One of the distinctive characteristics of algae is their ability to undergo stress similar to that experienced by the skin, in often much higher levels: regular dehydration (tides), UV rays, thermal stress (air / water), oxidation, bacterial attacks (moist environment), changing of the seasons and collisions against rocks (healing). To survive in a sometimes hostile environment, they develop hyper-sophisticated resistance systems that, once understood, can be replicated to help the skin. The sea becomes an endless field of exploration for researchers, not only to find new resources but also to discover new defense mechanisms.
Brown macro-algae, for example, produce polysaccharides (polymeric carbohydrate molecules), directly in their membrane, which can almost be seen as a counterpart to human skin. Images comparing the structure of an algal membrane with that of human skin show remarkable similarities (Figure 3). These polymeric carbohydrate molecules found in the membrane of algae prevent them from becoming dehydrated during tidal changes. They have a strong water retention ability.
Applied as a second skin on the surface of the human epidermis, these polysaccharides make it possible to limit water loss and maintain an optimal level of hydration.
Some algae develop highly advanced repair systems. This is the case of a variety of seaweeds that live in symbiosis with marine bacteria. In exchange for the protection provided by seaweed, bacteria are able to activate the repair systems of algae when torn. In fact, bacteria help algae make small sugars that will stimulate their repair system.
Applied to the surface of the skin, these small marine sugars fight inflammation and help our skin stem cells repair damaged skin in half the time taken by the skin’s natural repair process. Once again marine cosmetic researchers are taking inspiration from what is happening in the sea and applying it to their best skin care recipes.
Another remarkable example of biomimetics is marine calcium. Let’s go back to coralline algae. In coral reefs, they play a vital role by creating a calcified structure capable of linking all the best elements.
This is exactly the role that calcium plays in the skin. It is one of the main elements for the synthesis of so-called adhesion proteins, which keep keratinocytes together and ensure the cohesion and structure of the epidermis. When we know that marine calcium is much better assimilated by the skin than any other source of calcium, we can see the incredible benefits of biomimicry in cosmetics.
We can also look to algae for weight loss solutions. In fact, they are the living creatures that produce the least amount of fat. At no stage of their growth (except some in micro-algae that produce carotenoids) are algae rich in lipids, unlike plants and humans.
By studying how algae work, we succeed in understanding the mechanisms to put in place to live with less fat and therefore lose weight.
The sea and its active ingredients are a marvel of ingenuity. Marine cosmetics is inspired by it to keep your skin looking healthy and radiant.