Editor’s Spotlight

Algae has a big role in the future of global beauty

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Algae has a big role in the future of global beauty
Marine-derived ingredients are on the rise in cosmetics and personal care product formulations. In particular, algae from every corner of the ocean is being used as both an ingredient and an ingredient factory. Here, Cosmetics Design takes a quick look at some of the brands and companies betting on the beauty of algae.

Thousands of algae species exist around the world today; and some estimates put the total number of species over 1m—which may explain why many brands touting algae ingredients are so confident that the type of algae in their formulation is unique and available exclusively from where they’re sourcing it.

An ingredient

One Ocean Beauty is a new indie skin care brand that is all about algae. The brand, led by Marcella Cacci, sources algae from all around the world to take advantage of their various quantities of amino acids, minerals, antioxidants, etc.

But the brand isn’t harvesting its hero ingredients from the sea. After gathering an assortment of algae from the Antarctic Ocean, along the Coast of Asia, the Sea of Japan, as well as from the Coasts of North and South America, the brand turns to biotechnology to produce the final ingredients at commercial scale. “Natural, non-GMO marine actives are sustainably grown in the lab to produce consistent high-performance and clinically proven results,”​ according to the brand’s site.

Many other brands are in on the algae trend too. The New Zealand-based brand Ao Skincare takes great pride in its regionally sourced ingredients, including astaxanthin from red algae. Learn more about that brand in this Cosmetics Design video interview, featuring founder Mark Gray​.

Hawaiian luxury skin care brand O’o Hawaii includes locally sourced red algae in some of its products, like the Golden Nectar Brightening + Firming Serum as well as the Hawaii Superfood Beauty Boost dietary supplement.   

Schmidt’s new body washes contain sea-based antioxidants, including spirulina and algae, as Cosmetics Design reported​. And this June, Paris Hilton launched a skin care line called ProD.N.A., “featuring innovative enzymes sourced from marine microalgae,” ​according to a media release circulated at the time.

An ingredient factory

Algae has also become a key microorganism in the biotech industry (where more and more ingredients for personal care, cosmetics, and fragrance are being made).

For instance, biological design company Ginkgo Bioworks “engineers microorganisms like yeast, or algae, or bacteria to be factories that produce molecules,” ​—ingredients or intermediates that end up in beauty formulations—noted Cosmetics Design​ in an item looking at the potential of biotech.  

And companies like Natura and BASF have been using Solazyme’s AlagaPūr technology to produce microalgae oils for years. Over 3 years ago Dehyton AO 45 came to market thanks to such a partnership: “We are excited to partner with BASF to launch the world’s first microalgae-derived betaine surfactant,” ​Robert Webber of Solazyme told the press in 2015. Read more about that ingredient production development here​.



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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