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The Glow-Boosting Skin Benefits of Algae Extract

The idea of slathering your face in algae might sound off-putting (even a little slimy), but what if we told you that you likely already were? Considered the superfoods of the sea, algae extracts are one of the hottest skincare ingredients in the industry, making their way into everything from cleansers and serums to moisturizers and even hair care. These tiny titans are rich in skin-healthy nutrients that deliver antioxidant protection, boost hydration, soothe inflammation, and so much more.

Read on to find out how algae can benefit your skin inside and out.

What are Algae?

Algae are simple, adaptable chlorophyll-containing organisms that have been around for billions of years. Algae have the ability to survive extreme environments such as hard-wearing tides, saltwater, heat, cold, and UV radiation. These unique, protective features are partly what makes them such fantastic anti-aging ingredients, helping fight premature aging caused by sunlight, collagen degradation, and oxidative stress. 

The Skin Benefits of Algae

  1. Provides Mega Hydration

Algae’s saturated, springy texture means it holds water. When used topically, algae draw water into the skin to rehydrate, plump and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  1. Hello, Antioxidants

Algae are an amazing source of antioxidants that protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation and oxidative stress. When you see algae extract in your skincare products, you know you’re getting a good dose of anti-aging, collagen-preserving antioxidant defense.

  1. Improves Hyperpigmentation

Algae extracts are potent sources of antioxidants that can help improve and prevent dark spots from occurring. They’re also natural tyrosinase inhibitors, meaning they inhibit the production of excess melanin in the skin, improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation for an even complexion.

  1. Purifies Pores

Algae, like chlorella, help detox pores without drying the skin. Algae extracts can also help neutralize pollutants and calm acne.

  1. Rich in Skin-Healthy Nutrients

While each algae type has a unique set of nutrients, you can expect them to be rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids that support healthy, youthful skin. We’re talking vitamins A, C, E, and K, zinc, magnesium, copper, iodine, and so many more nutrients that amplify any skincare formulation. 

  1. Tames Inflammation

Algae is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that keep the skin barrier soothed, calm redness, and reduce acne.  

  1. Stabilizes Formulas

Algae extracts contain more polysaccharides than terrestrial plants. Some of these polysaccharides, such as agar, alginates, and carrageenans, can thicken products, help stabilize the formulas or give them a gel-like consistency.  

Types of Algae Used in Skincare

Experts believe there are over 800,000 species of algae in nature, each with its own set of benefits and compounds. Algae are generally classified based on color, shape, and life cycle. Though there are two main categories based on size: macroalgae (which can be seen by the human eye), and microalgae, which can only be seen with a microscope. So while there are a LOT of algae species to choose from, these are the most common types used in skincare and beauty products.

Red Algae – The red algae family (Rhodophyceae) is the most abundant algae group. They’re rich in moisturizing polysaccharides, UV-filtering amino acids, skin-brightening vitamin C, and youth-preserving minerals and antioxidants that support hydration and collagen production.

Brown Algae – The most commonly used algae in skincare, brown algae (of the Phaeophyceae class) are rich in antioxidant and anti-pollution properties that support overall skin health and appearance. Their antioxidant benefits prevent premature aging by supporting cell renewal, fighting oxidative stress, and brightening the complexion. Brown algae also contain fucoidan, a bioactive polysaccharide with skin healing properties that can increase elasticity. 

Green Algae – Green algae (Chlorophyceae), a dense source of chlorophyll, mostly live in freshwater sources. When applied topically, they hydrate and soothe the skin. Green algae can also improve skin texture for a smoother complexion.

Seaweed – Seaweed is its own marine algae species and has many variations that boast cosmetic benefits. Best for those with sensitive, dry, and acne-prone skin, seaweed can help soothe sensitivity and inflammation thanks to its source of natural minerals. It can also promote plumper, younger-looking skin by brightening dark spots, locking in moisture, and supporting collagen production.

Spirulina – Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, is rich in beneficial antioxidants that protect the skin from stress and slow down aging. Brimming in valuable minerals, vitamins, proteins, and fatty acids, you’ll often see spirulina in anti-aging formulations that improve skin health and appearance. 

Chlorella – A commonly used freshwater microalgae, you’ll find chlorella in both topical and oral products. It has a rich green hue thanks to its superior source of chlorophyll and is brimming with amino acids, iron, and vitamins. Safe for all skin types, it’s great at calming redness and inflammation.

Incorporate Algae into Your Skincare Routine

SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture


Formulated with three nutrient-rich algae extracts – Gelidiella acerosa, Hypnea musciformis, and Sargassum filipendula – this daily moisturizer supports healthy, revitalized skin with its plethora of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and collagen-preserving galactans.

PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum


This redness-reducing serum by PCA Skin instantly soothes with comforting panthenol, bisabolol, glycerin, and algae extracts. Ascophyllum nodosum, a type of brown seaweed, supplies antioxidants and helps improve skin tolerance. While seaweed-derived Asparagopsis armata extract protects skin from free radical damage with Mycosporine-like amino acids. 

Revision Skincare Restorative Night Cream

This Restorative Night Cream is all about a youthful, hydrated glow. You’ve got moisturizing jojoba oil, plumping peptides, and antioxidant rich Dunaliella salina, a micro green alga that survives in even the harshest conditions.

SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5


The anti-aging benefits of retinol are boosted with the addition of Dunaliella salina extract. There’s also niacinamide, squalane, ceramide 3, and vitamin E for a nourished, dewy complexion.

Murad Clarifying Toner


This clarifying toner for blemish-prone skin instantly cools and refreshes with cucumber, calendula, and allantoin. Bonus: Carrageenan extract helps the skin retain moisture by binding water molecules.