Algae Extract

The name describes any extract made from any kind of algae. Algae extracts are moisturizing humectants – the gelatin-like polysaccharides bind and retain water, thereby hydrating the skin. Algae is a rich source of emollient and antioxidant compounds.
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Algae Extract

Overview

Algae extract is the non-specific name used to describe any extract made from any kind of algae.

It may be problematic to determine exactly what kind of algae was used if the producer does not disclose this on the label. There are numerous kinds of algae and each of them is only slightly different: in color (red, green, or brown), size (single-cell or up to several meters long), habitat (marine or freshwater), or active constituents.

There are some properties, however, that are common across all algae and so can be assumed for almost any kind of algae extract.

The main active ingredients of all algae are various types of polysaccharides. They may differ significantly in their chemical structure, but their results are very similar: a gelatinous mixture that is able to bind a large amount of water.

This is the main reason why algae extracts are used as moisturizing humectants – the gelatin-like polysaccharides can bind and retain water, thereby hydrating the skin. Examples of such algae gels are agar, alginic acid, various alginates, fucoidan, laminarian, and carrageenan.

Algae is a rich source of compounds that are beneficial for the skin. They contain a lot of minerals, rare polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins that have protective, emollient, and antioxidant effects on the skin. Other compounds from the family of polyphenols are also great antioxidants.

There are a few reports in scientific literature that suggest that some algae extracts may have anti-pigmentation properties. This is because of their ability to inhibit an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is an important enzyme in the process of melanin formation.

Last but not least, many algae contain pigments in various colors (almost every single color can be derived from algae extracts). Naturally, this makes them a great source of natural colorants.

Science

1
Wang, H.-M. D., Chen, C.-C., Huynh, P., & Chang, J.-S. (2015). Exploring the potential of using algae in cosmetics. Bioresource Technology, 184, 355–362.