The use of algae in skincare has long been known to help repair cell damage, increase elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and winkles. Now, microalgae are being introduced in an array of ever-more-sophisticated products.
Two brands have played a big part in kick-starting the new trend for looking at these tiny extracts of algae. First, in 2011, Algenist patented Alguronic Acid, a substance that protects and regenerates microalgae cells, thus offering greater anti-ageing benefits, and which it used in a serum, two moisturisers and an eye balm. Then, in late 2012, La Prairie launched its Advanced Marine Biology range (Tonic, £68 for 150ml, second picture), based on a mix of three types of algae for energising, brightening and strengthening the skin and protecting it against sun damage.
Late last year, Elethea became the first African-inspired skincare brand to use algae from the Rift Valley to create five products containing what it calls a “revolutionary” ingredient that is rich in protein, amino acids, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, betacarotene, bioactive enzymes and minerals. In independent clinical trials of its Eye Architecture cream (£120 for 15ml), 30 people who used the product daily for 28 days reported fine lines and wrinkles were reduced by an average of 33 per cent; the same trials of its Youth Capture Serum (£210 for 30ml, first picture) resulted in a 22 per cent average reduction. The range also includes a Revitalising High Protection Fluid SPF30 (£140), a Deep Nourishing Cream (£150) and an Intense Hydrating Cream (£150; all 50ml). Users of the last two reported that very little went a long way and that they were moisturising without being heavy.
At about the same time, British brand Orico London, which specialises in using plant-based ingredients to help counteract the effects of an urban lifestyle, launched its Transcend Marine Radiance Serum (£34 for 30ml, first picture), which utilises marine algae and maca root extract to brighten and lift the skin. The specific algae in the serum are said to have a tightening effect on the collagen-fibre network.
Then there’s Swedish brand Estelle & Thild, which has a Super Bioactive Magic Duo (£100 for two 30ml bottles, first picture) that combines microalgae with Astaxantin, a powerful antioxidant that also helps combat signs of ageing. The Age Control Serum claims to even tone, boost collagen production and soften fine lines; mixing it with a few drops of the Repairing Oil Complex will hydrate the skin and increase its elasticity. Ole Henriksen’s Ultimate Lift Firming Serum (£49 for 30ml, first picture) is similarly dual-action; its combination of oat-algae and bamboo-pea extracts is designed to lift and tone the skin by stimulating collagen production and boosting elasticity.
Finally, taking the story full circle, Algenist has just brought out its Algae Brightening Mask (£45 for 60ml, first picture), which uses micro and macroalgae, as well as Alguronic Acid, to exfoliate, brighten and nourish the skin.