Microalgae oil is having a major moment — and not just in beauty. Scientists have their eyes on the stuff as an alternative biofuel (so much so that the U.S. Department of Energy has invested a cool $18 million in the project). Nutritionists are calling it the next soy (it's made up of 50 to 60% protein). And recently, it was introduced as a natural surfactant for sudsy home and personal products — and cosmetic chemist John Milligan says it’s superior to coconut-based surfactants.
Stock-market investors are rushing to put money into the growing field (um, no pun intended) — and you might want to do the same when it comes to your beauty routine. "Microalgae is expected to deliver by taking the oil out of the algae and providing hyper-hydration and a concentration of vitamins and antioxidants," says dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD. Adds cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson, "Most algae extracts are about 95 to 98% water-based, but when they extract the oil it has a slightly different function in terms of moisturization."
While the use of algae (and microalgae) in cosmetics isn't new, get ready to see an influx of products featuring the super-ingredient, as well as cool new uses for it. "The research is moving really quickly and biotech companies are continuing to discover more active ingredients and uses, including treating hair loss," says Dr. Graf. Until then, we rounded up 10 products with algae and microalgae extracts, and found out why you should incorporate them into your routine ASAP.