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All About Red Seaweed for Skin.

Red seaweed is mainly found in Europe, in the Atlantic, the English Channel and the North Sea. In cosmetics, red seaweed extract is an ingredient generally used to thicken formulas and give them a gel-like consistency. However, red marine algae also has moisturizing benefits for the skin. Focus on this multi-functional plant compound.

What Is Red Algae?

Red algae (Rhodophytes) belong to a large taxon of marine algae that includes several species. They owe their color to their pigmentary composition characterized by the presence of a single type of chlorophyll. They grow mainly on the Atlantic coast and are harvested on the beaches. There are several varieties of red algae: Chondrus crispus, Porphyra conchocelis, Palmaria palmata ...

In skin care, but also in the food sector, carrageenan is a sulfur polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed that is used to thicken formulas and give them a jelly-like consistency. Traditionally extracted from the species Chondrus crispus (the Irish moss), carrageenan is nowadays mainly derived from the species Kappaphycus alvarezii and Eucheuma denticulatum.

Red Marine Algae Benefits in Skincare.

Red seaweed for skin and hair care is often used to thicken formulas. Indeed, red seaweed extract contains carrageenans, natural polysaccharides composed of sulfated D-galactose residues. In contact with water, these biopolymers unfold and form a gelled network. As a natural thickening agent, red algae extract is often used in organic cosmetics to replace certain synthetic gelling agents such as carbomers.

In addition to this essentially functional capacity, the red seaweed comes with benefits for  the skin. Its humectant power retains water in the superficial layers of the skin and decreases the insensible loss of water. When applied externally, red seaweed extract combats the tightness that often accompanies dry skin and prevents the appearance of fine dehydration lines.

Moreover, the extract of red seaweed is able to stimulate the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. As a reminder, hyaluronic acid is a biomolecule mainly produced by the fibroblasts of the dermis which ensures the hydration of the skin and gives it its plumped-up appearance.

Over the years, not only does its level 
decrease but its quality also changes. 
Every decade, we lose about 
6% of hyaluronic acid. 

This drastic drop leads to an atrophy of the fatty pockets located in the depth of the dermis, which is the cause of the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on the skin's surface. Thus, stimulating its synthesis allows keeping a plump skin as long as possible.

Moreover, the red marine algae benefits the limitation of imperfections on skin’s the surface. Indeed, studies have demonstrated the bactericidal activity of carrageenan towards Staphylococcus epidermidis and Enterococcus faecalis, two microorganisms involved in the development of acne and associated inflammatory reactions.

Finally, red algae stimulates the synthesis of ceramides, which reinforces the waterproofing of the epidermis and limits insensible water loss. As a reminder, ceramides are lipids organized in dense and structurd lamellae that form the intercellular cement.

What Are the Contraindications of Red Seaweed for Skin Application?

Red seaweed is a compound that is well tolerable for all skin types, even the most sensitive. It is not contraindicated for young children or pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. Non-photosensitizing, a care enriched with red seaweed extract can be applied morning and evening, on a clean and dry skin.

In Which Care Products Can You Find Red Algae?

As a natural thickening agent, red seaweed is present in many skin care products such as creams, gels, shampoos, body milks, balms etc., but the red marine algae benefits are much more than just thickening.

In the Typology plumping serum, the red seaweed extract is associated with polyglutamic acid to offer the skin a two-level hydration: the red algae is able to act in depth and to boost the production of hyaluronic acid, while the polyglutamic acid forms a protective film on the surface of the skin fighting against its dehydration.

This product is applied morning and evening, on a clean and dry skin. It is particularly recommended for dry skin and/or to prevent dehydration lines and the first wrinkles.


  • DOTY M.S. & al. IR Studies on carrageenan of ahnfeltia concinna, a marine red alga. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (1975).

  • KANAAN H. M. & al. Anticoagulant and antibacterial activities of polysaccharides of red algae Corallina collected from Lebanese coast. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science (2014).

  • HUANG N. & al. Potential use of seaweed bioactive compounds in skincare:A Review. Marine Drugs (2019).


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