My patients at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging only want pure, natural ingredients in their skincare products. So when they asked me if algae is good for the skin, I told them I’d look into it.
Here’s what’s I found…
There are two main categories of algae: macro and micro.
Macroalgae are multi-celled marine plants – or seaweed. They come in three types based on color: brown, red and green.
Microalgae, like spirulina, are single-celled organisms invisible to the naked eye.
There hasn’t been a ton of research so far. But what I’ve seen shows promise…
- Red algae. In one study, volunteers reported they saw fewer wrinkles and crow’s feet, smoother skin, increased elasticity and less noticeable age spots.
- Brown algae. Better known as fucoidan, human testing of brown algae shows significant anti-aging promise. In one study, it reduced wrinkle depth by 9%, improved skin elasticity by 17% and increased moisture retention up to 30%.,
- Green algae. While the research is still new, early studies have shown antioxidant-rich green algae, or chlorophyta, may protect against DNA deterioration associated with long-term sun damage.
- A 28-day study found that spirulina extract increased skin moisture levels in mature volunteers, but had little effect in younger patients. It also improved skin texture by reducing surface roughness.
So, would I recommend expensive algae products to my patients? I tell them it could certainly have some benefits.
Then I tell them there’s a better choice – a microalgae source that protects your skin from the inside out.
I’m talking about supplementing with astaxanthin – the most powerful antioxidant in the world.
As a regular reader, you know the benefits this carotenoid has on your overall health, including lowering your cancer and Alzheimer’s risk… increasing blood flow to the heart… protection from free-radical damage… and relieving joint pain and inflammation.
But astaxanthin also slows down skin deterioration.
This antioxidant is produced by special microalgae named Haematococcus pluvialis. When these algae are exposed to intense sunlight, they produce bright pink astaxanthin.
A recent study conducted by researchers in Japan found that astaxanthin fights the aging effects of the two main causes of skin aging: overexposure to UV rays and air pollution.
Researchers found that treating skin cells in culture with astaxanthin had two skin-protecting actions:
First, it blocked the production of inflammatory cytokines that happens with overexposure to UV light.
Then it blocked the activity of a certain skin-aging enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase-1. MMP-1 increases when your skin is exposed to air pollution. This enzyme speeds the breakdown of collagen that contributes to the formation of wrinkles.
These studies were done in a lab. So the researchers tested astaxanthin’s anti-aging effects in the real world. They gave 65 women either an astaxanthin supplement or a placebo every day for 16 weeks.
In just four months, the placebo group experienced an increase in wrinkles, more skin drying and increased markers of skin inflammation.
The women taking astaxanthin had NO significant deterioration and no increases in inflammation.
But this antioxidant doesn’t just repair skin damage. It prevents it…
In a groundbreaking study, researchers tested a group of people to see how long it would take them to develop a sunburn. The subjects took 4 mg a day of astaxanthin. After two weeks, they could spend a lot more more time under an ultraviolet light before developing sunburn damage.
Protect your skin with real astaxanthin
- Get if from food. Wild-caught salmon is by far the richest source of astaxanthin. A typical 6-ounce serving of wild Pacific sockeye salmon gives you 4 mg to 5 mg source for this skin-saving nutrient.
- But I also suggest supplements. Take up to 10 mg per day.
- Look for the real deal. Not all astaxanthin is the same. I recommend you avoid synthetic astaxanthin from the drug store. Synthetic astaxanthin is 20 times weaker than natural astaxanthin. So you end up paying a dollar for 5 cents worth of antioxidant strength.
- Apply the oil to your face. You can buy topical astaxanthin oil. But opening a softgel and applying the oil to your skin is just as effective.
 Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects* Kumi Tominaga, Nobuko Hongo, Mariko Karato and Eiji Yamashita*Vol. 59, No 1/2012 43–47on-line at: www.actabp.pl
 Fitton, et al. “Topical Benefits of Two Fucoidan-Rich Extracts from Marine Macroalgae.” Cosmetics. 2015; 2(2):66-81.
 Thring, et al. “Anti-collagenase, anti-elastase and anti-oxidant activities of extracts from 21 plants.” BMC Complement Altern Med 9, 27 (2009).
 Pescheck F, et al. “UVB-induced DNA and photosystem II damage in two intertidal green macroalgae: distinct survival strategies in UV-screening and non-screening Chlorophyta.” J Photochem. Feb 2014, 132:85-93
 Duz Delsin S and Mercurio D. “Clinical efficacy of dermocosmetic formulations containing spirulina extract on young and mature skin: effects on the skin hydrolipidic barrier and structural properties.” January 2015. CPB. DOI: 10.4172/2167-065X.1000144
 Tominaga K, et al. Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2017;61(1):33-9.
 Hornebeck W. Down-regulation of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloprotease-1 (TIMP-1) in aged human skin contributes to matrix degradation and impaired cell growth and survival. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003;51(10):569-73.
 Kim KE, et al. “Air pollution and skin diseases: Adverse effects of airborne particulate matter on various skin diseases.” Life Sci. 2016;152:126-34.
 Tominaga K, et al. “Protective effects of astaxanthin on skin deterioration.” J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2017;61(1):33-9.
 Lorenz, R.T.2002b. “Method for retarding and preventing sunburn by UV light.” U.S. Patent No.6,433,025.