Weaving algae is a laminaria brown algae, found especially around Brittany. PHYTOMER's lab has developed ropes cultivation for it, to control the use and quality of the resource, and to ensure its natural survival.
PHYTOMER scientists have discovered the exceptional power of Weaving Algae to hold water within the skin and thereby prevent dehydration. Like a sewing machine, it will « weave back together » this reservoir, fiber by fiber, to prevent loss of moisture. The moisturizing results are exceptional: starting with the first application, skin is hydrated ideally; in 2 weeks it is perfectly irrigated, as if quenched.
Learn about the incredible journey of Weaving Algae from the sea to your skin.
1.Preparation in the lab
Before it gets to our bathrooms, Weaving Algae must pass through a series of minute manipulations in the PHYTOMER lab. Researchers start by working on a piece of fresh algae – but not just any piece. At this point they only take the base – the most fertile part – which contains the most reproductive cells. The part is twisted and represents only 5-10% of this plant that can reach up to 2 meters in length. The piece of algae is then placed in seawater, and almost instantly it releases its spores, which will then produce gametophytes (or embryos).
This water will spend several weeks in different culture media to allow the spores to develop, reaching a purity level of 95%. It’s necessary to rid the water of any trace of impurities, bacteria or other micro-organisms that may have been found on the algae at the very start.
Embryo growth is checked daily under an electron microscope. When they reach the « right » size, the solution takes on a dark, almost black, hue. A medium wrapped with a cord, called a collector, is then placed in the water.
The embryos will attach themselves to this in under an hour, and will begin to grow. In October, they are brought out to the sea to allow the algae to grow to their full size. Towards the Rance, just a stone’s throw from Saint-Malo, large ropes are anchored in a PHYTOMER concession; one by one, they are passed through the collector mentioned above. When pulling up the collectors, only the cords remain, wrapping around the rope, leaving the embryos free rein to develop.
This starts in April and lasts two months. This is highly physical labor for the harvester, who must work with the uncertainties of the spring equinox tides, and who cuts all the algae by hand, one by one. Several tons can be gathered per day.
Once taken out of their medium, the algae are sent to a partner who freeze-dries them. This cold-dehydration technique lets them be preserved in « suspended animation » so as not to alter their natural richness, and especially to facilitate the following steps.
Dry algae are plunged into purified water to cause a shock between the two elements. This causes the cells to burst, releasing all their active ingredients. After approximately 1 hr 30 min of extraction, the water is filtered, and the liquid extract obtained is used in PHYTOMER moisturizing care products (HYDRA ORIGINAL Thirst-Relief Melting Cream, HYDRASEA Thirst-Relief Rehydrating Mask, HYDRASEA Ultra-Moisturizing Serum, and more).
In the « bulk » shop, a specialist is responsible for producing the « recipes » for each care product according to a precise formula. One by one, the worker pours ingredients weighed out the previous day by another operator into a small tank. They are then sucked into a larger tank, then mixed for 6-7 hours before being ready for the next step.
Filling, placing and closing the top, boxing: here everything is done by hand for a production line that may handle 5,000 products per day. Once packaging is finished, the products are quarantined for five days, during which microbiological tests are performed. Shipping can only take place once quality control gives its approval; then these fabulous moisturizers make their way to 80 countries and 10,000 points of sale in which they are distributed.
Credits: Béatrice Thivend-Grignola PHYTOMER, or the secrets of weaving algae. GALA 10 October 2012, no. 1009 – pp. 88-90.