It’s slimy, it’s resilient, it’s powerful. There are approximately 13,000 known species of marine algae; they are believed to be the oldest plants on earth and play a critical role in the development of life on land and in water.By absorbing nutrients in the surrounding water, algae undergo photosynthesis and produce oxygen as a byproduct. Algae store these absorbed nutrients, minerals, and trace elements from the ocean in their natural, highly-concentrated form.
This is, in part, what makes them such a valuable resource. Until recently, however, translating this natural state into a useable form has eluded scientists. In 2001, however, a team of marine biologists at oceanBASIS, a biotechnology firm located in Kiel, Germany, perfected a process through which the algae’s sensitive biomolecules are extracted intact so they can be optimally absorbed into the skin’s cells. What began (and continues) as research to support the use of algae in wound healing and cell repair medical innovations, became Oceanwell, the only all-natural, certified, algae-based skin care line.
Below are the top five ways intact extracts from brown algae prove beneficial to skin:
·Resists free radicals. Algae is resistant to radicals, UV-radiation, pathogens, and harsh environmental conditions, making this plant a natural choice for the foundation of skincare.In fact, according to studies conducted at The Ohio State University, the compounds found in Laminaria algae (brown algae)—brown algae polyphenols BPAs—neutralize the cancer-causing oxygen radicals produced by UV exposure after reaching the skin.
·Reenergizes tired cells. Brown algae have been found to provide energy to tired cells. It aids in the skin’s natural collagen production and stimulates the synthesis of Glycosaminoglucan molecules (GAGs) in the skin’s cells. These hydrophilic (water attracting) molecules are responsible for moisturizing and maintaining elasticity of the skin. Human skin cells produce GAGs every day, but the regeneration process slows with age. Algae give these cells a boost of energy, causing them to produce GAGs in the same manner as younger cells.
·Reduces inflammation. The ancient Greeks were first to realize the anti-inflammatory properties of algae and frequently wrapped kelp on wounds. The reason this practice was effective is because the algae’s fatty acids—when combined with the plant’s iodine, calcium, iron, silicon, copper, zinc, and selenium—work to detoxify cells and reduce inflammation.In addition, algae extract activates the flow of lymph, which reduces swelling and inflammation.
·Oxygenates the skin. The exceptional amount of minerals and proteins found in algae increases circulation and oxygenation of the skin’s cells, also allowing for the detoxifying release of carbon dioxide. In fact, a March 2011 Marine Drugs article titled “Chemical Structures and Bioactivities of Sulfated Polysaccharides from Marine Algae” attributed algae’s tendency to increase circulatory functioning to its anticoagulant/antithrombotic properties.
·Protects the skin. Algae is repeatedly washed ashore and dried out and then quickly submerged in water as the waves undulate. The same properties and nutrients that help it, quite literally, weather the storm, also help to lock in moisture and form a protective barrier on your skin. The amino acids found in algae hydrate the skin and fortify the skin’s natural barrier against external irritants. In addition, the algae’s polysaccharides form a thin protective layer that shields your skin.
Behind the Benefits
When you think of the foul-smelling seaweed scattered along stretches of summer sand, you might wonder how it could be purposefully cultivated for healthy skincare products. Dr. Peter Krost, Dr. Levent Piker and Dr. Inez Linke, passionate marine biologists, led the effort to create the Oceanwell skincare line from their medical algae research. They cultivate the indigenous Saccharina Latissima algae from the Baltic Sea. The six- to eight-week growth phase takes place in the laboratory of the oceanBASIS headquarters in Kiel, Germany. The energy saving cultivation system occurs in a specially-designed environment where the algae eventually grow to a total of around 1,000 meters.
The algae are kept in a controlled environment designed to mimic the strict maritime ecological conditions found in the Baltic Sea to promote optimal, natural growth. Once the algae reach a certain size and achieve stability, they are placed in the outdoor farms in the Bay of Kiel. In June, the algae are harvested; they are cleaned and cut into smaller pieces.
Then, in order to unlock the algae’s valuable ingredients, a lengthy 4-week fermentation process is required.With the help of added yeast and microorganisms, the cells become fully broken down and additional filtering mechanisms are implemented before the final extract is complete. The team doesn’t use fertilizer and they harvest young algae exclusively, ensuring that they are pure, with no trace of accumulated foreign substances. This patented process is responsible for the first all-natural, certified skin care line made from raw algae extract.
About the author
Andrea Ellebrecht is the product manager at Kvell Cosmetics in St. Louis, MO. She evaluates and tests products, and is also in charge of product distributor supply, stock and training. She is a proponent of Oceanwell products because of their all-natural ingredients emphasis on sustainability. She has extensive experience in the cosmetics, personal betterment, and sales industries. In addition, Ellebrechthas a B.A. in Middle School Education with a concentration in English from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO, and taught middle school for many years.