A Saint John scientist has been approached to grow rafts of seaweed for a laboratory to then use in moisturizers and face creams, due to the natural ingredient’s anti-aging properties.
Exsymol SAM, a Monaco-based pharmaceutical company that makes anti-aging and skin care products, got in touch with biologist Thierry Chopin regarding the venture.
Chopin works with the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, and has been growing kelp near Cooke Aquaculture fish farms in Charlotte County for Exsymol for the last few weeks.
Exsymol initiated the deal after its research into cosmetic compounds showed there are bioactive compounds within seaweed cells that contain anti-aging ingredients that can soften skin and reverse the signs of aging.
Chopin told CBCNews that Exsymol has taken a keen interest in the waters off New Brunswick and the properties they believe are contained in the seaweed.
"It penetrates into the skin," he said. "The skin is quite complicated with several layers so it reaches the right layer and relaxes the skin."
As such, Chopin is now collecting seaweed spores, which he believes will grow in a matter of months.
"We are now in November. By May, June, they will grow from one millimetre to a metre, a metre and a half," he said. "Tremendous growth in winter and spring."
Once the seaweed is harvested, it will be sent for processing in Ontario and the extract will then be shipped overseas.
Canada has occupied a special place among the world producers of seaweeds, mostly because it ranked first, as a producer of the red alga Chondrus crispus (Irish moss), historically the first source of raw material for carrageenan extraction.
Seaweed joins the growing number of anti-aging actives claiming to stimulate sirtuin activity, proteins that may play a role in longevity.
Due to its high concentrations of fatty acids, anti-collagenase and anti-elastase activity, some seaweed extracts are positioned as an anti-aging ingredient with skin firming properties.
The presence of omega 3 and omega 6 help reinforce the skin’s hydrolipidic barrier, whilst it protects against collagen and elastin degradation.
In addition, seaweed extracts have good free radical scavenging activity therefore helping to protect the skin from both intrinsic and environmental damage.