Thursday, June 20, 2024

Blue Beauty: the Seaweed Products Nourishing Your Hair, Skin, and the Oceans

Share

Seaweed for your hair and skin? Experts say absolutely — for you and the planet. Welcome to the era of blue beauty.

If you’ve ever swam in the ocean, you’ll likely be familiar with that icky feeling you get when seaweed touches your skin. But while it feels a little slimy out there in the wild, in the world of hair and beauty care, this marine plant has some serious benefits — that’s why more brands than ever are starting to use it in their products. Plus, it’s sustainable, too, and part of whole movement in the cosmetics industry called “blue beauty,” which is entirely devoted to harnessing the benefits of seaweed, while making products that protect the ocean at the same time. 

Blue beauty

The concept of blue beauty goes beyond just being eco-friendly or green; it specifically focuses on protecting and preserving marine ecosystems by prioritizing ocean-safe ingredients, sustainable sourcing, and packaging that avoids plastic whenever possible.

The avoidance of harmful ingredients sets blue beauty apart from many conventional products that contain chemicals known to damage marine life. Chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate found in some sunscreens, contribute to coral bleaching. Blue beauty products, on the other hand, use biodegradable and non-toxic alternatives that are safe for aquatic ecosystems. Brands committed to this movement ensure that their ingredients are harvested in ways that do not deplete marine resources or harm the environment. This can involve using sustainably harvested seaweed, algae, and other marine-based ingredients that can naturally regenerate.

kelp
Photo courtesy Shane Stagner

Packaging is also a critical consideration for blue beauty. To reduce plastic waste, many blue beauty brands use recyclable, biodegradable, or refillable packaging. Some companies take it a step further by participating in initiatives to clean up ocean plastic or by supporting organizations dedicated to reducing marine debris. These efforts help mitigate the impact of plastic pollution on oceans and marine life.

The benefits of seaweed

“Just the way green juice is good for the body, marine botanicals are good for the hair,” Bumble and Bumble’s executive director of education, Bronwen Robinson, told Mane Addicts. “Seaweed is naturally hydrating to the scalp (which is especially good for seasonally dry scalp) and gives shine to strands, while its fatty and amino acids help keep hair strong.”

As well as vitamins, sea kelp is also a source of 46 minerals, like iodine and iron, and microalgae contains a plethora of nutrients, too, like calcium, vitamin C1, and potassium. All of these are beneficial to your hair. Seaweed is also a popular skincare ingredient, due to the fact it’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Take this nourishing face mask by Kypris, for example, which features wakame (wild seaweed) extract and ingredients like chaga and cherry blossom, which combine to create a softening, hydrating formula.

seaweed
Photo courtesy Alexandros Giannakakis

The marine plant is also incredibly nutritious. It has been eaten by people across Asia for centuries, and now, it’s becoming popular in the West, too. But while it can be enjoyed in dishes like sushi and salad, some brands are also using it to make a sustainable alternative to meat, too. Umaro Foods’ “crispy, fatty” vegan bacon, for example, is made with ocean-farmed seaweed.

Is seaweed a sustainable ingredient?

On top of all of its benefits, seaweed is also great for the planet. And that’s because, when it grows, it helps to pull potentially harmful elements out of the ocean. According to the Global Seafood Alliance, if global production of seaweed grows to 500 million tons by 2050, this will help to absorb around ten million tons of nitrogen. And while nitrogen can be good for marine life, when there is too much, it can lead to harmful algal blooms, which can be toxic to ecosystems and people. Too much phosphorous is another problem that can lead to algal blooms, but again, seaweed can deal with this, too. 

a woman swims in clear water
A woman swims in clear water | Photo courtesy Shifaaz shamoon

Beyond product formulations and packaging, blue beauty brands often engage in broader conservation efforts. This can include funding projects aimed at restoring coral reefs, protecting endangered marine species, or advocating for cleaner oceans. By aligning their business practices with the goal of ocean conservation, these brands not only provide consumers with effective beauty products but also contribute to the health and sustainability of marine environments.

But seaweed has more benefits than nitrogen and phosphorus management. It’s also an example of blue carbon, which means it helps to remove carbon dioxide from the oceans. In fact, kelp forests are already helping to sequester almost 200 million tons of carbon every year. “If we used the infrastructure we have in the ocean and created seaweed islands, we would actually eliminate a lot of the climate change issues we have today,” marine ecologist Pia Winberg told the BBC in 2021. 

Blue beauty brands

These blue beauty brands are dedicated to protecting marine ecosystems through sustainable practices, ocean-safe ingredients, and ethical production methods.

Osea skincare bottle in the ocean.
Photo courtesy Osea

Osea

Inspired by the ocean, Osea offers a full range of vegan, cruelty-free skincare products made with marine-based ingredients. The Malibu-based label prioritizes sustainable harvesting and eco-friendly packaging, all with a focus on marine conservation.

One Ocean Beauty moisturizer.
Photo courtesy One Ocean Beauty

One Ocean Beauty

Algae is at the heart of all of One Ocean Beauty’s products for its abundance of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. And as a committed partner to Oceana, the label contributes to the preservation and restoration of the oceans.

Odacite Green Ceremony Cleanser.
Photo courtesy Odacité

Odacité

Odacité blends sustainably sourced chlorophyll and spirulina to maintain youthful-looking skin, improve the look of breakout-prone skin, and illuminate dull complexions in products like its Green Ceremony Cleanser.

Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Firming & Lifting Eye Cream.
Photo courtesy Biossance

Biossance

Known for its sustainably sourced squalane derived from sugarcane, Bioassance also works with marine algae to help hydrate the skin, help it appear lifted, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

True Botanicals Supersea firming and lifting treatment.
Photo courtesy True Botanicals

True Botanicals

Clean and sustainably sourced skincare products are at the heart of True Botanicals, including luxe seaweed-based formulas like the SuperSEA Firming & Lifting Treatment, clinically proven to firm, lift and tighten skin via the SuperSEA Biocompatible 3XBlend technology — a potent blend of the highest quality seaweeds and sea minerals from four of the most nutrient-dense marine ecosystems in the world.

    Related on Ethos:

    All products featured on Ethos have been independently selected by our editorial team.
    When you buy something through our links, Ethos may earn an affiliate commission.

    Related

    Goop’s New Mascara: An Ingredient Breakdown

    Goop has made its own-label mascara debut as it expands its beauty offerings. How clean are the ingredients?

    From Drugstore to Department Counter, 7 Clean Makeup Brands

    Looking for a cruelty-free makeup or vegan brand to add to your kit? The category is booming but Ethos has narrowed down the best.

    15 Beauty Labels Proving Sustainability and Luxury Can Co-Exist

    Sustainability is the new luxury and these beauty brands are leading the way — from clean ingredients to innovative packaging and more.

    Can We Really Define ‘Eco’?

    It's appearing more and more in our daily lives from energy to food to fashion. But what does 'eco' really mean?

    Vitamin C Brightening Serums That Improve Skin Fast

    Brighten dull skin and rid fine lines with the best vegan vitamin C serums that clean beauty has to offer, from Youth to the People to Biossance.