marine extracts to improve many skin conditions.

This is especially true for micro- and macro-algae that grow in areas with large tidal fluctuations, such as the Brittany region of France. With the second highest tide fluctuations in the world, the span of distance between high tide and low tide can reach great lengths in this area, which provides a dual environment for the native marine plants to adapt. At different times of the day, these seaweeds are being protected by cold, mineral-rich seawater. During low tide, these same plants are exposed to UV rays, airborne pollutants, wind and bacteria—the same aggressors skin is exposed to. In order to combat these aggressors, the seaweeds that grow in the tidal zone adapt and develop many skinlike qualities to maintain hydration levels, protect themselves from UV-induced free radical formation and withstand cold temperatures, to name just a few. Researchers have well-noted the similarities between human skin and various seaweed species, and have found ways to use marine extracts to improve many skin conditions.

Research and development

The Skin Care Ingredient Handbook is so much more than an ingredient dictionary. You will learn about skin care trends, active versus functional ingredients, OTC drugs, INCI names, antioxidants and DNA and understand how to read labels. Did we mention the newest ingredients are listed?

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