Podcast 168: Algae, the future of sustainable beauty

Algae sustainable cosmetics

Get ready to see marine ingredients – specifically algae – featured everywhere in cosmetic products. Seaweed is moving on from its traditional role in the spa sector and as a functional gelling and colouring agent. While we usually don’t take much notice of the latest trending ingredient, which is here today and gone tomorrow from our cosmetics, algae is one category of ingredients that is worth investigating and, we hope, set to stay.

If you listened to our previous episode in which Formula Botanica CEO Lorraine Dallmeier and colleagues discussed the latest cosmetic trends seen at this year’s in-cosmetics Global, the world’s largest trade fair for the industry, you will have heard how marine ingredients are dominating the agenda.

In this opinion episode, Lorraine takes a closer look at why algae, seaweeds, and other marine ingredients herald a new era in sustainable cosmetics. So, listen in to our 4 reasons to love algae in your cosmetics.

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The fruits of the sea are the future of sustainable beauty. @FormulaBotanica CEO Lorraine Dallmeier on 4 reasons to love algae in cosmetics. #marineingredients #sustainablebeauty #biotechbeauty Click To Tweet

Firstly, do you know what algae are? Lorraine talks us through this wide-ranging group of aquatic organisms that have photosynthesising properties. Typically, far less complex in structure than land plants, algae includes everything from the green blooms we see coating shorelines to seaweeds like giant sea kelp. As you can see, there is little shortage of algae, which makes them an interesting, vast resource for cosmetic ingredients infinitely more sustainable than land-based plants.

We already know that seaweeds and algae have bioactive potential in compounds that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, and brightening capabilities, together with cosmetic characteristics as gelling agents and stabilisers. But it is their potential as sustainable ingredients that has triggered today’s surge in interest in them.

Seaweed and other algae can grow fast, and of course in salt, not fresh water. As we heard in a guest episode on the sustainability of essential oils, growing vast land tracts of (often slow-growing) plants for cosmetic ingredients can be detrimental to biodiversity (as they are monocrops) and be water- and fuel-hungry.

With algae, we can turn an environmental negative into several positives. Algal blooms caused by fertiliser run-off from agriculture and which are clogging waterways can be harvested for their compounds of benefit to our cosmetics. Next, there is the exciting fact that algae sequesters carbon. Scientists previously believed that much of the carbon stored in seaweed would eventually be released again when the algae decomposed in the ocean. But research now shows that dead seaweed is swept out and sinks to the ocean floor to be locked up in sediment there rather than being able to release its carbon.

As long as algae and seaweeds are farmed, not wild-harvested, there is every reason to be excited about their potential for innovative and, above all, sustainable cosmetic ingredients. Lorraine’s challenge to us in this episode is to head to beauty counters and discover products pushing the frontiers by including algae-based ingredients. And if you’re a formulator, start thinking about including them in your formulations today.

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please share, subscribe and review this episode on iTunes, Spotify or Youtube so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Lorraine Dallmeier

Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.

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