Trust us - there’s way more to algae than the squishy green stuff you find growing up the sides of neglected fish tanks.
In Japan, red algae is harvested to make nori, the crunchy seaweed sheets used to make sushi. This healthy seaweed is gaining popularity as an ingredient in skincare products, too, because of its high moisture and antioxidant content.
Found in tide pools and coral reefs around the world, red algae packs a punch with protein, vitamin B12, and a range of fatty acids.
So before you run the other way, learn more about what this mineral-rich, hydrating ingredient can do to improve your skin:
Clarify and Cleanse
Oily skin is complicated. Sure, it’s easy to blame your glands or your diet, but usually there’s more than one hurdle in your way.
Thankfully, this problem is easy to control once you’ve got your skincare routine down pat.
There’s plenty of magic in finding the right cleanser, of course. But if you’re struggling with clogged pores, you probably need to re-think your exfoliation strategy, too.
“Exfoliation is an important step in your cleansing routine to expose younger-looking skin underneath,” explains Shannon Romanowski at Self.
“If done regularly, you can improve your skin's texture and help stimulate the production of new cells and collagen.”
For those of us with sensitive skin, exfoliating can be tricky. Harsh natural exfoliants like sugar, and salt, in addition to chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid, can irritate skin and strip away too much oil from your face.
This dries out skin and kicks your oil glands into high gear to make up for the loss - in other words, too much exfoliation can lead to disaster.
If this problem sounds familiar, stick to gentle exfoliants like honey or citric acid to help lift dead skin cells, dirt, and other impurities from your skin.
Because of its high water and vitamin content, red algae is a perfect ingredient to help with the exfoliating process, says cosmetics expert Sean Patrick Harrington. Harrington uses red algae in his own products to clarify the skin and remove dirt.
"As alternatives to harsher, surfactant-based cleansers, our red algae recipes help gently remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and other contaminants [from] the skin," Harrington explained to Refinery 29.
If you’re juggling sensitive skin and clogged pores, it’s time for red algae to become your new facial care BFF.
It’s gentle, effective, and - we promise - not even a little bit slimey.
From our catalog: The detoxifying essential oils in our Purity Facial Cleanser and Mask kill acne-causing bacteria. Nourishing seaweeds, red algae, and purifying herbs protect against future breakouts.
Mega-Watt MoistureWith winter comes dry skin. Sometimes it seems like no matter how much moisturizer you apply, your cheeks still look parched. Thanks a lot, windburn!
Even in the middle of winter, you can kick dry skin to the curb with a little TLC straight from the beach.
Because it naturally holds on to so much water, red algae has super-concentrated hydrating powers that translate into exquisitely moisturized skin, says skincare expert Riva Barak.
“Algae makes a great natural moisturizer that improves skin’s barrier function and helps it retain water,” Barak explains at the luxury sample subscription service, Birchbox.com.
Our skin works awful hard to protect us - which is why the weather and other irritants can make our cheeks turn dry or red.
The top layer of our skin, the skin barrier Barak mentions, is super sensitive - and it’s also an incredibly important shield against everyday pollution.
This layer of the epidermis is “a vital front-line, protecting us against the perils of the environment; UV, pollution, infection, toxic chemicals and so on,” dermatologist Sam Bunting told Get the Gloss.
“On a more superficial note, it’s the bit that we see, so it’s very important from a cosmetic point of view.”
In addition to strengthening this layer of “front-line” protection against the weather and pollutants, red algae also helps your skin draw in and retain moisture, says cosmetics chemist Ni’Kita Wilson.
“Algae is so moisturizing," Wilson told Refinery29. "If you think of algae, it's always moist. It has the ability to bind water as a humectant.”
Take advantage of red algae’s superpowered moisture content by looking for it in hydrating facial masks, like our Purity Facial Mask.
"Masks are great delivery systems [for algae]," dermatologist Jeannette Graf explained to Refinery29. "They lock in the nutrients and don't allow them to go anywhere, so you get the [benefits of the] whole [product]."
The next time your skin is feeling parched, reach for a red algae mask to restore moisture and reap the benefits of red algae’s other goodies, which include plenty of vitamins C and E and other antioxidants.
Want to make one in your own kitchen? XOVain will show you how.
From our catalog: Our Green Tea Oil-Free Hydration SPF 30 moisturizer protects your skin from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays, skin cancer, fine lines, wrinkles, sun, and age spots. Organic green tea soothes and calms while purifying herbs keep complexion fresh.
Protect Delicate Skin
You’ve probably heard about the war on free radicals - but what are these pesky pollutants and what do they do to our skin?
“In layman’s terms, free radicals come about when normal, happy, functioning cells are mutated by pollutants in the gross urban air,” write the editors of Into the Gloss.
“As a result, they become less happy. And prone to age us and dry us out.” Great.
We encounter so many harmful free radicals and UV rays throughout the day that antioxidants and sunscreen are two of the most important tools in any skincare arsenal.
Not only do antioxidants help skin fight back against sun damage, but they also prevent skin from aging prematurely.
“More and more scientific studies are proving [the] effectiveness [of antioxidants in skincare],” dermatologist Patricia Farris told Best Health.
“Not only in helping to reduce wrinkles and aging but also reducing inflammation, such as in rosacea, or even helping prevent skin cancer.”
Thanks to red algae’s high vitamin content, this moisture-rich plant can actually help you in your quest to banish free radicals, leading to healthier, younger-looking skin.
“Lightweight algae is wonderful for holding potent antioxidants against the skin to help fight the production of free radicals, which can lead to cell death and signs of aging,” explains skincare expert Sean Patrick Harrington at Refinery29.
Rich in vitamins and protein, and packed with moisture, red algae is an all-purpose, age-defying plant that can even help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
"Seaweed contains vitamins C and E, which help protect the skin from UV damage, boost skin's natural collagen production, and moisturize the skin," dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi explained to EverydayHealth.
The next time you head to the beach, or even brave the city streets on a warm, summer day, make sure you’re totally prepped.
Sunscreen? Check. Seaweed? You betchya.
From our catalog: Our Dark Spot Remover is an all natural serum that visibly reduces dark spots, age spots, and traces of past acne scars. It evens skin tone with a highly effective, safe, all-natural formula free of chemical lighteners or bleaching agents.
The benefits of red algae and seaweed for skin still feel like a bit of an industry secret. Most beauty experts are just starting to catch on to the moisturizing, nourishing wonders of the sea.
Beat all your friends to the punch by experimenting with ultra-hydrating face masks and serums that help you lock in antioxidants and prevent your skin from aging prematurely.
This month only, 100% Pure is featuring red algae as its Ingredient of the Month, which means you’ve got nothing to lose - and deals to sniff out.
Does your skin routine help fend off free radicals? Tell us which antioxidants you rely on in the comments below: