A Danish-English author Isak Dineson, once prescribed that “the cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea”.
She was only valuing the sea for its mystical virtues at the time, however scientists, cosmetic chemists and beauty laboratories have continued to find grooming and healing power in salty seawater since.
Microalgae, what the foodies might know as seaweed (hello nori roll), is having a major moment in grooming at the moment. And especially on the men skincare counters.
While L’Oreal bosses in the UK have predicted that male make-up counters will become a reality in the next five years, some of the biggest players in beauty world are hailing this super ingredient for its rehabilitative powers and good bacteria.
And why wouldn’t they? There are scientific studies out there proving that seaweed, algae and all things marine boast over 23 types of vitamins and minerals, and are superior to coconut-based products even.
Little did we know that the slimy green stuff that sits at the bottom of the sea bed, wraps itself around our ankles, and facilitates our fall underwater, could be responsible for pausing the clock on ageing.
When washed up on the shore, roughly 36 per cent of seaweed’s mass consists of sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, as well as, micronutrients such as iodine, copper and zinc. In fact, further studies have proven that seaweed is a major carrier of antioxidants, in addition to being an antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory.
The elegantly dancing ribbons of the green algae might cling to the rocks in the deep end of the ocean, but their strength is found when their life is at jeopardy. Under harsh conditions, algae doesn’t wither away, it shows persistence even in extreme environmental conditions. So when it’s this powerful under the sea, just imagine how potent and efficient it can be when applied topically to the skin.
The epicurean world is already a step ahead with the inclusion of this blue-green stuff in lunch menus, but the beauty industry is catching up too. There has been an influx of products in the market featuring algae and micro-algae extracts, but luxury beauty brand La Mer is arguably the leader of the lot.
In what might read like an unauthorised script from Terminator 2, in the 1950s, the founder of La Mer, Dr Max Huber, became victim to very serious chemical burns on his face while working in his laboratory. As no medicine offered complete healing, the aerospace scientist spent 12 years to develop a range of products that would help give skin a dramatically smoother appearance. He used a variety of kelp found near his Californian home to create an elixir that would restore his skin. As Dr Huber’s wounds healed, La Mer’s most powerful product was born. This highly concentrated Miracle Broth is celebrated for its skin regeneration properties today, and can be found in one of the brand’s cult product, The Concentrate.
Super-active serums might not have a permanent spot in men’s grooming ritual yet, but clinical evidence has shown that seaweed compounds can tackle that post-shave dryness and redness. One such kind is the marine variety of the Bobbi Brown Remedies Skin Relief Concentrate. This weightless serum glides on the skin, soaks in within minutes and reduces irritation immediately. This formula contains Israeli red algae, plus knotted kelp harvested in France to prevent the skin from further irritation.
Oily skin, lads? Don’t fret. When oil is extracted from algae, it delivers better in the hydration department, as the concentration of vitamins and antioxidants turns up a notch. The cocktail of seaweed, cocoa butter and sunflower extract in Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream for Men give this daily cream its extra hydration powers.
The algae, chlorella and chlorophyllin extract in Estée Lauder Nutritious Micro Algae Pore Purifying Cleansing Bar has been proven to reduce wrinkle depth and age spots dramatically. Raising the bar in men’s skincare, this soap is best used to wash off impurities and dirt, and no, it doesn’t smell like the sea.
Another product to pack for your favourite shoreline hangout is the La Prairie Advanced Marine Biology Tonic. Not necessarily marketed for men, but this marine-rich tonic is like green juice for the skin. Its results-driven formula merges the active ingredients with the botanical compounds upon application, promising illuminated, hydrated and oxygen-rich skin.
Turns out 18th-century physician Dr Richard Russell was onto something when he said: “One must drink sea water, bathe in it and eat all manner of marine life in which its virtue is concentrated”.