Know Your Ingredients: Algae

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As people with extraordinarily elaborate skin-care routines, we pride ourselves on using products with the most effective ingredients around. Of course, this involves actually knowing what those ingredients are. And, boy, are there a lot of ingredients out there. In Know Your Ingredients, our new ongoing series, we'll be decoding the many oils, acids, extracts, and more that appear in our favorite products.
When we think of algae, we think of floating green slime getting tangled in our hair at the beach. But, we've started noticing an influx of brands touting it as a skin-care miracle-worker. Sensing an ingredient trend, we wanted to know more. What makes algae so good for our skin?
According to Sean Patrick Harrington, cosmetics expert and Founder/CEO of Previse Skincare, algae is extremely moisturizing — and the reason is in its shape (on a cellular level). "The long chains [of algae] periodically coil around each other creating spaces that trap moisture," Harrington says. And, once moisture is trapped, "It instantly hydrates and cools the skin." This beats out formulas with petroleum and silicone which can clog pores.
There are over 6,000 different kinds of algae, but Harrington's brand uses a unique type called Chondrus crispus, or red algae. He says this moisturizing all-star can be found along the rocky parts of the Atlantic coast of Europe and North America. And, it's not just used in lotions. Previse also uses red algae in its face washes. "As alternatives to harsher, surfactant-based cleansers, our red algae recipes help gently remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and other contaminants [from] the skin," Harrington adds.
The other rad property of red algae is that it acts as a humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin. And, according to Harrington, "Lightweight algae is wonderful for holding potent antioxidants against the skin to help fight the production of free radicals, which can lead to cell death and signs of aging."
So, there you have it. When it comes to natural, straight-from-the-earth skin-care goodness, it seems that algae has a lot to offer. Don't be surprised if you notice it on the ingredients list the next time you find something that works incredibly well.
Previse Skin Care HydroMilk, $48, available at Previse Skin Care.


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