Secrets of the spa: the skin benefits of seaweed

Seaweed … it’s no one’s favourite thing to step on in the ocean or to smell on the seashore. However, this marine powerhouse is truly remarkable for our skin.

It is rich in sodium, iron, potassium, calcium, B vitamins and abundant in minerals from the seawater. There are many types of seaweed and the benefits of each species are unique. There are three main categories of seaweed: green, brown and red.

Undaria pinnatifida, also known as wakame, is a brown kelp native to cold Pacific Ocean waters of northeast Asia. It is a highly invasive species that grows rapidly and threatens the habitat of marine plants worldwide.

By harvesting this seaweed, humans are actually supporting the delicate marine ecosystem. When boiled, wakame turns bright green and is used extensively in Japanese and other Asian cuisines. However, Undaria pinnatifida also offers many benefits when used in skincare products because it contains a compound called fucoidan.

This ingredient is great for hydrating the skin and helping keep it soft and supple. Studies have also shown that fucoidan may prevent the growth of cancer cells and has antiviral, neuroprotective and immune-modulating effects.

Macrocystis pyrifera, or giant kelp, is the largest of all marine algae. It can be cultivated organically and used in skincare products. Its main skincare benefits are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Antioxidants are known to help protect skin against UVA rays, extreme environments and daily pollution. Protecting skin daily from external factors will help maintain its elasticity, reduce wrinkles and keep it looking younger.

Anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness and irritation from the environment, dryness and existing skin conditions prone to flare-ups or breakouts, like eczema, psoriasis and acne.

Kelp is an excellent moisturiser. Its high mineral content helps the skin and hair retain moisture, reducing the impact of temperature changes and exposure to nature's elements.

Gigartina skottsbergii is a red marine algae packed with moisture-attracting properties that help protect the skin against external factors like extreme dry climates, wind and air pollution.

Gigartina is one of the best algae for skin because it’s so easy to extract the carrageenan — a highly concentrated, sulfated polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are known to hydrate, regulate sebum production, stimulate cell regeneration and boost the production of collagen.

To optimise the benefits of its skincare treatments, the Spa at Seafire adds freeze-dried Gigartina to the products used for its OSEA facials.

In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, algae-filled skincare products protect skin from the harshness of the outdoors by adding a layer of protection to stop skin from drying out.

Applying seaweed products to the skin of sufferers of acne, rosacea, psoriasis or any other skin conditions can speed up the healing process and maintain protection against further outbreaks.

Anneka Greenway is the manager at The Spa at Seafire at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

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This article appears in print in the May 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times.

 

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